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P: s: please to remember my love to the worthy ministers of your Town, particularly such as I had the honour and pleasure of some acquaintance with, whom I salute with great respect.
Philad“, Feb. 25, 1749–50.
p: s: and particularly remember my Love to your Revnd Pastor,* the promising son of a venerable Father, an ornament and Defence to truth and holiness in his day, and my entire and affectionate friend.
Addressed, “For | The Honourable Colonel Wendell | at | Boston | These.”.
[Accompanying the preceding letter is the following printed circular with autograph signatures :]
To all Charitably disposed Persons Greeting. The Petition of the English PRESBYTERIAN, or reformed Society (who have for some Years statedly Worshiped in a large House in the City of Philadelphia, commonly called the New-Building).
Humbly Sheweth. . That we your Petitioners being necessitated to build a House for publick Worship in the aforesaid City, and purchase a burying Place for our Dead, and the Lands at present being so exceeding dear, the charge of Building so great, and the Circumstances of most of our Society so Poor and Low, we are not able of ourselves to go through the necessary expence of this important undertaking, without the Charitable assistance of our Friends and Brethren of other Societies ; to whom we therefore make our humble Application, being constrained thereto by Necessity, earnestly Requesting that they would please to contribute to our Relief in this Exigency, as God has prospered them, to which we Trust they will be excited, by considering the Excellency, the Honour, the Pleasure and Advantages of Charity in this, and a future World, as well as its positive Injunction by the highest Authority ; surely nothing is more Reasonable in itself, comfortable to us, or profitable to Society, than that every one would do in this (as well as in all other Cases) as they would desire to be done by in like Circumstances. The sacred Scriptures assure us, that Charity is the brightest emblem of the Deity, whose Being is Love and Benevolence. That this exceeds every other Grace and Virtue, that this unconfin'd to Parties, as the Sun extends its benign and salutary Influences to all the various Tribes of the Necessitous, it discovers and is capable to Relieve : That this is the Bane of sordid Bigotry, the cement of Society both Civil and Religious, the ornamental Badge and distinguishing Test of vital and practical Christianity : that of this particular Notice will be taken, and upon this peculiar Honours placed at the Messiahs advent: by this we excite others Generosity in their turn, by this we procure the blessing of God upon our Persons, Enterprizes and Enjoyments, and so provide for Immergency's to which all are liable in this uncertain and fluctuating state of Things ; give therefore says Solomon to Seven and also to Eight, for thou knowest not what evil shall be upon the Earth. By assisting the Indigent and
* Rev. Samuel Cooper, son of Rev. William Cooper.-Ed.
Necessitous, especially in their pious Essays, of a publick and religious Nature, we act worthy of the Principles of Reason, of Religion, and Humanity : by this we express those generous Sentiments, and sooth those tender Sympathy's which become the dignity of a human Soul, and to which there is a native proness in our very Frame : and consequently by acts of Mercy, we do good to ourselves in our most valuable Interests. But we trust we need not use Arguments in the present Case (which is so evident and important) to excite generous minds to do their Duty, and therefore only beg leave to say, that we are with all due Respect to your several Persons and Characters, Signed in behalf of the Society, Your real Friends December 28. 1749.*
and humble Servants.
A PRELIMINARY INVESTIGATION OF THE ALLEGED AN
CESTRY OF GEORGE WASHINGTON, FIRST PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA ; EXPOSING A SERIOUS ERROR IN THE EXISTING PEDIGREE.
[Communicated by JOSEPH L. CHESTER, Esq., of London, Eng.) In the year 1791 Sir Isaac Heard, then Garter King of Arms, compiled a pedigree of the family of George Washington, then President of the United States, and transmitted a copy thereof to him, asking his opinion as to its correctness, and requesting him to add to it any other particulars within his knowledge. To this communication Washington responded on the 2nd of May, 1792, thanking Sir Isaac for his attention, and sending certain information respecting the more modern history of his family, but confessed that it was a subject to which he had paid very little attention, and that he could not fill up with much accuracy the sketch sent him. This document, which was of considerable length, would now be almost priceless as an autograph, but it has unfortunately disappeared. A volume containing the original letter and other collections relating to the same subject, passed subsequently, after Sir Isaac's death, into the possession of the late Mr. Pulman, Clarencieux. It was seen and examined by Mr. Jared Sparks when collecting materials for his biography of Washington, but cannot now be found.
