When I first came to Washington from Texas
in 1965, it was to attend Georgetown University as an undergraduate
student. Georgetown University was founded in 1789the same year the US
Constitution was ratifiedand is located on the heights adjacent to what
was then the Maryland side of the Potomac Riverat a fording point right
above where Key Bridge now stands. So Georgetown Universitys history
has always been entwined with that of Georgetown itself and the early
years of the American Republic.
I studied history and government (political
science) at Georgetown University and for a number of years lived in
Georgetown. Always interested in my Scottish roots (my maternal
grandfather had emigrated to the USA from Stirlingshire in 1910), I soon
became keenly aware of the Scottish origins of Georgetown and of the
remnants of its Scottish foundations in the form of the many great
mansion houses still standing in Georgetown which had been built by
Scottish merchants in the years just before and just after the American
Oddly, the Scottish origins of Georgetown,
and of Washington, DC generally, are little known in the ranks of our
Societythis in contrast to the fact that the Scottish origins of
Alexandria, located right across the Potomac River, are well known to
all of us. This article has been written in part to redress this
imbalance and to acquaint our general membership with some very
interesting facts concerning the Scottish origins of Georgetown and of
The Scottish Origins of the Port of
Georgetown in the Early to Mid Eighteenth Century
As we all know well, Alexandria was settled
by Scottish merchants in 1749 as a tobacco port town, originally called
Belle Haven (its first buildings located where the Belle Haven Country
Club now stands, on the banks of the Potomac between Old Town Alexandria
and Mount Vernon). But it is NOT well known that Alexandrias
longtime commercial rival (for the past 260 years called Georgetown),
located directly across the Potomac River from Alexandria , was likewise
settled by Scottish merchants , and at almost exactly the same time--in
1745also as a tobacco port town. In fact, Scots so predominated in
Georgetown in the 18th century that Georgetowns original
name was Little Scotland.
The first land grant in what is now
Georgetown was made in 1703, on behalf of Queen Anne, by Charles
Calvert, Absolute Lord and Proprietor of the Province of Maryland, to
a Scottish immigrant, Colonel Ninian Beall. The core of this
land grant, originally called the Rock of Dumbarton, survives today as
the Dumbarton Oaks Estate, located at Wisconsin Avenue and R Street,
NW in Upper Georgetown.
Ninian Beall was in many respects a larger
than life personality. Born in Largs, Fifeshire, in 1625, he fought as
a junior officer (cornet) for King Charles II against Cromwell and the
English at the Battle of Dunbar in 1650, was captured, sold into
indentured servitude, and transported first to Barbados, then to
Maryland. After completing his term of indenture, he received a grant of
50 acres from the Maryland Assembly for bringing out other Scottish
immigrants to settle here.
An experienced soldier and legendary Indian
fighter, Col. Beall rose to the rank of Commander of the Maryland
Provincial Militia. He died in 1717, bequeathing all his extensive
Maryland property, including the Rock of Dumbarton Estate in what is now
Georgetown, to his 12 childrensix sons and six daughters. Thus was
founded an early Scottish-American dynasty (whose descendants are still
with us today), which was to shape much of the 18th century
history of the Province (later State) of Maryland, the Port of
Georgetown, and Washington City.
Large Scottish merchant houses based in
Glasgow dominated the tobacco trade on the Potomac and Rappahannock
Rivers and along the Chesapeake from the early 1740s through to the time
of the American Revolution, 35 years later. These truly international
firms employed factors (agents) in both Alexandria and Georgetown as
well as elsewhere (like Bladensburg, MD) and sent apprentices from
Scotland to work for them in these locationsboth as free laborers and
as indentured servants.
The most prominent Scottish merchants doing
business in Georgetown during the colonial period was the firm of John
Glassford & CompanyGlasgows largest tobacco merchant house. Though
Glassford himself never travelled to America, he, his sons and their
partners controlled a major portion of the Chesapeake tobacco trade.
