« PreviousContinue »
Michael Stanhope, but he was compelled to mortgage it in 1640 to Sir Edward Spencer and Sir Richard Wynne, and it was in the possession of the latter at his death in 1649. By a singular coincidence, Sir William Washington's father, at his death, held of Lord Spencer a manor of the same name in Northamptonshire.
We now arrive at the great point of interest in the present discussion, and the main fact, destined to overthrow the assumptions of Sir Isaac Heard and Baker as to the origin of the American Washingtons, may as well be stated at once. John WASHINGTON, the second son of Lawrence and Margaret, and brother of Sir William, was also knighted. He became Sir John, at Newmarket, on the 21st of February, 1622-3. His identity may be established in several ways.
In a series of old account-books preserved at Althorp, which have been carefully examined by the Rev. John Nassau Simpkinson, Rector of Brington (whose interest in the subject, and whose kind assistance the writer begs thus publicly to acknowledge), and to some extent by the writer himself, there is abundant evidence to show that the most friendly relations existed between the noble family at Althorp and their neighbors and tenants the Washingtons. Evidence to the same effect is also to be found in the several wills of the family, of which, in some instances, Lord Spencer was appointed supervisor. The Washingtons were a gentle family, although greatly reduced in circumstances, having been compelled to part with the estate of Sulgrave, upon which they retired to Brington. The Lord Spencer of that day, however, did not forsake his friends in their adversity. They had hitherto been his frequent guests at Wormleighton, and, on their settlement at Brington, were as cordially welcomed to Althorp. It may also be mentioned that the two families were more or less nearly connected by intermarriage.
The old account-books referred to were the steward's usual household books, and also some that were kept by a person who had charge of the grain given out daily for the use of the horses of the establishment as well as those of Lord Spencer's guests. These books record the frequent presence, as guests, at Althorp, of Mr. Robert Washington (who died on the 10th of March, 1622-3, and who is last mentioned shortly before his death); also of William, John, Lawrence, and Thomas Washington (evidently four of the sons of Lawrence and Margaret); Mistress Alice Washington (their sister); and also of the Curtises and Pills, with whom the Washingtons intermarried ; but, which is more important, down to the 10th of November, 1621, William Washington is always mentioned as Mr. William, and on that date for the last time, reappearing on the 30th of March, 1622, as Sir William. He had been knighted on the preceding 17th of January. After the 30th of March, 1622, down to the 11th of January, 1622–3, the two brothers are mentioned as Sir William and Mr. John Washington. The latter is never so designated again, but, on the 22d of March following, the presence of Sir John Washington is recorded. He had been knighted between those two dates, on the 21st of February. Afterwards Thomas (who is last mentioned on the 12th of October, 1622) having died in Spain in 1623, the three brothers are always mentioned as Sir William, Sir John, and Mr. Lawrence Washington. There is abundant other evidence to show that Vol. XXI.
these brothers were the sons of Lawrence and Margaret Washington, formerly of Sulgrave and afterwards of Brington.
The history of Sir John Washington was briefly as follows : and, to avoid numerous notes and references, the writer will simply remark that for every fact stated he has the evidence in his possession. He was first married, on the 14th of June, 1621, at St. Leonard's, Shoreditch, by virtue of a license, to Mary, one of the daughters of Philip Curtis, gentleman, by Catherine his wife, of Islip, Northants. The will of her mother, dated the 6th of December, 1622, mentions her as her daughter Mary Washington, and bequeaths a legacy of 501. to her then only son Mordaunt Washington. She had two other sons, viz. : John and Philip, and died on the 1st of January, 1624–5. She was buried in the church of Islip aforesaid, where her monument still exists, with the following inscription : “ Here lieth the body of Dame Mary, wife unto Si John Washingtô knight, daughter of Phillipe Curtis, gent. who had issue by hur sayd husbande 3 sonns, Mordaunt, John, and Phillipe ; deceased the 1 of Janu. 1624." The monumental inscription of her mother, Catharine Curtis, also in Islip church, states that by her husband Philip Curtis, gentleman, she had issue one son, Philip, and four daughters. This Philip Curtis married Amy Washington, one of the daughters of Lawrence and Margaret, at Brington, on the 8th of August, 1620. Of this connection there cannot be the slightest doubt, and as their wills are both otherwise important, as establishing the point at issue, full abstracts of them are here given.
