First Families of Virginia – The Fitzhughs

Reading through William Fitzhugh the Immigrant’s letters allows us to reach back into 17th Century Virginia in a tangible way. We get a taste of life that we don’t get from the other First Family patriarchs. William shares his thoughts, feelings, and ambitions, thus making him arguably the most accessible figure from his era. Indeed historians often point to William and his letters as the single most important first hand accounts from this pivotal period in Virginia’s history.

William descended from a long line of successful Bedfordshire Fitzhughs who have been traced back to at least the 13th Century. Their family history, though in bits and pieces, makes for interesting research as it melded into the English countryside and into the Royal Court. Though successful for generations, disaster struck, which affected William directly. He chose to look for new opportunities, which he found in Virginia.

The Fitzhugh family built upon William the Immigrant’s solid foundation, and became extraordinarily important figures throughout not only Virginia, but also the new Country. They married into all of the most important families, befriended all of the leading figures, and together built a lasting legacy. They might not be a house-hold name for many, but their importance is undoubted, which is why we discuss them in this next podcast installment.

*The original podcast recording stated that Mary and George Washington Parke Custis had 7 children, which is incorrect. They had 4 children. That correction has been made in the current podcast recording.

LINKS TO THE PODCAST:



SOURCES:

  1. Billings, Warren M.; Selby, John E.; and Tate, Thad W. Colonial Virginia: A History. White Plains, NY: KTO Press. 1986.
  2. Billings, Warren M. Sir William Berkeley and the Forging of Colonial Virginia. Baton Rouge, LA: LSU Press, 2004.
  3. Billings, Warren. A Little Parliament: The Virginia General Assembly in the Seventeenth Century. Richmond, VA: Library of Virginia, 2004.
  4. Browne, John. The Story of Ravensworth: a History of the Ravensworth Landgrant in Fairfax County, Virginia. 2018.
  5. Bruce, Phillip Alexander. Social Life of Virginia in the Seventeenth Century: An Inquiry into the Origin of the Higher Planting Class. New York: JP Bell Company, 1927.
  6. Dabney, Virginius. Virginia: The New Dominion, A History from 1607 to the Present. Charlottesville, VA: University of Virginia Press, 1971.
  7. Davis, Richard Beale. “Chesapeake Pattern and Pole-Star: William Fitzhugh in His Plantation World, 1676-1701.” Proceedings of the American Philosophical Society, vol. 105, no. 6, 1961, pp. 525–529. JSTOR, www.jstor.org/stable/985162.
  8. Evans, Emory G. A “Topping People”: The Rise and Decline of Virginia’s Old Political Elite, 1680-1790. Charlottesville, VA: UVA Press, 2009.
  9. Fischer, David Hackett. Albion’s Seed: Four British Folkways in America (America: a cultural history). Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1989.
  10. C. A. FitzHugh. “The Fitzhugh Family.” The Virginia Magazine of History and Biography, 40(2), 187-204. www.jstor.org/stable/4244454
  11. Fitzhugh, Henry A. & Terrick V.H. The History of the Fitzhugh Family: In Two Volumes. Bloomington, IN: Author House, 2007.
  12. Fitzhugh, Henry A. “The Foundations of the Fitzhugh Family in Virginia.” Magazine of Virginia Genealogy vol. 22, no. 4, 1984, pp. 3-11.
  13. Fitzhugh, William. William Fitzhugh and His Chesapeake World: 1676-1701. ed. Richard B. Davis. Chapel Hill, NC: University of North Carolina Press, 1963.
  14. Freeman, Douglas Southall. George Washington: A Biography. New York: Charles Scribners, 1957. (Specifically Volume 1).
