My wife’s 3rd-great aunt was Margaret Isabella Jessie Percy (1802-1865), the second daughter of Lieutenant Robert Percy and Jane Middlemist Percy. She was born in London, but immigrated to French Louisiana with her parents and grew up on Beechwood Plantation in West Feliciana Parish. She was the sister of my wife’s 3rd-great grandfather, Charles Evans Percy.

Winthrop_Sargent
Winthrop Sargent

The Percy family became became quite renowned in Louisiana politics, and one could argue that an important early step in their political ascent was Margaret Isabella’s marriage to George Washington Sargent in 1824, when she was 22-years-old. Her new husband’s father was Winthrop Sargent, who had been the first Governor of the Mississippi Territory more than two decades earlier. He was appointed to that post by President John Adams in 1798. Adams was a Federalist and favored a strong national government. His chief political rival was Thomas Jefferson who championed individual state autonomy. When Jefferson defeated Adams and assumed the Presidency in 1801, Winthrop Sargent was relieved of his gubernatorial post.

However, Winthrop Sargent’s political connections were, by that time, well-established. In January 1802, a few months after leaving office, and upon learning that his wife, Mary, was pregnant with their second child, he sat down and penned a letter to recently-widowed Martha Washington. He asked for the honor of naming his child, should it be a son, after Mrs. Washington’s late husband. The first First Lady acquiesced and George Washington’s name was graciously bestowed upon my wife’s 3rd-great uncle, George Washington Sargent.

The letter and Mrs. Washington’s response are transcribed in the excerpt below, taken from “Old Families of Louisiana” by Stanley Arthur, published in 1931.

Geo Washington Sargent's Namesake

Percy Skeleton