A Short Story on the Website of
the Red Dirt Writers Society

A Legend About How George Washington Got His Name 
by Gordon Eskridge (Apr 2009)

George Eskridge, the son of Richard and Elizabeth Eskridge was born in 1639 in the Manor House of the Eskridge Family located in northern Lancaster, Gressingham Parrish, near the Hamlet of Kendal, Westmoreland, England not far from the Esk River.  His father Richard was the local Barrister, the English word for lawyer. George grew up with a library of law books for his building blocks.  As a young boy, George grew up learning all he could about law from his father.   

George’s early life was surrounded by family.  He lived with his brothers and sisters, Richard Jr., James, Samuel, Elizabeth, Janet and Margaret.   Thanks to the many connections of the barristers’ profession each of the children were well suited in developing connections to further their careers’ and livelihood.  Georges’ brothers and sisters followed each of their own roads into their futures.  Richard Jr., being the eldest son would inherit the Manor House.  James the second son would become the Minister.  Samuel, the third son, would become an officer in the British Navy.  Elizabeth would marry into a nearby family known as the Sir William Winston Churchill family.  Janet marries the “White Knight “of King James Court, Sir Frances Northumberland.  Margaret marries the Duke of York.   

            Samuel took his younger brother George to the port city of Whitehaven was the largest coal mining place in England and a very active sea port.  The trip to the coast would take a few days sothey only brought a few things in their knap sacks.   Along with food the stash included Samuel’s favorite book on “Maritime Navigation” and George’s book on “Principals of English Law”.   They would read from these each time they rested.

When they arrived at the coast they stood on a large berm and watched the ships in the bay.  Samuel and George ran all the way down the hill so they could meet some of the “real” sailors.   George and Samuel followed a group of sailors into a local pub to listen to their adventures.  The Sailors were having their last drinks before returning to sea. The sailors told stories to the boys about the savage Indians in the Americas and about the mermaids.  Samuel drank in every word.  He began to consume more and more grog [a mixture of Rum and water] as the stories got wilder. 

            George decided that Samuel had had enough grog and went out to find a cart to travel home.  After loading Samuel into the cart, Samuel went to sleep and George went back inside after his and Samuel’s knapsacks. One sailor had the books out of the pack looking for pictures and having not found any pictures he threw them away.  George became enraged at his disrespect for the books and tackled the sailor.  George gets knocked down hitting his head on a bench and is knocked out.  So the sailors pick him up and take him to the doctor on board the ship.  While George is out, Samuel’s cart leaves for home and the ship sails out of port and heads to Iceland en-route to the Americas. 

When George awakes he is given duties as the cabin boy to help pay for his passage.  The captain notices the Law Book and asks George if he can read.  George confirms this and he becomes the ships scribe and works on the Captain’s books. George develops a friendship with the only other boy on the ship who was the son of a Scottish merchant by the name of Thomas Mackie.   Thomas’s age is sixteen years old and he is the representative for his father on board the ship. He has  been sent here to learn the shipping routes and meet the trading partners for their trade goods.  This friendship became one of George’s routes to his future. 

During the ships stay at port in Iceland, George walks through the village of Reykjavik finds a print shop.   George enter the print shop and pauses to watch the red headed attendant help another customer.  He inquires if she has any law books.  She finds him one left in her father’s print shop by an English sailor.  George purchases the book and returns to the ship with Thomas but not before winning a smile and finding out the name of the beautiful red head.  Her name was Rebecca.  The ship continues its journey to the Americas.

The next stop for the ship is Baltimore a large sea port in Maryland.  Thomas again visits his father’s representative and George finds a notice on a bulletin board in a shop for an assistant overseer for a plantation in Westmoreland County, Virginia owned by John Crutcher who is also a lawyer and in the House of Burgesses in Virginia.  George contacts Thomas and discusses his ideas to study law and stay in America for two years to earn passage back to England.   Thomas agrees to get word to George’s family that he is safe and will return to England in two years.  Thomas and George agree to meet in Maryland for the return trip.   

George travels down to the part of Virginia known as Sandy Point along the Northern Neck of Westmoreland County, Virginia.  The plantation house was a modest, neat wooden structure near the white sandy beach of the Potomac River at perhaps its widest point.  There was a small room attached at each end of the long covered porch at the rear and these rooms were entered only from the porch.   

While serving as assistant overseer for the Plantation George was assigned to sleep by the fireside to keep the fires going all night.  During the daytime he worked for and studied with John Crutcher.  John enjoyed having someone to discuss his philosophy of laws and cases with.

