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By this time the primitive stock of the De Wessyngtons had separated into divers branches, holding estates in various parts of England; some distinguishing themselves in the learned professions, others receiving knighthood for public services. Their names are to be found honorably recorded in county histories, or engraved on monuments in time-worn churches and cathedrals, those garnering places of English worthies. By degrees the seignorial sign of de disappeared from before the family surname, which also varied from Wessyngton to Wassington, Wasshington, and finally, to Washington.1 A parish in the county of Durham bears the name as last written, and in this probably the ancient manor of Wessyngton was situated. There is another parish of the name in the county of Sussex.
The branch of the family to which our Washington immediately belongs sprang from Laurence Washington, Esquire, of Gray's Inn, son of John Washington, of Warton in Lancashire. This Laurence Washington was for some time mayor of Northampton, and on the dissolution of the
1 "The de came to be omitted," says an old treatise," when Englishmen and English manners began to prevail upon the ecovery of lost credit."- Restitution of Decayed Intelligence in Antiquities. Lond. 1634.
About the time of Henry VI. says another treatise, the de or d' was generally dropped from surnames, when the title of armiger, esquier, amongst the heads of families, and generosus, or gentylman, among younger sons was substituted. Lower, m Surnames, vol. i
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 of St. Andrew's.
Sulgrave remained in the family until 1620, and was commonly called "Washington's manor."1 One of the direct descendants of the grantee of Sulgrave was Sir William Washington, of Packington, in the county of Kent. He married a sister of George Villiers, duke of Buckingham,
1 The manor of Garsdon in Wiltshire has been mentioned as the homestead of the ancestors of our Washington. This was the residence of Sir Laurence Washington, second son of the above-mentioned grantee of Sulgrave. Elizabeth, granddaughter of this Sir Laurence, married Robert Shirley, Earl Ferrers and Viscount of Tamworth. Washington became a baptismal name among the Shirleys; several of the Earls Ferrers have borne it.
The writer of these pages visited Sulgrave a few years since. It was in a quiet rural neighborhood, where the farm-houses were quaint and antiquated. A part only of the manor house remained, and was inhabited by a farmer. The Washington crest, in colored glass, was to be seen in a window of what was now the buttery. A window on which the whole family arms was emblazoned had been removed to the residence of the actual proprietor of the manor. Another relic of the ancient manor of the Washingtons was a rookery in a venerable grove hard by. The rooks, those stanch adherents to old family abodes, still hovered and cawed about their hereditary nests. In the pavement of the parish church we were shown a stone slab bearing effigies on plates of brass of Laurence Washington, gent., and Anne his wife, and their four sons and eleven daughters. The inscription in black letter was dated 1564.
the unfortunate favorite of Charles I. This may have attached the Sulgrave Washingtons to the Stuart dynasty, to which they adhered loyally and generously throughout all its vicissitudes. One of the family, Lieutenant-colonel James Washington, took up arms in the cause of King Charles, and lost his life at the siege of Pontefract castle. Another of the Sulgrave line, Sir Henry Washington, son and heir of Sir William, before mentioned, exhibited in the civil wars the old chivalrous spirit of the knights of the palatinate. He served under prince Rupert at the storming of Bristol, in 1643, and when the assailants were beaten off at every point, he broke in with a handful of infantry at a weak part of the wall, made room for the horse to follow, and opened a path to victory.1
He distinguished himself still more in 1646, when elevated to the command of Worcester, the governor having been captured by the enemy. It was a time of confusion and dismay. The king had fled from Oxford in disguise and gone to the parliamentary camp at Newark. The royal cause was desperate. In this crisis Sir Henry received a letter from Fairfax, who, with his victorious army, was at Haddington, demanding the surrender of Worcester. The following was Colonel Washington's reply: —
SIR. It is acknowledged by your books and of your own quarter, that the king is
1 Clarendon, book vii.
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 been begun, nor so long continued by your Excellency's humble servant,
"HENRY WASHINGTON." 1
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 unavailing. 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 Henry, and on the faith of that document he capitulated (19th July, 1646) on nonorable terms, won by his fortitude and per..
shown to Sir
1 Greene's Antiquities of Worcester, p. 273.
severance. Those who believe in hereditary virtues may see foreshadowed in the conduct of this Washington of Worcester, the magnanimous constancy of purpose, the disposition to "hope against hope," which bore our Washington triumphantly through the darkest days of our Revolution.
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 Stuart. In 1655, an attempt at a general insurrection drew on them the vengeance 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 two brothers, John and Andrew Washington, greatgrandsons of the grantee of Sulgrave, and uncles of Sir Henry, the gallant defender of Worcester. John had for some time resided at South Cave, in the East Riding of Yorkshire; 1 but now emigrated with his brother to Virginia, which colony, from its allegiance to the exiled monarch and the Anglican Church, had become a favorite resort of the Cavaliers. The brothers arrived in
1 South Cave is near the Humber. "In the vicinity is Cave Castle, an embattled edifice. It has a noble collection of paintings, including a portrait of General Washington, whose ancestors possessed a portion of the estate." -- Lewes, Topog. Dict. vol. i. p. 530.