Lawrence Lewis (1767–1839)

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For other people with the same name, see Lawrence Lewis.
Lawrence Lewis
Lawrence lewis.jpg
Personal details
Born April 4, 1767
Fredericksburg, Virginia
Died November 20, 1839(1839-11-20) (aged 72)
Arlington, Virginia
Resting place Mount Vernon, Fairfax County, Virginia
Nationality American
Spouse(s) Eleanor Parke Custis Lewis
Children Frances Parke Lewis Butler 1799-1875
Lorenzo Lewis 1803-1847
Mary Eliza Lewis Conrad 1813-1839
(5 did not live to adulthood)
Parents Fielding Lewis;
Betty Washington Lewis
Residence "Woodlawn," Fairfax County, Virginia
Military service
Allegiance United States
Service/branch United States Army
Years of service 1794
Rank Major
Battles/wars Whiskey Rebellion

Lawrence Lewis (April 4, 1767 – November 20, 1839) was a nephew of George Washington who married Nelly Custis, a granddaughter of Martha Washington.


He was born in Fredericksburg, Virginia in 1767 to Fielding Lewis and Betty Washington Lewis, the sister of George Washington. He volunteered for service in 1794 to help suppress the Whiskey Rebellion and served as aide-de-camp to General Daniel Morgan, achieving the rank of major.[1]

Washington, after finishing his tenure as president, called on several of his nephews to assist him at his Mount Vernon plantation. On August 4, 1797, he wrote to Lewis inviting him to serve as his personal secretary.[2]

While at Mount Vernon, Lewis came to know Eleanor "Nelly" Parke Custis, the granddaughter of Martha Dandridge Custis Washington and Daniel Parke Custis. She and her brother, George Washington Parke Custis, had been informally adopted by George and Martha Washington after the 1781 death of their father, John Parke Custis. At Mount Vernon she acted as the social director, entertaining the many visitors to the former president.


Woodlawn Plantation, Fairfax County, Virginia (1805)

Lewis and Nelly Custis were married at Mount Vernon on February 22, 1799,[1] and resided there for the first several years of their marriage. Their first child, Frances Parke Lewis, was born there on November 27, 1799.

After George Washington's death on December 14, 1799, Lewis served as the primary executor of his will. As a wedding gift from the Washingtons, the couple had received 2,000 acres (8.1 km2) of the Mount Vernon plantation. From 1800 to 1805, Lewis oversaw the construction of the Woodlawn Plantation, designed by the physician-architect William Thornton.[1]

Lewis and his wife lived at Woodlawn until about 1830, when they settled at the new Audley estate in what is now Clarke County, Virginia. Lewis had purchased the tract of 571 acres (2.31 km2) from George Washington's extensive real estate holdings. He died in 1839 in Arlington, Virginia and was buried in the vault at Mount Vernon, close to the sarcophagi of George and Martha Washington.[1]


The Lewises had eight children, four of whom lived past infancy:

  • Frances Parke Lewis (1799-1875) -- married Edward George Washington Butler, nephew of General Richard Butler.[1]
  • Martha Betty Lewis (1801-1802)
  • Lawrence Fielding Lewis (1802-1802)
  • Lorenzo Lewis (1803-1847) -- father of Edward Parke Custis Lewis, grandfather of Esther Maria Lewis Chapin.
  • Eleanor Agnes Freire Lewis (1805-1820)
  • Fielding Augustine Lewis (1807-1809)
  • George Washington Custis Lewis (1810-1811)
  • Martha Eleanor Angela Lewis Conrad (1813-1839)


  1. ^ a b c d e Sorley, Merrow Egerton. Lewis of Warner Hall (1935, reprinted 1979), pp. 202-210.
  2. ^ "George Washington to Lawrence Lewis (August 4, 1797)", The Constitutional Sources Project. Accessed August 12, 2008.