Elizabeth Greentree

Elizabeth was the second of James Greentree and Margaret Bates’s daughters. An unsourced family tree gives her birth on St. Helena as 20 February, 1746. Once again, nothing is known of Elizabeth’s life until her marriage.  Sometime before 1769, when she is described as “Elizabeth Dent” in her father’s will, Elizabeth became the second of three wives of Digby Dent[1], at the time a ship’s commander in the Royal Navy. It is possible that the two met on St. Helena, as the island was a regular stop for Royal Naval vessels.

I give unto each of my Daughters Elizabeth Dent and Margaret Skottowe twenty five Pounds and as I have already paid their Portions at the Rate of four hundred pounds each of them, I hereby exclude them or any of them from any further Share….[2]

The Dents made their home in Fareham, Hampshire, an obvious choice for a naval officer, as Fareham is a village at the north-west tip of Portsmouth harbor. They were there by 1776, as it is in this year that Elizabeth’s young niece, Margaret Skottowe, was buried in the village’s St. Peter and Paul’s Church.

In May 1778, Digby was knighted and judging by the fact that one child was baptized in Fareham in June that year and there was a multiple baptism of four of their children in August, Digby may not have been at sea for part at least of that year. Added weight is given to this conclusion by the fact that the ship he was to be given command of in August of that year, the ‘Vigilant,’ was being completed in the Portsmouth Dockyards during this time.[3]

It is not known where most of Digby and Elizabeth’s children were born, although many were baptized in Fareham. There is record of ten children of the marriage. For considerably more information on the descendants of these children, see the extensive Dent Genealogy website.


Elizabeth. Date and place of birth unknown. Married Benjamin Sullivan, in Madras, India, on 17 May 1790. They had at least five children. Died 13 November 1824 in Clifton, Gloucestershire, England.

Nov. 13. At Clifton, Lady Sulivan, relict of the late Sir Benjamin Sulivan. She was daughter of Admiral Sir Digby Dent, kt. and was married to Sir Benj. Sulivan, kt one of the Puisne Judges of the Supreme Court of Judicature at Madras. (Gentleman’s Magazine, vol. 94, p. 1, 1824, p. 85)

James, born 3 October 1772, baptized 2 August 1778 in Fareham, Hampshire.[4]

Charles Michael, born 15 March 1775, baptized 2 August 1778 in Fareham, Hampshire.[5] Married Sophia Holloway, 28 February, 1794, at Portsmouth.

Margaret Mary, baptized 2 August 1778 in Fareham, Hampshire.[6]

Charlotte, baptized 2 August 1778 in Fareham, Hampshire.[7] Married William Sandys of the East India Company (later Lieutenant-Colonel) in India on 10 January, 1793. Died 22 July, 1802 in Calcutta. Had three children.

Challoner Baptized 25 June 1778 in Fareham, Hampshire.[8]  12 May 1801 married Elizabeth Whettam in Fareham. Had two children.

Frances, born about 1782. Married Lieutenant John Burke, who in 1820 is described as “of Clarville, Loughrea, County of Galway” in his father-in-law’s will. Her date of death is unknown.

Sophia, baptized 17 November 1786 in Fareham, Hampshire.[9] July 7, 1804 married John Bayley or Bailey. Had six children.

July 7, 1804. At Edinburgh, John Bailey, Esq. cornet of the 5th Dragoon Guards, to Miss Sophia Dent, daughter of Admiral Sir Digby Dent. (The Scots Magazine 1804, p. 565)

 Elizabeth died 7 November, 1786. The date suggests her death was as the result of the birth of her last child, Sophia.

…. On Tuesday last died, at Fareham, near Portsmouth, Hants, Lady Dent, wife of Sir Digby Dent, Bart. of His Majesty’s Royal Navy… (The London Times, 15 November, 1786)

There is a memorial to her in St. Peter and Paul’s Church in Fareham.

In memory of Elizabeth, wife of Sir Digby Dent, Knight, Captain Royal Navy, who departed this life 4th November 1786 aged 59. [The age should be 39. This memorial has only been seen in transcription].

Her husband survived her for many years, marrying another Elizabeth (surname unknown) after her death. He died on 15 March, 1817, in Ireland.

Feb. 15. Near Dublin, Rear-Adm. Sir Digby Dent. (Gentleman’s Magazine, 1817, p. 279)

 Digby left a short handwritten will, mentioning only his third wife, Elizabeth, a son William (from his third marriage, who receives the proverbial shilling) and Frances Burke and her husband, John, whom he names executor.[10]

[1] I am indebted for much of what I know about Digby Dent and his descendants to the extensive Dent family web site maintained by Gearoidin Dent at http://dentfamlinx.1apps.com/

[2] James Greentree’s will, East India Company Office (St. Helena). Council Consultations, 1678–1836. Microfilm no. 1259068, Family History Library, Salt Lake City, Utah.

[3] Sir Digby Dent’s entire naval career is outlined on the web site, Three Decks-Warships in the Age of Sail. Available: http://threedecks.org/

[4] Parish Registers for St. Peter and St. Paul’s Church, Fareham. Microfilm no. 0918892, Family History Library, Salt Lake City, Utah.

[5] Ibid.

[6] Ibid.

[7] Ibid

[8] Ibid.

[9] Ibid.

[10] Digby Dent Will, PROB 11/1673/327.

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