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army, was at Haddington, demanding the surrender of
Worcester. The following was Colonel Washington's reply :

"Sir: — It is acknowledged by your books and by report of your
own quarter, that the king is in some of your armies. That granted, it
may be easy for you to procure his Majesty's commands for the disposal
of this garrison. Till then I shall make good the trust reposed in me.
As for conditions, if I shall be necessitated, I shall make the best I can.
The worst I know and fear not ; if I had, the profession of a soldier had
not begun, nor so long continued by your Excellency's humble servant,

"Henry Washington".

In a few days Colonel Whalley invested the city with
five thousand troops. Sir Henry dispatched messenger after
messenger in quest of the king to know his pleasure. None
of them returned. A female emissary was equally unavail-
ing. Week after week elapsed, until nearly three months
had expired. Provisions began to fail. The city was in
confusion. The troops grew insubordinate. Yet Sir Henry
persisted in the defense. General Fairfax, with 1,500 horse,
and foot, was daily expected. There was not powder enough


for an hour's contest should the city be stormed. Still Sir
Henry "awaited His Majesty's commands."

At length news arrived that the king had issued an
order for the surrender of all towns, castles, and forts.
A printed copy of the order was shown to Sir Henry, and
on the faith of that document he capitulated (19th July,
1646) on honorable terms, won by his fortitude and perse-
verance. Those who believe in hereditary virtues may see
foreshadowed in the conduct of this Washington of Wor-
cester, the magnanimous constancy of purpose, the disposi-
tion to "hope against hope," which bore our Washington
triumphantly through the darkest days of pur Revolution.

Life of George Washington, Washington Irving, Vol. I, p. 39.

Part of His Pedigree

Although Washington wrote that the history of his
ancestors was, in his opinion, "of very little moment, " and
"a subject to which I confess I have paid very little atten-
tion," few Americans can prove a better pedigree. The
earliest of his forbears yet discovered was described as
"gentleman," the family were granted lands by Henry
the Eighth, held various offices of honor, married into good
families, and under the Stuarts two were knighted and a
third served as page to Prince Charles. Lawrence, a
brother of the three thus distinguished, matriculated at
Oxford as a "generosi filius" (the intermediate class between
sons of the nobility, "armigeri filius," and of the people,
"plebeii filius"), or as of the minor gentry. In time he
became a fellow and lector of Brasenose College, and
presently obtained the good living of Purleigh. Strong
royalists, the fortunes of the family waned along with
King Charles, and sank into insignificance with the passing
of the Stuart dynasty. Not the least sufferer was the
rector of Purleigh, for the Puritan Parliament ejected him
from his living, on the charge "that he was a common
frequenter of ale-houses, not only himself sitting dayly


tippling there, , but hath oft been drtmk, " — a

charge indignantly denied by the royalists, who asserted
that he was a " worthy Pious man, . . .always .
a very Modest, Sober Person"; and this latter claim is
supported by the fact that though the Puritans sequestered
the rich living, they made no objection to his serving as
rector at Brixted Parva, where the living was " such a Poor
and Miserable one that it was always with difficulty that
any one was persuaded to accept of it."

The True George Washington, Paul Leicester Ford, p. 15.

American Ancestry

We have little note of the Svdgrave branch of the
family after the death of Charles I and the exile of his
successor. England, during the Protectorate, became an
uncomfortable residence to such as had signalized them-
selves as adherents to the house of Stuart. In 1655, an
attempt at a general insurrection drew on them the ven-
geance of Cromwell. Many of their party who had no
share in the conspiracy, yet sought refuge in other lands,
where they might live free from molestation. This may
have been the case with the two brothers, John and Andrew
[Lawrence] Washington, great-grandsons of the grantee of
Sulgrave, and uncles of Sir Henry, the gallant defender of
Worcester. John had for some time resided in South
Cave, in the East Riding of Yorkshire ; but now emigrated
with his brother to Virginia, which colony, from its alle-
giance to the exiled monarch and the Anglican Church had
become a favorite resort of the Cavaliers. The brothers
arrived in Virginia in 1657, and purchased land in West-
moreland County, on the Northern Neck, between the
Potomac and Rappahannock rivers. John married a Miss
Anne Pope, of the same county, and took up his residence
on Bridges' Creek, near where it falls into the Potomac.
He became an extensive planter, and in process of time,
a magistrate and member of the House of Burgesses.


