Lawrence Berry Washington

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For other people named Lawrence Washington, see Lawrence Washington.
Lawrence Berry Washington
Birth name Lawrence Berry Washington
Born (1811-11-26)November 26, 1811
"Cedar Lawn" near Charles Town, West Virginia (now West Virginia), US
Died September 21, 1856(1856-09-21) (aged 44)
Missouri River near Rocheport, Missouri, U.S.
Allegiance United States United States of America
Service/branch United States Army
Years of service 1846–1848 (USA)
Rank Second lieutenant
Battles/wars Mexican–American War
Relations John Thornton Augustine Washington (father)
Benjamin Franklin Washington (brother)
Robert Rutherford (great-grandfather)
Samuel Washington (great-grandfather)
George Washington (great-granduncle)
Other work Lawyer, military officer, author, Forty-niner

Lawrence Berry Washington (November 26, 1811 – September 21, 1856) was an American lawyer, military officer, author, Forty-niner, and a member of the Washington family. Washington was a great-grandson of Robert Rutherford and Samuel Washington and a great-grandnephew of George Washington, first President of the United States.

Early life[edit]

Washington was born on November 26, 1811 at "Cedar Lawn" plantation near Charles Town in Jefferson County, West Virginia (now West Virginia) and was the eldest son of John Thornton Augustine Washington and his wife Elizabeth Conrad Bedinger Washington.[1][2][3] Through his father, Washington was a great-grandnephew of George Washington.[1][2]

Military career[edit]

Washington was a lawyer by profession and subsequently served as a second lieutenant in the Virginia Volunteers during the Mexican–American War.[1][2][4][5] At the onset of the war, Washington enrolled in the Jefferson County company (Company K), Second Battalion of the Virginia Regiment in the United States Army on December 6, 1846 and he was chosen by a public committee of prominent citizens in Charles Town on December 24, 1846 to serve in the company as a second lieutenant.[6][7][8] Washington and his company departed Charles Town on January 4, 1847 and they reached the Brazos River in Texas by March 12.[9] While at Fort Monroe in Hampton, Virginia after the company's return east, Washington drafted a letter dated May 7, 1848 to United States Secretary of War William L. Marcy offering to raise a company of troops to fight Mexican forces in Oregon or elsewhere on the condition that he be granted a captaincy.[10]

Later careers and pursuits[edit]

Washington's birthplace, "Cedar Lawn" near Charles Town in Jefferson County, West Virginia. "Cedar Lawn" was built by Washington's father, John Thornton Augustine Washington, in 1825.

Because of the large number of siblings in his family, Washington's inheritance from his father in 1841 was not sizable, and he pursued a number of opportunities to build his personal wealth.[11] Following his service in the Mexican–American War, Washington joined the Charles Town Mining Company and travelled to California in 1849 as a participant in the California Gold Rush with his brother Benjamin Franklin Washington, but there are no existing records of Washington finding gold during his pursuit.[1][3][11][12] While in California, Washington authored the novel, A Tale to be Told Some Fifty Years Hence.[4][13] Washington then moved east to Missouri in the 1850s where he remained for a few years and fought as a Border Ruffian during the Bleeding Kansas confrontations over slavery along the border between Kansas Territory and Missouri.[11] While in Missouri, Washington wrote poetry and contributed to local newspapers.[3] Washington returned to Virginia later in the 1850s, and then again moved to Missouri in 1856.[1] Washington died by drowning after falling overboard from a steamboat on the Missouri River near Rocheport in Boone County, Missouri on the night of September 21, 1856.[1][3][11][14] Washington family descendants claim that Washington was murdered by Kansas Jayhawkers because of his pro-slavery Southern sympathies and possibly in retaliation for his participation in the Bleeding Kansas conflicts as a Border Ruffian.[11] Washington was a lifelong bachelor, and died without issue.[1][3] His younger brother, John Thornton Augustine Washington, memorialized Washington by naming his fifth child Lawrence Berry Washington; he was born in San Antonio, Texas on July 12, 1869.[15]

Theoretical American royal succession[edit]

According to a May 1908 article in The Scrap Book entitled "If Washington Had Been Crowned" and a February 1951 article in Life entitled "If Washington Had Become King: A Carpenter or an Engineer Might Now Rule the U.S.," Lawrence Berry Washington would have succeeded his father, John Thornton Augustine Washington, as "king" of the United States had his great-granduncle, George Washington, accepted the position of monarch rather than that of president.[3][16][17] Following the laws of male preference primogeniture succession recognized by the Kingdom of Great Britain at the time of American independence, Lawrence Berry Washington would have been the lawful heir apparent to his father, who was the eldest son of Thornton Washington, who in turn was the eldest son of Samuel Washington, George Washington's eldest full brother.[3][16][17] A theoretical "King Lawrence I of the United States" would have had a reign spanning from his father's death in 1841 until his own death in 1856.[16][17] Following his death, the American crown would have passed to his next eldest brother, Daniel Bedinger Washington.[11][17]



  1. ^ a b c d e f g Welles 1879, p. 238.
  2. ^ a b c Kunitz 1933, p. 51.
  3. ^ a b c d e f g Bacon 1908, p. 755.
  4. ^ a b McGee 1973, p. 3.
  5. ^ Gardner 1853, p. 190.
  6. ^ West Virginia Department of Archives and History 1911, p. 190.
  7. ^ Bushong 1972, p. 508.
  8. ^ Bushong 1972, p. 133.
  9. ^ Bushong 1972, p. 134.
  10. ^ Washington, Lawrence Berry (1848), Letter from Lawrence Berry Washington, Fortress Monroe, Va. to William L. Marcy, ALS, May 7, 1848, WorldCat, OCLC 122466373 
  11. ^ a b c d e f Wallace 1951, p. 110.
  12. ^ Wayland 2009, p. 241.
  13. ^ Washington 1853
  14. ^ Cooper County, Missouri Genealogical Web (GenWeb) Project 2012, p. 1.
  15. ^ Welles 1879, p. 242.
  16. ^ a b c Wallace 1951, p. 108.
  17. ^ a b c d Smolenyak 2008, p. 27.