Lawrence Washington (1602-1655)

Lawrence Washington (1602 – 1655) was the great-great-grandfather of George Washington.


Washington was a Fellow of Brasenose College, Oxford. His degree there was awarded in 1623. He resigned from his Fellowship in 1633. According to the college records he left in debt, "owing 17s 10d personally and £9 5s 9d on behalf of a pupil". College Fellows at Oxford at the time were held liable for their students' debts. The college accounting books read: "Mr Washington to be sued", but no lawsuit ever was filed.

The college recounts the following story of the debt: "In 1924 a party of Canadian and American lawyers were shown the account of these debts during a visit to the College, and they suggested that they should pay the personal debt of 17s 10d, subject to no interest being charged. A pound note was produced amidst much laughter. Unfortunately this light hearted gesture was not appreciated by some of George Washington's more seriously minded supporters. A letter to the Daily Express and an article in the New York Herald both denied that any debt had ever existed." []

Lawrence's stay at Oxford coincided with the rectorate (1619-1645) of Giles Widdowes at St Martin's. Widdowes was chaplain to Katherine Villiers, Duchess of Buckingham of whom Lawrence became the in-law. (ref.below)

George Washington's great-great-great-grandfather, also named Lawrence, married Margaret Butler, and was a successful wooltrader (see also:Merchants of the Staple, Enclosure, [] ) and Mayor of Northampton (several times:1532, 1545), had bought Sulgrave Manor in Northamptonshire, not far from Banbury in Oxfordshire, from King Henry VIII in 1539. His son Robert inherited Sulgrave Manor in 1584.(see also: [] ).

During a Royal Progress in the Midlands, 3 August 1614, James I of England first set eyes on George Villiers at Sir Walter Mildmay's mansion, Apethorpe Hall, near Fotheringhay. The future Duke of Buckingham was then a poor second son from a second marriage, the bulk of his father's heritage having been divided among the children of the first, including Anne Villiers, the wife of Lawrence's elder brother Sir William Washington. Washingtons and Mildmays [] were to be neighbours at Purleigh. The marriage of George Villiers' mother, Mary Beaumont, to Sir Thomas Compton further allied the Washington family in kinsbond (ref: H.R.Williamson, 1940)

In 1914 Sulgrave manor became the property of "the Peoples of Great Britain and the United States of America in celebration of the Hundred Years Peace between the two nations". In 1924 the National Society of the Colonial Dames of America endowed the Manor House and continues to help support it. []

The founder of the Sulgrave Manor Washingtons was Sir Robert De Washington (d.1324) from whom the Virginia Washingtons descend. A brother of Sir Robert was Sir John De Washington (d.1331) whose founded the Hallhead Hall/Adwick-le-street Branch from whom a Netherlands and ultimately a Bavarain and Austrain branch Washingtons descend. One descendent was Jacob FreiherrVon Washington who was with Marshal Wellington at Waterloo during the War of 1812; a descendant of his was Baron Maximillian Washington who in 1854 married the sister of the Rulers of Oldenburg. [ [,M1] ]


Washington became rector of the village of Purleigh, in Essex, from 1632 until 1643. He lost his position during the Civil War when Essex where his living was situated came under the government of the Long Parliament. He died in poverty after he had been ejected from Purleigh and relocated to the rectorate of Little Braxted, at present an eastern outskirt of Witham (1643) . He is buried in the nearby town of Maldon, []

Washington became rector in Little Braxted

By then Sir Samuel Argall had become Deputy Governor of Virginia (between 1617-1619). When his widowed mother, Mary Scot, had remarried Laurence Washington of Maidstone Sir Samuel became the first Washington with firm footing in America.

Washington family lore has it that Sir Samuel, then Captain Samuel Argall, was one of the colonials who captured Pocahontas in 1613.

"George Washington: a Biographical Compendium" (Frank E. Grizzard Jr 2002) details the portrait of Lawrence Washington with the contemporary phrasing of the charge laid against him and that led to his removal from Purleigh:: "common frequenter of ale-houses, not only himself sitting daily tippling there, but also encouraging others in that beastly vice": in op. cit. p. 5, s.v. Ancestry

This of course is the Puritan point of view. For others it may come as a relief to find that Lawrence was socially well integrated, to the point even of engaging in debate in public places.( [ yesterday's news] )

ee Also

Strickland (surname), The Washington family are direct descendants of the Strickland family from Westmorland in England.


* Frank E. Grizzard, Jr. "George Washington, A Biographical Compendium" Santa Barbara California, ABC-CLIO, 2002
* C. V. Wedgwood, "The King's Peace 1637-1641" London and Glasgow, Collins Fontana, 1973
*C. V. Wedgwood, "The King's War 1641-1647" London and Glasgow, Collins Fontana, 1973
*Christopher Hill, "The Century of Revolution 1603-1714" London and New York, Routledge Classics, 2006
*A. L. Rowse, "The Elizabethan Renaissance: The Life of the Society" London, Penguin Classic History, 2000
*A. L. Rowse, "Ralegh and the Throckmortons" (1962) The Reprint Society London, 1964 (index s.v. Sulgrave, Washington)
*Wallace Notestein, "The English People on the Eve of Colonization 1603-1630" New York, Harper&Brothers, 1954 in: The New American Nation Series (Steele Commager and Morris ed.)
*Blair Worden ed., "Stuart England" Oxford, Phaedon 1986
*Helen Gardner, (introduction, edition) "The Metaphysical Poets" Penguin Books, 1972 (biographical notes pp.306-323)
*Henry Morley, "Character Writings of the Seventeenth Century" London, George Routledge and Sons, 1891 in: The Carisbrooke Library. XIV
*Hugh Ross Williamson, "George Villiers, First Duke of Buckingham: Study for a Biography" London, Duckworth 1940
*Glyn Redworth, "The Prince and the Infanta: The Cultural Politics of the Spanish Match" New Haven and London, Yale University Press, 2003 (index s.v. Washington)
*"The Brazen Nose" [the college's magazine] , volume 41 (2006-7), page 110, for the story of the unpaid debt left by Lawrence.

External links

* [ Sources]
* [ Family background]
* [ Family history]
* [ Sulgrave/Virginia family tree]
* [ Lawrence Washington/Sandys connection]
* [ 17th century family coat of arms (document)]
* [ Rules of Civility and Decent Behaviour...]
* [ Virginia/Maryland 1649]
* [ Purleigh on the map]
* [ Little Braxted on the map]

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