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The story of the Washington family in America began in the mid-1650s when two young men, John Washington (1632-1677) and his younger brother Lawrence (1635-1677) arrived in Virginia. Their family had been loyal to the deposed king Charles I (1600-1648) during the English Civil War, and the brothers saw little future for themselves in England with Oliver Cromwell (1599-1658) and Parliament in control of the government. As a result, the Washington brothers set out to make their fortunes in the colonies.

Both Washingtons quickly established themselves in Virginia society, volunteering for public service and gaining status through marriage as stepping-stones to advancement. Following the restoration of Charles II (1630-1685) to the English throne, John Washington and a friend named Nicholas Spencer were honored in 1674 with a grant from the king of a 5,000-acre property along the Potomac River that would be known for the next few decades as Little Hunting Creek Plantation.

John Washington's great-grandson, George Washington was born in Westmoreland County, Virginia, in February of 1732, as the eldest child of the second marriage of Augustine Washington. As a small boy George Washington moved several times, between farms owned by his father in different parts of the colony, including the Little Hunting Creek property. His father's death, when Washington was only eleven, meant that he would never have the English education enjoyed by his older half-brothers. Schooled in Virginia, George Washington spent much of his teenage years bouncing between the homes of his mother, two older half-brothers, and cousins.

Lawrence Washington, attributed to Gustavus Hesselius, ca. 1738. MVLA
Lawrence Washington, attributed to Gustavus Hesselius, ca. 1738. MVLA
One of those half-brothers, Lawrence Washington (1718-1752), had a burgeoning military career and made his home at Little Hunting Creek, the property he inherited from his father. The land was soon after renamed "Mount Vernon" in honor of Lawrence Washington's former commander in the British Navy. Lawrence married into the very prominent Fairfax family of Belvoir Plantation, and it was through those connections that George Washington began to gain prominence in Virginia society.




Ball, George Washington. The Maternal Ancestry and Nearest of Kin of Washington. Washington, 1889.

Hale, Chester. Mount Vernon and the Washington Family. Butler, PA: Ziegler Printing Co., Inc., 1929.