Through his local factorsinvariably other prominent Scotsmen who had
already settled in Virginia and Maryland (including Robert Fergusson at
Georgetown), Glassford & Co. established a system of tobacco warehouses
as well as branch stores along both sides of the Potomacselling
hardware, spirits, sugar, salt, and slaves to local settlers and buying
tobacco directly from the local farmers.
A group of prominent Scottish
merchants and landowners, all residents of what would later be called
Georgetown, governed the town (under a formal and exclusive delegation
of power from the Maryland Assembly) from the middle of the 18th
century until well after the American Revolution. These Scottish
dynastiesthe Bealls, Gordons, Peters, Magruders, Dunlops, Davidsons,
Bowies, and others, put a clearly Scottish stamp on Georgetown during
the first 50+ years of its existence.
Large parcels of land in what was to become
Georgetown were already owned in 1751 by a dozen or more of these
wealthy Scottish merchantsland extending from east to west, the length
of what is now M Street, NW, down the entire length of the Georgetown
waterfront, and north up the nearby hill, on both sides of what is now
Wisconsin Avenue, NW as far north as the Dumbarton Oaks Estate on what
is now R Street , NW. Many of the mansion houses built by this and
the next generation of local Scottish merchants still stand today in
Georgetown residential neighborhoodsincluding, among others, Dumbarton
Oaks (originally called simply, The Oaks), Dumbarton House, Evermay,
Halcyon House, Pretty Prospect, Tudor Place, etc.
In 1751, the Maryland Provincial
Assembly appointed eight (8) Commissioners to formally lay out a town
(which subsequently was named George Towne, now Georgetown) and once
laid out, to govern it. Of the eight (8) original Commissioners of
George Towne, at least six (6) were Scots (George Beall, Josiah Beall,
Cpt. Henry Wright Crabb, George Gordon, and James Perrie).
From 1754 until 1785, 11 Successor Commissioners were
appointed from time to time by the Maryland Assembly to fill vacancies
in the ranks of the original eight. Of these additional 11, at least
seven (7) were Scots (Robert Peter, John Murdoch, Thomas Beall, Benjamin
Stoddert, Samuel Davidson, John Peter, and Adam Steuart). The
Commissioners f George Towne employed a Clerk and Surveyor to assist
them in their oversight responsibilities. Of the five successive Clerks
of George Towne between 1751 and 1782, the first three were Scots
(Alexander Beall (1751-57), Josiah Beall (1757-74), and Robert Ferguson
The survey of the town that would come to be
called George Town (later Georgetown) was completed in 1752. Portions
of George Bealls land and George Gordons adjacent land were found
most convenient for the laying out of the new town. (Each gentleman
was offered two lots plus the cost of condemnation, by right of imminent
domain). The town was NOT named for the Sovereign of Great Britain,
but rather for George Beall and George Gordon, the two Scotsmen from
whose land tracts the town was created.
Meetings of the Commissioners of George
Towne were held at least once annually (in private houses) every year
from 1751 til 1789, when at last George Towne was incorporated. It was
not chartered as a burgh city and was not to have
elected aldermen or mayors. Instead, the Maryland colonial Assembly
reserved the power to appoint its governing boardthe so-called
Commissioners of Georgetownand each of them to life terms.
(Georgetown did no acquire the right to elected self-government until
after the American Revolution.)
The first Mayor of the newly
incorporated Georgetown in 1790 was Robert Peter, a second generation
Scot and a major Georgetown landowner and merchant.
His family, builders and original owners
of Tudor Place (a great mansion house in Georgetown which still stands
and is now open to the public), married in with the Custis family,
relations of President George Washington, and continued to live at Tudor
Place in Georgetown until the 1960s.
The first Postmaster of the newly
incorporated Georgetown in 1790 was William Magruder, also a second
generation Scot and also a major landowner and merchant. (Magruders
Grocers, still in operation in Georgetown, is owned by one of his direct
descendants. These Magruders were MacGregors; a number of them were
founding members of the American Clan Gregor Society in the United
States (1908). Their Magruder descendants are numerous in Maryland and
Virginia to this day. Confederate General James Longstreet was a
Magruder on his mothers side.)
