Pages

Friday, June 21, 2013

WOODIN | The Storied Yacht "Nanin"

Richard Dey's book has
Nanin's end-of-life story
 in Chapter  2.
It's exactly 80 years since the FDR Administration tackled panic and economic misery. I have been working on a short biography of a neglected member of the Cabinet team that implemented the New Deal, William H. Woodin, FDR's first Treasury Secretary.

(Woodin was a Republican, like Secretary of Agriculture Henry Wallace and Department of Interior Secretary Harold Ickes. He presided over the Bank Holiday and carried out FDR's wish, which Woodin personally opposed, to devalue the dollar and prohibit the private ownership of gold bullion and coins, except for collectors' items.)

As part of the story, I have been interviewing three of Woodin's four surviving grandchildren - Charlie Miner, Anne Harvey Gerli, Woody Rowe and William Woodin III. One of the vivid memories of Woodin's grandchildren is fishing from an 80-foot yacht, named Nanin after Woodin's wife Annie Jessup, who was nicknamed Nan. The boat was anchored out on Gardiner's Bay, which back in the 1930s had more depth and could more easily take big boats like that.

Devon Yacht Club Commodore William H. Woodin's yacht. Thanks to Lucy
Sachs for access to her family album where this photo appears.
The boat was used for fishing and cruising. One of Woodin's grandchildren, Anne, used to try to save the fish by taking out the hooks and throwing them back in the water. This was after she learned that fish did not drown like people in the water. She says she was once caught taking goldfish out of the pond in front of their Lily Pond Lane house so the goldfish could breathe, until the poor flopping fish were rescued by Anne's mother. Anne was also disturbed by moles being caught in traps and would spring the traps. When her mother tried to stop her, Anne showed her what happened to the moles and her mother this time followed her daughter and stopped trying to kill the moles.

While Anne was forced to go fishing and didn't like it, other grandchildren enjoyed it. Mary liked to fish and so did Charlie. Charlie and his late cousin Bill Rowe (who later served in the Army Air Force as a pilot instructor) also liked to sail their jointly owned Star Boat. They had Saturday and Sunday races at the Devon Yacht Club - Charlie still remembers his sail number, #1585.

Besides fishing, Nanin went on cruises. Charlie Miner remembers making the trip all the way up through the Erie Canal locks to Lake Erie. He also remembers attending the America's Cup races in Newport, R.I.

I was curious whether there was any record of Nanin's life before purchase by Woodin and its war-time and postwar service. In fact, the boat is well documented:

  • Lloyd's Register shows that the Nanin was built by Lawley's in 1915 for Harvard-educated Albert Y. Gowen, Vice President of the Lehigh Portland Cement Company, based in Allentown, Pa., and later Chicago. No expense was spared, Lawley's being the builder of several yachts that competed for the America's Cup. Instead of copper tubing they used bronze.
  • The boat suffered from a fire in 1919, after which the single engine was replaced by two Speedway engines with 32-inch propellers (Dey, p. 32).
  • Gowen in about 1921 took the name Speejacks off his old boat and put in on a new 98-foot "motor cruiser" or "gas yacht" with 100-ton displacement. (With the new Speejacks he traveled 35,000 miles in 1921-22 and claimed to be the smallest boat that had circumnavigated the globe.)
  • Based on a year-by-year review of Lloyd's Registers, I can say with confidence that Mr. Woodin purchased Gowen's old boat within 12 months of 1922, 11 years before he became Secretary of the Treasury, and named it Nanin as a way of combining his wife Annie's nickname, Nan, and the last two letters of his own. 
  • The postwar history of the boat is found in a book by Harvard-educated Richard Dey, Adventures in the Trade Wind, about chartering yachts in the West Indies in the second half of the 20th Century. The Nanin appears in the second chapter of the book, identified only as having been purchased by a Mr. Woodin "from New York". Dey's book says correctly that the 1940 edition of Lloyd's Register has the yacht listed with Annie Jessup Woodin as the owner.
  • Dey's book confirms the report by Woodin's grandchildren that the yacht was given to the Coast Guard, but the book says the boat was "taken" for coastal patrol purposes, suggesting that there was some compensation for its taking. Vincent Astor's 264-foot yacht Nourmahal, for example, was commandeered by the Coast Guard in return for compensation of $300,000 (equivalent to $5 million in 2013). 
  • The Woodin family legend that Nanin was brought to Dunkirk and was used to rescue British troops and was sunk by a U-Boat could not be confirmed and seems unlikely. It is a glamorous story, the kind of story one wants to believe, but if the yacht was sunk it was then recovered and brought back to the American Hemisphere, because:
  • The yacht ended up (the Nanin name still on it) in Trinidad as a tugboat after the war - its snazzy bronze propellers gone and its motors replaced by noisy war-vintage GM engines (see Dey, p. 26), and the staff increased to eight to handle the heavy anchor. There is a photo of the postwar Nanin in the book. It looks like a beached whale - or, to change the metaphor, a one-time racehorse that was now yoked to a milk truck.

