A Short Story on the Website of
A Legend About How George Washington Got His Name
by Gordon Eskridge (Apr 2009)
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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
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
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.
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.
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).
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.
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.
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
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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