How to Answer the Intriguing Question,
Are YOU Related to George WASHINGTON

Copyright 2007 by Terry J. Booth. Any reproduction or reuse is prohibited,
in whole or in part, without the express written permission of the author.


George Washington (22 Feb 1732 - 14 Dec 1799) is a major figure in U. S. history, being both the universally acknowledged military leader who successfully led the original 13 states to victory in their fight against Great Britain, and then became the new nation's first president (1788-1796). His pre-eminent status among major American figures is encapsulated in his universally acknowledged description as 'Father of his country'.

Given that pre-eminent status, families are always curious to learn if they are related to George Washington. The simple answer being 'of course you are' since we are all somehow related since we all have to share some ancestor if one goes far enough back in time.

What families really what to know is therefore not IF they are related, but whether there is any evidence indicating exactly HOW they are related.

The clearly most likely relationship for any family is that George Washington is a distant cousin. He CANNOT be a direct ancestor because he and his only wife, Martha (Dandridge) Custis had no children. Since he and his father did have siblings, there is a small possibility that he could be an Uncle (or more correctly, a 'Great Uncle'). Some 'in-law' and 'step-' relationships are also possible since Martha had earlier children.

Given that somewhere in his history he had to share a common ancestor with every living human, the genealogical objective is to identify that ancestor and document that relationship enough so that it can be accepted as 'proven' rather than the always suspect 'family tradition'. Where more than one common ancestor can be identified, the objective is then further narrowed to that of identifying the 'most recent' shared ancestor, since the more recent the ancestor the closer the relationship.

George Washington was a second generation descendant (i.e. grandson) of (Capt.) Lawrence Washington (1659-1697) and Mildred Warner (1670-1701), a third generation descendant of John Washington (1635-1677) and Ann Pope (1635-1677), the original immigrant for this line of Washingtons, a fourth generation descendant of (Rev.) Lawrence Washington (1602-1653) and Amphilis Twigden (1602-1655), and a fifth generation descendant of Lawrence Washington Gent. (1568-1616) and Margaret Butler (1570-1652). Via his grandmother Mildred Warner he was also a fourth generation descendant of immigrant Augustine Warner (1611 - 1674) and his wife Mary Towneley (1614 - 1662), and via his great-great-great-grandmother Margaret Butler he was a sixth generation descendant of William Butler (1510-NA) and Margaret Greene (1515-NA). While the Washington family itself can be traced back many generations further in England, it must be considered 'minor gentry' that did not merit much mention in England's extensive 'visitation' and peerage records. But three of his maternal ancestors did have landed gentry backgrounds in their history, the Warners, the Townleys and most especially the Butlers (who are separately descended from Kings Edward I, John I and Henry II). Each of their ancestries is considered to have proven documented links not only to other landed gentry, but back to many of England's (and before that, Continental Europe's) early titled families.

So how can you determine exactly how you may be related to George Washington?

The accompanying 'George Washington genealogy' (which is not complete, but hopefully contains most of the landed gentry ancestors) contains a list of many of his ancestors. Most of them - as in all families - are cousins, but many of them are also direct ancestors (i.e. parents, grandparents great-grandparents etc.). To establish a relationship with Washington, you must identify and prove that you and he share the same direct ancestor.

The first thing you must therefore do is obtain a valid ancestry for your family. Hopefully it is extensive enough and researched well enough that it contains documented links back to some of England's landed gentry. But if it doesn't, you should consider obtaining and reviewing some of the great ancestry books that document many of the 'gateway' immigrants who do have documented links back to England's (or other countries') gentry and nobility. Some of the best of these are Gary Boyd Roberts Royal Descents of 600 Immigrants, Frederick Weis' (continued by Walter Lee Sheppard, Jr.) Ancestral Roots, and Douglas Richardson's Plantagenet Ancestry or Magna Carta Ancestry.

IF you have have one of these book's 'gateway ancestors' in your your own family tree, you will then be able to use one or more of the above reference books to find which of England's (and the Continent's) earlier landed gentry are your own direct ancestors.

If you can do that (a big 'if' for most people), you can probably identify an ancestor that you share with George Washington. To make it easier for you to identify the ancestors you might share, this 'George Washington genealogy' has identified each potentially shared Washington ancestor in red.

And of course if you can identify one, then you should see if there are any more in other family lines. The object being not only to determine how many times you may be related (counting only the most recent ancestor in any line), but to determine which is the 'most recent ancestor' that you share.

Using my own ancestor as an example, it could be determined (after much research and overcoming several 'brick walls') that Louise (Kielley) Booth was a descendant of ancestor (Elder) William Wentworth, an early immigrant to Dover, NH who is identified in Gary Boyd Robert's Royal Descents as a gateway ancestor. Because of that, he therefore has documented links to many of England's landed gentry and titled families (as a sidenote, very recent research has proven some additional royal ancestry for Elder Wentworth - our knowledge keeps improving).

A comparison of my family's ancestry with that for George Washington was therefore able to identify some ancestors we had in common. The most recent of those shared ancestors is the family of Sir Walter Blount (1348 - 1403) and Sancha de Ayala (1360 - 1418). The common link for the Washington family being that one of their daughters (Constance Blount ) married Sir John Sutton, one of the Suttons of Dudley that also appear in the Washington ancestry. My family's link to the Blounts is that one their sons (Sir Thomas Blount) is in my own family's ancestry. To see the 2 different descents from our shared Blount family ancestor, click HERE to see the direct ancestral line from them to George Washington, and click HERE to see Louise Kielley Booth's ancestral line to them.

To determine the exact relationship, all one needs to do is to count the number of generations between the Blounts and George Washington. Since Washington is the 12th generation after the Blounts and 11th generation after their children (the 'brother/sister' and aunt/uncle' generation) he becomes an 11th cousin to anyone in his or a later generation. Since my own ancestor (Louise (Kielley) Booth) is the 16th generation after the Blounts, George Washington then becomes her 11th cousin 4 times removed (recognizing there are an additional 4 generations difference).

For those interested in more information about this pre-eminent figure in U.S. history, click WIKIPEDIA LINK for his Wikipedia entry, and click MT. VERNON WEBSITE for additional background on both he and his Mt. Vernon homestead. There are also many excellent biographies about this famous and highly respected major figure in American history.

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This page created on Sat Oct 27 16:17:37 2007