Here it is:
Nanin (nee Speejacks in 1915) in Trinidad after World War II. This was Will
Woodin's boat, after long use by the Coast Guard, which took the Nanin
for its own use during the war. Photo by Morris Nicholson, in the book by
Richard Dey.

The same year that Woodin became Treasury Secretary, 1933, Vincent Astor's yacht picked up FDR at Hyde Park at the end of August 80 years ago, after sailing around Manhattan.

Escorted by two Coast Guard ships, the Nourmahal took the President fishing off Montauk. The yacht then went to the Astors' Newport home. According to the East Hampton Star of September 1, 1933, the Nourmahal did not have on board anyone connected with the federal government.

The Nanin was decommissioned from the Navy in 1946 and was sold in 1964 for scrap.

Monday, June 10, 2013

Irish Rep - 25 Years Young - Gives Rodgers & Hammerstein Tour

Curtain Call - 25th Anniv. Gala for the Irish Repertory Theater
at the Broadhurst. Front row of people are standing to clap;
behind, the stars; a full orchestra, with harp; and in rear the
blue-lit chorus of 40+, mostly men. iPhone photo by JTMarlin. 
My photo doesn't do justice to the moment at the end of the Irish Repertory Theater's evening of Rodgers & Hammerstein.

The whole audience joined with the chorus and stars in the singing of "Edelweiss" from the Sound of Music. It was a grand night for singing indeed.

The great moments were easily identified. It was a mix of new material and old favorites, and the new material got only sporadic enthusiasm. (Tom Hanks was in fine form and tried to amuse us, but the script was frail.)

One joke that got a laugh was the story, told  by O'Reilly with an Irish brogue, about a nun teaching young girls. She asked them what they wanted to be when they grew up. One girl said: "I want to be a prostitute." The nun fainted. When the nun was revived, she asked the girl: "What did you say?" The girl repeated: "I want to be a prostitute." "Oh," said the nun. "What a relief! I thought you said you wanted to be a Protestant."

The warm-up acts and rounds of appreciation seemed to go on too long, but then all was forgiven. The old favorites brought down the house. It seems we never learn, but maybe we need the slow-starting material to get us ready for the popular songs.

Here are the highlights, with the star singers who provided their talents to support the Theater. Charlotte Moore and Ciaran O'Reilly gave the dates of each musical and said something about how it was received (number of performances etc.).

OKLAHOMA (1943)
People Will Say We're in Love - enchantingly done by Jenny Powers with Matt Cavanagh
Oklahoma! - well done by the chorus. No way that one could miss.

CAROUSEL (1945)
If I Loved You - Alexandra Silber
You'll Never Walk Alone - Brian Stokes Mitchell, extremely wll supported by the chorus.

STATE FAIR (Film, 1945)
A Grand Night for Singing - Chorus made it feel as though that's what the night really was.

SOUTH PACIFIC (1949)
There Is  Nothing Like a Dame - Extremely well done by Bill Newhall and the men's chorus. This is a favorite song that is hard to do justice to in a singalong environment. It needs to be choreographed.
I'm Gonna Wash That Man Right Outa My Hair - Nancy Anderson put her whole body into the song, and the women's chorus helped out. Again, hard to replicate in a singalong environment.
Younger Than Springtime - Max von Essen had everyone eating out of his hands.
This Nearly Was Mine - Paulo Szot got the pacing down well and even a French accent when helpful.

