Westmoreland County was named for the English county. It was formed from Northumberland County in 1653. As originally established, the territory of Westmoreland County included much of what later become the counties and cities of Northern Virginia, including the city of Alexandria, Arlington County, Fairfax County, and Prince William County.. These remained Westmoreland until 1664.
Westmoreland County was the birthplace of George Washington, the first President of the United States, James Monroe,, the fifth President of the United States; and General Robert E. Lee, commander of the Confederate armies. It was the residence of Col. Nicholas Spencer, who patented the land at Mt. Vernon in 1674 with his friend Lt. Col. John Washington, ancestor of George Washington. Spencer, who served as President of the Council and acting Govonor of Virginia, was the cousin of and agent for the Barons Colepeper, proprietors of the Northern Neck. Spencer lived at his plantation Nomini, which his descendants later sold to Robert Carter, Sr. . Carter's grandson, Robert Carter III voluntarily freed almost 500 slaves from Nomini Hall beginning in 1791 and settled many on his lands, which he gave them. His manumission is the largest known release of slaves in North American history prior to the Civil War and the largest number ever manumitted by an individual in the United States.
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