I have done extensive research on the beginnings of Washington, DC as my Burnes family owned much of the old downtown are of present-day Washington, DC.While conducting this research, I came across Francis Pope, one of the original owners of the land that became Washington, DC.Not only are we connected in that way, but Francis's wife, Margaret Porter, is probably the sister of another ancestor, Johanna Porter, the second wife of John Neville, who came to America on The Ark and The Dove.Below is from, "Original Patentees of Land at Washington," by Bessie Wilmarth Gahn:
"No. 7.Francis Pope, owner of "Rome" on the Tyber,
June 5, 1663.
In the early records of Annapolis, one finds:
ffrancis Pope, transported since 1635; wife 1649 (1).
And in the Proceedings of the early Assemblies:
ffrancis Pope---member of the Assembly in September, 1642 (2), and 1667 and 1670, he was Justice of the Peace for Charles County, Maryland. (3)
In an old volume of precious records at Annapolis, Liber 6, folio 318:"June 5th, 1663, Lyd out for Francis Pope of this Province, Gent., a parcel of land in Charles County called Rome, lying on the East side of the Anacostian River (4) [meaning here, the main channel of the Potomac], beginning at amarked oak standing by the River side, the bounded tree of Captain Robert Troop and running north by the river for breadth the length 200 perches to a bounded oak standing at the mought of a bay or inlet called Tiber, bounding on the north by the said Lett and a line drawn east for the length of 320 perches to a bounded oak standing in the woods on the East with a line drawn south from the end of the former line until you meet with the exterior bounded tree of Robert Troop called Scotland Yard on the south with the said land, on the west with the said river (Tyber), containing and now laid out for 400 acres more or less."
Capt. Robert Troop's "Scotland Yard," itself north of the tract "New Troy" which extended far north of the Capitol (5) and Congressional Library of today, was therefor the sourthern boundary of Mr. Pope's Rome.
Yet, about 150 years later, in 1804, Tom Moore, the poet, 25 years of age, spent "near a week" with Mr. and Mrs. Merry[also with my grgrgr Aunt Marcia Burnes Van Ness--BP], the family of the early English minister, in Washington.Later, in a note to his Epistle to Thomas Hume, Moore gave his ideas of the infant city, and then wrote the following rhyme on the Capitol City of that date.
"In fancy, now, beneath the twilight gloom,
Come, let me lead thee o'er the second Rome
Where tribunes rule, where dusky Davi* bow,
And what was Goose creek once is Tiber now;
This embryo Capital, where fancy sees
Squares in morasses, oblelisks in trees
Which second-sighted seers, even now adorn
With shrines unbuilt and heroes yet unborn."(6)
*Davi is David Burnes, my grgrgrgr Uncle, the father of Marcia Burnes Van Ness--BP
Moore writes of the Capital, not the Capitol!Perhaps he had never heard of Francis Pope, for certainly he would have mentioned "the Pope at Rome," or something to that effect in his verses.Yet, the popular interpretation has rooled on through the years, and many followers of the romantic now actually are convinced that Pope's "Rome" was on the site where our Nation's Capital Building now stands.
In the Manuscript Division of the Library of Congress, a set of original papers of the Bozeman family give interesting information regarding John Pope of "Rome," his wife Margaret, his brother Robert, and his daughter Frances.The will of John Pope, dated 1702, is given, as follows:
"I give and bequeath unto my loving brother Rob-
ert Pope, if living at my decease, the sum of 10 pounds
sterling, to be paid by my executors within conven-
ient time after my decease; but if my said brother
should not then be living, my will is that my said
executors pay the said sum of 10 Pounds sterling to
the next heir of the said Robert Pope, and to him or
her to hold and enjoy forever.
"Item.All the rest of my estate, both real and
personal, I give and bequeath to my dear and loving
wife, Margaret Pope, and to her heirs and assigns
forever.But if it should so happen that my said wife
marry or depart this life without any disposition of
the said estate, then my will is that after my said
wife's decease, the same shall go and descend to my
daughter Frances Ungle, and to the heir of her body
begotten or to be begotten forever, and for want of
said issue, then I give and bequeath the same estate
to my aforesaid brother Robert Pope, near Bristol in
the Kingdom of England, and to his heirs and as-
There is a following notation made by C. N. Goldsborough in 1763 regarding the application of this will.It is noted that Margaret Pope never married again, but sold part of the real estate and mortgaged the rest.Goldsborough adds:"What estate had Mrs. Pope in the land called Rome under the will of her husband John Pope?" and "What estate had Mrs. Ungle in the land?She was Frances, the daughter of John Pope, mentioned in his will.Mrs. Pope had undoubtedly an estate in fee simeple in the land called Rome under the will of her husband, etc."
Then follows the notation:"She (Mrs. Pope) sold her Lotts in Oxford to Mrs. Ungle and the land called Rome she mortgaged, for 100 pounds Sterl. to be paid at the end of six years, without any express stipulation for interest; on the day of the signing of the mortgage an agreement signed by Mr. Grundy, the Mortgager, was made, expressing that Mrs. Grundy was to have the use of the land six years and at the expiration of that time to restore it to Mrs. Pope.Whether the use of the land was for the interes of the money only, or for the Principal and interest, does not appear by any writing that has come to my hands.The original mortgage was found among Mrs. Ungle's papers, which shows that it had been given up by Mr. Grundy or my Mr. Lloyd his executor.Mrs. Pope never could have paid 100 pounds sterling.She borrowed it to enable her to go toEngland, in hopes of recovering her Eye sigt, and was so needy after she returned that Mrs. Ungle chiefly supported her; I see by a letter from Mrs. Ungle to my father in 1722 that Mrs. Ungle had then thought of selling the land, so that it may reasonably be supposed that the mortgage to Mr. Grundy was discharged.
"Query:Is this act of Mrs. Pope's such a disposition as will defeat that part of John Pope;s will which limits it to his brother Robert Pope and his heirs?"
Further investigation might prove that John Pope (7), in Oxford Town, Talbot County, Maryland, was related to the original patentee of Rome, Francis Pope, who arrived in Maryland "since 1635," and that John Pope had named his only child, his daughter Frances, for her grandfahter (?) Francis Pope.If it be true that Francis Pope of Rome died and left his porperty to John Pope of Oxford, and that the "Rome" mentioned in the grant of 1663 to Francis Pope and in the will of 1702 of John Pope are the same place, then can we understand why the name "Rome" faded away from the area of the National Capital in so complete a manner, leaving only the romantic verses written later by Mr. Moore.
(1) Annap. ABH 23, 24, 25.
(2) Md. Archives, vol. I, pg. 176.
(3) Assembly Proceedings, vol. 15, 1667.
(4) "Anacostine River" refers to the main channel of the
(5) Annap. Lib. 6, fol. 174.
(6) Townsend, Geo. Alfted, "Washington Outside and Inside,"
1873, p. 551.
(7) Md Arch. vol. 8, p. 560, 562.---"In Oxford Town at the
house of Mr. John Pope, 1693."
Hope this helps all of the descendants of Francis Pope and his wife, Margaret Porter, of which I would love to have more information.