THE KING AND I (1951)
Shall We Dance - Barry McNabb (the choreographer) got a good laugh when he did a fine Irish jig, Riverdance-style, with Kerry Conte twirling with him in a long flouncy dress.
Getting to Know You - Nicely done, with graceful, Thai-esque movements of her hands and body, by Teal Wicks.

THE SOUND OF MUSIC (1959)
Maria - A spectacular trio by Kerry Conte (she can dance and she can sing as well), Bonnie Fraser and Georga Osborne.
Climb Every Mountain - well done by Meg Bussert.
Edelweiss - the invitation for the audience to join in was irresistible.

Sunday, June 9, 2013

VAN STOCKUM | Time Bomber by Robert Wack

Dr. Robert Wack and Alice Tepper Marlin. Photo by
JT Marlin. 
June 9, 2013–Time Bomber is a book about a bomber pilot who takes part in the Allied invasion of Nazi-occupied France.

Written by Robert Wack, it is about to be released by Boissevain Books. This is a story about love, regrets, destiny and redemption, during the decisive battles of the invasion of Normandy in 1944, 69 years ago.

The central character is Willem Jacob van Stockum, a brilliant University of Maryland mathematics professor. It is based on a true story about a man who abandoned a promising academic career and became an unlikely RAF bomber pilot in World War II. 

After surviving a merciless training program, he flew six missions before and after the D-Day invasion of Europe. When his plane is shot down on June 10 behind the lines over Normandy, Wack presents a sci-fi angle to make this the genre that he wants the book to be classified in.
While they fight for survival in the French countryside, they meet up with ruthless French Resistance fighters and two strangers who are not what they seem. Willem’s pioneering academic work on time travel and Einstein's Theory of Relativity pose intriguing “what if?” questions compelling him to face the implications of his work and the consequences of choices in a universe of infinite possibilities.
The author, Maj. Robert Wack, is a pediatrician in Maryland. He consulted closely with relatives of Willem van Stockum to get the historical parts of the book right. The book is faithful to the real life of Willem J. van Stockum, who was my mother's brother. Order in paperback or in Kindle version from Amazon.

Sunday, June 2, 2013

U.S. FLAG | Why Its Origins Are Disguised (Updated Aug. 11, 2017.)

George Washington's inkwell in 
Gilbert Stuart's "Lansdowne" 
portrait. Note GW arms and 
griffin crest on sauce-type boat.
June 2, 2013 (Updated July 17, 2017) – As flags for Memorial Day unfurl across the United States every year, I think about a brash 2006 opinion about the origin of the flag.

At the centennial of the Declaration of Independence in 1876, the connection between the Stars and Stripes and George Washington's arms was widely accepted and celebrated.

Some skeptics rained on this parade in the early 1900s. They raised questions about the connection between the American flag and Washington's arms. A century later, on the website of the authoritative American Heraldry Society, appears this statement  by Joseph McMillan, Director of Research for the Society:
[T]here is not a shred of evidence that the one [Washington's coat of arms] had anything to do with the other [U.S. flag].
This ex cathedra judgment continues to take my breath away. What is the motivation for this  dogmatism? Why does Mr. McMillan want to sit out there on such an unsafe frail limb?

Many shreds of evidence are in plain sight. They just don't fit with some people's idea of who George Washington was or who they want him to be. The dominant prejudice seems to be our wish to remember George Washington as a man of the people, not an aristocrat:
  • During the time of George Washington, his love of his family arms might have had to be disguised from the hothead rebels of New England who were opposed to aristocrats in the Mother Country or the colonies. 
  • The influence his family arms had on the design of the flag might not therefore have been helpful. (See #7 below for my take on the Betsy Ross story as misdirection.)
  • Washington did not want to become a U.S. monarch, when the monarchy in England was the enemy. (Postscript 2017: We may look at monarchy differently in 2017 as we see the placid Queen of England giving continuity and dignity to her country and the Commonwealth that looks up to her, and the United States loses its way.)
It is a fact that Washington was deeply interested in his family origins, and they were an aristocratic family in England. From today's vantage point, Washington's interest in   the coat of arms of his forefathers was an obsession. His arms and badge were on the family silver and his stationery and all over the house. McMillan doesn't attempt to dispute this. How could he? Too many items from Washington's home are in museums on display. These are not shreds of evidence; they represent whole-cloth evidence of a \ high quality.