Having a spark of the old military fire of the family, we find
him, as Colonel Washington, leading the Virginia forces, in
cooperation with those of Maryland, against a band of
Seneca Indians, who were ravaging the settlements along
the Potomac. In honor of his public and private virtues
the parish in which he resided was called after him, and
still bears the name of Washington. He lies buried in a
vault on Bridges' Creek, which, for generations, was the
family place of septilture.

The estate continued in the family. His grandson
Augustine, the father of our Washington, was bom there
in 1694. He was twice married; first (April 20, 1715),
to Jane, daughter of Caleb Butler, Esq., of Westmoreland
Cotmty, by whom he had four children, of whom only two,
Lawrence and Augustine, survived the years of childhood;
their mother died November 24, 1728, and was buried
in the family vault.

On the 6th of March, 1730, he married in second
nuptials, Mary, the daughter of Colonel Ball, a young and
beautiful girl, said to be the belle of the Northern Neck.
By her he had four sons, George, Samuel, John Augustine,
and Charles; and two daughters, Elizabeth, or Betty, as
she was commonly called, and Mildred, who died in infancy.

Life of George Washington, Washington living, Vol. I, p. 41.

Two Letters about a Mary Ball

I have met with only two allusions, in writing, to Mary
Ball before her marriage. These were in fragments of
letters found in a deserted mansion near the York River
during the late Civil War, and sent to me in a small package
of other old papers of no real value. One of these letters,
written in a feminine hand, dated " Wms Burg, ye 7 th of
Octr, 1722," began as follows:

" L)ear 5M/fe^:V :— Madam Ball of Lancaster and Her
Sweet Molly have gone Horn. Mamma thinks Molly the


Comliest Maiden She Knows. She is about i6 yrs old, is
taller than Me, is verry Sensable, Modest and Loving. Her
Hair is like unto Flax, Her Eyes are the color of Yours
and her Chekes are like May blossoms. I wish you could
see her."

The other letter was written by "Lizzie Burwell" to a
friend. It was so torn and faded as to be almost illegible;
only the subjoined part of a sentence could be deciphered:

" — understand Molly Ball is going Home with her
Brother a Lawyer, who lives in England. Her Mother is
Dead three Months ago, and her Sister" —

Here a fragment of the letter was torn off, together with all
the superscription excepting "Miss Nelly Car^. " At the
top of the letter were the words, " tank. May ye 15th, 1728. "
This is the sum of my information concerning Mary
Ball before her marriage, when she was about twenty-four
years of age.

Mary and Martha, Benson J. Lossing, p. ii.

Mary the Mother of Washington

Very little is known of the youth and early womanhood
of Mary Ball. Her father appears to have been a well-to-do
planter on the left bank of the Rappahannock River, near
where, a broad stream, its fresh waters commingled with
the brine of the Chesapeake Bay. He was a vestryman
of Christ Church, in Lancaster. In ■ a fragment of a list
of contributions for the support of the minister of that
parish (Rev. John Bell) in 1712, is the following entry:
"Joseph Ball, £$'' — a considerable stun for a Virginia
planter at that time to give for such a purpose. He was
commissioned a colonel by Gov. Alexander Spottswood,
and was known as "Colonel Ball of Lancaster," to dis-
tinguish him from another Colonel Ball, his cousin.


Mary Ball seems to have grown to womanhood in the
serene and healthful seclusion of a well-ordered home in
a sparsely settled country. Like most of the girls in the
colony at that time, her attainments in "book" learning
must have been acqmred under the parental roof, for early
in the last century schools were almost tmknown in that
part of ovir country. Governor Berkeley had, half a century
before, thanked God there were no free schools nor a printing-
press in Virginia, and hoped there would not be in a hundred

When Mary Ball was about seventeen years of age
she wrote to her brother abroad on family matters, and
concluded her letter as follows :

" We have not had a schoolmaster in our neighborhood
tmtil now (January 14, 1723) in nearly four years. We
have now a young minister living with us, who was educated
at Oxford, took orders, and came over as assistant to Rev.
Kemp, at Gloucester. That parish is too poor to keep both,
and he teaches school for his board. He teaches Susie and
me and Madam Carter's boy and two girls. I am now
learning pretty fast. Mama and Susie and I all send love
to you and Mary. This from your loving sister, Mary Ball."

