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Ludham's links with president George Washington are revealed

PUBLISHED: 14:06 26 October 2017 | UPDATED: 14:27 26 October 2017

Oil canvas painting of George Washington. Photo: Gilbert Stuart (1755-1828)

Oil canvas painting of George Washington. Photo: Gilbert Stuart (1755-1828)

Gilbert Stuart (1755-1828)

Think of George Washington and people will say he was the first president of America who helped to end British rule to enable the start of a new nation.

Exterior view of St Catherines Church, Ludham


Picture: James Bass
For: Filer
Eastern Daily Press © 2009  (01603) 772434Exterior view of St Catherines Church, Ludham Picture: James Bass For: Filer Eastern Daily Press © 2009 (01603) 772434

But now a new fact has emerged to directly link the historical figure to the picturesque Broads village of Ludham and one of its illustrious residents.

A researcher has unearthed evidence that one of Washington’s ancestors was Lady Elizabeth of Ludham, who was his great grandmother seven times.

The information was discovered by Christina Pope of the local archive group after she was asked by church warden Alex Cordiner.

He had been contacted by Richard Weaver from the National Society of Washington Family Descendants and who was researching his family history.

Washington Plaque. Photo: Courtesy of Christine WallWashington Plaque. Photo: Courtesy of Christine Wall

His ancestor, Thomas Sotherton, was baptized in St Catherine’s Church in Ludham in 1530 and was also linked to Washington.

The research carried out showed Lady Elizabeth Luddham was born in 1478 in Ludham.

She married Sir Thomas Herman de Sotherton in 1499 at St Catherine’s and through their son Nicholas, she became the seven times great grandmother of George Washington.

The Sotherton (also spelled Sothern and Southerton) family came originally from Holme on Spaulding Moor (sometimes called Spalding) in Yorkshire.

They were also landowners in Ludham and owners of Framlingham Castle. Sir Thomas is buried in the churchyard at St Catherine’s although his grave has no marker.

Nicholas Sotherton married Lady Agnes Woodstoke of Maddermarket in Norwich and he owned the Stranger’s Hall in Norwich and was at various times mayor and sheriff.

Interestingly, Lady Elizabeth had another famous descendant. She was the thirteen times great grandmother of Queen Elizabeth II.

To celebrate the links between Ludham and the first president of America, Mr Weaver plans to fly from his home in Washington DC in America to Ludham on November 1.

He will give St Catherine’s Church a plaque which will say “Ancestral Church of US President George Washington”.

The National Society of Washington Family Descendants is hoping to create a guide for what it calls “Washington ancestral churches” for family members and others to follow.

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