First Siblings - George Washington's Brothers (And Sister)
George Washington, known as the Father of His Country, is such a legendary figure in American history that it is often easy to forget that he was a normal human being.
As a normal human being, our First Citizen also had siblings. Several siblings in fact.
Some of them lived to see George’s presidency. Others died decades earlier.
Let’s take a look at the Washington kids and the roles they had in George’s life/the Revolution when they grew up.
Please note: As was common at the time, several siblings passed away during infancy. They have been omitted from this discussion.
Lawrence Washington served Great Britain in the War of Jenkin’s Ear against Spain. Upon returning, he named his home after his commander, Admiral Edward Vernon.
Mount Vernon would later serve as the estate of his younger brother, George.
Since George’s father passed away when he was very young, Lawrence served as a mentor.
When Lawrence contracted tuberculosis, George sailed with him to Barbados in an attempt at recuperation. This was the only time in George’s life he left the modern United States.
It’s interesting to note that George caught smallpox while in the Caribbean and survived, inoculating him from the disease when it ran rampant through the Continental Army.
Lawrence died when George was just 19, a sadness he carried with him the rest of his life.
Augustine Washington served as a Colonel in the Virginia Militia and was elected into the House of Burgesses, Virginia’s colonial government.
Augustine is most famous for his decision to take the estate at Pope’s Creek when Lawrence died. This decision meant that Mount Vernon fell into the hands of George.
Augustine passed away when George was just 30, meaning the future President was now in charge of the family.
Several of Augustine’s children went on to play supporting roles in the American Revolution and his daughter, Elizabeth, spent her youth at Mount Vernon.
Elizabeth Washington, known to all as Betty, was the only female sibling to survive through adulthood and the first child born after George. She would also be one of only two who witnessed George’s Presidency.
Betty and her husband, Fielding Lewis, went on to contribute greatly to the Revolutionary War.
As shop owners, they helped send supplies to the soldiers. Unfortunately, Fielding passed away just a few months before the Battle of Yorktown and Betty fell into some financial troubles.
She opened a boarding school for several years to remedy the situation before spending her twilight years living with her daughter.
Samuel Washington was the first boy born after George.
Before the beginning of the Revolutionary War, Samuel moved to land he owned in modern day West Virginia. The mansion he built would be the setting of James and Dolly Madison’s wedding.
John A. Washington
Perhaps the most involved in the Revolution (after the Commander-in-Chief, of course), John Washington was a member of the Fifth Virginia Convention.
This Convention, in May 1776, was acting as the Revolutionary Government when it declared independence from Great Britain and created Virginia’s first constitution.
John lived long enough to see the War of Independence won but passed away while George was preparing to attend the Constitutional Convention.
The youngest Washington brother, Charles joined Betty as the only other sibling to see George carry out his presidency.
Charles did not play a major role in the war, instead moving onto property not far from Samuel to found Charles Town in modern day West Virginia.
In honor of his family, Charles named the streets of his town after his brothers and sister.
Charles passed away in September of 1799. This left George, for the last three months of his life, as the only surviving Washington sibling.
Want to read about more sibling relationships during the Revolutionary Period?
Check out these articles:
While there are hundreds of biographies on Washington, there are none specifically discussing his siblings (that I know of).
‘His Excellency’ if one of my favorites. Personally, I enjoy Joseph Ellis’ writing though I am partial because his book ‘Founding Brothers’ turned my curiosity regarding the Founders into a full-on passion.
If you’d like a copy you can get one through the Amazon affiliate link below (you’ll support this site, but don’t worry, Amazon pays me while your price stays the same).