The Gilpin Letters

My wife, Cheryl’s maternal line begins with the Morris family. The Morris family has a long heritage in the State of Virginia (West Virginia). Cheryl’s immigrant ancestor, William Morris (1722-1792) came to America and laid down deep roots in the Kanawha Valley. His son, Henry (1747-1824), Cheryl’s 5x great-grandfather, was married to Mary Byrd (1747-a.1820). Mary Byrd is the ancestor that is the key figure for this post, as her lineage traces back to the Gilpin family.

The lineage of the Byrds goes back to the Gilpins as follows:

Mary Byrd, daughter of John Byrd and Margaret Dean.

Margaret Dean, daughter of William Dean and Lydia Gilpin.

Lydia Gilpin, daughter of immigrant ancestors Joseph Gilpin (1663-1739) and Hannah Glover (1665-1757).

Joseph and Hannah Gilpin were Quakers that lived in England. When they married about 1691, Hannah received as a wedding present from her uncle, a tract of land in Pennsylvania, after her uncle decided against immigrating.  Joseph and Hannah immigrated to America with their two children Hannah and Samuel about 1696. Joseph and Hannah had sixteen children:

Hannah Gilpin, b. 15 Feb., 1692, m. William Seal, 31 Oct. 1718. Had 6 children and lived in Birmingham Twp., Chester Co., PA. Died 8 Jan. 1746.

Samuel Gilpin, b. 7 April, 1694, m. Jane Parker, 25 Jan., 1722-23. Had 7 children. Settled in Elkton, MD. Died 7 Feb., 1767. Samuel and Jane’s son, Col. George Gilpin will be the main focus of this post.

Rachel Gilpin, b. 12 Feb., 1696, m. Joshua Pierce, 15 Nov., 1722. Had 4 children. Lived in Chester Co., PA. Died 20 May, 1776.

Ruth Gilpin, b. 28 Aug., 1697, m. Joseph Mendenhall, 30 Oct., 1718. Had 7 children. Lived in Kennett Twp., Chester Co., PA. Died 30 Aug., 1760.

Lydia Gilpin, b. 11 Nov., 1698, m. William Dean, 15 Nov. 1722. Had 3 children. Moved to Wilmington, DE. Died 2 Oct., 1750. Lydia would have been an aunt of Col. George Gilpin.

Thomas Gilpin, b. 23 July, 1700, m. Rebecca Mendehall, April 1726, m. 2nd (?), Sept. 1728, m. 3rd Ann Caldwell. Removed to Wilmington, DE in 1748. Died 25 Dec., 1766.

Ann Gilpin, b. 11 May, 1702, m. Joseph Miller, 31 Dec. 1724, m. 2nd Richard Hallett, 10 May, 1739. Had 5 children. Died 15 Sept., 1759.

Joseph Gilpin, b. 1 March, 1704, m. Mary Caldwell, 17 Dec. 1729. Had 12 children. Removed to Wilmington, DE. Died 31 March, 1792.

Sarah Gilpin, b. 21 April, 1706, m. Peter Cooke, 26 Nov., 1730. Had 7 children. Settled in Chester Co., PA, afterwards removed to York Co., PA. Died 7 June, 1788.

George Gilpin, b. 16 April 1708, m. Ruth Caldwell, 7 April 1737, m. 2nd Sarah Woodward, 9 April, 1760. Had 3 children. Lived at the old homestead. Died 15 Dec., 1773.

Isaac Gilpin, b. 23 March, 1710, m. Mary Painter, 21 Oct. 1736. Had 3 children. Lived in Chester Co., PA. Died 29 Dec. 1800 (contracted small pox while in the army).

Moses Gilpin, b. 8 March, 1712, m. Ann Buffington, 10 Nov. 1742. Died 1742.

Alice Gilpin, b. 7 Dec., 1714, m. Richard Eavenson, 11 April, 1739. Had 5 children. Died 1738.

Mary Gilpin, b. 16 Nov., 1716, m. Philip Taylor, m. 2nd George Strode. Had 9 children. Died 17 April, 1806.

Esther Gilpin, b. 9 Jan. 1718, m. Samuel Painter, 5 Aug. 1741. Had 7 children. Lived in Chester Co., PA. Died 10 Jan. 1795.

Col. George Gilpin (1740-1813)

Col. George Gilpin, b. 4 March, 1740 in Nottingham, Cecil Co., MD, to Samuel Gilpin and Jane Parker. George, according to most sources about George’s young life, was brought up by his older brother, Thomas, at Brandywine, New Castle Co., DE, near Chester Creek, now Millington, MD. Thomas operated flour mills there and carried on an extensive shipping business for many years.

Just prior to the Revolutionary War, George moved to Alexandria, VA, where he spent the remainder of his life after the war. He was intimately associated with George Washington, and many letters between George Washington and George Gilpin still exist. George Gilpin was commissioned as a Colonel of the Fairfax County militia in 1775, and joined General Washington’s army at Dorchester Heights, Boston, MA, with his regiment, and took part in the siege of Boston. He also took part in the Battles of Brandywine and Germantown. Unfortunately, while George’s regiment was encamped at Valley Forge 1777-8, George’s brother Thomas was exiled in Winchester, VA, for declining to participate in the war. Col. Gilpin went to visit his brother. Upon returning to Valley Forge, the army proceeded to York, PA where congress was in session to intercede for the return of the exiles. George secured a promise that the exiles would be permitted to return, but Thomas died before it was accomplished.