In 1780, a small congregation of mainly
Scots Presbyterians, who had met informally in private houses since
1760, founded a church in Georgetown, under the leadership of Rev.
Stephen Bloomer Balch, a pupil of Scots-born John Witherspoon, a signer
of the Declaration of independence. Subsequently called Georgetown
Presbyterian Church, it exists to this day and is the oldest
continuously operating Christian congregation in Washington, DC.
Many of the Scots-born founders of
Georgetown are buried in the kirkyard of Georgetown Presbyterian.
(Though the church has moved locations since its founding, many of these
founders graves were relocated with it.) Its Pastor, from the time of
his arrival from Scotland in 1980 til his retirement in 2002, was Rev.
Campbell Gillon. During these years, Rev. Gillon was also Chaplain of
the St. Andrews Society of Washington, DC. (Rev. Gillon still lives
part-time in the Greater Washington area and is now Chaplain Emeritus of
Scottish Influence In the Founding and
Layout of Washington City
When the US Constitution was ratified in
1790, Article I, Section 8, Paragraph 17 created a federal enclave, the
District of Columbia, from land donated by both Maryland and Virginia.
Both the existing port city of Alexandria and the existing port city of
Georgetown were assimilated from that year onward into the newly created
District of Columbia. Along with this creation by Congress of the
District of Columbia, Washington City began to be constructed in 1791 on
land partially purchased from gentleman farmer David Burnes, grandson of
a Scottish immigrant of the same name (b. 1695.), who at
his death in 1760 owned 700 acres of prime bottom land in rural Maryland
near Tiber Creek and the Potomacland that was later to become prime
real estate in Washington, DC. I
It was the landholdings of David
Burnes II, grandson of the Scottish immigrant of the same name, on which
much of official Washington was to be built.
He was the obstinate Mr. Burnes who for a long period refused to sell
his extensive land holdings to President George Washington for the
erection of the Federal City and the laying out of Pennsylvania
Avenue. On that land, for which Burnes reluctantly accepted $1 million
from the new United states Government, now sits the south side of the US
Capitol Building, the entire Washington Mall, most of the Presidents
House (the White House), all of the Treasury Department, all of the
Ellipse behind the White House, and all of Pennsylvania Avenue from the
Capitol to the White House.
Burnes died in 1799 and was survived by a
daughter, Marcia, a very wealthy heiress who in 1802 married Senator
John Van Ness of New Yorkthe first Mayor of Washington City (1830-34).
They built a large mansion directly across from the White House on
Pennsylvania Avenue, on a small parcel of land still left to them after
the Federal City was laid out. (This Senator Van Ness, a staunch
anti-Federalist, was Aaron Burrs second in the notorious duel he fought
in New York City with Alexander Hamilton in which the latter was shot
and killed. Burr fled the US and Van Ness was charged with accessory to
murderbut thats another story for another day.)
Holding extensive property adjacent
to Burnes was another prosperous second generation Scotthe merchant and
gentleman farmer Samuel Davidson. From the
sale of an extensive plot to the new Federal Government in 1790 which
included what is now the north side of the White House and Lafayette
Square, directly across from it, in 1792-94 Davidson built another of
the great houses of GeorgetownEvermay, located on what is now 28th
Street, NW. (Still a private residence to this day, Evermay was just
this year just sold by longtime owners, the Belin family, for the sum of
almost $30 million.)
Another famous Scot of importance
in early Washington, DC was David Steuart (b. 1753, d. circa 1814).
Born in Scotland, Stuart studied medicine and languages at the
University of St. Andrews. Emigrating to America, he established a
practice in Alexandria, and in 1783 became a relative of George
Washington's when he married Eleanor Calvert Custis, widow of
Washington's stepson, John Parker Custis. (A number of letters from
Washington to Stuart exist, concerning family matters and Virginia
politics.) Stuart served as a representative to the Virginia House of
Delegates and also to the Virginia Convention of 1788 that ratified the
U. S. Constitution. In 1790 Stuart was
appointed by President Washington as one of the three Commissioners of
the Federal City to oversee the siting and planning of the new
capitalwhich was called by the Commissioners Washington City. He
served on the Commission until at least 1793.
