Bushrod Washington family papers
The Bushrod Washington Family Papers consist of documents gathered by the descendants of the first President of the United States, George Washington. The collection comprises an assortment of correspondence and legal documents documenting the lives and property ownership of several branches of the Washington family. The collection is organized into five series: Correspondence, Legal Documents, Social, Miscellaneous, and Indenture Notices (Land Deeds).
The Correspondence series, circa 1780-1835, contains letters mostly written to Bushrod Washington, executor of George Washington’s estate and inheritor of Mount Vernon. While some were written by friends of Bushrod Washington, most are from his brother and his many nieces and nephews.
Of the letters not written to Bushrod Washington, the largest portion were written by Bushrod Corbin Washington, his wife Anna Maria, and their daughter Hannah to their son, Cadet Thomas Washington, who was stationed in Middletown, Connecticut. Most often, when one of the three would pen a letter, the other two would add a quick greeting in whatever space remained. Among the famous Virginians with whom Bushrod Washington corresponded are Richard Channing Moore, George Spotswood, and George Wythe. All of the letters are in alphabetical order by the last name of the correspondent, with undated materials at the end.
Legal Documents, 1719-1835, contains six subseries: Estate Matters, Financial Agreements, Land Disputes, Plats, Wills, and Other. Issues arising after the death of a family member can be found in the Estate Matters subseries. The estate of George Washington was perhaps the most disputed, with legal proceedings occurring thirty years following his death. Loans and sales of property are the focus of the Financial Agreements subseries. At least two family members were involved with land disputes over the years. The Land Disputes subseries records the disputes of Richard Bushrod and John Augustine Washington. Surveys, or Plats, were the primary tool for settling such disputes and can be found in the next subseries. The Wills of several family members provide data regarding the families' possessions. This subseries contains wills written by ten family members. In addition to household items and distribution of land, these wills also dictate the owners' desires regarding who would inherit slaves. Four other documents, not closely resembling any of the other legal pieces comprise their own subseries. When possible, all of the Legal Documents are listed in alphabetical order by the last name of the creator.
Bushrod Washington, a well-respected Judge, was active in affairs aside from running his family estate. Evidence of these can be found in the Social series, 1816-1829. The American Bible Society and the Bunker Hill Monument Association were among the organizations in which Judge Washington was involved.
A formula for cement, mailed to the President of the United States, Mount Vernon, and recipes highlight the Miscellaneous series, 1795 and undated.
Some of the oldest material in the collection is found in the Indenture Notices (Land Deeds) series, 1662-1814. These documents relate the history of land ownership among the Bushrod and Washington families, as well as several of their neighbors and associates. While technically legal documents, the size of several of the deeds precludes their being stored alongside the papers of the Legal Documents series. Arranged chronologically, the Indenture Notices specify all the details of the transaction, including the amount of land, location, and purchase price.
- Washington, Bushrod, 1762-1829 (Person)
- Alexander, Hannah Lee Washington, 1811-1881 (Person)
- Hamilton, Elizabeth Schuyler, 1757-1854 (Person)
- Peters, Richard, 1744-1828 (Person)
- Washington, Anna Maria Thomasina Blackburn, 1790-1833 (Person)
- Washington, Bushrod, 1785-1830 (Person)
- Washington, Bushrod Corbin, 1790-1851 (Person)
- Washington, Corbin, 1764-1799 (Person)
- Washington, Hannah Bushrod, approximately 1738-1804 (Person)
- Washington, Jane Charlotte Blackburn, 1786-1855 (Person)
- Washington, John Augustine, 1736-1787 (Person)
- Washington, Thomas Blackburn, 1812-1854 (Person)
Conditions Governing Access
This collection is open for research during scheduled appointments. Researchers must complete the Washington Library’s Special Collections and Archives Registration Form before access is provided. The library reserves the right to restrict access to certain items for preservation purposes.
Biographical / Historical
Bushrod Washington (1762-1829): Bushrod was the son of Hannah Bushrod and John Augustine Washington, the younger brother of George Washington. Upon the death of Martha Washington, Bushrod inherited the Mount Vernon estate. A graduate of the College of William and Mary, Bushrod served as an associate justice of the U.S. Supreme Court. He was joined on the Supreme Court by his long-time friend, John Marshall. Justices Washington and Marshall met while attending law lectures given by George Wythe at the College of William and Mary. Bushrod and his wife, Julia Ann Blackburn, had no children, but raised three of their nephews. One nephew, John Augustine Washington II (1789-1832), inherited Mount Vernon from Bushrod.
1.5 Linear Feet (4 boxes)
Language of Materials
The collection is organized in the following series and subseries:
Series 1. Correspondence (Arranged alphabetically by creator’s last name then chronologically, with undated materials listed last.)
Series 2. Legal Documents (Six subseries: Estate Matters, Financial Agreements, Land Disputes, Plats, Wills, and Other)
Series 3. Social
Series 4. Miscellaneous
Series 5. Indenture Notices (Land Deeds)
Purchased by the A. Alfred Taubman Acquisition Endowment Fund, 2011.
- Bushrod Washington family papers
- Created by the Special Collections Staff at the Colonial Williamsburg Foundation’s John D. Rockefeller, Jr. Library. Updated by Samantha Snyder, Reference Librarian, May 2021.
- May 2021
- Description rules
- Describing Archives: A Content Standard
- Language of description
- Script of description