Does it matter whether Washington's arms contributed to the creation of the Stars and Stripes? Yes, it does. When the full story is told, it helps us appreciate Washington's greatness, and why he was first among the Founding Fathers. It gives us some strong insights into how he looked at the world and how he wanted to be perceived. He was both a man of his times and a man for all times.

Seven Shreds of Evidence 

Below I serve up for Mr. McMillan and the educated reader Seven Shreds of Evidence beyond my 2012 Huffington Post article.

1. GW's Arms Are Widely Tied to the U.S. Flag. The connection between the GW arms and the U.S. flag was and is widely believed. Four examples:
    Sulgrave Manor pairing, GW and
    U.S. shields. Photos by JT Marlin.
  • GW's estate custodians believe it. At Sulgrave Manor in Northamptonshire not far from Oxford, the Washington arms are paired with a shield showing the stars and stripes. The museum staff say that the connection between the two is taken there as a given.
  • In New York City's high-real-estate-value Penn Station, there is a large tableau representing it.  A revolving mechanical tableau was created by George Mossman Greenamyer in 2002 showing George Washington crossing the Delaware with an eagle on a staff bearing the Washington arms, with three five-pointed stars (mullets in English heraldry). The stars on the flag in Penn Station are idiosyncratically blue rather than the red (gules) of GW's arms. This makes a direct connection to the U.S. flag's canton with its white stars on a blue background. It shows that GW's coat of arms is linked in the artist's imagination with the stars and stripes.
The circling tableau, erected in 2002, shows
 The Crossing of the Delaware.
Detail below. Photos by JT Marlin.
  • The red-and-white flag of the nation's capital is undeniably  derived from the Washington family coat of arms. 
  • In other places such as Washington County, Va., the Washington shield shows blue stars. Again, this creates a missing link between the Washington arms and the Stars and Stripes.
Detail of Washington's Arms in an artist's
version of The Crossing of the Delaware.

2. GW Was Properly Proud of His Ancient Arms. The Washington arms   date back probably to 1183 (see below) with the acquisition of the Wessyngton-Wassington (spellings vary) property from the Prince Bishop of Durham.

The colors and symbols of the Washington arms and U.S. flag include colors and symbols with meanings. White (argent) signifies peace and sincerity, red (gules) stripes signify a warrior or martyr, military strength and magnanimity, blue (azure) signifies truth and loyalty. The stars (mullets in English heraldry) imply a divine quality from above.

(Postscript, 2016: This meaning of the stars was provided by George Washington himself in the story told by J. R. Manship in the comment below this post, for which I thank Mr. Manship). When a devout Christian complained to GW that dropping the Union Jack from the canton of the United States flag would mean the loss of the crosses of two saints – Sts George of England and Andrew of Scotland – GW replied: "But we are adding the stars of heaven.")

When Washington's first ancestor adopted a coat of arms it did not imply that a family was a nobleman. That did not come until English heraldry started being supervised by the Crown with the creation of the College of Arms. This negates the argument that GW could not have promoted his coat of arms because he was a modest man who disdained the trappings of office.

In fact, he did promote his arms, in bookplates, silver, letterheads and other artifacts, certainly more than any later president. He even changed his arms, substituting a griffin for the traditional raven. The artist who worked on the Crossing of the Delaware shows the coat of arms on an eagle, another version of the crest. Titles, yes, are forbidden in the Constitution (Article 1, Sections 9-10):
No title of nobility shall be granted by the United States: and no person holding any office of profit or trust under them, shall, without the consent of the Congress, accept of any present, emolument, office, or title, of any kind whatever, from any king, prince, or foreign state. No state shall...grant any title of nobility.
Gilbert Stuart's 1796 portrait of GW. The
 inkwell below his right hand is enlarged in
the detail at top of this post.
However, coats of arms were never forbidden. Evidence of the attachment of Washington to his coat of arms is in the "Lansdowne" painting of him by Gilbert Stuart, so called because it was given by Senator Bingham to the Marquess of Lansdowne for his support of the colonies. The inkwell features the Washington coat of arms (see detail, showing a griffin above the shield).