Yet another very famous
Scottish-American resident of early Washington City was
Colonel Benjamin Stoddertlike David Steuart, one of the three
Commissioners appointed by President Washington to plan the location of
the Capitol Building and other key Federal Government buildings. But
Stodderts reputation far exceeded that of his two colleagues on the
Commission: The grandson of an early Scottish immigrant to Maryland,
Benjamin Stoddert (b. 1751) was a major figure in the early years of the
Republic. Starting life as a merchant in his fathers firm in nearby
Bladensburg, MD, he saw action as a cavalry officer during the American
Revolution. After being seriously wounded in the field, Stoddert was
appointed Secretary to the Continental Board of War. A staunch
Federalist and close friend of General (later President) George
Washington, after the war Stoddert was appointed by Washington as one of
the three Commissioners to site and plan the key federal buildings in
the new Nations Capital. It was Stoddert who conceived the name for the
new capital city: Washington City.
In 1783, Stoddert established a tobacco
export business in Georgetown, together with business partners Uriah
Forrest and John Murdoch; it was an extremely successful venture and
made him a wealthy man. In 1798, then President John Adams appointed
Stoddert to be the first Secretary of the Navy; he held that post until
1801during which time he built up the Navy and oversaw action against
France in the Caribbean.
A wealthy man, Stoddert lived and
entertained in Georgetown, where he built Halcyon House (at 34th
& Prospects Streets, NW), still standing. (The gardens at Halcyon House
were designed by Pierre LEnfant, the main architect of the new federal
city. Among its more famous owners, in recent years, was Kathryn
Graham, longtime owner of The Washington Post.) Stodderts
tobacco business, like most commercial activity in the Port of
Georgetown, suffered a severe decline because of the War of 1812 and the
consequent British Embargo on American exports. Stoddert died in 1813
and is buried in nearby Seat Pleasant, MD.
General James MacCubbin Lingan was
another prominent Scottish-American who played a major role in
post-Revolution Georgetown and the new Washington City.
Born in 17521 in Frederick County, MD, General Lingan was of Scottish
ancestry on his mothers sidehence his middle nameand also related to
the wealthy Carroll family of colonial Maryland. A tobacco merchant in
Georgetown before the American Revolution, at its outbreak he was
commissioned a lieutenant and saw combat in a Maryland regiment at the
Battle of Long island (largest battle of the war). Suffering a serious
bayonet wound, he was captured by the British in late 1776 at Fort
Washington and he spent the rest of the war in a prison ship, refusing
offers freedom and a commission in the British Army from Admiral Sir
Samuel Hood, a distant relation, who visited him in confinement.
After the war, Lingan was released and
returned to Georgetown, where he farmed an estate called Harlem, after
the famous battle in which he foughtsometimes called Harlem Heights not
Long Island. He was a founding member of the Society of the Cincinnati.
After the Constitution was ratified, Lingan
was appointed Tax Collector for the Port of Georgetown by President
Washington and relocated to a house he built for himself at 17th
and M Streets, NW (no long standing). A staunch Federalist, for a
time he published The Federal Republican out of a print shop in
Georgetown, which in its editorials opposed a second war with Britain.
On the eve of the War of 1812, an anti-British mob stormed the print
shopin Georgetown. In the violent riot which followed, General Lingan
was beaten to death amid cries of Tory! Torydespite him exposing to
the mob the evidence of the bayonet wound in his chest from many years
Yet another famous
Scottish-American of early Washington City was Colonel Washington Bowie,
b. 1776 to Allen Bowie, a major
property-owner in Frederick County, MD and himself the grandson of
Scottish immigrant John Bowie, who arrived in Maryland in 1706.