That of Philip Curtis was nuncupative, and made on the 19th of May, 1636, in presence of Sir John Washington, knight, and another. He bequeathed 1,0001. to his daughter Catharine, when of age or married, and to his nephews John Washington and Philip Washington each 501. when of age. His nephew Mordaunt Washington he commended to the kindness of his wife, to whom he bequeathed the residue of his estate, and appointed as guardians of his daughter, the clergyman of the parish and “Sir John Washington of Thrapston, in the county of Northampton, knight." The will was proved on the 30th of May following by his relict Amy Curtis, and on the ensuing 27th of June she made her own will. After directing to be buried in the chancel of Islip near her husband, she proceeds substantially as follows:
Whereas there was given to my nephew Mordaunt Washington, the eldest son of Sir John Washington, knt., by the last will and testament of his grandmother Curtis, deceased, the sum of 501., I now give to said Mordaunt 2501. more, to be employed for his benefit till he become of age or married. Whereas my husband, lately deceased, gave to John Washington, second son of Sir John Washington, 501., I now give to said John, my nephew, 501. more, to be employed to his use till he be of age, &c. Whereas my husband, lately deceased, gave by his last will to my nephew Philip Washington, third son of Sir John Washington, knt., 501., I now give him 501. more, &c. Whereas my husband Philip Curtis, by his last will, gave me and my heirs for ever all his lands, houses, &c., I now give the same to my only daughter Katharine Curtis and her heirs for ever, as well as the residue of all my estate, and appoint "my dear and loving mother, Margarett Washington, and my loving brother Sir John Washington, knight,” to be her guardians.
One of the witnesses to this will is William Washington, doubtless Sir William her brother. Administration thereon was granted, on the 19th of November following, to Sir John Washington, knight, who is described as the “ lawful brother” of the testatrix, and who was to act during the minority of Katherine Curtis, daughter of the testatrix and the executrix named in the will.
There could not possibly be a more satisfactory document than this, as the testatrix not only gives the name of her mother, but also distinctly states her relationship to Sir John Washington, which is legally confirmed by the Probate Court.
The subsequent personal history of Sir John Washington, except that he married a second wife, is almost entirely unknown. Among the Royalist Composition Papers at the Public Record Office, in the case of the Earl of Northampton, there is an affidavit of a tenant who had paid 2181. to Thomas Farrer for the use of the said earl and Sir John Washington. Farrer responds, that what sums of money he had received out of the estate of James, Earl of Northampton had been so received “as agent on behalf of Sir John Washington, by virtue of an Extent which the said John had on said estate in the county of Bedford ;" whereupon, on the 23d of February, 1653-4, it was ordered, “that a letter be written to Sir John Washington to pay in the money or show cause.'
On the 14th of January, 1661-2, Lawrence Washington of Garsden, in the county of Wilts, esquire, made his will, in which he left an annuity of 401. per annum to his “cousin John Washington, son of Sir John Washington of Thrapston, in the county of Northampton, knight,” the legal presumption from which is that both father and son were then living, and the former at Thrapston.
The registers of Thrapston, although embracing the period during which Sir John Washington is described as of that place, and the time of his death, do not once mention his name. He died, however, before the 6th of October, 1678, on which day Dorothy Washington made her will, and described herself as “relict of Sir John Washington, knight, deceased.” She directed to be buried in the chancel of the church of Fordham, near hér grandchild, Mrs. Penelope Audley. She bequeathed of her “small estate,” 51. to her son, Mr. Thomas Kirkbey, and 20s. to each of his sons and daughters, leaving the residue of her goods to her daughter, Mrs. Penelope Thornton, whom she appointed her executrix. No children by Sir John Washington are mentioned. In the Probate Act she is described as of Fordham, in the county of Cambridge, and the record of her burial, in the parish register of that place, under the year 1678, is as follows :-“ Dame Dorothy, relict of S John Wassington of Thrapston, in the county of Northampton, knight, was buryed the 15th day of October."
It is probable that Sir John had no issue by his second wife, and morally certain that none were living at her death, or she would scarcely have failed to notice them in some way in her will. Of the three sons by his first wife, John, we have seen, was still living in 1661–2. His eldest brother Mordaunt was visiting at Althorp on the 13th of February, 1640-1, but nothing further is known of him, nor
of his youngest brother Philip, unless the latter was one of that name who was buried at St. Martin's-in-the-Fields on the 26th of September, 1643.
We proceed now to the history of LAWRENCE WASHINGTON, apparently the fifth son of Lawrence and Margaret, and certainly the younger brother of Sir William and Sir John Washington.
Baker was quite correct in stating that he was a student at Oxford in the year 1622. He was of Brasenose College, and matriculated on the 2d of November, 1621. The exact record in the Martriculation Register is as follows: “Laurent: Washington, Northamp : Gen. fil. an. nat. 19;” i. e. Lawrence Washington, of Northamptonshire, whose father's rank was that of a gentleman, and whose own age was nineteen years at his last birthday.
