Born around 1631 in England, John emigrated to the Virginia colonies in 1656. Tradition has it that John traveled to the colonies on a trading venture aboard the Seahorse of London. The idea was to trade European goods for tobacco. The ship, laden with tobacco, was sailing down the Potomac river when it struck an uncharted shoal. About that time, a storm came up and the ship was sunk, ruining the valuable cargo of tobacco.
The ship sank near The Cliffs, a plantation owned by Nathaniel Pope. Pope befriended the young Washington and, fortunately for John, had a marriageable daughter named Anne. John and Anne were married in 1658 and received a wedding gift of 700 acres on Mattox Creek from her father. John and Anne had five children together, two of whom died in childhood and whose names are unknown. After Anne's death in 1668/9, John married twice more before his death in 1677. According to some sources, John may have been married before he emigrated to Virginia (before he married Anne) and may have had two children by her, both of whom died in infancy and before his marriage to Anne. No record is known to exist of this first marriage or when his first wife (if it was not Anne) died.
During his lifetime, he was active in local politics and served for a time in the Virginia House of Burgesses. He actively acquired land and, by the time of his death, owned more than 8,500 acres.
From the records of the Parish of St. Martins in the Fields, now in the very heart of London.
John Washington baptized March 14, 1631/32. This may be John of Surry.
Surry County, VA Records, p 127, April 6, 1659. John witnesses a bond.
Cavaliers and Pioneers, Vol 1, p 446
Major John Washington, 320 acres Westmoreland Co, March 23, 1664, p 161, (38). Upon SE side of Hollis Cr., beg. at an Oyster shell poynt, NE by N upon Potomack Riv., NW by W upon a cr dividing this from land in possession of Mr. Daniell Lisson, SE by E upon a gutt dividing this & land in possession of Widdow Brookes & along RIchard Hills lyne 228 perches till it falls on line of Mr. Daniel Lisson &c. 125 acres granted to Henry Brooke October 14, 1657 by him assigned to Richard Coale, who sold to Davy Anderson & by him assigned to sd. Washington & 195 acres for trans. of 4 pers: Ambrose Couch, RObt. Alexander, Jno. Alexander, Samll. Short.
Westmoreland Co., Va., Deed & Will Book, 1665-1677, Part 3, p 247a
Coll. John Washington, aged 45 years or thereabouts, declareth hee hath heard Mr. Richd. Cole deceased declare that hee had made a will and given his whole estate to younge Mr. Nicholas Spencer. 1675