Sir Isaac took as the basis of his pedigree the Heraldic Visitations of Northamptonshire, in which the Washington family was included. Starting with the well-known fact that the first emigrants of the name to Virginia were two brothers named John and Lawrence Washington, who left England for that colony about the year 1657, he found recorded in the Visitation of 1618 the names of John and Lawrence,
[* The date is printed “December 28, 1749–50,” and “50” is stricken out with a pen. Perhaps the writer of the circular commenced the year on Christmas (ante xiii. 189), or “ 1749-50" may be a typographical or clerical error.-ED.]
+ See an article by Isaac J. Greenwood, Esq., of New York city, on the Washington Pedigree, in the Register, vol. xvii. p. 249.
described as sons of Lawrence Washington of Sulgrave in that county who had died in the year 1616. The names being identical with those of the Virginia emigrants, and the period at which they lived not altogether inappropriate, Sir Isaac assumed their personal identity; and on this assumption constructed his pedigree, deducing the descent of the American President through this heraldic family of Northamptonshire from the still more ancient one of the name in Lancashire. It is but just to the memory of Sir Isaac to say that he himself only regarded the pedigree as a conjectural one, and that he took the precaution to leave on the margin of his own copy a note (which was seen and copied by Mr. Sparks) to the effect that he was not clearly satisfied that the connection of the President with the Sulgrave family was or could be substantiated.
Some years afterwards, when Mr. Baker was preparing his History of Northamptonshire, he pursued, in reference to his account of the Washington family, a precisely similar course. Either he acted independently, basing his pedigree on the same assumption, or, which is most probable, he had access to the collections of Sir Isaac Heard ; and, presuming that Sir Isaac had thoroughly investigated the subject, adopted the pedigree which he had constructed. Sir Isaac's explanatory note, if seen, was ignored, and Baker confidently published the pedigree with the statements that John Washington of the Sulgrave family was afterwards of South Cave, in the county of York ; that his brother Lawrence was a student at Oxford in 1622; that both emigrated to America about the year 1657 ; and that the former was the direct ancestor of the American President.
This pedigree has ever since been received as authoritative by all historians and biographers, everybody supposing that both Baker and Sir Isaac Heard had established the connection and descents by unimpeachable evidence, and no one dreaming for a moment of questioning the accuracy of their statements.
The object of this paper is to prove that the conclusions of those eminent men, natural and reasonable as they may have been (which is not denied), were nevertheless altogether wrong-in other words, that the John and Lawrence Washington named in the Visitation of 1618 as the sons of Lawrence Washington of Sulgrave were not the emigrants to Virginia in 1657, and consequently that the former was not the ancestor of the illustrious President.
Other articles concerning the Washington family may follow this, but the present one aims only at the entire demolition of the now universally received pedigree, so far as the alleged American connection is concerned, and is published at this time in the hope and belief that an interest will be excited among genealogists which may result in the discovery of the true ancestry of the great and good man whose memory is equally honored on both sides of the Atlantic.
The first doubt cast upon Sir Isaac Heard's pedigree was, perhaps unconsciously, by President Washington himself, and it is not unreasonable to suppose that it may have induced the former to record the note already mentioned. The language used by Washington in one portion of the letter referred to is important and suggestive. He says: “I have often heard others of the family, older than myself, say that our ancestor who first settled in this country came from some one of the northern counties of England; but whether from Lanca
shire, Yorkshire, or one still more northerly, I do not precisely remember.” Washington himself, when he wrote this, was about sixty years of age, and the memory of those older than himself, from whom he received the statement, must have reached back probably within half a century of the arrival of his first ancestor in Virginia. Traditions are valuable, or otherwise, as they are transmitted through the medium of ignorance or intelligence. In such a family as that of the Washingtons the original facts would be less likely to become perverted than if they had been successively communicated through persons of a less intelligent character. Taking the tradition, however, for what it may be worth, it is quite certain that Northamptonshire cannot be accounted “one of the northern counties of England." But Washington himself was perfectly clear upon this point, and, if his language means anything, it surely means that the county from which his first American ancestor emigrated, if not Lancashire, or Yorkshire, was one, as he says, “ still more northerly.” It must also be noted that he does not mention this locality as the ancient or original seat of the family, but says distinctly that his “ancestor who first settled” in Virginia emigrated from that county
But, whatever may be the value of this testimony, the present object can be accomplished quite independently of it.