(The Bowies were a leading family in colonial Maryland and afterwards;
Ogden Bowie was Governor of Maryland in the late 1800s and the town of
Bowie (in Prince Georges County, the third largest town in Maryland)
was named after him.) Washington Bowie was the god-son of President
George Washington, who was present at his christening. The famous
frontiersman Colonel James (Jim) Bowie, who died at the Alamo, was a
distant cousin. By 1810, Washington Bowie had grown up to be a
prosperous tobacco merchant in Georgetown, a colonel in the Maryland
Militia, and one of the wealthiest men in the newly built Washington
City. He was also one of the founding vestrymen of St. Johns Episcopal
Church, built in 1797 in Georgetown and in continuous operation (at its
original O Street, NW location) to this day.
Two of the Founding Fathers of our Nation
who were of Scottish descent played major roles in Washington after the
Constitution was ratified and the Federal Government moved to the new
Washington City from New York. These were Alexander Hamilton and James
Born in the British West Indies on
the Island of Nevis 8in 1757, Alexander Hamilton emigrated to New York
City in 1772, where he attended Kings College (now Columbia
University). Commissioned a Captain of
Artillery in the Continental Army at the outbreak of the war with
Britain, Hamilton served throughout the war with General Washington,
becoming his aide-de-camp. Hamilton endured the winter at Valley Forge
and commanded the American artillery battery at the Battle of Trenton,
Christmas Eve, 1776a major turning point in the war. He served on
active duty til 1781 and commanded the artillery at the siege of
Yorktown. Returning to New York City to practice law at the end of the
war, Hamilton was one of the authors of The Federalist Papers;
served in the New York Assembly ; and was a member of the New York State
Committee to ratify the US Constitution in 1788.
Called to Washington City by his mentor
President Washington, Hamilton became the first Secretary of the
Treasury and served in that capacity from 1789 to 1795during which time
he lived in Washington and founded the US Mint, the US Coast Guard, the
National Bank (predecessor of the Federal Reserve)modeled on the Bank
of Englandand the Federalist Party. Remaining close to President
Washington throughout his term in office, Hamilton actually wrote
Washingtons famous Farewell Address.
Remembered as Jeffersons great rival and
antagonist, Hamilton was throughout his life very proud of his Scottish
heritage and as a young man was a devout Presbyterian. His
correspondence, late in life, with the Duke of Hamilton, head of his
clan, survives; one of the Dukes younger sons came to America under
Hamiltons sponsorship. And Hamilton ascribed his lifelong abolitionist
views to his Presbyterian upbringing.
As every schoolboy knows, Hamilton was
killed in a duel with Vice President Aaron Burr in Weehawken,
NJdirectly across the Hudson River from NYC, in 1804. (At the time,
duelling was illegal in NY but not in NJ.) Hamilton never built a house
in Washington City but instead returned to New York in 1795 to build his
estate, The Grange, which still survives. Though we declare ourselves
to be a nation built on Jeffersonian principles, in fact we have evolved
much more closely to Hamiltons vision for Americaa militarily and
economically strong, industrialized nation made up mainly of large
cities, not of small towns and yeomen farmers.
The Federal Government as we know it is also
largely the creation of Hamiltons vision. Strangely, there exists only
one monument in DC to Alexander Hamilton: A bronze statue of him stands
on the south side of the Treasury Building.
James Monroe was a very different
man from Alexander Hamiltonbut like him, proud of his Scottish
heritage. Born in Westmoreland County, VA ,
Monroes paternal great grandfather had emigrated there from Scotland
circa 1660. The son of a prosperous planter, Monroe studied at
Campbelltown Academy under Rev. Archibald Campbell of Washington Parish,
VA, going on to attend the College of William & Mary. In 1775, he
dropped out of college to join the 3rd Virginia Regiment of
the Continental Army. Between 1780 and 1783, he studied law under Thomas
Jefferson, whose protégé he was. An anti-federalist, Monroe served as
Governor of Virginia and later, American Ambassador to France, where he
helped to negotiate the Louisiana Purchase in 1803. Elected President
of the United States in 1816 with 80 percent of the popular vote, he was
easily reelected in 1820.
