Thursday, 19 September 2013



His lineage goes back to Margaret of Huntingdon, who married William de Wessington/de Hertburn, and Agnes de Welleburne, who married Walter de Wessington, his brother.  

George Washington’s ancestors lived at Washington for some five generations but then moved to Welleburne Manor, Milleburne, county Westmoreland on account of the Welleburne connection.  Eight generations later, they moved to Sulgrave Manor, Northamptonshire in the mid 1500s.  There they came across Bottrills who had already been farming in Northamptonshire for two hundred years – a coincidence!

This Welleburne connection is important: - shows Agnes de Welleburne married Walter, son of Bondo fitz-Akaris - shows Agnes de Welleburne married Walter, son of Bondo fitz-Akaris - shows Agnes de Welleburne married Walter, son of Bondo fitz-Akaris  - shows Agnes de Welleburne married Walter, son of Bondo fitz-Akaris.

That being so, the President derived from Walter de Wessington and Agnes, not William de Wessington and Margaret.  So who were these people?

William and Walter lived at Washington prior to 1183.  They are mentioned in a survey made in 1183 by the Bishop de Pudsay called ‘The Bolden Book.’  "Willus de Hertburn habet Wessyngton (except ecclesia et terra ecclesie partinen) ad excamb, pro villa de Herteburn quam pro hac quietam clamavit: Et reddit 4 L., Et vadit inmagna caza cum 2 Leporar. Et quando commune auxillum venerit debet dare 1 Militem ad plus de auxilio, &c. Collectanea Curiosa. voll. ii, p. 80."
It says that William exchanged the manor of Hertburn, a long way from Ravensworth, with the Bishop of Durham for the manor of Washington which was only 10 miles from Ravensworth.  Why would he do that?

The answer is that he and his brother were born at Ravensworth Castle, owned by their father Bondo fitz-Akaris, passed down from his father, Akaris fitz-Bardolph, and his father - Bardolph.  The castle was originally built by Alan Rufus, Earl of Richmond, the third biggest landowner in England.  He and Bardolph were brothers of Geoffrey Boterel of Brittany, and got lands and castles in the North as a reward for supporting William the Conqueror at the Battle of Hastings 1066.

In 1100, the town of ‘Washington/Wessyngton/ Wassington/Whessingtun’ near Durham was part of the estates (called 'Richmondshire') of the Earl of Richmond.  Alan Rufus had originally built Ravensworth Castle for another of his brothers, Ribald, who handed it on to a further brother, Bardolph.  Bardolph’s son, Akaris fitz-Bardolph, who died 1161, was lord of Wessyngton, juxta Ravensworth, Richmondshire.

Akaris’ younger son, Bondo fitz-Akaris, was born 1122 at Ravensworth, and died after 1180 at Wessyngton.  Bondo is sometimes known as Bondo de Washington, and sometimes Bondo de Ravensworth.  He had two sons – William born 1156 and Walter born c.1160.  (They were incidentally second cousins to William Boterel, lord of Boscastle, Cornwall.)

Washington Irving in ‘The life of George Washington’ supports this.  He says that ‘Hertburn was taken from a village on the palatinate (the Bishop’s domains) which he held of the bishop in knight’s fee.’  He then mentions the Bolden Book – ‘In this it is stated that William de Hertburn had exchanged his village of Hertburn for the manor and village of Wessyngton, likewise in the diocese; paying the bishop a quitrent of four pounds, and engaging to attend him with two greyhounds in grand hunts, and to furnish a man at arms whenever military aid should be required of the palatinate.’  

And finally – ‘Nearly seventy years afterwards we find the family still retaining its manorial estate in the palatinate. The names of Bondo de Wessyngton and William his son appear on charters of land, granted in 1257 to religious houses.’

The next post will show the family tree.

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