|View of Rappahannock River from Fredericksburg, Virginia|
|Washington farm managed by |
The George Washington Foundation
|View of the Washington farm property|
The Washington family settled three properties: Pope’s Creek in Westmoreland County; Little Hunting Creek in Prince William County; and Washington farm in King George County.
At age forty-nine, Augustine Washington died at Washington farm on 12 April 1743. His death left Mary, at age thirty-five, a widow responsible for raising five minor children – George, eleven; Betty, ten; Samuel, nine; John Augustine, seven; and Charles, five. Mary managed the property until George reached the legal age to own property.
In 1748, at age sixteen, George departed Washington farm to spend time at Mount Vernon with Lawrence. It is through his brother’s connection with Lord Fairfax that George joined a surveying party to western Virginia.
Betty was the first of the Washington siblings to marry. Just prior to her seventeenth birthday, Betty became the second wife of Fielding Lewis. The couple married 7 May 1750.[i] Betty and Fielding occupied a home on eight town lots in Fredericksburg while their mansion was constructed. Letters and restoration experts indicate the Lewis family did not occupy their plantation home until 1775. Located on Washington Avenue and Lewis Street, their mansion home is restored and open to the public.
George was allowed to claim the land inherited from his father in 1753. Although he was legal owner of the land, his mother maintained her home on his property until 1772. George rented Mount Vernon from his half-brother Lawrence’s widow, Anne Fairfax. Upon her death he became legal owner of Mount Vernon.
In 1771, George surveyed Washington farm. A year later, his mother moved to a home within walking distance of Betty’s home in Fredericksburg.[ii] Mary’s departure from Washington farm allowed George to advertise the sale of lands inherited from his father. The advertisement from Purdie and Dixon’s Virginia Gazette read as follows:
To be SOLD, RENTED, or EXCHANGED, for back Lands, in any of the northern Counties in this Colony, A TRACT of six Hundred ACRES, including about two Hundred of cleared Land on the north Side of Rappahannock River, opposite to the lower End of Fredericksburg. On this Tract (a little above the Road) is one of the most agreeable Situations for a House that is to be found upon the whole River, having a clear and distinct View of almost every House in the Town, and every Vessel that passes to and from it. Long Credit (if desired) will be given, the Purchaser paying Interest from the Sale; and an indisputable Title will be made. For further particulars inquire of Colonel [Fielding] Lewis in Fredericksburg, or the subscriber in Fairfax.
Fielding was tasked with renting the farm until a suitable buyer could be identified. The rental of the land delayed the conveyance to Hugh Mercer. In 1774, George sold Washington farm to Hugh Mercer.[iii]
[i] Fielding Lewis was the second son of Frances Fielding and Colonel John Lewis II of “Warner Hall” Gloucester County. His birth was recorded in the Abingdon Parish Register "Fielding, the son of Captain John Lewis and Mrs. Frances, his wife, was born July ye 7th, and baptized July ye 16th, 1725." (Source Archives Division, Virginia State Library) Fielding was six when his mother died 27 October 1731. (Source William and Mary Quarterly, Series 1, Volume 10, Page 49) His father married secondly, Priscilla Churchill, widow of Robert Carter of Nomini Hall in Westmoreland County. Fielding grew up at “Warner Hall.” His great-grandfather was Augustine Warner, Speaker of the House of Burgesses.
[ii] Mary Ball Washington remained at Washington farm for approximately twenty years subsequent to George reaching legal age to possess the land he inherited from his father. She departed from the property in 1772. Thus, she resided on the land for approximately 34 years. Charles Washington and Fielding Lewis conducted an inventory of livestock following George Washington’s survey of Washington farm in 1771.
[iii] Several letters detail the negotiations to transfer Washington farm from George Washington to Hugh Mercer. Mercer was fatally wounded at the Battle of Princeton. His will dated 20 March 1776 transfers his property to his sons George and James.