  On Sundays, George attended church with the Crutcher family in Yeocomico, Presbyterian Church.   George became friends with several of the other young men in the community, Daniel McCartney and Patrick Spense.  Daniel was also studying law.  Patrick was learning the import export business with his father.  Many an afternoon after church were spent at Patrick’s house plotting and planning their future.   Alexander Spence, Patrick’s father, found young George to be a well educated and extremely bright young man.  

When George completed his two year contract with John Crutcher he did not have enough money to return home.  Alexander had come to love George almost like a son.  He approached George with an offer.  Alexander offered to pay George to go back to England and finish his degree if George would return and help his son in their import export business.  Alexander was counting on George’s fathers connections in England to increase his exporting of American pelts and other goods.    George accepted the money and made plans to return to Maryland to meet Thomas. 

On the night of his departure John Crutcher made him one more offer.  John was getting older and he had no son’s to manage his great plantation.    He asked George that upon his return if  he should stay on at the plantation to manage it for his family and see that his daughters were provided with financial resources upon his death.  George accepted his offer as well and returned to Maryland to meet up with Thomas.  

  When a person left after a long visit, it was customary in Early America that the mattress which was made of straw was taken out in the yard and burned to eliminate spread of diseases and parasites.  Young George picked up his back pack, with his trusted law books inside, which had served as his pillow for two years then dug up the hearth stones and dumped them into the yard saying, “This was my bed for the last two years”.  He and young Patrick then ran laughing down the road and parted their ways after promising to meet again later.

George returned to Maryland to meet Thomas Mackie.  While waiting for Thomas’s ship to come in, George stays at the home of Samuel and his wife Margaret Philpot Bonum and their daughters, Rebecca, Margaret and Elizabeth.  Soon, Thomas’s ship comes in and George and Rebecca who have become great friends say their goodbyes. George promises to return as soon as he completed his schooling in law. Thomas and George return to England.  Thomas continues on to Scotland and George returns to Whitehurst England, where George finds that his brother Samuel is on leave from the British Navy and they travel home together.

George completes his law degree, establishes himself as a well known barrister in the court system of England working for the King and Queen of England. He then returns to America in 1655 to find that the Bonums have moved to a home built on a Creek near Sandy Point, Virginia.   This area is later named after Samuel Bonum.  George and Rebecca were married and built their home on the plantation next to John’s home.   George and Daniel McCartney and their families again meet at the Yeocomico church and continually discuss the future of Virginia.  Daniel McCartney was later to become the Speaker of the House of Burgesses (1715-1718).  

George Eskridge became a distinguished lawyer in the Colonies.  His name is found on many legal documents in and around Westmoreland County, Virginia.  He served almost thirty years as a member of the House of Burgesses in both Jamestown and in Williamsburg. He was a member of the Quorum and served as both Queen’s and King’s attorney during the reign of William and Mary, Queen Anne, King George I and King George II.  He was a trusted friend and legal advisor to many prominent Virginia families.  He also was an extensive planter. 

Daniel McCartney, Patrick Spence and George become partners with his friend and Scottish Merchant, Tom Mackey in an import-export business.  Through their many family and school associates with prominent connections, the partnership is included on many land grants in Richmond, Stafford, Northumberland and Westmoreland Counties totaling more than 40,000 acres of land.  These grants were payments for services rendered to the King and Queen of England and their friends.  The import business included the importation of Bonded Servants, building materials, and other marketable products.  As George’s political stature increased, his military rank in the local Revolutionary Militia moved from Lieutenant to Colonel.

Captain George Eskridge was made guardian of Mary Ball by her mother’s (Mary Hewes) Will, and served in this post from Mary’s twelfth year until her marriage at age twenty-two.  In the Will Mary Hewes says: “my trusty and well beloved friend, George Eskridge and my daughter Mary Ball, I appoint her to be ‘under the tutelage and government’ of Capt. George Eskridge.”  It is quite evident this was not merely a legal position. Mary was not dependent on George Eskridge for the material things in life because her father, Colonel Joseph Ball, bequeathed to his daughter, sometimes called ”the Rose of Epping Forest”,  four hundred acres of land at her birthplace in Lancaster County, Virginia.  She spent many happy years in the home of Colonel George Eskridge, learning characteristics that she would later pass on her son.  Augustine Washington and his two son’s from his first marriage lived up the Potomac River from the Eskridge’s plantation and they often visited Colonel George  and his family, where Augustine met Mary Ball.  On the 17th of March 1731, Mary Ball married the Widower Captain Augustine Washington at Sandy Point, with the Rev. Walter Jones officiating. 

Captain her first son came to this marriage, Mary remembered her guardian with gratitude and love, and named her son “George” in his honor.  He was christened on 16 April 1732 at Appomattox Church, by the Reverend Roderick McCullock.  This boy went on to become the “Father of our Country” and in later life George Washington declared:  “All that I am, I owe to my mother.”

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