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John Washington, great-grandfather to Lawrence and George, bought the land in 1674 with his friend Nicholas Spencer. The acreage was then referred to by its native name of Epsewasson. In 1690, the heirs of Washington and Spencer split the land, leaving the Washingtons with the portion that ran along Little Hunting Creek.
Lawrence Washington's father Augustine renamed it Little Hunting Creek. In 1738, Lawrence returned from school in England and began to oversee the family's tobacco plantation. When he inherited the estate, he renamed it Mount Vernon, in honor of Vice Admiral Edward Vernon, who was his commanding officer in the Royal Navy. When his half-brother George Washington inherited the property, he kept the name.