ludham archive

    Lady Elizabeth and George Washington

In October 2017, St Catherine's Church in Ludham received a message from America. The message came from the National Society of Washington Family Descendants and it said that St Catherine's is an "Ancestral Church of US President George Washington" and they would like to present a plaque to be displayed in the Church.

What this actually means is that an ancestor of the First US President had a direct connection with St Catherine's. However, this was all a long time ago and so the Churchwardens asked the Ludham Archive Group to investigate the family tree to see just who these ancestors were. This is how we came to know Lady Elizabeth of Ludham.

Now, the 15th Century is a long time ago and records are scarce but we can be sure that 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 Spalding) in Yorkshire.  We think Sir Thomas is buried in the churchyard at St Catherine's although his grave has no marker. He may be buried at Framlingham Castle where his son was born.

Nicholas Sotherton married Lady Agnes Woodstoke of Maddermarket in Norwich. There is a memorial to him at St John's Maddermarket. He owned the Stranger's Hall in Norwich and was at various times Mayor and Sheriff. Their son, Thomas Bate Sotherton became Mayor or Norwich and in 1558, Member of Parliament. Three Sothertons were Mayors of Norwich and Thomas Bate Sotherton married the daughter of Augustine Stewart who was also a Mayor. The name Augustine carries on down the family tree to George Washington's father,

Interestingly, Lady Elizabeth had another famous descendant. She is the thirteen times great grandmother of H.M. Queen Elizabeth II. If this was not enough, she was also related by marriage to Sir Winston Churchill and Diana Princess of Wales.

Here is her family tree:

Page 1

Page 2

This is what the plaque looks like.


In November 2017, Richard Weaver from the National Society of the Washington Family Descendants visited Ludham and presented the plaque to The Rector, Deborah Hamilton-Grey, in St Catherine's Church.

Deborah and Richard with the plaque.

Signing Visitor's
Richard Signs the visitor's book.

Hoveton plaque
St John's Church in Hoveton also received a plaque. Here we see Liz Jump with their plaque.

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