Washington Surname Genealogy

The surname Washington comes from the place name Washington (originally Wassyngton) near the river Wear in what was then Durham. The Washington family took their name from this location.
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Washington Ancestry

England. George
Washington’s family dates from 1183 at Washington on the Wear and
possibly before. They were landed gentry and owned property in
Yorkshire (Selby) and in Lancashire (Chorley).

Some 350 years
later, a descendant, Lawrence Washington, moved south and bought
Sulgrave manor near Banbury in Oxfordshire. This was the home
from which George Washington’s great-grandfather, John
, departed for
Virginia in 1656.

There are still Washingtons to be found in the north of England, but
more in Staffordshire. The earliest record is a will and
inventory of Edmund Washington of Leek, dated
1537. The name has
continued there and in nearby towns and villages.

America. The John Washington
who settled in Westmoreland county and was the forebear of President
Washington was not the only Washington to come to Virginia in the 17th
century. The records show two others:

  • Edward Washington, possibly related, who
    became constable of Westmoreland county
  • and John Washington of Surry county

There was descent from both of these Washingtons.

George Washington and his
wife Martha had no children. Their Mount Vernon estate passed
onto his
nephew Bushrod and then to Bushrod’s nephew John Augustine. The Washington trail then went south:

  • Thomas Washington moved his family to Alabama
    and Thomas Pratt Washington
    his family and slaves to Texas in 1845.
  • Joseph Washington from Tennessee was one of the men who
    perished at the Alamo
    at the hands of the Mexicans in 1836.
  • while Lewis Washington, a writer and
    journalist from Georgia, lived through these times as well. He
    was killed
    in 1857 while covering a war in Costa Rica.

. The number of Washingtons in America must have
something to
with African Americans taking the name after emancipation.

T. Washington
, born a slave in Virginia in 1856, took his
name from his
step-father, Washington Ferguson. He was an educator and writer
and emerged as the spokesman for African Americans
post-emancipation. His autobiography Up From Slavery
is still widely read.

Another former slave was John

from Fredericksburg whose ordeals after the war have recently been
retold by the historian David Blight. And Jesse Washington, a
seventeen year old lynched in Waco Texas in 1916, provides a further
sobering reminder of the past race divides.

It is a remarkable fact
that 90% of the Washingtons in America were black in 1900 and the same
percentage holds true today. African
Americans could choose their name after Emancipation and many of them
chose Washington, the founder of their country.
Washington was a slave-owner. But
he did give orders that 124 of his slaves should be released on the
death of
his wife.

Today’s African American
Washingtons include jazz performers, baseball players, and the Academy
award winning actor, Denzel Washington. Of course, these
Washingtons have their own genetic roots. The actor Isaiah
Washington discovered that his DNA roots lay on his mother’s side with
the Mende people of Sierra Leone.

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If you would like to read more, click on the miscellany page for
further stories and accounts:

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George Washington
was the first President of the United States.
Eugenia Washington, grand niece
of the President, was one of the founders of the DAR (Daughters of the
Revolution) in 1890.
Booker T.
, born a slave, was an educator and writer and emerged
as the spokesman for African Americans until his death in 1915.
Dinah Washington, the jazz
singer, was born Ruth Lee Jones. It is said that Lionel Hampton
gave her this name.
Harold Washington was
the first African American mayor of Chicago, serving from 1983 to 1987.
, the American actor, is a two-time Academy award winner.

Select Washingtons Today

  • 1,500 in the UK (most numerous
    in West Midlands)
  • 52,000 in America (most numerous
    in Texas).




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