George Washington: A Biography - Vol. 1

By Douglas Southall Freeman | Go to book overview

CHAPTER II
THE RISE OF THE WASHINGTONS
(1657-FEBRUARY, 1732)

IN EVERY PART of the story of the development of the Northern Neck, from the days of the Commonwealth to the immense new opportunities that seemed to be opened by the Treaty of Albany, men named Washington had a modest share. The first to arrive there was John Washington, aged about 25, who came early in 16571 as mate and voyage partner in the ketch Sea Horse of London. Washington was the son of an English clergyman, an M.A. of Brasenose College, Oxford, who had been ousted from his parish by the Puritans in 1643 on the charge, probably false, that he was "a common frequenter of ale houses" and was "oft drunk."2 John, the son, had received decent schooling and, on making the voyage to Virginia, he saw possibilities of self-advancement on the Northern Neck.

Circumstance favored him. When the time came for the ketch to start home with a cargo of tobacco she ran aground on a shoal in the river. Before she could be floated off, a heavy winter storm hit and sank her. All her tobacco was ruined, but there was a chance she could be raised. Washington went to work with the others and helped in getting her above water. Doubtless during the time he was sharing in this task he made new friends, among them Nathaniel Pope, a well-to-do Marylander, residing in Virginia,3 who had a marriageable

____________________
1
Perhaps in December, 1656; see 1 Hoppin, 147.
2
A brief outline of the English ancestry of Washington, based on Hoppin, will be found in Appendix I-4. Somewhat less detailed than Hoppin, but fuller on Washington's parents and generation is Worthington C. Ford, The Washington Family. This appears in v. 14 of Ford edition of The Writings of George Washington (cited as Ford) and was published separately.
3
Nathaniel Pope appeared in Maryland prior to 1637 and served in 1642 as a member of the legislature of that Colony. He was in Maryland as late as 1646 (18 W (2) p. 443), but by 1651 was patenting land in Westmoreland ( "Mr. Pope's Cliffs," later Stratford; Eaton, 65). He must have been prosperous because, in 1652, he was seeking a tutor for his brood (9 V 322). His four children were Anne, Thomas, who became a merchant (d. May 1, 1741; see 9 Westmoreland Deeds and Wills, 198), Nathaniel, a mariner, and Margaret, who married William Hardidge (see an interesting love letter to her, May 8, 1669, in 4 W (1) p. 81). The will of Nathaniel Pope, May 16, 1659, will be found in 1 Westmoreland Deeds and Wills, 115. His deed to Anne, mentioned infra, is in ibid., 88. The records spell her name both Anne and Ann.

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