3. A Story of the Two Red Stripes (Bars) is Stirring.  A Washington, D.C. source dates the origin of the two red stripes on the Washington shield back to a battle between the Danes and the English in 979 during which the Danish king was killed. The English king allegedly honored the soldier who slew the Danish king by dipping two fingers into a wound on the Dane, and drawing two lines across the shield of the soldier. That became the soldier's coat of arms. (The stars came later.) The source of this fine theory is Rick Snider in his blog "Monumental Thoughts", October 2012.
My Comment: As Robert Crichton was reported by Jules Feiffer at Crichton's memorial service as having said: "Never investigate an interesting fact." However, I must investigate. Rick Snider's theory needs to be rethought. I found no corroboration anywhere of a battle in 979 or a Danish king dying in battle. So the legend as told is questionable. But this disproves not necessarily the story, only the date and battlefield. (Quick summary: During the 900s, the individual kingdoms unified under the rule of Wessex into the Kingdom of England. The Kingdom opposed the Viking Danelaw, kingdoms established from the century before in the north and east of England. The year 979 was the second year of the long reign (978-1016, 38 years) of Ethelred II, "Ethelred the Unready." Ethelred was defeated by invading Danish King Sweyn in 1013. But Sweyn died in 1014 and Ethelred II–far from having died in battle–was restored to the throne for two more years. In 1015, Sweyn's son King Canute invaded again, ending the following year with an agreement between Canute and Ethelred's successor, Edmund Ironside, to divide England between them. However, Edmund died in November 1016, so England was reunited under Danish rule for the next 26 years. In 1042 Harthacanute– son of Canute and Emma of Normandy, widow of Ethelred the Unready–died and left no heirs. He was succeeded by his half-brother, Ethelred's son, Edward the Confessor and the Kingdom of England was independent of foreign domination for 24 years, till Edward died without an heir and the Normans took over in 1066.)
4. Two Oxford Connections with the Washington Family.  The Washington Family is connected both with Trinity College and Brasenose College, Oxford.

Trinity College. The Washington coat of arms appears in the Trinity College old library. It is believed by the Trinity College library staff to have been moved to the Old Library from the chapel after the previous Durham College was disestablished  by Henry VIII and a new college was established under Mary Tudor by Sir Thomas Pope.

One of Pope's jobs (despite the fact that he was a devout Catholic) was to value the various monastic properties that Henry VIII took over and then to sell them. One technique by which Sir Thomas Pope became rich was that he reportedly would require a prospective tenant to pay a substantial entry fee, enough for Sir Thomas to utilize to buy the property for himself.

The Shelby Abbey, Yorks., version has the same design as the one in the Trinity College Old Library with the stars (mullets) and stripes (bars) clearly colored red (gules) on a white (argent) background.

A document headed in Latin as being for “Lawrence Washington” is a sketch of the Washington arms. (See photo at left.)

 Details on Washington crest, likely
sent from UK.
The Washington arms are quartered with another that is described as “St. Mervery or Ivather” which is either another family or a patron saint. The supremacy of the Washington arms in the first and fourth quarters means that the coat of arms was in the male line, and the raven above further indicated the standing of the Washington family.

The lower coat is that of the Washingtons. Though undated, the document is written on paper whose watermark dates from the middle of the 17th century, being a shield and fleur de lis–the mark of the English papermaker Thomas Gunther. The instructions were “gallicé, latiné & anglicé,” i.e., in French, Latin, and English, and show the positions, colors and arrangements of the various elements of the quartered coat of arms. It also gives a “Carmine Heroico,” or heroic verse, below the third illustration.

One explanation for these instructions is that they were sent by Reverend Lawrence Washington in Oxford to those who emigrated to the United States. George Washington was proud of his family’s heraldry and used his coat of arms on his bookplates, seals, china and silver. He later changed the raven to a griffin.

Where did George Washington and other members of the family get the griffin?

Three griffins appear on the coat of arms adopted by Thomas Pope when he was knighted in 1535 and were then passed on to Trinity College for its use along with properties that he donated such as Wroxton Abbey. Why would the Washingtons have used the griffin in the United States and how would they have known, if they did, of the connection between the Washington family and Trinity College? Could both Pope and Washington have picked up the griffin from a common source?

They both might have used it after 1555 to recognize the successor institution to Durham Cathedral's institution at Oxford,  Durham College, and the re-establishment of the college as Trinity College in 1555. Sir Thomas, in his Grant of Arms, was allowed to use three "griffons" [sic] in his coat of arms (see Number II, http://ota.ox.ac.uk/text/5313.html). The Washington family may have felt the griffin was a more appropriate (and meaningful) bird for them than the raven, establishing a connection between them and a living college at Oxford instead of a dead one.

