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Greenway House and Various Dartmouths

Greenway House, Dartmouth, Devon where Agatha Christie lived
Greenway House, Dartmouth, Devon where Agatha Christie lived
Photo by Rod Allday

We built our house on Dartmouth Road. It is a green house, and I vaguely remembered that Agatha Christie lived in a green house in Dartmouth. So I started to look up the name of her house because maybe that would be a good name for our house.

Greenway House

Agatha Christie once lived at Greenway House or Greenway Estate, three miles north of Dartmouth.

Old Postcard of Greenway Ferry, River Dart, Devon
Old Postcard of Greenway Ferry, River Dart, Devon

Greynway was originally a road, or way. It was the crossing point of the River Dart. When a house was built nearby, it was named Greenway Court. Archeologists found remains of the original Greenway Court in the hallway of Greenway House.

The house passed through a lot of different hands over the centuries with various improvements, especially to the gardens and grounds.

Agatha Christie and her husband Max Mallowan bought the house in 1938. They lived there the rest of their lives and it is the setting for some of her mysteries.

Max Mallowan and staff at Expedition house Max Malloway is third from left
Max Mallowan and staff (and cat) at Expedition house
Max Malloway is third from left

Max Mallowan was an archeologist. He was involved in the excavations at Ur, Nineveh, Nimrud and other sites. He was the Professor of Western Asiatic Archaeology at the University of London and director of the British School of Archaeology in Iraq.

Agatha Christie's home, Greenway House and Gardens is open to the public
Agatha Christie’s home, Greenway House and Gardens is open to the public
Photo by Harry Mitchell

After Agatha Christie’s death, her daughter Rosalind Hicks and family continued to live at Greenway House. Then it was acquired by the National Trust. The house and gardens is open to the public now.

Greenway House and Greenway Court are great names, but not for our house, since there is a Greenway here and our house is not actually on it.


There are a lot of places and institutions named Dartmouth. There is Dartmouth in Massachusetts and also in Canada, and Australia.

Darmouth where Agatha Christie lived in Greenway House is in Devon England at the mouth of the River Dart… Dart Mouth.

Dartmouth Castle Photo by Joanne Davies
Dartmouth Castle
Photo by Joanne Davies

The mouth of River Dart is guarded by two castles, Dartmouth Castle and Kingswear Castle.  They used to close the entrance to the river from the sea at night with a big chain. (Harbour chains and river chains are a thing. There was a chain across the Bosphorus Strait. During the American Revolutionary War, chains were put across the Hudson River. Chain stretched across the Mississippi River during the American Civil War.)

Baron of Dartmouth and Earls of Dartmouth

Dartmouth provided the name for Baron Dartmouth.

Barons are the lowest rank in the Peerage of Great Britain. Originally, a baron was the “tenant-in-chief” of the Norman kings. The lands he held for the king were called a “barony”. It was more of a job than a title. Barons had the right to attend the Great Council, which became Parliament and eventually the House of Lords.

By 1682, when George Legge, the first Baron of Dartmouth was “elevated to the peerage”, baronies were no longer linked to holding land.

If the Legge family ever had anything to do with Dartmouth in Devon, England, I can’t find it. Their estate lands were at Sandwell, Staffordshire,  which is up north of Birmingham, nowhere near Dartmouth. And they didn’t buy this land until nearly 20 years after George Legge was made Baron Dartmouth.

Old Postcard of Tower of London
Old Postcard of Tower of London where George Legge, 1st Baron Dartmouth died

George Legge was an English naval commander under Charles II and then James II.  James II made him a Baron in 1682. By 1683 he was an Admiral and by 1688 he was appointed the first Admiral of the Fleet. He remained loyal to James II, which put him on the wrong side of the Glorious Revolution. He was locked in the Tower of London where he died before trial.

Baron Dartmouth was George Washington’s distant cousin. His mother’s grandfather and George Washington’s great-great grandfather were brothers.

William Legge, 1st Earl of Dartmouth and Dartmouth, Nova Scotia, Canada

Baron Dartmouth had six daughters and one son, William Legge.  He was elevated to 1st Earl of Dartmouth in 1711. William Legge, 1st Earl of Dartmouth is the Dartmouth that Dartmouth in Nova Scotia, Canada was named to honor because of his role as Secretary of State.

William Legge, 2nd Earl of Dartmouth

The 2nd Earl of Dartmouth was the grandson of the 1st Earl of Dartmouth because his father died before his grandfather, so the title skipped right to him. This is the Dartmouth that Dartmouth College is named after. He was also Secretary of State for the Colonies and involved in the investigations into the Boston Tea Party.

Darmouth College Postcard
Richardson Hall, Darmouth College Postcard

Dartmouth College

Eleazar Wheelock was born in 1711 to a prosperous family in Windham, Connecticut. He went to Yale College. At that time, Yale was a school to train Congregationalist ministers. He became a pastor of a church, farmer and itinerant preacher.

Sometime around 1735, Wheelock opened a “Lattin School”, a school to prepare boys to go on to college.  Samson Occom, believed to be a direct descendant of a notable Mohegan Indian chief, went to this school in 1743. Occom was already Christian and spoke English. Samson Occom stayed at the school for four years, then became a teacher, preacher, and judge among the Montaukett and the Pequot. He also preached to the Iroquois and other tribes.

Samson Occom’s accomplishments motivated Eleazar Wheelock to establish an Indian charity school. Wheelock persuaded Occom to travel to England to raise money for the school. His sermons drew huge crowds and he raised a lot of money. William Legge, 2nd Earl of Dartmouth donated and worked with a trust that was set up to administrate the money raised.

