1183, almost 800 years ago in the village of Wessyngton, England,
the Washington family took its name. In 1789 General George Washington
a descendant of that family and leader of the Revolution, became
the first President of a new nation - the United States of America.
The capital of the new nation was named Washington in his honour.
The Wessyngton, which had various spellings until it evolved into
Washington, comes from the Anglo Saxon - 'Hwaes' a Saxon Chief,
'Inga' meaning family of, and 'Tun' an estate - the estate of
Hwae's (Wassa's) family.
first ancestor of George Washington to live at Washington was
William de Hertburn, who moved to the village in 1183. Before
surnames were in general use, nobles and landowners assumed the
name of the property they owned. Thus, William de Hertburn became
William de Wessyngton. Had he not moved in 1183, America's first
President and its capital might have been named Hertburn, (pronounced
Heartburn in England).
is not known whether William de Hertburn built the original Washington
Old Hall or whether it already existed. The
present Hall is a typical example of a small
English manor house of the early seventeenth century. Built of
local sandstone, it stands on the old twelfth century foundations.
The arches between the Kitchen and the Great Hall are from the
Five generations of
George Washington's direct ancestors lived in the hall before
the family moved south and then emigrated in 1657 to Northern
Neck in the New colony of Virginia.