Brasenose College. How would the Washington family have known anything about the establishment of Trinity College? It could have come from an important second Oxford connection, Rev. Lawrence Washington (b. 1602), son of Lawrence Washington (1568-1616) and the father of the two Washington boys who emigrated to the Virginia Colony.

Rev. Lawrence Washington (1602-1653), was a Fellow of Brasenose College (BNC), Oxford. He was also Rector of Purleigh. This Oxonian Reverend Lawrence Washington is the common ancestor of all the American-based Washingtons. In the early days when they wrote back asking about their family crest, they would be writing to him. He would be well acquainted with the Trinity College griffin, as Trinity was at the time on the verge of producing three prime ministers in fairly quick succession – Lord Wilmington (1673-1743), Pitt the Elder/Lord Chatham, (1708-1888), and Lord North (1732-1792).

Washington family silver cup – similar to,
could have been from, Trinity College,
Oxford.
Rev. Lawrence Washington's two sons, John (1633-1677) and Lawrence (1635-1677), both went off to seek new opportunities in trade in the Virginia Colony. They founded the Washington family of Virginia. (The sons, sons of the first Lord Baltimore, by contrast split their allegiance between Britain and the colonies. The one who stayed in Britain became the second Lord Baltimore. The one who emigrated became the first governor of Maryland.)

John Washington, son of Rev. Lawrence Washington, was GW's great-grandfather.  John had a son Lawrence Washington who was born in 1659 and died in 1698. He was the grandfather of George. And George’s brother, from whom he inherited Mount Vernon, was also named Lawrence.

So the bird at the top of the Washington family crest, traditionally a raven, was changed by the Washington family in the colonies, into a griffin. Later, the bird morphed into the American eagle – see next section.

Thomson's design of the 
Great Seal
5. The Great Seal and the Eagle.  On June 13, 1782, Congress asked 53-year-old Charles Thomson to design America’s Great Seal based on reports and drawings of the three committees that had looked into it.  Thomson had served the previous eight years as Secretary of the Continental Congress. He had previously been a Latin master at an academy in Philadelphia. His sketch of a design is at left. (See his description, which seeks to show the 13 original colonies as leaning into one another to make the Chevron where the bars were on the Washington shield.

For our purposes, that Great Seal looks a lot like the Great Seal the White House uses today. It also has the major elements of the Washington coat of arms – a bird, stars, and stripes. The bird has become an American bald eagle and two main additions have been made:
  • The eagle is the carrying the olive branch in one talon and a "bundle of arrows" in the other. Note that in this sketch Thomson has the eagle's head looking in the direction of peace. This was reversed in the final version, and was reversed again when President Truman decided that the United States should show itself intent on peace, not war. 
  • In the eagle’s beak, Thomson placed a scroll with the first committee’s motto: E Pluribus Unum (Out of Many, One).
6. The Washington Shield. George Washington (1732-99), first U.S. President (1789-1797), was born at Bridges Creek, Va. His great-grandfather John Washington settled there in 1658 from Dillicar in Westmorland. The coat of arms of County Westmorland in northern England is the familiar red-and-white stripes of the Washington family, with a tree superimposed. Westmorland is just west of Yorkshire (where Shelby Abbey church has a window with the Washington stars-and-stripes coat of arms) and is also just west of Durham county to the north.

The college at Oxford preceding Trinity College, and on the same location, was a foundation of Durham Abbey for its students, which is why a Durham family's coat of arms is still on display at Trinity College. The Durham archdiocese was led (I was first told by a monk from Ampleforth) a Prince Bishop, the only such bishop with secular authority in England. The foundation of Balliol College, Oxford by John de Balliol, brother of King James II of Scotland, was guided by the Prince Bishop of Durham, which suggests the importance of this bishop to people on both sides of the border. A stained glass version of the Washington coat of arms from 1588 is in the Corning, NY, Museum of Glass.

The ancestry of George Washington shows how the honors to the family accumulated. The names in bold face have already been mentioned. Here is a genealogy. (In the comments I provide a source that takes the ancestry back further, with some authority.)

