St. Oswald's Church has long been associated with the Washington family and over the years has
received many American visitors wanting to visit a part of this country associated with their first
president, George Washington.
The Washingtons, or de Wessingtons, were a Durham family who acquired lands in the county of
Westmorland and then in north Lancashire. There are references in wills, deeds and settlements
throughout the 14th and 15th century to Kerneford (Carnforth), (Over) Kellet, (Priest) Hutton,
Heysham, Tuetffylde (Tewitfield), Silverdale and Warton involving members of the Washington
John de Wessington seems to have been the first member of the line to settle in Warton. Then
followed three generations of Robert Washingtons. The Washington family tree is displayed in the
north aisle of St. Oswald's. Also displayed is the family tree of Sir Winston Spencer Churchill who
is related to the Washingtons through the Kitson family of Warton.
The third Robert Washington had a son John with his first wife Elizabeth Westfield, and this son
married Margaret Kytson of Warton Hall. Their son Lawrence, presumably born in Warton, then
appears in Northamptonshire as a wealthy wool merchant, purchasing Sulgrave Manor. This house,
remained in the possession of the Washington family for three generations.
Through his son Robert and grandson Lawrence, Lawrence Washington of Warton is the ancestor of
Colonel John Washington, who emigrated to Virginia in 1656, and so of President George
The earliest known example of a Lancashire Washington seal is a Duchy of Lancaster deed dated
1401 in the Public Record Office in London. In St. Oswald's church tower, reputed to have been
built by a Robert Washington of Warton, you will find an eroded stone seal consisting of two bars
and three mullets in chief on a shield, exactly as described above. This stone was formerly on the
outside west wall of the tower but was brought indoors to preserve it. The Washington seal is
believed to have inspired the modern flag of the United States consisting of stars and stripes.
Other members of the Washington family remained in Warton and the surrounding area for several
generations, some of them taking holy orders. The last member to live in Warton was the Rev.
Thomas Washington, Vicar of the parish (inducted in 1799). He died on 7 February 1823 aged 69.
His grave is the only Washington tombstone visible in St. Oswald's churchyard, though many other
members of the family must lie buried there. Much eroded it stands against the east wall of the
church and bears the inscription:
Mrs. Elizabeth Washington
June the 15th 1751
Clericus hujius Ecclesiae Vicarius
obiit die Septimae Feby
Suae anno Sexagesimo nono