George Washington Papers
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To George Washington from William Augustine Washington, 23 March 1798

From William Augustine Washington

Haywood March 23th 1798

My dr sir

Your truely affectionate & friendly Letter by Mr Rice I have recd be pleased to accept my most grateful acknowledgements, for your kind condolence in my late misfortunes:1 The mysteries and decrees of an allwise Providence, are unsearchable to short sighted Mortals; and it behooves us, & becomes our duty to be resigned to the Divine Will; this has allways been a consolation to me under every affliction—my remaining children are a great comfort to me, and I am sincerely thankful to Almighty God for that Blesing.

Your Ideas of the Education of youth agree exactly with mine; I shall certainly send them to a publick Seminary as soon as I conceive the judgment is so formed; that pride & emulation will be a spur to the acquirement of knowledge—in the mean time I shall endeavour to provide them with a good instructor; I expect one from Cambridge this Spring.

I have made particular inquiries for Flower Barrel Staves, & find there is no person in this Neighbourhood who has any, or are in the practice of getting; Genl Lee owns a good quantity of Timber Land, & I have understood, he intended to get Staves this year for Market, he is at present at Alexandria, I have not seen him, & do not know what he would ask for them—I expect you⟨r⟩ best plan would be to write to some one at Norfolk or the Great Bridge, where there would be a certainty of contracting, & probably upon better terms, & with a greater certainty of not being disappointed—I fear from present prospects Corn will be low this year, the most I have had offered me has been 18/ delivered in Alexandria, but on a long Credit, Mr Wm Wilson has offered me 15/ to be taken from my landing, but on Ninty days Credit—I am at a loss to determine, whether to accept the present offers, or to wait longer—much I suppose will depend upon the prospect of our negotiations with France, & I am so out of the way of Public information, that I have never heard the event of their negotiations, or whether any communications has been made from our Commissioners to the Executive.

I did receive your Letter of the 14th of Novr 1796, inclosing a Copy of Sir Isaac Heards Letter to you, respecting the Genealogy of our family, at the time I recd it I was extremely ill and confined to my bed with a severe fit of the gout; however in that situation Genl Lee called to see me on his way to Philadelphia; I desired him to inform you that I had recd your Letter & that I should attend to your request; & having heard that Mr Herbert of Alexandria, had found among the papers of Colo. Carlile, (who was one of the Executors of my Uncle Lawrance Washington) a paper containing a Genealogical description of our Family from their first coming over to America, I requested of Genl Lee to apply to Mr Herbert for it, & if he could obtain it to take it on to you—as soon as I recovered I pursued my inquiries here, by examining of all my papers, the Tomb Stones at the Burial ground of our Ancestors, and could find nothing which lead to an investigation—I then wrote to Mr Lawrance, & Robt Washington of Chotanck; I got very little information from them, they said that they always understood that they were decended from Lawrence, who came over with John, our Ancestor; but Mr Robt Washington sent me word, that he understood, that Mr John Washington near Leeds, had a Genealogical Table of the Family from the first coming over of our Ancestors[.] I immediately wrote to a Mr Balmain, who married one of Mr J. Washingtons Daughters, & who had administered upon the Estate; requesting that he would examine his Testators papers & if he could find such a paper, that he would let me have it, or a Copy of it, soon after he was to see me, & informed me that he had looked over the greater part of the papers, but had not discovered such a paper, but if he should meet with it he would certainly send it to me—soon after he removed into your Neighbourhood & I have never seen or heard from him since; This information I requested Mr Bushrod Washington to give you last summer, when he went from here to Mt Vernon; I shewed him your Letter to me, & communicated my researches to him, & he promissed me that he would inform you of the results; I fear you will find some difficulty in complying fully with Sir Isaac Hear[d]s request as to Lawrance, unless you could find out where he lived & died; his will I suppose is on record; which would shew nearly about the time he died; If I can get any further information on the subject I will immediately communicate it to you.2

You request to know where Mrs Washington is, & whether she had recd your Letter by Post in answer to hers—she is at present at Bushfield & when I last heard from her in tolerable health; she did recive your Letter by Post, whilst she was here—She is greatly to be pitied; the many & severe losses she has lately met with, has been a severe tryal to her fortitude and resignation; & should my worthy Friend Mr Corbin Washington loose his Wife, it will certainly be another severe trial to her resignation to the divine Will: but I trust in God she may yet recover, as we have had some late Letters from Corbin mentioning that he thinks she is better, & may recover. My sincere respects to Mrs Washington, and wishing you both health & happiness, I conclude My dr sir Your Sincere & Affe. Nephew

Wm Augt. Washington

P.S. we are at present, in this Neighbourhood, entirely cut off from the Public post, last year we had a private rider to Port Royal, & got our Letters & papers regularly, at present we have none, & my nearest post office at present is at the X roads about 6 miles below Westmoreland Ct House, the Cross post from Fredericksbg goes down on the South side of Rapak & crosses at Tapahannock & comes up no further than the Cross roads in Westmd any Letters to me you will be pleased to direct via Fredericksbg to be put in to the Westmoreland Mail; or, by the cross post from Fredericksburg to the post office in Westmoreland County.

