George Washington Family Tree: First President's Roots Shaped By His Origins

Friday, 22 Aug 2014 05:58 PM

By Morgan Chilson

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The family tree of President George Washington was planted solidly in the Northern Neck of Virginia in the mid-1600s by his great-grandfather.

John Washington came almost accidentally to the United States by way of a ship that foundered on the shores of the Potomac River in 1656, according to a 1941 handbook from the George Washington Birthplace National Monument.

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John Washington was on that ship serving as an agent for owner Edward Prescott of England. During the next few weeks, John Washington and Prescott got into a disagreement that escalated into court proceedings, which are on record in Washington County court.

So John Washington did not return to England, but stayed in the area and married Ann Pope. Setting a precedent that would shape George Washington, he became a Lieutenant Colonel in the Virginia Militia and also an avid campaigner against Indians. John Washington’s son, Lawrence Washington, emigrated from England to America, where his son Augustine Washington, George Washington’s father, was born.

Augustine Washington was born in 1694 and would marry Mary Ball in a second marriage that would birth the nation’s first president.

Augustine Washington, called “Gus,” was an ambitious man, Biography.com reported, and acquired land and slaves, grew tobacco, and built mills, creating a middle-class life for his family. But Augustine died when George Washington was just 11 years old, leaving Mary Ball Washington to work the family’s 600-acre farm and raise six children, LibraryPoint said.

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In the book "The Founding of a Father," author Willard Sterne Randall wrote that George Washington promoted his young years as having a “log-cabin image” and he consistently refused to talk about his English family.

Randall also said that the early deaths of George Washington’s father and grandfather may have prepared the first president for the future.

“Yet Washington's intimations of his own mortality were certainly not a sign of hypochondria,” Randall wrote, listing numerous illnesses that Washington survived, including mumps, smallpox, malaria, typhoid fever and debilitating influenzas. “He was dosed with quinine so much for recurring malaria that he suffered marked hearing loss and was nearly deaf by the time he left the presidency.”

George Washington died in 1799 at age 67.

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