American Connections with Malmesbury
Malmesbury - History
Malmesbury and the surrounding area have some astonishing links to the United States, especially when you consider both the town’s size and rural location.
Sir Lawrence Washington – one of Malmesbury’s earlier and most respected members of parliament (he served in this role in 1661), Lawrence Washington resided in Garsdon Manor. He is an ancestor of George Washington, the first US President, and is buried in Garsdon Church. Of particular interest is his memorial plaque and family Coat of Arms, which contains ‘Mullets and Bars’, allegedly part of the idea behind the stripes on the American flag.
Penns of Pennsylvania – came originally from this district. The family lived in Minety in 1560 and one of the family members was Law Clerk of Malmesbury, who died in about 1590. Some of the family are buried in Minety itself. Also one of the older buildings in Minety, a house called ‘The Mansells’, was the home of the father of the famous William Penn.
Nancy Hanks – the mother of Abraham Lincoln was a Malmesbury woman and some of her family went on to America to settle there after the English Civil War. Abraham Lincoln got most of his looks from his mother’s side, and some say also his drive and initiative. The Hanks, some of whom still reside in the area, are one of the oldest families in Malmesbury, allegedly residing in the town since the Saxon era.
Hodge, Dr. Bernulf., A History of Malmesbury (5th Edition; The Friends of Malmesbury Abbey, Minety: 1990).