W. A. W.

ALS, ViMtvL. On the cover: “To the care of Mr Edmd Lee—Alexandria.”

2See GW’s letter of 27 Feb. to Washington. Sir Isaac Heard (1730–1822), Garter Principal King of Arms, first wrote to GW on 7 Dec. 1791 enclosing some excerpts regarding the Washington family in America and a genealogy which he had drawn up of the descendants of the two Washington brothers, John (1632–1677) and Lawrence (c.1635–1677), who had immigrated to Virginia in the midseventeenth century. Heard asked GW to fill in the blank areas in the chart. GW, who knew little about the history of his family, wrote to Hannah Fairfax Washington (1742–1808) on 24 Mar. 1792 for help. Hannah’s husband, Warner Washington (1722–1790), was GW’s first cousin and the son of GW’s uncle John Washington (1692–1746) of Gloucester County. Hannah Fairfax Washington replied on 9 April 1792, sending memoranda obtained from a book written by GW’s half brother Lawrence Washington (c.1718–1752) which included a history of John Washington, GW’s great-grandfather, and his descendants. GW enclosed this information in a letter to Heard on 2 May 1792. On 9 Aug. 1793 and again on 10 July 1796, Heard wrote informing GW of his descent from the Rev. Lawrence Washington of Sulgrave in Northamptonshire, England, and asking for more information. In the 1796 letter Heard wrote: “I shall however now mention that Laurence Washington of Soulgrave in the County of Northampton Esquire married Margaret Daughter of William Butler of Sussex Esquire, & died in December 1616 leaving Issue.

“1. Sir William Washington of Packington in the County of Leicester, Knighted in 1618, & died about 1648, having married Anne, half Sister to George Villiers Duke of Buckingham &c. who was killed at Portsmouth by Felton. 2. John. 3 Richard. 4 Laurence. 5. Thomas & 6. George.

“It is probable that the John & Laurence here mentioned were the same John & Laurence who migrated & Settled in America as stated in the Account of the Family which your Excellency did me the Honor to transmit in your Letter of 2 May 1792. Could your Excellency obtain a certain Account of the deaths and ages of John & Laurence respectively, it would probably ascertain the connection; as I am of opinion that they were Sons or Grandsons of the above Laurence Washington & Margaret Butler.”

On 14 Nov. 1796, after receipt of Heard’s letter, GW wrote to his nephew William Augustine Washington (1757–1810), son of his half brother Augustine Washington (1720–1762): “Without any application, intimation, or the most remote thought or expectation of the kind, on my part; Sir Isaac Heard, Garter & principal King at arms, wrote to me some years since enclosing our Armorial; and requesting a genealogical account of our progenitors since the first arrival of them in this country. I gave him the best information of which I was possessed; to wit—that John & Lawrence—two brothers—came over in, or about the year 1657 and traced our descent from John, who was the elder. He next wished to know the descendents of Lawrence from whom the Chotanck Washington’s have proceeded. I wrote (to the best of my recollection) to Lawrence Washington for an account of them, but have never received one, and of course could give none.

“Lately, I have received another Letter from Sir Isaac Heard, of which the enclosed is a copy; and although I have not the least Solicitude to trace our Ancestry, yet as this Gentleman appears to interest himself in the research, common civility requires that he should obtain the aids he asks, if it is in our power to give it to him. Let me request of you, therefore, to give me what assistance you can to Solve the queries propounded in his letter, if you have any old papers which have a tendency towards it: if not, or whether or not, by examining the Inscriptions on the Tombs at the Ancient Vault, & burying gr[oun]d of our Ancestors, which is on your Estate at Bridge Creek. And if you are able to do it, trace the descendents of Lawrence Washington, who came over with John, our Progenitor.”

When William Augustine Washington failed to reply to this letter, GW wrote him again on 27 Feb. 1798, over a year later. For more correspondence regarding Heard’s genealogy, see William Augustine Washington to GW, 24 July 1798, and GW to Washington, 3 Oct. 1798. No letters to or from Heard after the November 1796 letter have been found.

General Lee is Henry Lee. Mr. Herbert is William Herbert, son-in-law and executor of John Carlyle (d. 1780) of Alexandria, who was in turn the executor of the will of GW’s half brother Lawrence Washington. Lawrence Washington (b. 1728) of Chotank and Robert Washington (c.1730–c.1800) of Green Hill (Lund Washington’s brother), both in the Chotank region of King George County, were descendants of the immigrant Lawrence Washington, brother of GW’s progenitor, John Washington. Nancy Constantia Washington, daughter of John Washington (d. 1787) of Leedstown in Westmoreland County and of his second wife, Constantia Terrett Washington, married Andrew Balmaine (d. 1815) of Westmoreland County after the death of her first husband.

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