George Washington Papers

To George Washington from John George Gibson, 26 December 1793

From John George Gibson

South Hiendly near Pomfret Yorks.1
[England] Decr 26th 1793

Having often heard it mentioned in our family that we were in some distant manner connected to your Excellency, I have anxiously wished to ascertain the truth of the report, feeling a great ambition to rank amongst my relatives, a man, whose public and private virtues have so eminently exalted him in the hearts and opinion of mankind. Being on a visit last summer at a distant relations (a Mrs White’s, whose Maiden name was Gibson) I was making some inquiry respecting the family, when she likewise mentioned the circumstance of our being distantly related, and as a proof, said she had a Letter, which she gave me, wrote in the year 1699, by Your Excellency’s Grand Father in Virginia to his Sister in England, who married my Great Grand Father, of which the following is a Copy.2

Virginia June the 22d 1699

Dear & Loving Sister,

“I had the happiness to see a Letter which you sent to my Aunt Howard, who died about a year and a half ago;3 I had heard of you by her before, but could not tell whether you were alive or not. It was truly great joy to hear that I had such a relation alive as yourself; not having any such a one by my Father’s side as yourself. My Father had one Daughter by my Mother, who died when she was very young, before my remembrance.4 My Mother had three Daughters when my Father married her, one died last winter, and left four or five Children, the other two are alive & married and have had several children. My Mother married another man after my Father, who spent all, so that I had not the value of twenty shillings of my Fathers Estate, I being the youngest & therefore the weakest, which generally comes off short.5 But I thank God my Fortune has been pretty good since, as I have got a kind and loving Wife, by whom I have had three Sons and a daughter, of which I have buried my daughter and one Son.6 I am afraid I shall never have the happiness of seeing you, since it has pleased God to set us at such a distance: But hoping to hear from you by all opportunities, which you shall assuredly do from him that is, Your ever loving Brother till death

Jno. Washington

If you write to me direct yours to me in Stafford County on Portomack River in Virginia, Vale. J.W.

To Mrs Mary Gibson, Living at Hawnes in Bedf’s., These sent with care.[”]

From this Letter it appears that your Excellency’s Grandfather, and my Fathers Grand Mother were Brother and Sister. And as a proof that it must be the same family of the Gibson’s (there being a great number of that name) There is a small Estate at Hawnes of about 40£ a year, half of which at the death of the above mentioned Mrs White, devolves to me, as Heir at law to my Father who is lately dead, and which was left him and his heirs by his Uncle, (Mrs White’s Father who purchased it of his Brother, to whom it had descended) at Mrs Ws. decease without heirs. This Ancestor of mine whom yours married was the Vicar of Hawnes and purchased this Estate, who as well as his Wife lie buried there.

Understanding from report that Your Excellency had not many relations living, I thought it might not be considered by you as too great a liberty, if I informed you, that there were some in this Country who consider themselves honoured in being allied to you tho in a distant manner.

Having (as I before observed) lately lost my Father, the Family now, consist only of my self, a Sister and Brother. I married 4 years ago—a daughter of Mr Charles Payne Sharpe’s of the Island of St Vincents, by whom I have had three Children, the eldest I lost. The little fortune I obtain by my Wife, added to my income as Curate, amounts to £140 a year, with which tho small, being happily possessed of domestic felicity, I should feel contented did I not look forward, to the claims of an increasing family, as the whole of our income (my Wife’s being an Annuity) dies with us. Had the man, whom I was proud, and honoured in being permitted to call friend, lived a few years longer, I should have been provided for, but by the death of Sr Geo. Savile, I was deprived of one, who possessed both the ability and inclination to serve me:7 I have however a prospect, tho distant, of possessing a small Living in South Wales in the gift of a relation of my Wife’s. My Sister married a son of the Revd Mr Rawstorne, Rector of Badsworth, an uncle of Sr Thomas Pilkington’s, and is connected with his Brothers in a Cotton Manufactory.8 My Brother is nearly the eldest Lieut. in His majesty’s 54th Regt9—I will not trespass further on your time than to observe, that Mr Naylor, the Gentleman in this Country who transmits this to Mr Bond to be forwarded to your Excellency, will answer any question you may think proper to ask relative to me, through the medium of Mr Bond, or his Brother the Agent to Mr Naylor, in America; and should you wish to see the original Letter, of which the inclosed is a copy, I will transmit it with pleasure. With the greatest respect I remain Your Excellency’s Most Obedt Hle Sevt

John George Gibson

ALS, DNA: RG 59, Miscellaneous Letters.

John George Gibson (1758–1833) was appointed rector at Llanthewy Skirrid, Wales, in 1799 and remained at that post until his death.

1The town of South Hiendly was about six or seven miles south-southwest of Pontefract (Pomfret) in the West Riding of Yorkshire.

2The following letter evidently was written by John Washington (c.1671– c.1720), a cousin of GW’s grandfather Lawrence Washington (1659–1697/98), to his half sister Mary Washington Gibson (c.1663–1721), wife of Edward Gibson (1661–1732), vicar of Hawne (see Worthington C. Ford, “The Washington Connection,” The Nation, 53 [15 Oct. 1891]: 293; and, about the Washington lineage more generally, Burke’s Genealogical and Heraldic History of the Landed Gentry, 2 vols. [London, 1939], 2:2959–63).

3John Washington’s aunt Martha Washington Hayward (d. 1697) was the wife of Samuel Hayward (died c.1695) of Stafford County, Virginia.

4John Washington’s father, Lawrence Washington (c.1635–c.1675), and mother, Joyce Washington (d. 1685), had a daughter, Ann Washington (c.1669–c.1675).

5Lawrence Washington was the third of Joyce Washington’s four husbands. When they married, she was the widow of Alexander Fleming (c.1612–1668), and after his death she married James Yates (d. 1685). The three daughters were Elizabeth and Anne Hoskins, by her first marriage to Anthony Hoskins (c.1613–1665), and Elizabeth Fleming (see Lenora Higginbotham Sweeny, “Captain Alexander Fleming and Joyce, His Wife, of ‘Westfalia,’ Rappahannock County, Virginia,” Americana, 33 [1939]: 326–48).

6John Washington’s wife was Mary Townshend Washington (c.1669– 1729). Their surviving sons born before 1699 were Lawrence (born c.1693) and John (c.1697–1741/42) Washington.

7Sir George Savile (1726–1784) represented Yorkshire in the House of Commons from 1759 to 1783.

8William Rawstorne (d. 1790) was rector of Badsworth, Yorkshire, from about 1738 to his death. His daughter Isabella (d. 1823) was the mother of Sir Thomas Pilkington (1773–1811), seventh baronet.

9Godfrey Gibson (d. 1801), who was a lieutenant in the 54th Regiment of Foot, was promoted to captain in 1795 and was killed while serving with the regiment at the battle of Alexandria in March 1801.

Index Entries