Thursday, March 5, 2015

WASHINGTON | Lawrence, GW's G3-Grandfather

Rev. Lawrence Washington, who once
terrorized Puritan dons and Oxford
students. Under Cromwell, he lost
his parish and his wife sent two sons
to Virginia. One sired George
Washington's grandfather.
Lawrence Washington was born in 1602 and died in 1653–a short life, barely half a century, but a significant one.

Lawrence's wife and Oliver Cromwell played important roles in shaping the migration of his two sons to the United States of America, one of them being George Washington's great-grandfather.

Lawrence was the fifth son of a comfortably established family living in Sulgrave Manor near Banbury in Oxfordshire. Many members of his family studied at Oxford. At 17, in 1619, he was sent off to Brasenose College, Oxford too become a minister. He did well and upon graduation with his B.A. in 1623 he was elected a Fellow of the college.

In those days, a  fellow would typically spend a dozen teaching and then become a minister, living a bachelor's life. He received his M.A. in 1626 and the following year was appointed Lector, the chief disciplinarian of undergraduates in college.

In a crucial development for Oxford University, on August 22, 1631, with King Charles I personally presiding, Archbishop of Canterbury William Laud - who was also Chancellor of Oxford - denounced the principal officers of the University as heretics. A Brasenose don was forced to resign. Lawrence Washington was four days later elected by the Brasenose governing body as their nominee to replace his colleague.

Laud was the agent of Charles I in his quest to suppress Puritanism. In 1632, Laud formally appointed Lawrence Washington as an Oxford Proctor. Under the circumstances, the Proctor's job was not what it later became, a "bulldog" policing students. Lawrence became an agent of the Church of England, hunting down Puritans. Washington's job was in part to assist the Archbishop in purging heresy among the dons.

The good news is that Washington did his job well as an agent of the established church, earning a job as Rector of Purleigh, a wealthy church in Essex, starting in 1632.  On the strength of this appointment, Lawrence Washington married Amphilis Twigden, a well-educated young widow. The marriage dealt with the problem that Washington faced at Oxford of courting Amphilis and - it seems from the date of John Washington's birth in 1633 - siring a son out of wedlock. Oxford dons were required to live a bachelor life and Lawrence's job at BNC was therefore at risk. So far so good.

The bad news is that after a few years the tide turned. Cambridge man Oliver Cromwell was elected Member of Parliament for Huntingdon in 1628 and then for Cambridge in the Short (1640) and Long (1640-49) Parliaments. The Puritan Long Parliament exercised its power in part by reviewing the incumbencies of Church of England livings. More than 100 English ministers had their livings withdrawn for alleged treason or immorality by order of Parliament. In 1643 Washington was censored for allegedly being "a common frequenter of ale-houses" and lost his job as Rector of Purleigh. As a consolation prize, he was given the miserable parish of Little Braxted, also in Essex.

The importance of this is how the Reverend's wife Amphilis reacted. They separated. She refused to accept the ignominy of being a parson's wife in Little Braxted. Instead, she and her children moved in with her wealthy uncle, Sir Edwin Sandys, whose family was well-connected with the Virginia Company. Amphilis decided that the embarrassment of Rev. Lawrence Washington's fall from grace would best be dealt with by sending the two sons John and Lawrence Jr. to the American colonies.

Lawrence's son John (1633-1677) became apprenticed to a London merchant where he learned the tobacco trade. John eventually emigrated along with his brother Lawrence Jr. (1635-1677) to the colony of Virginia. This made him in due course the great-grandfather of the first President of the United States. Rev. Lawrence Washington meanwhile died poor and relatively young. He is buried in All Saints Church at Maldon, Essex, where his grave site is visited primarily because of his illustrious great-great-grandson.

Washington's Ancestry and Coat of Arms

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. A stained glass version of the Washington coat of arms from 1588 is in the Cornin, 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.

1 Patric FitzDolfin de Offerton, c. 1145-1182. His son was...
2 (Sir) William FitzPatric de Hertburn, c. 1165-1194, a Norman knight. He procured the village of Wessyngton and adopted as his surname the new land, i.e., William de Wessyngton. His son or grandson changed the name of the village and the family to Washington. His status as a knight allowed him to adopt a coat of arms. He chose two silver/white (argent) bars on either side of a red (gules) bar, below three stars (mullets) of red (gules). A Durham County registry from the period shows Wessyngton with six-pointed mullets, pierced and unpierced - the number of points was later reduced to five, in a change that a French heraldry book says was vraiment revolutionnaire. At the crest, the Raven rested in the crown (corona), 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 it was sold back to the church, as the branch of the family that produced George Washington settled at Sulgrave Manor. 
3 William de Washington, c. 1180-1239
4 Walter de Washington, c. 1212-1264
5 William de Washington, c. 1240-1288
6 Robert de Washington, 1265-1324
7 Robert de Washington, c. 1296-1348
8 John de Washington, c. 1346-1408
9 John de Washington, c. 1380-1423
10 Robert Washington, 1404-1483
11 Robert Washington, 1455-1528
12 John Washington, 1478-1528
13 G5-gfather Lawrence Washington, 1500-1583
14 G4-gfather Robert Washington, c. 1544-1623
15 G3-gfather Lawrence Washington, c. 1567-1616 - Sulgrave Manor
16 G2-gfather (Rev.) Lawrence Washington, Fellow of Brasenose, 1602-1653
17 Great-grandfather (Col.) John Washington, 1633-1677 (one source says he was born 1631)
18 Grandfather Lawrence Washington, 1659-1698
19 Father Augustine Washington, 1694-1743
20 (President) George Washington, 1732-1799.

The family coat of arms (as he confirmed in a response to a Mr. Heard) was brought to Virginia by John and Lawrence Washington. These two sons of Rev. Lawrence Washington of Brasenose, Oxford and grandsons of Lawrence of Sulgrave had their arms confirmed by Clarenceux King of Arms. The coats of arms of ancestors of George Washington as shown at Sulgrave Manor are usually shown as three stars (mullets ) above (in chief) two stripes (bars), red (gules) on a white/silver (argent) field.