George Washington's Ancestry and Family History

George Washington's ancestry points back to England, as did many of the people living in colonial America during his time. His earliest ancestors include several members of the English royalty, the most significant of whom was the great king Charlemagne. More recent evidence of Washington's English heritage are found in Selby Abbey in Yorkshire, England. The Washington family coat of arms is found in some of the stained glass artwork there. This artwork was most likely dedicated to John Wessington, a member of an influential family in Durham, England. The name "Wessington" came from the original name of the land that the family first settled in the twelfth century.

Another name for the Wessington family was "Washington." George Washington's great-great-grandfather Lawrence Washington earned a college education in England and began serving as a reverend in Essex in 1633 until the fighting of the English Civil War began. Because of Lawrence's sympathies to the British crown, he was removed from his position in his local church. The loss of his job resulted in Lawrence Washington dying in poverty in 1654. However, Lawrence Washington's son John Washington emigrated to the colonies after the death of his father.

Settling in Virginia, John Washington married Anne Pope. Anne's family was a wealthy one made up of plantation owners, and she and John were given a plot of land as a wedding gift. John Washington, the great-grandfather of George Washington, began the Washington tradition of farming, and became a successful farmer in Westmoreland County, Virginia. Additionally, John Washington became involved in Virginia local politics and the military. John Washington's son Lawrence Washington (the grandfather of George Washington) went to law school back in England but soon returned to Virginia to inherit his father's farms and lands. One of the lands which he inherited was named Little Hunting Creek. This piece of land would be renamed Mount Vernon in the future. Lawrence Washington was married twice, due to the death of his first wife Jane. He had four children with Jane. One of these children was named after his father: Lawrence Washington. He was a close step-brother to George Washington as the two were growing up. The elder Lawrence Washington also fathered six children with his second wife, Mary Ball. His oldest child from Mary was George Washington. Although modern historians have investigated the ancestry of George Washington because of his position as a key historical figure, George Washington himself as apparently quite unaware of his own lineage. In fact, he said in a letter that it was "a subject to which I confess I have paid very little attention." Maybe this lack of interest in his family heritage is correlated with the willingness of George Washington to break away from the traditions and rule of the mother country of Great Britain and fight for the independence of a new nation.