Mary <I>Ball</I> Washington

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Mary Ball Washington

Lively, Lancaster County, Virginia, USA
Death 26 Aug 1789 (aged 80)
Spotsylvania County, Virginia, USA
Burial Fredericksburg, Fredericksburg City, Virginia, USA
Memorial ID 2870 · View Source
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Mother of George Washington. "The Belle of Epping Forest" was born in 1708 or 1709 in Lancaster County, Virginia to a well-to-do family. Both of her parents had children from prior marriages, but she would be the only child born to Joseph and Mary Ball; her father would die when Mary was only a few years old. At the age of thirteen, her mother died as well. Her early years were spent between the homes of her half-sister Elizabeth and her guardian Colonel George Eskridge, being educated in the "feminine arts" of sewing, cooking, running an estate and etiquette. At the age of twenty, Mary traveled to London to visit her half-brother Joseph and there met Augustine Washington, who also lived in Virginia. They courted for two years before being married in 1731 and settling down at his estate, Pope's Creek, in Westmoreland County. Augustine was much like her father, having three children from a prior marriage and sufficiently successful, owning an ironworks. The following year on February 22, their first son George was born. Six years and four more children later, the family moved to Ferry Farm to be closer to Augustine's ironworks. Mary was left alone with the children often, as her husband did a lot of traveling for his business; it was during these times that she handled the overseeing of the farm and personally educating all of her children in everything from studying the Bible to horsemanship. In April of 1743, Augustine died unexpectedly and left Mary a widow at thirty-five with five children under twelve years old. She threw herself into managing the six hundred acre estate; while women were not allowed to own property at the time, Augustine had left Ferry Farm to George and she was allowed possession until he came of age. Unable to send George to England to be educated as was the custom of the time, she sent him to Mount Vernon to study with his elder half-brother Lawrence. At the age of fourteen, George wanted to enlist in the British Navy, but Mary put her foot down - he was needed at home. To combat his disappointment, she let him have his father's old surveying equipment and hired a tutor to train him; within years he was buying up land with the money he earned as a surveyor. Mary continued to live at Ferry Farm for forty-five years, never remarrying. Her land and her children were her life, there was no room for anything else. As she got older, however, she could not work as often as she liked and came to rely on some support from her children. In 1772, when she was sixty-four, George bought her a house in Fredericksburg a few blocks from Kenmore, the estate of her daughter Betty and her husband Fielding Lewis. The relationship between her and George was more strained than the one she had with the rest of her children, yet he was her main provider in her later years, even buying her a "riding chair" so that she could more easily visit her friends and neighbors. During the War for Independence, she would walk or ride to an outcropping of rock on Betty's estate, now referred to as "Meditation Rock" where she would pray for her son and his success. Mary lived to see her son George not only succeed in his drive to defeat the British in the War, but become the first President of the United States. He last visited her on his way to New York City for his inauguration in April 1789. Four months later, Mary Ball Washington died on August 26, 1789 at the age of eighty-one and was buried a few paces from Meditation Rock.

Bio by: Lysa

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  • Maintained by: Find a Grave
  • Added: 4 May 1998
  • Find a Grave Memorial 2870
  • Find a Grave, database and images ( : accessed ), memorial page for Mary Ball Washington (30 Nov 1708–26 Aug 1789), Find a Grave Memorial no. 2870, citing Kenmore Plantation and Gardens, Fredericksburg, Fredericksburg City, Virginia, USA ; Maintained by Find A Grave .