It is pretty common knowledge that Washington, DC was named after the United States' first President, George Washington, and founded in 1791.

However, is there any other place, in the United States, that held this name prior to that time?

Inspired by this question on another Stack Exchange.

  • 10
    In the world, or in the US? Surely the surname Washington is derived from a British town of that name. Oct 8, 2016 at 18:22
  • @reinierpost - The linked question refers to the US
    – Richard
    Oct 9, 2016 at 15:36
  • The town where people went for their washing, when they needed experts and/or a heavy duty wash.
    – WBT
    Oct 9, 2016 at 22:36
  • Added in the US. Oct 10, 2016 at 9:14
  • @reinierpost The question is tagged United States. I think that would explicitly imply I am asking about that country, no?
    – Skooba
    Oct 10, 2016 at 12:21

6 Answers 6


According to this article from the Free Lance-Star (referencing American Philatelist), there were seven other US towns called "Washington" that were established prior to Washington D.C.

It indicates that Washington, Virginia was the oldest to be surveyed and populated in 1749 (although it only achieved 'town' status in the 1790s) and Washington, North Carolina was the first to achieve town status (e.g. a population over 200) in 1776.

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  • 12
    I also learned from this riveting journal that "Miss Estelle Davis spent Sunday nite with Miss Polly Herndon". I'm not entirely sure how that's news (or what they got up to, presumably drinking gin and talking about boys), but it evidently merited a mention in the society page.
    – Richard
    Oct 8, 2016 at 18:06
  • 3
    Also, someone lost their spectacles on Sunday; if you'd like to return them, just phone 179 or 552. Phone numbers have changed a lot.
    – Nic
    Oct 9, 2016 at 5:11
  • 3
    @QPaysTaxes - And yet people are still always losing their spectacles. Some things change and others stay the same
    – Richard
    Oct 9, 2016 at 19:05

is their any other place that could have held this moniker prior to that time?

Yes. Washington (population 67,000) is a town in historic County Durham in England. The earliest extant references to it appear in Old English and date to 1096. As your question didn't specify that the place had to be within the United States, this would be the oldest place with this moniker, and the origin of the surname. Washington Old Hall is the family home of George Washington's ancestors.

  • Clever, but the linked article clearly refers to an incident that (supposedly) took place in the USA.
    – Richard
    Oct 8, 2016 at 21:04
  • @Richard No, both places referred to are in England, unless you think Rowling is writing history!
    – TheHonRose
    Oct 10, 2016 at 2:39
  • The linked article in the question, I mean.
    – Richard
    Oct 10, 2016 at 8:59
  • 3
    The intention of a question should be clear without relying on linked material for interpretation. Fix the question text until ambiguities have been resolved. Oct 10, 2016 at 9:15
  • 1
    The question is tagged United States... is that not enough?
    – Skooba
    Oct 10, 2016 at 12:20

The very George Washington's surname suggests that his ancestors originated from a similarly called place in England.

  • 4
    Not similarly, identically.
    – Richard
    Oct 8, 2016 at 21:04
  • @Richard Maybe he's talking about pronunciation rather than spelling...?
    – Fiksdal
    Oct 9, 2016 at 18:44
  • @Fiksdal - They're pronounced the same too :-)
    – Richard
    Oct 9, 2016 at 19:05
  • @Fiksdal it was named Wessyngton when Washington's family (William de Wessyngton) changed their surname for the place.
    – Anixx
    Oct 9, 2016 at 19:08
  • 2
    @Richard I was trying to make a joke that the locals of Washington, UK probably pronounce "Washington" differently from how the locals of Washington DC pronounce it :)
    – Fiksdal
    Oct 9, 2016 at 19:09

There is a village called Washington in West Sussex, England. According to the Washington Parish Council:

Its name – first recorded in 947 AD – means, in Old English, ‘Homestead of Wassa’s people’.

This etymology (home of Wassa) is also the etymology of the name of President Washington and thus also Washington DC. The fact that the etymology is the same, however, does of course not imply that George Washington himself originates from this particular village.


  • This is doubly wrong. First, the village of Washington is in West Sussex, not East Sussex. Second, and more importantly, the ancestral home of George Washington's family is not here, but Washington in County Durham.
    – fdb
    Oct 8, 2016 at 20:25
  • @fdb Of course, this answer doesn't say that George Washington originates from this village. As I have now emphasised more strongly, it merely points out that the etymology of the name of the village is "home of Wasa" and this is also the etymology of the name of the president. I didn't mean to imply that he originated from there. Regarding East vs West Sussex: Thanks for pointing that out, I mixed up East vs. West. I had actually already corrected that error by the time you commented. Anyway, do you still feel there are any inaccuracies in the answer?
    – Fiksdal
    Oct 8, 2016 at 20:58
  • Your answer is all right now. The original question was asking implicitly (though not explicitly) for the origin of the name of George Washington's name. The correct answer to this (implicit) question is that it is to be sought in County Durham, not in Sussex. But following the" letter of the law" your answer in correct.
    – fdb
    Oct 8, 2016 at 21:05
  • 1
    @fdb Alright, thanks for the feedback. I'm not sure why you believe OP implicitly asks for the origin of George Washington's name. If that's the case, it's quite a subtle implication indeed. The way I see it, the question merely asks for "old places called Washington."
    – Fiksdal
    Oct 8, 2016 at 21:09

Washington, Georgia claims to be the "first city in the nation to be established in the name of George Washington, 1780".

  • 4
    First "city", but hardly the first place.
    – Richard
    Oct 8, 2016 at 16:22
  • That doesn't exclude other Washingtons not named for George. Oct 9, 2016 at 3:28

This is a very interesting discussion! Here is a place you may not be aware of: Washington Bottom, a rural community in present-day Wood County, West Virginia, was land granted to George Washington for his service in the the French and Indian War. Washington visited the area in 1770, and saw "he saw a bottom of 'exceeding good land' and thought there might be two or three thousand acres of bottom and flat land together."

He had his agent Col. William Crawford survey it for him in the summer of 1771. Washington received a grant for this survey from the governor of Virginia in Dec 1772. Col. Crawford reported at the time that they were having a hard time keeping squatters from settling on the land, and recommended hiring men to live on it. Col. Crawford and his brother Valentine became Washington's agents to start a settlement there.

They started clearing/building on it for Washington late in 1774, but with the onset of the Revolutionary War, the few who had settled there were driven out and structures burned. Raids by Indian allies of the British kept them out until the end of the war. The area began to be settled again after the end of the war, although not intensively due to continued raids by Indians until 1793. However, there was a permanent settlement by 1785. A blockhouse called Neal's Station was built south of the Little Kanawha River, at the north end of Washington Bottom, in that year. And, "In a letter written to Thomas Freeman in 1785, he referred to it as the tract 'commonly called and distinguished by the name of Washington Bottom.'" Settlement picked up after General Wayne's ruthless campaign of extermination in 1793 drove the Indians out of the area.

The land was bequeathed to an heir of George Washington after his death, Betty Carter; she sold it to associates of the Washingtons from the Loudoun/Fairfax County Virginia area, who moved their whole extended families there. So when would you say this place was started, or named? And was it named for George Washington, or by him?

Information from History of Washington Bottom,http://www.wvculture.org/history/agrext/washbott.html

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