While living in Washington, Monroe occupied
a Federal style house which still stands; located diagonally across
Pennsylvania Avenue from the World Bank, the Monroe House is on the
national historic register and is now the home of the Arts Club of
The City of Alexandria and Arlington
CountyPart of Washington, DC for Half A Century
From 1790 until its retrocession to
Virginia in 1846, the City of Alexandria, plus what was formerly called
Alexandria County, (now Arlington County, VA) were part of the newly
created District of Columbia.
This was a key period of half a century, during the formative years of
our National Government.
Reportedly Alexandrians soured on being part
of the District of Columbia when both the US Capitol Building and the
Presidents House (i.e. the White Houser), plus all other Federal
Government buildings ended up being erected on the Maryland side of the
Potomac, in what was to become Washington City. (An early plan advanced
to build the US Capitol Building on the high point of Alexandria that is
now home to the Masonic Temple, where President George Washington had
served as Master Mason, was rejected to the first Congress.) In
addition, it was perceived by Virginians that the Port of Georgetown was
receiving favorable commercial treatment over that given to the Port of
Alexandria, right across the rivereven though both pre-existing towns
had been incorporated into the new District of Columbia.
The Old St. Andrews Society of
Alexandria in the District of Columbia
Also during this period, the St. Andrews
Society of Alexandria flourished. Founded just a few short years before
the creation of the District of Columbia and defunct within a decade
after retrocession of Alexandria and Arlington County to Virginia, for
almost of its recorded history the St. Andrews Society of
Alexandriathe predecessor organization to our current Societyoperated
within the territorial confines of the District of Columbia.
According to surviving newspaper
local accounts, the St. Andrews Society of Alexandria was founded in
1787. Its first President was Robert Hunter,
a Scottish merchant who was later Mayor of Alexandria and a confidant of
President George Washington. (He is buried in the graveyard of the Old
Presbyterian Meeting House in Old Town, Alexandria.)
The last mention of a meeting of the old St.
Andrews Society of Alexandria occurred in 1851. During 56 of the 64
years of its recorded existence (1787-1851), the St. Andrews Society of
Alexandria operated in a town which was part of the District of
Columbia. This clearly qualifies it to be called the predecessor
society of our current St. Andrews Society of Washington, DC.
A New St. Andrews Society of
Washington, DC Founded Shortly Before the Civil War
A new St. Andrews Society of
Washington, DC was founded in 1855 in the District of Columbia by
Scottish immigrant William Robertson Smith (b. 1828), and five other
Scottish-Americans. Smith served for decades
as President of the Society. For 60 years he also served as the
well-known Superintendent of the Botanic Gardens, located at the foot of
Capitol Hill, which is where the Society always met (In his offices).
Smith was a vocal opponent of the Civil War in the years leading up to
it and from his writings appears to have been a Southern sympathizer,
though not a secessionist. After the war, he fervently opposed placing
the monument to General Ulysses Grant on land that was previously part
of his Gardens. In the end he lost, which deeply embittered him toward
the Congress, his employer. Smith was a close friend of Andrew Carnegie
and a Mason. At his death he donated his extensive collection of first
edition works of Robert Burns to the Scottish Rite Masonic Temple on 16th
Street in Washington, DCwhere it resides to this day.
In their day,
both of these societies operated exclusively within the District of
Columbia. There is no record of ANY overlap in time between the old
St. Andrews Society of Alexandria and the new St. Andrews Society of
Washington, DC. In fact there is a four-year gap between the last
recorded meeting of the former and the first-recorded meeting of the
We know the names of the six founding
members of the new DC Society in 1855, though we do not know the names
of any of the last-remaining members of the older Society in 1851. Could
there have been overlap?
It has been asserted by some that none
of the founding members of the new Society belonged to the older
Society, which may well be true. But apart from the President, William
Robertson Smith, who was a recent immigrant from Scotland, this has not
been proven. And absence of evidence is not evidence of absence.
