Lawrence Washington

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Lawrence Washington

Birthplace: Virginia, United States
Death: July 26, 1752 (33-34)
Mount Vernon, Fairfax County, Virginia, United States (Tuberculosis)
Place of Burial: Mount Vernon, Fairfax, Virginia, United States
Immediate Family:

Son of Capt. Augustine Washington, Sr. and Jane Washington
Husband of Private and Anne Lee
Father of Jane Washington; Fairfax Washington; Mildred Washington; Sarah Washington and James Washington
Brother of Butler Washington; Colonel Augustine Washington, II and Jane Washington
Half brother of George Washington, 1st President of the USA; Elizabeth 'Betty' Lewis; Colonel Samuel Washington; John Augustine Washington; Col. Charles Washington and 1 other

Managed by: Private User
Last Updated:

About Lawrence Washington

Sources: 1. Mount Vernon Ladies' Association, non-profit organization founded in 1853 by Ann Pamela Cunningham.



Lawrence Washington was George Washington's half-brother and surrogate father. He married Anne Fairfax (1728-1761), daughter of Colonel William Fairfax. Lawrence died at the age of 34 of Tuberculosis! Lawrence Washington owned Mount Vernon and upon the death of his infent daughter the property reverted to George Washington! Lawrence Washington (1718–1752) was a soldier and prominent landowner in colonial Virginia. As a founding member of the Ohio Company of Virginia, and a member of the colonial legislature representing Fairfax County, he was chiefly responsible for securing the establishment of the town of Alexandria, Virginia on the banks of the Potomac River in 1749. Washington was also the older and beloved half-brother of future United States President George Washington, and the first to live in the Mount Vernon estate, which he named.

In late 1739 the British Parliament decided to raise a "Regiment of Foot" (infantry) in the American colonies, to be utilized in the West Indies for the war against Spain, known as the War of Jenkins' Ear. The regiment, to be composed of four battalions, was designated Colonel William Gooch's 43rd Regiment of Foot, denoting its precedence within the British Army establishment. It was further decided to allow the company commanders to be recruited in the colonies and Colonel William Blakeney was sent across the Atlantic with blank Commissions, signed by King George II, to be distributed to the various governors. On 10 July 1740, Virginia Governor William Gooch awarded the senior ( Captain's Commission in one of Virginia's companies to Lawrence Washington: his Commission survives in the archives of the Mt. Vernon estate. The 4 Virginia Companies mustered at Williamsburg in August 1740, but the transport ships did not set sail for Jamaica until early October. The main British invasion force did not arrive Jamaica until early January 1741, and the Conjunct Expedition, under the dual command of Vice Admiral Edward Vernon and Brigadier General Thomas Wentworth, got under way in late January. In early February the decision was made to assault the Spanish fortress at Cartagena (in present day Colombia). At that time, some of the Americans were seconded to Admiral Vernon's warships to be utilized as Marines. Lawrence was fortunate, as he would later write to his father, to be appointed "Captain of the Soldiers acting as Marines" on board Vernon's flagship, the 80-gun HMS Princess Caroline. Because of this service, the 43rd Foot was called "Gooch's Marines."

Lawrence was a survivor of the expeditions against the seaport of Cartagena, New Granada (see Battle of Cartagena de Indias) and against Cuba and Panama. The assault against Cartagena, in March-April 1741, proved a disaster, as over half of the British force fell ill and died of tropical diseases, chiefly yellow fever.[3] The fever predominated amongst the newly arrived troop ships, while the crews on Vernon's warships, having already been in the Caribbean for one year, were largely inured against disease.[4] Thus, Lawrence Washington survived the fevers which killed off nearly 90 percent of the Americans. In January 1741, some 3,255 officers and men of Gooch’s "American Regiment" were on board ship in the harbor of Kingston, Jamaica. Not quite two years later, on 24 October 1742, the American survivors could muster only 17 officers and 130 enlisted men, who returned to North America in November and December, accompanied by 268 sick soldiers. On 17 January 1743, The New York Weekly Journal contained a dispatch from Jamaica dated 24 October 1742: from Jamaica, we are informed that General Wentworth had received Orders to return to Great Britain with his British Forces and to reduce [disband] the American Regiment under Colonel Gooch. Each man is to be paid to the 24th of October and sent home on four transports, viz: one to New York, two to Virginia, and one to North Carolina. A very melancholy reflection that of the five hundred men sent from this Province in five vessels at the first embarkation. Writing a history of "British Settlements in North America" in 1748, Bostonian Dr. William Douglas stated that of five hundred men sent from Massachusetts, not over fifty returned. Washington also participated in the 1741 British landing at Guantanamo (Cumberland Harbor) Cuba, part of Admiral Vernon's plan -- never realized -- to attack Santigo from the rear (by land) and from the front (by sea). on Santiago de Cuba. Upon his return to Virginia at the end of 1742, Lawrence discovered that the post of militia commander, Adjutant, was vacant. He applied for the post and was appointed Adjutant, at the rank of Major, by Governor Gooch in Spring 1743.

