« PrejšnjaNaprej »
LIFE OF WASHINGTON.
GENEALOGY OF THE WASHINGTON FAMILY-WASHINGTON'S BIRTHPLACE-HABITS OF
HIS BOYHOOD-MOUNT VERNON-HIS FIRST SURVEYING
HE Washington family is of ancient English stock, the genealogy of which has
was in possession of landed estates and manorial privileges in the county of Durham, such as were enjoyed only by those, or their descendants, who had come over from Normandy with the Conqueror, or fought under his standard. When William the Conqueror laid waste the whole country north of the Humber, in punishment of the ipsurrection of the Northumbrians, he apportioned the estates among his followers, and advanced Normans and other foreigners to the principal ecclesiastical dignities. One of the most wealthy and important sees was that of Durham.
William needed a powerful adherent on this frontier to keep the restless Northumbrians in order and check Scottish invasion, and no doubt considered an enlightened ecclesiastic, appointed by the crown, a safer depositary of such power than an hereditary noble. Having placed a noble and learned native of Loraine in the diocese, therefore, he erected it into a palatinate, over which the bishop, as Count Palatine, had temporal as well as spiritual jurisdiction. He built a strong castle for his protection, and to serve as a barrier against the northern foe. He made him lord high admiral of the sea and waters adjoining his palatinate, lord warden of the marches, and conservator of the league between England and Scotland.
The bishop, as Count Palatine, lived in almost royal state and splendor. He had his lay chancellor, chamberlains, secretaries, steward, treasurer, master of the horse, and a host of minor officers. Still he was under feudal obligations. All landed property in those warlike times implied military service. Bishops and abbots, equally with great barons who held estates immediately of the crown, were obliged, when required, to furnish the king with armed men in proportion to their domains; but they had their feudatories under them to aid them in this service.
Among the knights who held estates in the palatinate on these warlike conditions was William de Hertburn, the progenitor of the Washingtons. His Norman name of William would seem to point out his national descent; and the family long continued to have Norman names of baptism. The surname of De Hertburn was taken from a village on the palatinate which he held of the bishop in knight's fee; probably the same now called Hartburn on the banks of the Tees. It had become a custom among the Norman families of rank, about the time of the Conquest, to take surnames from their castles or estates; it was not until some time afterward that surnames became generally assumed.
The first actual mention we find of the family is in the Bolden Book, a record of all the lands appertaining to the diocese in 1183. In this it is stated that William de Hertburn had exchanged his village of Hertburn for the manor and village of Wessyngton, likewise in the diocese, paying the bishop a quit-rent of four pounds, and engaging
to attend him with two greyhounds in grand hunts, and to furnish a man-at-arms wlenever military aid should be required of the palatinate.
The family changed its surname with its estate, and thenceforward assumed that of De Wessyngton. The condition of military service attached to its manor will be foud to have been often exacted, nor was the service in the grand hunt an idle form. Hunting came next to war in those days, as the occupation of the nobility and gentry. The clergy engaged in it equally with the laity. The hunting establishment of the Bishop of Durham was on a princely scale. He had bis forests, chases and parks, with their train of foresters, rangers and park-keepers. A grand hunt was a splendid pageant in which all his barons and knights attended him with horse and hound. The stipulations with the seignior of Wessyngton show how strictly the rights of the chase were defined. All the game taken by him in going to the forest belonged to the bishop; all taken on returning belonged to himself. In the reign of Edward III., we find the De Wessyngtons still mingling in chivalrous
The name of Sir Stephen de Wessyngton appears on a list of knights (noble: chevaliers) who were to tilt at a tournament at Dunstable in 1334. He bore for his device a golden rose on an azure field.
He was soon called to exercise his arms on a sterner field. In 1346, Edward and his son, the Black Prince, being absent with the armies in France, King David of Scotland invaded Northumberland with a powerful army. Queen Philippal, who had remained in England as regent, immediately took the field, calling the northern prelates and nobles to join her standard. They all hastened to obey. Among the prelates was Hatfield, the Bishop of Durham. The sacred banner of St. Cuthbert was again displayed, and the chivalry of the palatinate assisted at the famous battle of Nevil's cross, near Durham, in which the Scottish army was defeated and King David taken prisoner.
Such were the warlike and stately scenes in which the De Wessyngtons were called to mingle by their feudal duties as knights of the palatinate. A few years after the last event (1350), William, at that time lord of the manor of Wessyngton, lad license to settle it and the village upon himself, his wife and “his own right heirs." He died in 1367, and his son and heir, William, succeeded to the estate.
For upward of two hundred years the De Wessyngtons sat in the coun::ils of the palatinate; mingled with horse and hound in the stately hunts of its prelates, and followed the banner of St. Cuthbert to the field; but Sir William, just mentioned, was the last of the family that rendered this feudal service. He was the last male of the line to which the inheritance of the manor, by the license granted to his father, was confined. It passed away from the De Wessyngtons, after his death, by the marriage of his only daughter and heir, Dionisia, with Sir William Temple, of Studley. By the year 1400 it had become the property of the Blaykestons.
But though the name of De Wessyngton no longer figured on the chivalrous roll of the palatinate, it continued for a time to flourish in the cloisters.
The branch of the family to which our Washington immediately belongs sprang from Laurence Washington, Esquire, of Gray's Inn, son of Johu Washington, of Wharton in Lancashire. This Laurence Washington was for some time mayor of Northampton, and on the dissolution of the priories by Henry VIII. he received, in 1538, a grant of the manor of Sulgrave, in Northamptonshire, with other lands in the vicinity, all confiscated property formerly belonging to the monastery at St. Andrew's.
Sulgrave remained in the family until 1620, and was commonly called “Washington's manor."
We have little note of the Sulgrave 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 themselves as adherents to the house of Stewart. In 1655, an attempt at a general insurrection drew on them the vengeance of Cromwell. Many of their party wbo 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 two brothers, John and Andrew Washington, great-grandsons of the grantee of Sulgrave, and