Lawrence Washington, the great great grandfather of George Washington, was a Fellow of Brasenose College. He took his degree here in 1623, became a Fellow a week later and resigned his Fellowship in 1633, becoming incumbent of Purley in Essex. He left in debt to the College, owing 17s 10½d personally and £9 5s 9d on behalf of a pupil; at that period Fellows were responsible for their pupils' finances. A later Bursar hoped to reclaim the debt and noted optimistically ‘Mr Washington to be sued', but no action was taken.
In 1924 a party of Canadian and American lawyers were shown the account of these debts during a visit to the College, and they suggested that they should pay the personal debt of 17s 10d, subject to no interest being charged. A pound note was produced amidst much laughter. Unfortunately this light hearted gesture was not appreciated by some of George Washington's more seriously minded supporters. A letter to the Daily Express and an article in the New York Herald both denied that any debt had ever existed.