Lawrence is believed to have been born in 1718, the second child of Augustine Washington and Jane Butler (whose first-born son, Butler, died in infancy.) The family was then living in Westmoreland County, Virginia, near the Rappahannock River. In 1729, Augustine took Lawrence and younger son Augustine, Jr., to England and enrolled them in the Appleby School. Augustine would return to Virginia months later and discover that his wife had died, leaving daughter Sarah in the care of the extended Washington family in Westmoreland County. The father remarried in 1731, to a young heiress, Mary Ball. Lawrence completed his education and returned to Virginia in 1738, to oversee the management of his father's 2,000-plus acre plantation on the Potomac River at Little Hunting Creek (then in Prince William County; after 1742 Fairfax County). In late 1738, Augustine moved his young (second) family to a farm he had recently purchased on the edge of Fredericksburg. Prince William County Deed books reveal that the following spring, March 1739, Lawrence began to purchase tracts of land bordering the family's Little Hunting Creek estate: the purchase, in his own name, indicates Lawrence had attained his "majority" (age 21).

Washington was married in July 1743 to Anne Fairfax (1728-1761), the eldest daughter of Colonel William Fairfax of neighboring Belvoir, himself a land agent for his cousin, Thomas Fairfax, 6th Lord Fairfax of Cameron. The marriage of the 15-year old Anne to the newly returned 25-year old army veteran appears to have been prompted by Anne's disclosure to her parents that the family's minister, the Reverend Charles Green of Truro Parish, had taken opportunites with her.

The new county of Fairfax was created (from northern Prince William County) in 1742, and Lawrence was elected to Virginia's House of Burgesses in 1744 as a representative for Fairfax (both the county and the family.) In 1747, he joined with his father-in-law and other prominent landowners and businessmen in the Northern Neck to create The Ohio Company of Virginia, with the intention of opening trade to the American interior linked to the Potomac River. To do so, the Company required an "entrepot", a gateway for trade. The site of Hugh West's tobacco warehouse, on the western banks of the Potomac near the mouth of (Great) Hunting Creek, was deemed a suitable location because its deep water access allowed ships from London to sail directly to the wharf. However, the local tobacco planters were desirous of siting a new town away from the river (and its "played out" tobacco fields) and further upstream on Hunting Creek. During the legislative session of 1748-49, Lawrence was responsible for promoting the river site and securing the votes necessary to approve a new town on the Potomac, where it would best serve the interests of the Ohio Company. In May 1749, Governor William Gooch signed an Act to establish the town of Alexandria, and Lawrence was granted permission to "be absent from the Service of the House, for the Recovery of his Health." Prior to the first public auction of town lots, in July 1749, Lawrence sailed to London to conduct business on behalf of the Ohio Company, and to consult English physicians regarding his health. His younger brother George, an aspiring land surveyor, attended the "Public Vendue" (auction) and copied the town map, "A Plan of Alexandria, Now Belhaven", and listed the selling prices of individual lots for his brother. Although established as "Alexandria", the town was immediately called "Belhaven" - in honor of Scottish patriot John Hamiliton, 2nd Lord Belhaven. In 1751, the town council held the "Belhaven Lottery" to raise money for a city hall, and George Washington's correspondence throughout the French and Indian War of the late 1750s referred to "Belhaven".

George Washington accompanied his half-brother Lawrence to the warm springs at Bath (present-day Berkeley Springs, West Virginia), which Lawrence visited frequently to improve his health. In 1751, they travelled together to Barbados hoping that its climate might further help Lawrence who was now very ill with tuberculosis. This was the only trip that George Washington ever took outside the confines of what was to become the United States of America. Upon the death of Lawrence's widow, George inherited his estate at Mount Vernon, which Lawrence had named in honour of British Admiral Edward Vernon, with whom Lawrence had served. Lawrence died of tuberculosis at his "Mount Vernon home, in July 1752. His widow remarried into the Lee family shortly thereafter, allowing 20-year old George to live at, and manage, the Mount Vernon plantation.

Lawrence and Anne had several children (none of whom survived childhood): Jane Washington b. Sep. 27, 1744 d. Jan. 1745 Fairfax Washington b. Aug. 22, 1747 d. Oct. 1747 Note: It was common for the first-born male child to be given his mother's surname. Mildred Washington b. Sept. 28, 1748 d. 1749 Sarah Washington b. Nov. 7, 1750 d. 1754 (?) Note: She was her father's heir. Had she lived she would have inherited the property now known as Mount Vernon instead of her uncle George Washington Mount Vernon Ladies' Association (2007). "George Washington's Mount Vernon - History of Mount Vernon". Mount Vernon Ladies' Association. Retrieved 2007-10-10.

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Lawrence Washington's Timeline

Virginia, United States
September 27, 1744
Mount Vernon, Fairfax, Virginia, United States
August 22, 1747
Mount Vernon, Fairfax, Virginia, United States
September 28, 1748
Mount Vernon, Fairfax, Virginia, United States
November 7, 1750
Mount Vernon, Fairfax, Virginia, United States
July 26, 1752
Age 34
Mount Vernon, Fairfax County, Virginia, United States