The education of Mary was evidently defective, but
not more so than that of the average young woman of her
class. While her chirography was plain and business-like
in character, her orthography was very defective, even late
in life. But her career indicates that she had received at
home an education for the higher duties of hfe, of far
greater value and importance than any taught in schools.
From her mother, who died in 1728, after a widowhood of
many years, she had doubtless inherited the noblest qualities
of mind and heart, and had been taught all those domestic
virtues of which contemporary testimony and tradition
tell us she was a bright exemplar — industry, frugality,
integrity, strength of will and purpose, obedient to the
behests of duty, faithfulness, and modesty, with deep


religious convictions. She was strengthened by an abiding
faith in the Divine promises which made Mary, the mother
of Washington, a model woman, and yet

"A creature not too bright or good
For human nature's daily food."
Mary and Martha, Benson J. Lossing, pp. 8 to ii.

Conjectures about Washington's Father and Mother

Augustine Washington was born in 1694, and at the
age of twenty-one years married Jane, daughter of Caleb
Butler, of Westmoreland County. They had four children —
three sons and one daughter; Butler, who died in infancy,
Lawrence, Augustine, and Jane, the latter dying in early
childhood. Their mother died in November, 1728, when
her husband was about thirty-four years of age.

In 1792, President Washington, by request, sent to
Sir Isaac Heard, Garter King of Arms, in London, a gen-
ealogical table of the Washington family in Virginia. In it
occur these words :

"Jane, wife of Augustine [Washington], died November
24, 1728, and was buried in the family vault at Bridges'
Creek. Augustine then married Mary Ball, March 6, 1730. "

No hint is given as to where this marriage took place,
nor is there any known record extant that can answer the
question. Where were Augustine and Mary Ball wedded?
There is no tradition that can answer, excepting that given
by Mr. Harvey that they were married in England.

We have observed an intimation in a fragment of a
letter . that Mary Ball went to England with her

brother in 1728, and Mr. Harvey ascertained at Cookham
that Augustine Washington was there in 1729; also that
families of Washington and Balls had lived there and been
buried there. He also ascertained that Augustine Wash-
ington tarried there to effect the sale of some property he
had fallen heir to. In Virginia the Washington and Ball


families lived in adjoining counties, and were doubtless
personally acquainted with each other. The question
naturally arises, "May not Augustine Washington and
Mary Ball have met in England and married there? " .

Where was Washington born and baptized? There
is no known official record that can solve the question.
There is no tradition that helps to solve it, excepting the
statement of Washington quoted above, and that of Mrs.
Morer, who says he was born in Cookham, and was carried
to America in the arms of either her "aunt or mother. "
How trustworthy is the tradition of the latter, let us see.

Mrs. Morer died in 181 2, eighty years after the birth of
Washington. She must have been a very young child
when, as she says, her "aunt or mother" went to America
as a nurse for him — too young, too, to be the likely recipient,
as she says she was, of the portrait of Mary Ball and " other
relicks of the [Washington] family." Mr. Field was born
in 1777. He received the story from Mrs. Morer's lips
when he was "a boy," say eighteen years of age, when
according to her narrative, she must have been fully seventy-
five years old. Would any court receive testimony of this
nature as trustworthy?

It lacked only about a month of being two years from
the time of the marriage of Washington's parents until his
birth, or fvilly three years after his father went to England.
Augustine had left in Virginia his large estate and various
concerns, and his two sons, one about seven years and the
other about nine years of age. Wo\ild he be likely to
remain abroad so long, neglectful of his family and estate,
to receive and dispose of some property in England which
he had inherited?

Does it not seem probable that Augustine Washington
and Mary Ball were married in England, and after tarrying
there awhile to dispose of some property, returned to
Virginia, where their first child was born and baptized, two
years after the wedding?

Maryland Martha, Benson J. Lossing, pp. 21 to 24.


