Tring & District Local History & Museum Society
Registered Charity No. 1053276
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George Washington & the Tring Connection
Washington Old Hall
William FitsPatric de Hertburn acquired the lease of Wessyngton approximately 6 miles North of Durham in 1180 where he built a large wooden hall. In the 16th century, this was replaced by a stone farm house, Robert Washington III changed the spelling of the family name from Wessyngton to Washington and the stone farm house became known as Washington Old Hall.
The first Lawrence Washington was a wool merchant who was the mayor of Northampton in 1532. After marrying a rich young widow, Amy Pargitter, he built Sulgrave Manor in Northamptonshire in 1538. The Rev. Lawrence Washington, great, great grandfather of George Washington was born in Sulgrave Manor in 1602. Sulgrave Manor is now the foremost Washington site in the U.K. and is the only building to be 50% owned by the citizens of the USA and 50% by the citizens of the UK!
Pendley Manor, Tring
In 1630 Rev. Lawrence Washington visited his friend Sir Richard Anderson, the owner of Pendley Manor. At Pendley he met and fell in love with Amphyllis Twigden, one of five daughters of a yeoman farmer from Creaton, Northamptonshire. Lawrence was a fellow of Brasenose College, Oxford which banned fellows from marriage and so was unable to marry Amphyllis when their son John was born in 1631.
Lawrence & Amphyllis
These portraits of Lawrence and Amphyllis are taken from the collection at Sulgrave Manor. After receiving approval from William Laud, the Chancellor of Oxford University, Lawrence and Amphyllis were married in Tring in late 1632. They had six children, 3 boys and 3 girls.
Baptism Record of Lawrence Washington Jnr.
Lawrence was born in 1635 after his parent’s marriage. He was the second son of Lawrence and Amphyllis but nevertheless he inherited the estate of Andrew Knowling including the house in Frogmore Street, ahead of his elder brother, due to John’s illegitimacy. In 1666 he migrated to Virginia to join John who had been there since 1657. When Lawrence’s first wife died in Virginia he remarried and had a son and a daughter. Lawrence died in Virginia in 1677.
Rev. Lawrence Washington was appointed Rector of Purleigh Church in March 1633. Amphyllis and their children remained in Tring until after Amphyllis’s mother died in1637 and then moved to Purleigh where two daughters were born. In 1643 Rev. Lawrence was ejected from his Rectory by the Puritans and therafter lived for the rest of his life in poverty as Vicar of Little Braxted, Essex. Amphyllis and the children returned to Tring in 1641.
Frogmore Street, Tring
The location of the Knowling/Washington home was near the entrance to the car park in Frogmore Street. The house was owned by Andrew Knowling who married the mother of Amphyllis Twigden. The Washington children lived in this house except for a four year period when they lived in Purleigh Essex. On Andrew Knowling’s death the house was inherited by the second son Lawrence and not by the older one, John.
Death of Amphyllis Washington
Amphyllis Washington died in 1655 in Tring and was buried in the graveyard of Tring’s Church of St Peter & St Paul. In 1656 her son John settled her affairs and then left Tring for London to set out on a trading voyage to Virginia – never to return to Tring.
Off to Virginia
This ketch is similar to the one that John Washington sailed on to Virginia. After successfully trading household goods for a rich cargo of tobacco in Virginia, the ship ran aground in the Potomac River on the return voyage in February 1657. All the crew were saved but the cargo was lost. John then became embroiled in a legal dispute with the captain of the Sea Horse over responsibility for the shipwreck. The magistrate in the case, Nathaniel Pope, subsequently offered John a position on his plantation. As a result John remained in Virginia, married and began a family.
Popes Creek Plantation
John Washington married Nathaniel Pope’s daughter Anne in 1658 and they had three children. Her father, Nathaniel, gave them 700 acres of good farming land near Popes Creek as a wedding gift. Over his lifetime John acquired 10,000 acres of land including 5,000 acres of land at Little Hunting Creek which later became Mount Vernon. In 1732 John Washington’s great grandson, George Washington, was born in Popes Creek Plantation - he subsequently became the first President of the United States of America.
George Washington inherited Mount Vernon from his half- brother Lawrence who had named the estate after the English Admiral Edward Vernon. George Washington lived there from 1756 until his death in 1799. Mount Vernon is now the most visited private home in the USA.
Further information and images relating to the Washington family
and a book The Washingtons of Tring is available
in the Local History Museum.