Thursday, November 14, 2013

Mother of the Forgotten Founder

By Lacey Villiva
Education Manager

George Mason may be left out of the mix when the American Founders are mentioned, but even more than men, women are often left out of the historical record.  Not much is known about the women who surrounded Mason.  His mother, Ann Thomson Mason, is one of the women we know a little more about.

Reverend John Moncure, a family friend, said of her "She was a good woman, a great woman, and a lovely woman."  She was also a strong and capable woman, as put to the test with the death of her husband in 1735, which left her with three young children and a great deal of land to manage with the assistance of the children's paternal uncle, John Mercer.

Records suggest that she was incredibly successful in this endeavor.  Upon the age of legal majority in 1746, George Mason came into full responsibility for thousands of acres spanning Virginia from the Northern Neck into modern Fairfax County, as well as land in Charles County, Maryland.  This includes the property at Stump Neck where they are believed to have resided at the death of George Mason III.

Records are slim again until 1760, when Ann Thomson Mason drew up her will, and edited it in November of 1762, shortly before she died.  Ann appointed her friend and relation, the Reverend John Moncure, as her executor.  He produced her will in court in December 1762.  Contrary to popular belief, women could indeed own property in the 18th century, and Ann Thomson Mason was one of those fortunates.

She left her "land lying on Goose Creek in Charles County' in Maryland" to George Mason IV, and to a favored nephew, "five hundred acres of land lying in Loudoun County."  Most of the other bequests were for smaller items, "silver salvers," the "stock of horses, cattle, sheep and hogs," and "my ring and castors, two salts [and] my soop spoons."

Misfortune had again greeted this stoic 18th century matriarch in 1751 with the death of her daughter Mary Mason Selden.  Ann left a number of items to her grandchildren of that line, including household goods, slaves and livestock.  The most touching bequest to those children was this:

"It is my will and desire that my cousin Frances Moncure, the wife of John Moncure, Clerk, take care of my daughter Mary Thomson Selden's picture now in my hall and give it to my grandson Samuel Selden when he comes of age, but if he should die before he becomes of age that then it be given to my granddaughter Mary Selden."

Ann Thomson Mason was 62 years old when she died on November 13, 1762.

Rowland, Kate Mason. The Life of George Mason. 

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