The Current St. Andrews Society of
Washington, DC - Created by Law in 1908 as A District of Columbia
Yet another re-foundation of our
Society occurred in 1908,
when FOR THE VERY FIRST TIME the St. Andrews Society of Washington, DC
was incorporated. All the modern features and practices of our
Societysuch as our current Code of Bylaws, the requirement of regular
meetings, a broad-based membership, annual election of officers,
etc.date back only to this 1908 re-founding. Though the five Society
incorporators in 1908 included William Robertson Smith (then an elderly
man), the others (William Fraser Small, William Ramsay, John McGregor,
J.H. Small, Jr., and Archibald McLechlen) were different persons from
those who with Smith founded the 1855 Society.
As a matter of corporate law, all
corporations are persons, and their legal life span is in perpetuity
from the date of their incorporation onward, unless later formally
dissolved. That means that all corporations have a birth day. So by
law, the official birthday of our current Society is May 18, 1908 (the
date of its incorporation), at NoonNOT 1855, as has been asserted by
Unlike Alexandria, its one-time
commercial rival directly across the Potomac, Georgetown remains a part
of the District of Columbia to this day (1790 2011).
It lost its status as a separate town within DC in 1871 and was
administratively merged with Washington City into what, after that date,
came to be called Washington, DC.
Whether there ever existed a St. Andrews
Society of Old George Towne, as existed right across the river in
neighboring Olde Towne Alexandria, is a matter that requires original
research. But with some diligent effort, the answer to this question
can probably be arrived at.
Many primary source documents relating to
the Scottish origins of Georgetown and Washington City still exist in
public archives in Georgetown and elsewhere in Washington, DC (at the
newly restored and reopened Georgetown Library, at the Washington
Historical Society, at the Library of Congress, at the Georgetown
Presbyterian Church, etc.) and should be reviewed by members of our
Society to answer this question about whether an early St. Andrews
Society ever existed in Georgetown in the 18th century.
Given the clear Scottish origins of the
town of Georgetown (originally called New Scotland ), its complete
economic and political domination for the first 50+ years of its
existence by a wealthy group of first and second generation Scottish
merchants and landowners, and the fact that Scots tended to establish
St. Andrews societies wherever they settled in significant numbers, the
existence of an early (18th century) St. Andrews Society in
Georgetown is extremely likely.
Because Scottish immigrants tended to
establish such societies wherever they settled, is it unlikely that so
many Scots gathered in Georgetown for so many generations failed to
follow this pattern, too? No, it is not likely. So if the usual
pattern were followed in the 1750s 1780s in Georgetown, it would have
been the FIRST St. Andrews Society of Washington, DC.
To date, it appears that this research has
NEVER been attempted by anyone on behalf of our Societydespite the
existence of many books about the Scottish origins of Georgetown and of
Washington City, and the relatively easy access to many primary source
records right here in our Nations Capital. Why not? Regardless, it is
high time for our Society to undertake this research challenge!
John King Bellassai, JD
Chairman, Community Relations Committee
St. Andrews Society of Washington, DC
Arnbeck, Robert, Through a fiery Trial:
Building Washington, 1790-1800 (Chapter 1, The General and His
Plan)(Madison Books, 1991).
Ecker, Grace Dunlop, A Portrait of Old
Georgetown (Dietz Press, Richmond, VA, 1951).
Georgetown Presbyterian Church, A Brief
History of the Presbyterian Congregation in George Town (2005).
Manuscript available through the Churchs Website and also online at
Green, Constance MacLaughlin, Village and
Capital, 1800 1879 (Princeton University Press, 1962).
Hackett, John F., Harry G. Reiss, and Mary
A,. Lacy (eds.), John Glassford & Company A Register of its Records
in the Library of Congress (Manuscript Division, LOC, Washington,
MacMaster, Richard K., Georgetown and the
Tobacco Trade, 1751 1783, in Records of the Columbia Historical
Society, Washington, DC, Vol. 37/38, (1966/ 1968), at pp. 1-33
(Historical Society of Washington, DC, 2010).
Magruder, Caleb Clarke, Colonel Ninian
Beall, in Records of the Columbia Historical Society, Washington, DC,
Vol. 37/38, (1937), at pp. 17-29 (Historical Society of Washington, DC,