George Washington’s Great-Grandfather and First Ancestor to Settle in Virginia Was John Washington
Bottle seal of John Washington found at his original homesite in Virginia
Grave of John Washington in the Washington family burial plot in Westmoreland County, Virginia.
Drawing of John Washington’s Virginia homesite
Iron window frame from John Washington’s Virginia homesite
The son of George Washington’s ancestor, Robert Washington referenced above, was named Lawrence Washington. He married Margaret Butler, who was a descendant of King Edward I of England. Their son was the Reverend Lawrence Washington and their grandson was George Washington’s paternal great-grandfather, John Washington. He was born in England about 1632. Because the Washington family was related to English royalty as well as to the King’s principal advisor, the Duke of Buckingham, John Washington’s father, the Reverend Lawrence Washington, was appointed first as the chancellor of Oxford College where he was responsible for weeding out Puritans, then as Rector of the church Purleigh, Essex, England. Unfortunately, after King Charles I was beheaded during the English Civil War and Oliver Cromwell came to power, the Reverend Lawrence Washington lost his position and became penniless. As a consequence, his wife, Amphillis Twigden took herself and her children to live with her mother and stepfather. Because of family connections to the Archbishop Edwin Sandys, who was the Anglican Bishop of London and then the Archbishop of York and who was the leader the Virginia Company of London which founded Jamestown, when John Washington became old enough he was able to secure a postion with a London tobacco merchant/trading company. He then invested in the ship Seahorse and served as a mate on its voyage to Virginia. After the ship ran aground in the Potomac River, John Washington decided to remain in Virginia and lend his expertise in tobacco trading so as to become a partner with the Virginia/Maryland tobacco planter Nathaniel Pope. After marrying Nathaniel Pope’s daughter, Anne Pope, he settled down on a 700 acre plantation on Mattox Creek in Westmoreland County of Virginia’s Northern Neck which he and his wife and been given as a wedding present by her father, Nathaniel Pope. Afterwards, he became a successful Virginia planter, was elected to the Virginia House of Burgesses, and had three children: Lawrence, John, and Anne. During the events leading up to Bacon’s Rebellion, he was appointed a Colonel in the Virginia militia and became famous for a raid on a Native American Indian village in which chiefs from six different Indian tribes who had gathered there were killed. He was criticized for this by Virginia Governor William Berkeley, but had popular support. During Bacon’s Rebellion, he wisely decided to support Governor Berkeley, which led to his being appointed to additional public offices and greater prominance within the colony of Virginia. He died in 1677 and is buried in the Washington family burial plot in Westmoreland County, Virginia.