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Appleton's Cyclopedia of American Biography, edited by James Grant Wilson, John Fiske and Stanley L. Klos. Six volumes, New York: D. Appleton and Company, 1887-1889 and 1999. Virtualology.com warns that these 19th Century biographies contain errors and bias. We rely on volunteers to edit the historic biographies on a continual basis. If you would like to edit this biography please submit a rewritten biography in text form . If acceptable, the new biography will be published above the 19th Century Appleton's Cyclopedia Biography citing the volunteer editor





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Fielding Lewis

LEWIS, Fielding, patriot, born in Spottsylvania county, Virginia, in 1726; died in Fredericksburg, Virginia, in December, 1781. He was the proprietor of half the town of Fredericksburg, Virginia, of which he was the first mayor, and of much of the adjoining territory, and during the Revolution he was an ardent patriot, superintended a large manufactory of arms in that neighborhood; the site of this establishment is still known as "Gunny Green." He was a magistrate and a member of the Virginia legislature for many years. He married Elizabeth, sister of George Washington, and built for her a mansion that is still standing, called Kenmore House, which was handsomely constructed and ornamented with carvings that were brought from England for the purpose. His wife was majestic in person and lovely in mental and moral attributes. Later in life she so much resembled her brother George that, by putting on his long military coat and his hat, she could easily have been mistaken for the general. Mary, the mother of Washington, died on Mr. Lewis's farm and is buried there. Of their sons, GEORGE was a captain in Washington's lifeguard, ROBERT one of his private secretaries, and ANDREW was aide to General Daniel Morgan in suppressing the whiskey insurrection in Pennsylvania. Another son, LAWRENCE, was Washington's favorite nephew. His wife, Eleanor Parke Custis, born at Abingdon, Fairfax County, Virginia, in March, 1779; died at Audley, Clarke County, Virginia, 15 July, 1852, was the daughter of John Parke Custis, the son of Martha Washington. At the death of her father, in 1781, she, with her brother George, was adopted by General Washington, and lived at Mount Vernon. Eleanor was regarded as the most brilliant and beautiful young woman of her day, the pride of her grandmother, and the favorite of Washington, who was the playmate of her childhood and the confidant of her girlhood. However abstracted, she could always command his attention, and he would put aside the most important matter to attend to her demands. She was accomplished in drawing, and a good musician. Washington presented her with a harpsichord at the cost of a thousand dollars. Irving relates an anecdote that illustrates their relations: "She was romantic, and fond of wandering in the moonlight alone in the woods. Mrs. Washington thought this unsafe, and forced from her a promise that she would not visit the woods again unaccompanied, but she was brought one evening into the drawing room where her grandmother, seated in her arm chair, began in the presence of the general a severe reproof. Poor Nellie was reminded of her promise, and taxed with her delinquency. She admitted her fault and essayed no excuse, moving to retire from the room. She was just closing the door when she overheard Washington attempting in a low voice to intercede in her behalf. 'My dear,' he observed, 'I would say no more--perhaps she was not alone.' His intercession stopped Miss Nellie in her retreat. She reopened the door and advanced up to the general with a firm step. 'Sir.' said she, 'you brought me up to speak the truth, and, when I told grandmamma I was alone, I hope you believe I was alone.' Washington made one of his most magnanimous bows. 'My child,' he replied, 'I beg your pardon.' In February, 1799, she married his nephew, Lawrence Lewis, the son of his sister Elizabeth. Young Lewis, after Washington's retirement from public life, had resided at Mount Vernon, and after their marriage they continued there till the death of Mrs. Washington in May, 1802. Her portrait is from the picture by Gilbert Stuart.--Her grandson, Edward Parke Custis, diplomatist, born in Audley, Clarke County, Virginia, 7 February, 1837, was educated at the University of Virginia, and studied law, but subsequently engaged in planting, He served throughout the civil war in the Confederate army, rising to the rank of colonel, and for fifteen months was a prisoner of war. He settled in Hoboken, New Jersey, in 1875, served in the legislature in 1877, was a delegate to the Democratic national convention in 1880, and in 1885 was appointed by President Cleveland United States minister to Portugal.

Edited Appletons Encyclopedia, Copyright © 2001 VirtualologyTM

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