A Biography of George Mason 1725-1792


George Mason was born in 1725 on a plantation on the Potomac in Fairfax County, Virginia. He was the fourth in a line of George Masons who had established considerable landholdings in the Virginia colony. When George was 10, his father drowned in a Potomac sailing accident, and his barrister uncle, John Mercer, took over as Mason's tutor. Mercer had one of the most extensive libraries in the Colonies, and Mason immersed himself in its collected wisdom. He had virtually no formal schooling and essentially educated himself from his uncle's library.

Upon attaining his majority, Mason took over the administration of his self-sufficient plantation. He actively supervised every detail, as well as the design of Gunston Hall, the home he built. Mason even spelled out how the mortar was to be mixed to best keep out "those pernicious little vermin, the cockroaches."

Mason married Ann Eilbeck in 1750, and their union produced nine children. The squire of Gunston Hall took his place in plantation society and was well liked by all, despite a tendency toward hypochondria and a sometimes irascible personality.