  15. Horn, James. Adapting to A New World: English Society in the Seventeenth-Century Chesapeake. Chapel Hill, NC: University of North Carolina Press, 1994.
  16. Lawrence, Liza. The Vistas at “Eagle’s Nest.” Fredericksburg, VA: The Fredericksburg Press.
  17. Mapp, Alfred J. Virginia Experiment: The Old Dominion’s Role in the Making of America, 1607-1781Lincoln, NE: iUniverse, Inc., 2006.
  18. McCartney, Martha W. Virginia Immigrants and Adventurers: A Biographical Dictionary, 1607-1635. Baltimore, MD: Genealogical Publishing Co., 2007.
  19. Meade, William. Old Churches, Ministers and Families of Virginia. in Two Volumes. Philadelphia: J.B. Lippincott, 1891.
  20. Neill, Edward D. Virginia Carolorum: The Colony under the Rule of Charles The First and Second, A.D. 1625-A.D. 1685. Albany, NY: Joel Munsell’s and Sons, 1886.
  21. Pecquet du Bellet, Louise. Some Prominent Virginia Families, 4 Volumes. Lynchburg, VA:  J.P. Bell Company, 1907.
  22. Rothbard, Murray N. Conceived in Liberty. Auburn, AL: Ludwig Von Mises Institute, 1999.
  23. Tyler, Lyon Gardiner. The Cradle of the Republic: Jamestown and the James River. Richmond, VA: The Hermitage Press, 1906.
  24. Walsh, Lorena S. Motives of Honor, Pleasure, and Profit: Plantation Management in the Colonial Chesapeake, 1607-1763. Chapel Hill, NC: University of North Carolina Press, 2010.
  25. Washburn, Wilcomb E. Virginia Under Charles I and Cromwell 1625-1660. Kindle Edition.
  26. Wertenbaker, Thomas Jefferson. Virginia Under the Stuarts: 1607-1688. New York: Russell and Russell, 1959.
  27. Wertenbaker, Thomas Jefferson. The Planters of Colonial Virginia. Kindle Edition.
  28. Wright, Louis B. First Gentlemen of Virginia. Charlottesville, VA: Dominion Books, 1982.
  29. “The Fitzhugh Family.” The Virginia Magazine of History and Biography, vol. 7, no. 2, 1899, pp. 196–199. JSTOR, www.jstor.org/stable/4242247.
  30. “Fitzhugh Family (Continued).” The Virginia Magazine of History and Biography, vol. 8, no. 3, 1901, pp. 314–317. JSTOR, www.jstor.org/stable/4242364.
  31. “Fitzhugh Family (Continued).” The Virginia Magazine of History and Biography, vol. 7, no. 4, 1900, pp. 425–427. JSTOR, www.jstor.org/stable/4242289.
  32. “The Fitzhugh Family (Continued).” The Virginia Magazine of History and Biography, vol. 8, no. 2, 1900, pp. 209–211. JSTOR, www.jstor.org/stable/4242338.
  33. “The Fitzhugh Family (Continued).” The Virginia Magazine of History and Biography, vol. 8, no. 4, 1901, pp. 430–432. JSTOR, www.jstor.org/stable/4242388.
  34. “The Fitzhugh Family (Concluded).” The Virginia Magazine of History and Biography, vol. 9, no. 1, 1901, pp. 99–104. JSTOR, www.jstor.org/stable/4242410.
  35. “The Fitzhugh Family (Continued).” The Virginia Magazine of History and Biography, vol. 8, no. 1, 1900, pp. 91–95. JSTOR, www.jstor.org/stable/4242318.
  36. “The Fitzhugh Family (Continued).” The Virginia Magazine of History and Biography, vol. 7, no. 3, 1900, pp. 317–319. JSTOR, www.jstor.org/stable/4242268.
William Fitzhugh “The Immigrant” by John Hesselius

SPECIAL LINKS:

All photography used on this site is owned and copyrighted by the author unless otherwise noted. The Featured Image is of the proper Fitzhugh Family Crest. The “Robert E. Lee Boyhood Home” is from wtop.com. The Ravensworth picture is from “The Story of Ravensworth.” The “Barons Fitz Hugh Crest” improperly used by William the Immigrant is from jstor.org. Finally, the William “The Immigrant” portrait by John Hesselius is from Colonial Virginia Portraits.

Music used for this episode – Louis Armstrong and the Mills Brothers,”Carry Me Back to Old Virginia” available on Apple Music, and “Ulysses” by Josh Garrells also available on Apple Music.

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