Ancestors of first president of USA traced to Tring in new book

Murray Neil and his new book.
Murray Neil and his new book.

Tring’s mayor Roxanne Ransley has promised to send a new book tracing George Washington’s ancestry back to her town to the American ambassador to the UK.

The Washingtons of Tring was launched by 71-year-old Murray Neil on Monday after 18 months of research.

He was inspired to write the book after a holiday in Virginia in May 2012, when he visited the birthplace of first president of the USA, George Washington.

Murray saw Tring, where he lives, mentioned in a book in its tourist shop. He later discovered that George’s great-grandfather John, who lived in the town, had sailed to Virginia on a trading voyage when he was 25.

John intended to return to England, but decided to stay on after losing his cargo in a shipwreck on the Potomac River in February 1657.

A compensation claim was launched against him, but John was baled out by plantation-owner Nathaniel Pope.

Murray said:“You could almost say that without that young man from Tring, there would be no United States of America.

“But that might be taking it a bit too far.”

Mrs Ransley, however, was impressed by the connection.

Speaking at a town council meeting on Monday, she said: “It would be rather nice to see Americans on the tourist trail here – anything that benefits the town.”

Her fellow councillors agreed that a copy of Murray’s book should be sent to the American ambassador to the UK. He had not responded to a previous letter sent to him by the Tring & District Local History & Museum Society, the meeting heard.

Murray’s book details how John Washington married Nathaniel’s daughter Anne in September 1658. Nathaniel gave the young couple 700 acres of good farming land as a wedding gift.

Their great-grandson George Washington became commander-in-chief of the Continental Army during the American Revolutionary War and was one of the founding fathers of the United States.

Murray’s book also details how John Washington’s parents met in Pendley Manor, Tring.

John’s father Laurence was a proctor at Oxford University and a guest at the manor. His mother Amphyllis was a servant there. Despite their different backgrounds they married in 1632 and had six children. The family lived in Frogmore Street, Tring.

Murray’s book, which details their life stories, is on sale for £5.95 at the Tring Local History Museum and Tring Information Centre in Market House, Akeman Street.