Mary Washington's First Home

The home plantation of Augustine Washington stretched
along the Potomac River more than a mile between Pope's
and Bridges' creeks. The river is there a broad stream, and
was then largely fringed by the primeval forest. Its waters
abounded with the choicest fishes. This farm of a thousand
acres was in the northern part of Westmoreland County, a
narrow shire afterwards distinguished as the birthplace of
two Presidents of the United States (Washington and Mon-
roe) and of several Lees who were prominent actors in the
early history of our republic. Of these, Richard Henry Lee,
author of the resolution for independence offered in the Con-
gress in 1776; Arthur Lee, M.D., a diplomatic agent for the
Continental Congress abroad; and "Legion Harry, " a brave
and dashing young cavalry leader in the old war for
independence, were the most conspicuous.

The dwelling to which Mr. Washington took his young
wife was a very modest one, yet it ranked among the best of
Virginia farm houses at that time. It had four rooms
and a spacious attic, with an enormovis chimney at each
end. On the river front was a piazza. It was perfectly
plain at all points. The only approach to ornamentation
was a Dutch tiled chimney-piece in the " best room. "

The bride found at her new home a middle-aged kins-
woman of her husband in charge of his two fine boys,
Lawrence and Augustine. There was an ample supply of
men and women servants. The rooms were neatly ftirnished,
and in one of them was a small collection of books, chiefly
devotional in character. Among them was a copy of Sir
Matthew Hale's "Contemplations, Moral and Divine," on
the fiy-leaf of which Augustine's first wife had written her
name in bold characters. Immediately under this signature
the new mistress of the household wrote "and Mary Wash-
ington," in an equally bold hand. I saw this volume and
copied the signatures many years ago, at Mount Vernon.


From that volume the mother of Washington undoubtedly
drew, as from a living well of sweet water, many of the
maxims which she instilled into the mind of her first-born,
who became illustrious. It was in this modest home on the
banks of the Potomac that Mary Washington gave birth
to that son in the winter of 1732.

Mary and Martha, Benson J. Lossing, p. 27.

George and His Father

His Birth

My father, Augustine, was born in 1694, on the planta-
tion known as Wakefield, granted in 1667, to his grand-
father, and lying between the Bridges' and Pope's creeks, in
Westmoreland, on the north neck between the Potomac and
the Rappahannock. My father, in his will, says: "Foras-
much as my several children in this my will mentioned, being
by several Ventures, cannot inherit from one another," etc.

What he speaks of as his "Ventures" were his two
marriages. A venture does appear to me to be an appro-
priate name for the uncertain state of matrimony. The
first "venture" was Jane Butler, who lies buried at Wake-
field. Of her four children two survived; that is, my half-
brothers Lawrence and Augustine, whom we called Austin.
I was the first child of my father's second "venture," and
my mother was Mary Ball. I was born at Wakefield, on
February 11 (O. S.), 1732, about ten in the morning. I was
baptized in the Pope's Creek church, and had two godfathers
and one godmother, Mildred Gregory. Mr. Beverly Whiting
and Mr. Christopher Brooks were my godfathers. I do not
recall ever seeing Mr. Whiting, although his son, of the
same name, I met in after years. Of Mr. Brooks I know
nothing, nor do I know which one of the two gave me the
silver cups which it was then the custom for the godfather
to give to the godson. I still have them. I was told by a
silversmith in Philadelphia that the cups are of Irish make,
and of about 1720. There were six of these mugs, in order
to be used for punch when the child grew up.

The Youth of Washington, Told in the Form of an Autobiography, S. Weir Mitchell,
M. D,, p. 22.



Parson Weems

Several of the most famous tales of Washington's
boyhood are told by an odd character known as Parson
Weems, who preached in Powick church for a while after
the war. Washington attended this church, and he and
his wife often entertained Weems in their hospitable house.
As the odd parson no doubt gossiped with all the old people
about the neighborhood, he had a good chance to pick up
many anecdotes about the great man's childhood. Unfor-
tunately, Parson Weems was more fond of a good story
than of the strict truth. Having a large family to support,
he left off preaching and became a book peddler. He rode
about in an old-fashioned gig, selling his own writings and
those of others. He told so many amusing stories and
played the fiddle so well, that he was a very successful
peddler. He would enter a bar-room with a temperance
tract he had written, and mimic a drunken man so perfectly
that he had no trouble in selling his tracts to the laughing
crowd. It is told of Weems that he once fiddled for a dance
from behind a screen, lest people should be shocked to see
a parson fiddling in such a place. The screen fell over,
however, and revealed the fiddling preacher, to the great
amusement of the crowd. The odd old parson wrote a life
of Washington, in which he told some stories of the great
man's boyhood which he said he had learned from an old
lady who was a cousin of the family and had visited, when
she was a girl, in the house of Mr. Augustine Washington.
The stories are not improbable in themselves, and are
doubted only because they are told by the queer parson,
who loved a good story too well.

