Perhaps we American Anglophiles have good reason to love England. Our histories are closely connected, and England is a part of the American heritage. Take George Washington for instance. Our first President, a Founding Father, George Washington was one of our greatest leaders, guiding our country in its infancy. But few realize that, despite the fact that Washington led American troops against the British army, his ancestry is very English indeed.
The name “Washington” was derived from a village in England formerly known as “Wessington.” The first person to acquire this name lived in the 1200s. The Washingtons eventually spread out into Northamptonshire where Lawrence Washington built the renowned Sulgrave Manor in the 1500s. There, one of the entrances is adorned with the Washington shield: three stars over two stripes.
Look familiar? This symbol has now become the flag for Washington, D.C. and is even placed on the Purple Heart. But it is also said to be the basis for our very own American flag, the Stars and Stripes. The Washington coat of arms has been in existence since the 1300s, and it was placed in stained glass in Selby Abbey in Yorkshire in the 1400s. This window is said to be in commemoration of John Wessington, Prior of Durham.
It was John Washington (1633-1677) who eventually emigrated to America. John was a trade sailor in the colonies, and after shipwrecking in the Potomac River in 1657, he ended up living in Virginia. He married Ann Pope, the daughter of a wealthy magistrate who gave them 700 acres of land in Westmoreland County upon their marriage. John eventually acquired 8500 acres of Virginia land by the time he died in 1677. Perhaps he never would have thought that in less than a hundred years later, the colonies would declare their independence and rise against the British monarchy, led by his very own great-grandson, George Washington.