Occom eventually collected so much money that a formal trust was necessary to preserve propriety. This trust was formed in late 1766, with Legge as its president, to guarantee that Wheelock used the money appropriately. It soon proved that the Trust and Wheelock had different ideas as to what was, in fact, appropriate, but they were largely able to cooperate until 1769, when Wheelock obtained a charter for his school without informing the trust. (The trust, feeling that a charter would obviate its control over the British funds, had vehemently opposed it.) Adding insult to injury, Wheelock named the resulting institution Dartmouth—again without consulting Legge, and perhaps more to reassure the multitudes who had donated money than to honor the Earl. Legge never wrote to Wheelock again.

William Legge, 2nd Earl of Dartmouth donated to and headed the British Board of Trustees that was set up to protect all the money raised to fund a school to educate American Indians. Instead, Wheelock decided to to use the money to build a college to teach the classics, philosophy, and literature to the sons of the American colonists.

Occom, Dartmouth, and the British Board of Trustees opposed the decision, but Wheelock went forward. And he named the school Dartmouth, even though Dartmouth wanted a completely different kind of school.

Dartmouth–Hitchcock Medical Center

Dartmouth–Hitchcock Medical Center began as the medical department at Dartmouth College. In 2012 the school was renamed the Geisel School of Medicine at Dartmouth to honor Audrey and Theodor Geisel, Doctor Seuss for their many years of generosity to the college..

Other Dartmouths

Dartmouth, Massachusetts and University of Massachusetts Dartmouth

Dartmouth College is not in Dartmouth, Massachusetts. It is in Hanover, New Hampshire. But, the University of Massachusetts has a campus in Dartmouth, Massachusetts. It was originally the New Bedford Textile School in New Bedford and the Bradford Durfee Textile School in Fall River, established to “refine the skills of the mill workers.” Classes included the “General Cotton Course”, knitting technology, chemistry of textiles, dyeing and finishing and fashion and textile design. Eventually the schools joined the University of Massachusetts and moved to Dartmouth, so University of Massachusetts Dartmouth or UMass Dartmouth. UMass is also in Amherst, Boston, Lowell, Worcester and Springfield, Massachusetts.

Dartmouth, Massachusetts was named after Dartmouth, England by the Puritans colonists. Dartmouth was one of the last places in England they ever saw.

Indeed, if it weren’t for the skilled craftsmen of Dartmouth nearly 400 years ago, the story may have had a very different ending. For it was they who managed to repair the Speedwell and ensure she and the Mayflower could both continue their journeys to Plymouth and, eventually, reach North America.

Dartmouth Heritage Trail

Dartmouth Naval Academy

The Britannia Royal Naval College is in Dartmouth, Devon England. It is commonly called Dartmouth. (At first students lived in old decommissioned ships moored in the River Dart.)

Dartmouth, Victoria, Australia

Dartmouth, Victoria, Australia is at the junction of the Dart and Mitta Rivers, another Dart Mouth.

Postcard of the Boston Tea Party
Postcard of the Boston Tea Party

Dartmouth the Ship and the Boston Tea Party

The Dartmouth was largish American full-rigged cargo ship owned by the Rotchs, an affluent Nantucket Quaker family. It was built in an area named Darmouth in New Bedford, Massachusetts, most likely named after Dartmouth, Devon, England.

After delivering a shipment of whale oil to London, the Dartmouth agreed to carry 114 chests of British East India Company Tea back to Boston.

The Boston Tea Party was a much more complicated and drawn out affair than I had learned in school.

The Dartmouth arrived in Boston on November 28, 1773. It first went to Rowe’s Wharf, but the merchant John Rowe insisted they move on, so they went to Griffin’s Wharf. “By law, after having entered the harbor, Rotch had only 20 days to unload his cargos before the ships would be seized and the cargos sold at auction to pay the customs duties.”

But, “Once having entered the harbor, a vessel could not legally set sail again with the cargo still on board without special permission from the governor of Massachusetts.” There were huge guns of Castle William to enforce this.

It was a no-win situation. The standoff went on for the twenty days. Francis Rotch tried to get permission, either to unload the tea or leave the harbor with it, but was refused.

Then the “Boston Tea Party”… tea on three ships was destroyed by “Mohawks” like you know. But, the ships and the rest of the cargo were left alone.

The East India Company actually even paid the Rotch family for shipping! It wasn’t their fault. The Dartmouth took another load of oil to London. While they were there, the Captain and other crew who were witnesses were summoned to Whitehall by William Legge, the 2nd Earl of Dartmouth.  He had been named the Secretary of State for the Colonies in 1772, just a year before.

The Dartmouth did not make it back. The ship went down, but the crew were saved and made it back to Boston.

If you want to know more, there are a lot of details at

There were a lot of other ships named Dartmouth and variations.

The Capture of the Glorioso by Charles Brooking
The Capture of the Glorioso by Charles Brooking

HMS Dartmouths

There were a number of ships in His or Her Majesty’s Service named the Dartmouth. The first mentioned was named in 1666, well before there any Baron of Dartmouth or Earls of Dartmouth. The earliest fought Barbary Pirates. The second was captured by the French. By the time it was captured back, a third had already been named HMS Dartmouth, so the second was renamed the HMS Vigo.

HMS Dartmouth burning in the painting The Capture of the Glorioso by Charles Brooking
HMS Dartmouth burning in the painting The Capture of the Glorioso by Charles Brooking

Charles Brooking’s painting The Capture of the Glorioso shows the sinking, burning wreck of the third HMS Dartmouth in 1747.

The fourth HMS Dartmouth fought in the First World War.

None of this got me any further toward coming up with a good name for our house on Dartmouth Rd. I just put our name on the mailbox.