The Story of Washington, Elizabeth Eggleston Seelye, p. 6.

Little George and the Sin of Selfishness

To assist his son to overcome that selfish spirit, which
too often leads children to fret and fight about trifles, was


a notable care of Mr. Washington. For this purpose, of all
the presents, such as cakes, fruit, etc., he received, he was
always desired to give a liberal part to his playmates. To
enable him to do this with more alacrity, his father would
remind him of the love which he would thereby gain, and
the frequent presents which would in return be made to
him; and also would tell of that great and good God, who
delights above all things to see children love one another,
and will assuredly reward them for acting so amiable a part.

Some idea of Mr. Washington's plan of education in
this respect, may be collected from the following anecdote,
related to me twenty years ago by an aged lady, who was
a distant relative, and, when a girl, spent much of her time
in the family:

"On a fine morning," said she, "in the fall of 1737,
Mr. Washington, having little George by the hand, came to
the door and asked my cousin . , . and myself to
walk with him to the orchard, promising he would show us
a fine sight. On arriving at the orchard, we were presented
with a fine sight indeed. The whole earth, as far as we
could see, was strewed with fruit: and yet the trees were
bending under the weight of apples, which hung in clusters
like grapes, and vainly strove to hide their blushing cheeks
behind the green leaves.

"'Now, George,' said his father, 'look here, my son!
don't you remember when this good cousin of yours brought
you that fine large apple last spring, how hardly I could
prevail on you to divide with your brothers and sisters;
though I promised you that if you would but do it, God
Almighty would give you plenty of apples this fall. '

' 'Poor George could not say a word ; but hanging down
his head, looked quite confused, while with his little naked
toes he scratched in the soft ground.

"'Now look up, my son,' continued his father, 'look
up, George! and see there how richly the blessed God has
made good my promise to you. Wherever you turn your


eyes you see the trees loaded down with fine fruit; many
of them indeed breaking down ; while the ground is covered
with mellow apples, more than you could eat, my son, in
all your life time. '

"George looked in silence on the wide wilderness of
fruit. He marked the busy humming bees, and heard the
gay notes of birds ; then lifting his eyes, filled with shining
moisture, to his father, he softly said:

" 'Well, Pa, only forgive me this time; and see if I ever
be so stingy any more.'"

The Life of George Washington, with Curious Anecdotes, Rev. M. L. Weems, p. 12.

The Moral and Entertaining Story of the Little Hatchet

Never did the wise Ulysses take more pains with his
beloved Telemachus, than did Mr. Washington with George,
to inspire him with an early love of truth.

"Truth, George," said he, "is the loveliest quality of
youth. I would ride fifty miles, my son, to see the little
boy whose heart is so honest, and his lips so pure, that we
may depend on every word he says. O how lovely does
such a child appear in the eyes of everybody! His parents
dote on him. His relations glory in him. They are con-
stantly praising him to their children, whom they beg to
imitate him. They are often sending for him to visit them ;
and receive him, when he comes, with as much joy as if he
were a little angel, come to set pretty examples to their

"But, oh! how different, George, is the case with the
boy who is so given to lying that nobody can believe a word
he says! He is looked at with aversion wherever he goes,
and parents dread to see him come among their children.
Oh, George ! my son ! rather than see you come to this pass,
dear as you are to my heart, gladly would I assist to nail
you up in your little cofhn, and follow you to your grave.
Hard, indeed, would it be to me to give up my son, whose
little feet are always so ready to run about with me, and


whose fondly looking eyes, and sweet prattle make so large
a part of my happiness. But still I would give him up,
rather than see him a common liar. ' '

" Pa, " said George very seriously, " do I ever tell lies? "

"No, George, I thank God you do not, my son; and I

Online LibraryWayne WhippleThe story-life of Washington; a life-history in five hundred true stories → online text (page 3 of 28)