In order that all the references to the various persons hereafter mentioned may be perfectly comprehended, a copy of Baker's pedigree is herewith given, down to the generation including John and Lawrence Washington, the two brothers in question. By reference thereto (vide post. page 24), it will be seen that Lawrence Washington, of Sulgrave, by his wife Margaret Butler, had issue seven sons and seven daughters. This enumeration does not agree strictly with the Visitation of 1618, which gives another son named Robert (said to have died without issue), and omits Barbara, one of the daughters named by Baker (evidently in error, as she was doubtless the one of that name mentioned two generations before as one of the daughters of the first Lawrence Washington of Sulgrave). This accords, so far as the number of sons is concerned, with the inscription on his monument in Brington church, co. Northampt. which, however, states that he had nine daughters. Three of these probably died at an early age, unless we except Barbara (named by Baker), and Lucy, who in 1633–4, was mentioned as headwoman (perhaps housekeeper) in the establishment of Lord Spencer at Althorp. The actual number of the children of Lawrence and Margaret Washington was seventeen, with the most of whom we shall have nothing further to do at present except to say that, as the marriage of their parents took place on the 3d of August, 1588, and their father died on the 13th of December, 1616, it is not difficult to determine at least the approximate dates of their respective births, which probably occurred, so far as the sons at least are concerued, in the order in which they appear in the Visitation, viz. : 1. William ; 2. John ; 3. Robert; 4. Richard ; 5. Lawrence ; 6. Thomas ; 7. Gregory ; 8. George. Of these, George, the eighth and youngest son, was baptized at Wormleighton, in the county of Warwick, on the 3d of August, 1608. Gregory, the seventh son, was baptized at Brington, co. Northampt. on the 16th of January, 1606-7, and was buried there the following day. Thomas the sixth son, the writer has satisfactorily identified as the “ Mr. Washington." (vide Howell's Familiar Letters) who was attached to the suite of Prince Charles on the occasion of his memorable matrimonial expedition to Spain. He died at Madrid in the year 1623, at the age of eighteen, which would establish bis birth in about the year 1605. Richard, the fourth son, the writer has also discovered, was apprenticed on the 7th of July, 1614, under the auspices of the Clothworkers' Company, to one Richard Brent, of London. If apprenticed for the usual time, seven years, he would then have been about fourteen years of age, and, consequently, born about the year 1600. Between him and Thomas last named came Lawrence, the fifth son (the precise date of whose birth we shall establish presently), and perhaps one or more of their sisters. The three elder brothers, William, John, and Robert, were of course, therefore, born between the years 1589 and 1599, as well, probably, as some of the nine daughters. .
This recapitulation of dates is not unimportant, as it affords another strong presumptive proof against the correctness of Baker's pedigree. If the two brothers John and Lawrence above named were the Virginia emigrants, the former must have been about sixty, and the latter not far from fifty-five years of age, when they quitted England. It certainly was not usual for men so far advanced in life to seek new homes in the colonies, and as it is known that both of the real emigrants married again after they had been some time in Virginia, and both had issue there; the improbability that they were identical with the two brothers of Northamptonshire becomes greatly increased.
It is, of course, unnecessary to dwell long upon the history of William Washington, the eldest son, whose identity, if not otherwise sufficiently established, would be so by the will of his aunt Elizabeth, the widow of his uncle Robert Washington, dated on the 17th of March, 1622–3, in which, among other legacies to her nephews and nieces, she bequeaths him 1001., and calls him “ Sir William Washington." He was knighted at Theobalds on the 17th of January, 1621-2. He married Anne, the half-sister of George Villiers, Duke of Buckinghani, who, after that event, appears to have taken the whole family under his protection, and continued to advance their fortunes (which, at that time, were at a very low ebb) in various ways, until down to the very time of his assassination. Sir William is described, in 1618, as of Packington, in the county of Leicester, but appears afterwards to have scarcely had a permanent home anywhere. Two of his children were baptized at Leckhampstead, in the county of Bucks, and two at St. Martin's-in-the-Fields, London, where he himself was buried on the 22d of June, 1643. Lady Washington was buried at Chelsea on the preceding 25th of May. According to the Visitation of 1618, his eldest son, Henry, was born in 1615, from which fact an approximate date of his own birth may be readily derived. His other children were George, Christopher, Catherine, Susanna, and Elizabeth. In his will, which is dated on the 6th of June, only sixteen days before his burial, he gives his residence as “ Thistleworth” (Isleworth), in the county of Middlesex, and directs that ais “manor of Wicke,” and “ Wicke farm,” shall be sold.
This manor was in the parish of Isleworth, and had been purchased in the year 1638 by Sir William Washington from the coheirs of Sir