Rich man, poor man, beggar man, thief, Doctor, lawyer, Indian Chief–that’s the first line from one of my childhood jump rope rhymes. I thought it appropriate for opening this post that connects farmers, merchants, lawyers, sailors, a kidnapper, and even a President, Indian Chief, and an Indian Princess who became famous for her peacekeeping powers after her marriage to a white man in 1614.
Let’s just see how simply I can relate myself to the notable people in this post. First, there were the ancestors of George Washington who left France for England in 1066 following the Norman Invasion of England. They settled in Northamptonshire, England and lived there from the16th through 19th Centuries. Well, I’m aging, but not that old and I live in the United States–some 3,600 miles, or, some 5,800 kilometers in England’s unit of measure. Let me try again–Sally Washington (1750-1796), was the fifth great-granddaughter of Lawrence Washington (1500-1583) and married my paternal great-uncle (7X removed) Robert Bolling, IV (1759-1839) whose ancient aristocratic family’s origin was also England. That’s better, but just the beginning. And of note, Sally Washington’s uncle was George Washington, the first president of the United States. And, it was Sally’s fifth great-grandfather, Lawrence, who was a wealthy wool merchant, became Mayor of Northampton and bought the Sulgrave property as the Washington family home.
Lawrence and his wife, Lady Pargiter had 4 sons and eleven daughters. Their eldest son was named Robert and their second, Lawrence. This started a Washington family tradition to name one of their sons Lawrence.
It was their second son, Lawrence Washington, who married a wealthy widow, Mary Argall, making her son, Samuel Argall, Lawrence’s stepson. Now, Samuel became a prominent Sea Captain who was based in Jamestown, Virginia. He captained a ship named “Treasurer,” and pioneered a faster means of traveling to Virginia by following the 30th parallel, north of the traditional Caribbean route. Samuel first arrived in Jamestown in June 1610, just after the “Starving Time” when the surviving colonists were ready to quit for Newfoundland. Although he joined in the war against the Virginia Indians, Argall also engaged in diplomacy, negotiating provisions from Lopassus (Japazaws) of the Patawomeck tribe. Argall explored the Potomac River region in the winter of 1612 and spring of 1613, and there, with Lopassus’s complicity, kidnapped Pocahontas while visiting the village of the Patawomeck Indians. Argall wanted to use Pocahontas as a hostage in exchange for Englishmen being held captive by Powhatan’s group and for the return of colonists’ tools and supplies stolen by Native Americans. This move helped establish an alliance between the Patawomecks and the Virginians. Argall also helped negotiate peace with the Pamunkey and Chickahominy tribes. As deputy governor of Virginia, Argall improved military preparedness but did not enforce martial law in the same way as Sir Thomas Dale had, making his administration a bridge between the old politics and a new more democratic era. Knighted by James I of England in 1622, Argall led an English fleet against the Spanish in 1625 and died at sea in 1626.
Meanwhile, Sir Thomas Dale, Governor of Virginia treated Pocahontas with respect. After being instructed in the Christian religion, she was baptized and admitted to Christianity by taking the Christian name Rebecca.
John Rolfe (1585–1622), (my 11th great-grandfather), originally from Heacham, England, fell in love with Pocahontas and asked Dale for permission to marry her. Dale readily agreed, Pocahontas father, Chief Powhatan, also consented, and the marriage took place in April 1614 in the church at Jamestown in an Anglican service. Both Native Americans and Englishmen apparently saw their union as a bond between them. Hence, Pocahontas’s 8-year marriage to Rolfe brought peaceful relations in Virginia and her “peacemaker and friend to the colonists” notoriety.
20th Century to Present
One hundred years ago in March 1917, the National Society of Colonial Dames of America (NSCDA), began fundraising efforts for the restoration and preservation of 1539 Sulgrave Manor, the ancestral home of George Washington in Sulgrave, Northamptonshire, England.
In 2014, however, Sulgrave Manor was listed on the World Monuments Fund Watch List “to call attention to the need for increased resources and to promote the development of creative management strategies to ensure the long-term survival of the property.”
The bicentennial of the Treaty of Ghent was celebrated at the site in 2014, and a comprehensive strategic plan was funded by the Estate of Paul Mellon. Recent restoration projects have been funded by the Colonial Dames and the Daughters of the American Revolution. And, today’s Sulgrave Manor property is administered by the Sulgrave Manor Trust.
As an added treat below is a three-minute clip from BBC’s Antiques Roadshow of 29th September 2013 that was filmed at Cirencester Agricultural College. It included the Garsdon Church linked to the Esquire Lawrence Washington who died at Sulgrave Manor in 1583. Its focus is on the silver communion plate and silver chalices donated to the Church over three hundred years ago by the Lady Amy Pargiter, widow of Lawrence Washington. The appraiser valued them at more than £100,000 on the program.