The story starts with William Fitzhugh’s purchase of the Ravensworth landgrant in 1685. Explore…

  • how the land was acquired, partitioned and used
  • the people who owned and disposed of its parts; others who worked, visited and helped shape it
  • Ravensworth’s enduring landmarks
  • events that occurred there
  • Ravensworth today

It’s a story of colonial settlement, early government, tobacco plantations, slavery, civil war, economic expansion, the rise and decline of family farms, and suburban development – next door to the nation’s capital – involving people, places and events both famous and obscure.

Map showing Ravensworth location

Outline of Ravensworth within Fairfax County

Ravensworth was the largest colonial landgrant in Fairfax County – 24,112 acres (37.7 square miles), about one-half the area of nearby Washington, DC.

The land was repeatedly carved into smaller and smaller parcels through inheritance, sale and subdivision. The once uncharted expanse of forest became first a plantation, then a succession of smaller plantations, then farms – both large and small – served by crossroads villages, and finally today’s thousands of homes and businesses as well as commercial and government centers.

From a population of zero in 1685, not counting Native Americans who may have had encampments there, the 2000 Census recorded about 138,355 people living within Ravensworth’s original borders.1

Today’s view (in Google Maps)

This outline of the boundaries of William Fitzhugh’s 1685 landgrant, Ravensworth Plantation, shows the area included within and what is on the ground today.View Ravensworth Landgrant in a larger map

  1. The Ravensworth landgrant boundary is based on the companion map to Beth Mitchell’s Beginning at a White Oak: Patents and Northern Neck Grants of Fairfax County, Virginia. The George Mason University Department of Geography GIS Center extracted the geographic information in developing maps for Fairfax County’s A Look Back at Braddock history project and published in Braddock’s True Gold: 20th Century Life in the Heart of Fairfax County.