Depending on my route to work, and/or home, I wind up driving down Littlepage St. several times a week. I never really thought much about the name–assumed it was named after someone, and never got any further than that–until a few days ago when Darcie and I were at meeting with a guy who lives on Littlepage St., and on finding out I teach history, he shared some research he did a few years ago when he moved into his house and was curious about the name of the street.
Turns out, Lewis Littlepage was born in 1762 in Hanover County, and died in 1802 in Fredericksburg, where he is now buried in Grave No. 183 of the Masonic Cemetery on Charles St. In his 39 years he managed to buddy up to John Jay, General Lafayette, Stanislas August Poinatwoski (last King of Poland), and John Paul Jones, among others. Interesting story.
Virginia Johnson of the Central Rappahannock Regional Library has a concise write-up here. She drew on Nell Holladay Boand’s Lewis Littlepage and James H. Bailey’s “A Not-So-Innocent Virginian Abroad” (both available at CRRL), as well as Curtis Carroll Davis’s The King’s Chevalier (available at UMW’s Simpson Library).
Did he live up here on the hill? How did this particular street come to get named after him?
That’s not entirely clear to me, and would probably require some digging through town-planning records more than anything else. From what I gathered in reading that brief account, he hadn’t actually come to Spotsylvania/Fredericksburg until he returned from those years in Europe, and then he only lived here about 9 months before he died, so it doesn’t seem like he would have had that much of an impact on the local community.
He did apparently die with some money, and Masonic connections, so maybe that helped.
My husband has a familial tie to Lewis Littlepage. In fact, we have discussed going to England so we can visit the College of Arms, in order to look into it further.