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.



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  34. “The Fitzhugh Family (Concluded).” The Virginia Magazine of History and Biography, vol. 9, no. 1, 1901, pp. 99–104. JSTOR,
  35. “The Fitzhugh Family (Continued).” The Virginia Magazine of History and Biography, vol. 8, no. 1, 1900, pp. 91–95. JSTOR,
  36. “The Fitzhugh Family (Continued).” The Virginia Magazine of History and Biography, vol. 7, no. 3, 1900, pp. 317–319. JSTOR,
William Fitzhugh “The Immigrant” by John Hesselius


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 The Ravensworth picture is from “The Story of Ravensworth.” The “Barons Fitz Hugh Crest” improperly used by William the Immigrant is from 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.