Mary Ball Washington
Mary Ball was born on November 30, 1708 in Lively, Virginia in Lancaster County. She was the only child of Joseph Matthäus Ball and his second wife, the widow Mary Johnson. Her family was of English descent. Fatherless at three and orphaned at twelve, Mary Ball was placed under the guardianship of George Eskridge, a lawyer, in accordance with the terms of her mother's will.
According to Elizabeth F. Ellet, an author during the American Revolution years,"The course of Mrs. Washington's life, exhibiting her qualities of mind and heart, proved her fitness for the high trust committed to her hands. She was remarkable for vigor of intellect, strength of resolution, and inflexible firmness wherever principle was concerned. Devoted to the education of her children, her parental government and guidance have been described by those who knew her as admirably adapted to train the youthful mind to wisdom and virtue. With her, affection was regulated by a calm and just judgment. She was distinguished, moreover, by that well marked quality of genius, a power of acquiring and maintaining influence over those with whom she associated. Without inquiring into the philosophy of this mysterious ascendancy, she was content to employ it for the noblest ends. It contributed, no doubt, to deepen the effect of her instructions."
Augustine died in 1743. Unlike most widows in Virginia at the time, Mary Ball Washington never remarried. She managed the estate and plantation with the help of others until her eldest son came of age. She lived to see that son, George Washington, command the Continental Army to independence and be inaugurated as the first President of the United States in 1789.Mrs. Washington was said to be openly opposed to her son's revolutionary politics and, according to French officers based in Virginia during the war, she was a Loyalist sympathizer.
Mary Washington was by no means poor despite the fact that she petitioned the Government of Virginia claiming to be destitute. Her son, George, purchased her a fine house in Fredericksburg, where she lived from 1772 until her death in 1789. In her will, Mary Washington left George the majority of her lands and appointed him as her executor.
Mary Washington frequently visited her daughter Betty and her husband Fielding Lewis at their Kenmore Plantation outside Fredericksburg. She had a favorite "meditation rock" that was close to the Lewis mansion. Tradition has it that this was her favorite retreat for reading and prayer. She asked Betty to bury her there after her death, and her daughter arranged that.
Mary Washington died on August 26, 1789 (aged 80) Spotsylvania, Virginia.