It was not until little more than a year later that the officials commenced entering in the register the christian names and particular residences of the fathers of the students, but in the present instance the above record is almost as satisfactory as it would have been if the other particulars had been given. In the first place, the Washington family of Sulgrave, or Brington, was the only one of the name in Northamptonshire whose sons could be recognized and designated as the sons of gentlemen, unless, indeed, the Heralds of that time omitted others, which is not probable. Secondly, there was no other Lawrence Washington at Oxford for considerable periods before and after this date ; unless, again, all the officials were guilty of omissions in all the Registers (for the writer has carefully examined them all), which is even more improbable. And, finally, the will of his aunt Elizabeth, widow of his uncle Robert Washington, dated on the 17th of March, 1622-3, among other legacies to his brothers and sisters, leaves him her husband's seal ring, and states that he was then at Oxford.
Lawrence Washington was born, therefore, about the year 1602. He
appears to have entered at Brasenose College as early as 1619, but he did not sign the Subscription Book until November, 1621, under which date his name also appears in the general matriculation register, in connection with thirty-five others—an extraordinary number, and indicating that from some cause this ceremony had hitherto been neglected. He took his B. A. degree in 1623, and became Fellow of Brasenose about 1624. He is recorded as serving the office of lector, then the principal educational office in the college, from 1627 to 1632 inclusive. On the 26th of August, 1631, he became one of the proctors of the university, filling a vacancy that had occurred by the deprivation of his predecessor by royal warrant. On the 14th of March, 1632–3, he was presented to the then very valuable living of Purleigh, in Essex, and resigned his fellowship. The records of a suit in Chancery, preserved at the Rolls Office, perfectly identify the rector of Purleigh with the fellow of Brasenose and the proctor of the university. He continued at Purleigh until the year 1643, when, according to Newcourt, he was "ejected by sequestration for his loyalty in the late rebellion of 1642," and had the honor of being pilloried in the infamous “Century." Walker states that he “was afterwards permitted to have and continue upon a Living in these parts ; but it was such a poor and miserable one that it was always with difficulty that any one was persuaded to accept of it.” The writer has been unable to ascertain the living
mentioned; but it is to be hoped that some further trace of him may yet be discovered in the neighborhood of Purleigh, where, putting the usual construction upon Walker's language, he continued in his profession of a clergyman after the Restoration, and consequently some years after the date of his namesake's emigration to Virginia.
We are now prepared to test the question of identity first raised.
Referring again to the facts that the John and Lawrence Washington of the Northamptonshire pedigree were respectively at least sixty-two and fifty-five years of age in 1657, the date of the emigration, and that both of the real emigrants remarried and had issue in Virginiafacts, almost, if not quite, sufficient in themselves to settle the question without further dispute, especially as the evidences in the will of Lawrence of Virginia indicate that he was probably under thirty years of age at the time of his emigration-we may safely leave the issue to the effect of either of the following propositions :
First. John Washington of Sulgrave and Brington was knighted, and became Sir John, while his brother Lawrence was a clergyman of the Established Church. If they were the Virginia emigrants the one must have abandoned his knighthood, and the other rejected his surplice and bands, for both were never known in Virginia except as “ Esquires,” or “Gentlemen,” and by the latter appellation they described themselves in their wills. For either of these rejections there could have been no possible cause, as Virginia was then a loyal colony, and her established religion that of the mother country.
Secondly: Sir John Washington had at least two wives. The first, named Mary, was buried at Islip, in Northamptonshire, wuile the name of his widow was Dorothy, and she was buried at Fordham in Cambridgeshire. John Washington, gentleman, the Virginia emigrant, states distinctly in his will, dated the 27th of September, 1675, that he brought his first wife from England with him, that she died in Virginia, and was buried with two children on bis own plantation, and that his second wife's name was Anne, whom he appointed his executrix.
It is clear, therefore, that if John Washington, son of Lawrence and Margaret of Sulgrave, was identical with Sir John Washington of Thrapston, knight, he could not have been the emigrant to Virginia in 1657 ; and, as there cannot be the slightest doubt upon that point, the assumption of Sir Isaac Heard and Mr. Baker unquestionably falls to the ground.
On a future occasion the writer proposes to review the Washington pedigree more at large, and to present other more reasonable theories as to the true ancestry of the American President. He has accumulated a large amount of information from almost every source accessible to him, and believes that it embraces the real history of the family ; but he yet lacks the positive clue that would solve the mystery, and enable him to reduce the chaotic material to order. He will be very grateful for even the most apparently trifling note concerning the name which may be transmitted to him.*
Any communications may be addressed to the care of W. H. Whitmore, Boston, or John Gough Nichols, Esq., London, Eng.