Early life (1732–1753)
George Washington was the first child of
Augustine Washington and his second wife
Mary Ball Washington, born on their
Pope's Creek Estate near
Colonial Beach in
Westmoreland County, Virginia. He was born on February 11, 1731, according to the
Julian calendar and
Annunciation Style of enumerating years then in use in the British Empire. The
Gregorian calendar was adopted within the British Empire in 1752, and it renders a birth date of February 22, 1732.
Washington was of primarily English
gentry descent, especially from
Sulgrave, England. His great-grandfather
John Washington immigrated to Virginia in 1656 and began accumulating land and slaves, as did his son
Lawrence and his grandson, George's father Augustine. Augustine was a tobacco planter who also tried his hand at iron manufacturing.
 In George's youth, the Washingtons were moderately prosperous members of the Virginia gentry, of "middling rank" rather than one of the leading planter families.
Six of George's siblings reached maturity, including older half-brothers
Augustine (from his father's first marriage to Jane Butler Washington), and full siblings
John Augustine, and
Charles. Three siblings died before adulthood; his sister Mildred died when she was about one, his half-brother Butler died in infancy, and his half-sister Jane died at age 12, when George was about two. His father died of a sudden illness in April 1743 when George was 11 years old, and his half-brother Lawrence became a surrogate father and role model.
William Fairfax was Lawrence's father-in-law and the cousin of Virginia's largest landowner
Thomas, Lord Fairfax, and he was also a formative influence.
 William Fairfax's son
George William Fairfax was a close friend and associate of Washington.
 His wife
Sally was also a friend of Washington and an early romantic interest, and Washington wrote her love letters even after she had married.
Washington's father was the Justice of the Westmoreland County Court.
 George spent much of his boyhood at
Ferry Farm in
Stafford County near
Fredericksburg. Lawrence Washington inherited another family property from his father, a plantation on the
Potomac River at Little Hunting Creek which he named
Mount Vernon in honor of his commanding officer Vice Admiral
Edward Vernon. George inherited Ferry Farm upon his father's death and eventually acquired Mount Vernon after Lawrence's death.
The death of his father prevented Washington from an education at England's
Appleby School such as his older brothers had received. He achieved the equivalent of an elementary school education from a variety of tutors, as well as from a school run by an
Anglican clergyman in or near Fredericksburg.
 There was talk of securing an appointment for him in the
Royal Navy when he was 15, but it was dropped when his widowed mother objected.
In 1751, Washington traveled to
Barbados (his only trip abroad)
 with Lawrence in the hope that the climate would be beneficial to Lawrence's health, as he was suffering from
tuberculosis. Washington contracted
smallpox during the trip, which left his face slightly scarred but immunized him against future exposures to the disease.
 Lawrence's health failed to improve, and he returned to Mount Vernon where he died in the summer of 1752.
 Lawrence's position as Adjutant General (militia leader) of Virginia was divided into four district offices after his death. Washington was appointed by Governor Dinwiddie as one of the four district adjutants in February 1753, with the rank of major in the
 During this period, Washington became a
freemason while in Fredericksburg, although his involvement was minimal.
Washington's introduction to
surveying began at an early age through school exercises that taught him the basics of the profession, followed by practical experience in the field. His first experiences at surveying occurred in the territory surrounding Mount Vernon. His first opportunity as a surveyor occurred in 1748 when he was invited to join a survey party organized by his neighbor and friend
George Fairfax of Belvoir. Fairfax organized a professional surveying party to lay out large tracts of land along the border of western Virginia, where the young Washington gained invaluable experience in the field.
Washington began his career as a professional surveyor in 1749 at the age of 17. He subsequently received a commission and surveyor's license from the
College of William & Mary
[d] and became the official surveyor for the newly formed
Culpeper County. He was appointed to this well-paid official position thanks to his brother Lawrence's connection to the prominent Fairfax family. He completed his first survey in less than two days, plotting a 400-acre parcel of land, and was well on his way to a promising career. He was subsequently able to purchase land in the
Shenandoah Valley, the first of his many land acquisitions in western
For the next four years, Washington worked surveying land in Western Virginia for the
Ohio Company, a land investment company funded by Virginia investors. He came to the notice of the new lieutenant governor of Virginia
Robert Dinwiddie, thanks to Lawrence's position as commander of the Virginia militia. He was hard to miss; at over six feet,
[e] he was taller than most of his contemporaries.
 In October 1750, Washington resigned his position as an official surveyor, though he continued to work diligently over the next three years at his new profession. He continued to survey professionally for two more years, mostly in Frederick County, before receiving a military appointment as adjutant for southern Virginia. By 1752, Washington completed close to 200 surveys on numerous properties totaling more than 60,000 acres. He continued to survey at different times throughout his life and as late as 1799.