Gunston Hall, Home of George Mason

Children of George Mason of Gunston Hall


John Mason
April 4, 1766 - March 19, 1849

According to his "Recollections" John Mason was born at Mattawoman, the home of his Eilbeck grandparents. Surviving correspondence suggests that George Mason was closest to his son John. John was first tutored at Gunston Hall with Scottish tutors Mr. Davidson and Mr. Constable. Mr. Davidson arrived at Gunston Hall around 1770, and David Constable was with the Masons from 1774 to 1781. After the Revolution, John, his brother Thomas and a cousin, studied with Rev. Buchnan, rector of Aquia and Pohick Churches, who lived on Passapatanzy Creek. To finish his formal education, John was sent to study mathematics with a Scotsman, Mr. Hunter, in Calvert County, Maryland.[1] John was apprenticed to a Quaker merchant in Alexandria, William Hartshorne of the firm of Harper & Hartshorne. He went to the Constitutional Convention with his father, but returned to continue his apprenticeship with Hartshorne before the Convention ended.

John stayed with Hartshorne until the spring of 1788 when he entered into a partnership with merchants James and Joseph Fenwick of Maryland. On June 22, 1788 John sailed to Bordeaux to conduct business for the firm there. Despite the upheaval of the French Revolution, John remained in France until 1791 when continuing ill health precipitated his return to the United States. Although the Bordeaux branch of the firm of Fenwick & Mason did fairly well, it was liquidated in 1793 as the threat of war in Europe, the dipping exchange rate with France, and declining tobacco prices made it harder and harder to do business.

By the spring of 1792 John had established a branch of the firm in Georgetown. Over the years Mason, Fenwick & Company became involved in a variety of other ventures including "banking, international commerce, the organization of foundries, and navigation and turnpike companies, as well as the flour and wheat trade and land investment. Most important was John’s connection with the Bank of Columbia chartered in 1793. He served on the Board of Directors and became its president in 1798."[2] He also purchased a good deal of land in the new federal city, most of it on a speculative basis. With John’s appointment in 1807 as superintendent of the Indian Trade, his involvement in government services grew also. He was a brigadier general in the District of Columbia militia; he became commissioner general of prisoners during the War of 1812 and became the president of the Potowmack Canal Company in 1817.

Following his marriage to Anna Maria Murray in 1796, John settled in Georgetown on property located at the corner of 25th and L Streets and Pennsylvania Avenue. He also built a summer residence on Analostan Island (now Teddy Roosevelt Island), which became the scene of many elegant activities. The island was famous for its gardens which were designed and installed by English gardener David Hepburn.[3] Mason continued the operation of the ferry which crossed the Potomac River from Georgetown to the Virginia. After suffering financial set backs John Mason was forced to give up his island residence, and in 1833 the family moved to Clermont "on the south side of Cameron Run Valley four miles west of Alexandria."[4]


Anna Maria Murray February 14, 1796


  • John Mason, Jr., 1797-1859

  • James Murray Mason, November 3, 1798 - April 26, 1871

  • Sarah Maria Mason, September 13, 1800 - July 22, 1890

  • Virginia Mason, October 12, 1802 - January 28, 1838

  • Catherine Eilbeck Mason, July 12, 1804 - March 7, 1888

  • Eilbeck Mason, May 20, 1806 - 1862

  • Murray Mason (twin), January 4, 1808 - January 11, 1875

  • Mayandier Mason (twin), January 4, 1808 - April 1865/6

  • Anna Maria Mason, February 26, 1811 - November 3, 1898

  • Joel Barlow Mason, June 9, 1813 - 1861

1. "Recollections," 38-39.
2 . Pamela C. Copeland and Richard K. MacMaster, The Five George Masons: Patriots and Planters in Virginia and Maryland (Charlottesville: University Press of Virginia, 1975; Lorton, VA: Board of Regents of Gunston Hall, 1989), 257.
3. John Gardiner & David Hepburn, The American Gardener (Georgetown, DC: published by Joseph Milligan, 1818). The Junior League of Washington, An Illustrated History the City of Washington, editor Thomas Froncek (New York: Wings Books, 1992), 106.
4. Edith Sprouse, "Clermont: The Rest of the Story," The Fireside Sentinel, 3 (September 1989), 97.


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