1 g17grandfather of George Washington - Patric FitzDolfin de Offerton, c. 1145-1182. His son
2 g16grandfather William FitzPatric de Hertburn, c. 1165-1194. In 1183, William de Hertburn procured the village of Wessyngton, not far from the border between England and Scotland. He changed his surname to his new land, i.e., William de Wessyngton. The "Wessyngton" evolved to "Washington" and “Washington.” Their status as a knightly family allowed the family to adopt a coat of arms, i.e., two silver/white (argent) bars and three five-pointed mullets of red (gules). At the crest, the raven rested in the crown (corona) of gold (or). William served the bishop of Durham, and in 1185 was granted the manor of Washington in return for the service of attending the episcopal hunt with four greyhounds. The family lived on the estate for 400 years, but in 1613 the estate was returned to the church with (a source says) compensation for the improvements.
3 g15grandfather William de Washington, c. 1180-1239
4 g14grandfather Walter de Washington, c. 1212-1264Here
5 g13grandfather William de Washington, c. 1240-1288
6 g12grandfather Robert de Washington, 1265-1324
7 g11grandfather Robert de Washington, c. 1296-1348
8 g10grandfather John de Washington, c. 1346-1408
9 g9grandfather John de Washington, c. 1380-1423
10 g8grandfather Robert Washington, 1404-1483
11 g7grandfather Robert Washington, 1455-1528
12 g6grandfather John Washington, 1478-1528
13 g5grandfather Lawrence Washington, 1500-1583
14 g4grandfather Robert Washington, c. 1544-1623
15 g3grandfather Lawrence Washington, c. 1567-1616 - Sulgrave Manor
16 g2grandfather (Rev.) Lawrence Washington, Fellow of Brasenose, 1602-1653
17 greatgrandfather (Col.) John Washington, c. 1631-1677
18 grandfather Lawrence Washington, 1659-1698
19 father Augustine Washington, 1694-1743
20 #(President) George Washington, 1732-1799.

George Washington knew that the family coat of arms (as he confirmed in a response to Mr. Heard) had been brought to Virginia about 135 years before by John and Lawrence Washington. These two sons of Rev. Lawrence Washington of Brasenose, Oxford and grandsons of Lawrence of Sulgrave had their arms granted by the Clarenceux King of Arms. The Sulgrave family arms sometimes show the mullets and bars in blue (azure) instead of red (gules), as is done for the mullets in chief in the Penn Station arms.

7. The Washington Headquarters (Personal Position) Flag. (Added May 7, 2016 and updated Aug. 11, 2017). The Washington Headquarters Flag was a blue field with six thin-pointed asterisk-like (i.e., "*") white stars, as noted in the excellent comment below by J. R. Manship. The site that it is associated with has been moved as of 2017, so I will reproduce the comment:
Very interesting blog article. What role do you see in the Sons of Liberty flag from the Massachusetts colony, that was the flag with only red and white stripes? Then what of the Washington Headquarters flag, that was a blue field with six, thin pointed stars, 13 in number? The Grand Union flag was the "union" of the Sons of Liberty red and white stripes flag with a canton added of the British Union Jack. The "Stars and Stripes" flag is the Sons of Liberty flag with the Washington Headquarters flag added as its canton. The story goes that Betsy Ross showed how she could cut 5 pointed stars more quickly, so it was agreed to use 5 pointed stars. It is said there was concern about removing the two Christian crosses of the British flag from our American flag, and according to the story, Washington said, "But we are adding the stars of Heaven..."
The Hopkinson Flag, with Stars of
Six Points. Washington's ancestral arms
had five. Was Betsy Ross a beard
for taking a point off the U.S. stars? 
The mutation of the proposed six-pointed Hopkinson flag to the five-pointed Stars and Stripes offers an explanation of the Betsy Ross story.

The Betsy Ross story is puzzling if you think about it. The fact that one cut creates a star is not  persuasive when one thinks of all the steps that are needed to fold the cloth!

The Betsy Ross story makes sense only as misdirection, a "beard," to cover the mutation of the six-pointed stars in the Hopkinson flag and the general's personal position flag to the five-pointed stars that correspond to the general's ancient arms.

See also:  More Shreds of EvidenceEven More Shreds. Hey, Still More Shreds.