At the end of the revolution, under the direction of George Washington, George Gilpin made a survey of the river Potomac from tide water to the upper falls and prepared a plan for the improvement of the channel for navigation. He continued with these types of improvements until his death on 24 December, 1813.

Col. George Gilpin was also 1 of 6 pallbearers at the funeral of George Washington.

George Gilpin was married twice…1st to Catherine Peters, then 2nd to Catherine’s sister, Jane. Both Catherine and Jane were cousins of Martha Washington. George had 3 children by Catherine and 6 children by Jane.

Correspondence Letter between George Gilpin and Martha Washington:

From George Gilpin to Martha Washington, 8 Oct., 1775

Correspondence Letters between George Gilpin and George Washington:

To George Washington from George Gilpin, 10 July 1785

From George Washington to George Gilpin, 29 Oct., 1785

From George Washington to John Fitzgerald & George Gilpin, 27 Jan., 1789

From George Washington to George Gilpin, 14 Sept., 1789

From George Washington to George Gilpin, 15 Sept. 1789

From George Washington to George Gilpin, 29 March, 1795

To George Washington from George Gilpin, 14 Dec., 1797

Correspondence letters between George Gilpin and Thomas Jefferson:

From George Gilpin to Thomas Jefferson, 28 Feb., 1807

From George Gilpin to Thomas Jefferson, 7 Aug., 1809

From Thomas Jefferson to George Gilpin, 7 Sept., 1809

The Gilpin House

The Gilpin House was the residence and place of business of Col. George Gilpin in Alexandia, VA. George Washington was a frequent visitor. The Gilpin House is a part of the Alexandria Historic District and is a national landmark.

Gilpin House – Principle Gallery

Pallbearers for George Washington’s Funeral

Mount Vernon Library

The Ancestors of Col. George Gilpin

William Gilpin (abt.1508-1576-77), son of Edwin Gilpin and Margaret Layton, married Elizabeth Washington (abt.1507-1577). William Gilpin was Col. George Gilpin’s 5x great-grandfather.

William Gilpin’s mother, Margaret Layton, descends from the line of John of Gaunt, Edward III, Edward II, Edward I, Henry III, John, Henry II, Princess Matilda, daughter of Henry I, widow of Emperor Henry V of the Romans and wife of Geoffrey “Plantagenet” of Anjou, Matilda was also the granddaughter of William the Conqueror.

Elizabeth Washington, daughter of Thomas Washington and Anne Duckett, also descends from the Plantagenet Royal family through her Duckett, Parr and Tunstall lines. Elizabeth was also George Washington’s 5x great-aunt, making Col. George Gilpin and George Washington cousins.

These are the same ancestral lines that Cheryl is descended from.  George Washington is Cheryl’s 7th cousin, 8 times removed.

Although Cheryl is not directly descended from Col. George Gilpin, when you are doing research of your family tree, try to expand your research to include siblings of your ancestors.  This will open up possibilities of finding additional interesting individuals in your family tree that not only could help you learn more about historical events, but adds to and enhances your family’s story.

Other Famous and Noted Gilpins

Henry D. Gilpin – Attorney General of the United States under President Van Buren

Hood Gilpin – member of the Philadelphia Bar

Bernard Gilpin – “Apostle of the North”, was a brother to Edwin Gilpin.

William Gilpin – 1st territorial Governor of Colorado and friend of President Abraham Lincoln

Catherine Drew Gilpin Faust – 28th President of Harvard University

Jack Gilpin – noted actor and ordained Episcopalian minister, also 1st cousin of Catherine Drew Gilpin Faust

Special appreciation to my wife, Cheryl, who’s unending support never fails to amaze and inspire me.


The Mount Vernon Library

Martha Washington-A Life (sponsored by The Mount Vernon Library)

The National Archives, Washington, D.C.

Library of Congress, Washington, D.C.

Joshua and Thomas Gilpin, sons of Thomas Gilpin, brother of Col. George Gilpin. Joshua collected, when in Europe, genealogy of the Gilpin family in England, which was then made into a chart by his brother Thomas in 1845. Thomas also prepared a chart of the descendants of Samuel Gilpin, father of Col. George Gilpin and son of Joseph Gilpin in 1852

Daemonologia Sacra or A Treastise of Satan’s Temptations in Three Parts by Richard Gilpin, M.D., Page XV, Memoir of Dr. Gilpin

From the “Ancestry of Allen Grinnell Cleaver & Martha Irene Jessup – 172 Allied Families” by William Jessup Cleaver – 1989

Exiles in Virginia: With Observations on the Conduct of the Society of Friends during the Revolutionary War Comprising the Official Papers of the Government, Relating to that Period 1777 – 1778, Society of Friends – 1848

Genealogy of the Family of Gideon Gilpin…by Joseph Elliot Gilpin, Baltimore, July, 1897

History of Delaware Co., PA – 1884 – Pg. 312

History and Life of William Gilpin – A Character Study by Hubert Howe Bancroft, San Francisco – 1889

Memoirs of Bernard Gilpin… – by Rev. C.S. Collingwood – London – 1884

Featured Image – 1798 Plan Map of the Town of Alexandria, Virginia – by George Gilpin, Thomas Clarke, and John V. Thomas – Library of Congress

2 thoughts on “The Gilpin Letters

    • Hello Angela, I am so glad that my research can help others and shine a light on the family path to discovery. The Gilpins are such an astounding family and it was a pleasure to dive into. Good luck on your further searching of your mother’s family history. If you have any other questions, please don’t hesitate to reach out. Thanks again, Brian

      Liked by 1 person

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