The History of Santillane

Santillane is on the National Register of Historic Places. A marker on US 220 calls it “one of Botetourt County’s most distinguished properties”. The Greek Revival house sits on a track of land originally owned by Colonel George Hancock, a member of the United States Congress from 1793-1797.


In 1808 Hancock’s daughter, Judith, married General William Clark.   One story has it that they were married at Santillane.   Clark served from 1803 to 1806 as a leader of Thomas Jefferson’s famous Lewis and Clark Expedition, which was instrumental in opening the West for American settlement.


Hancock’s first appearance in Botetourt was in 1781 when he married Margaret Strother of Fincastle.   He appeared again in 1782 when he obtained a license to practice law in the county.   In 1785, Hancock was appointed a colonel in the county militia; he also served as Botetourt County’s Commonwealth attorney.   He was the first citizen of Botetourt County to serve in the Congress of the United States.   He later moved from Fincastle to Fotheringay in Montgomery County, where he died in 1820.   Colonel Hancock built the original Santillane in 1795.


Hancock’s daughter Julia, known also as Judith, was born to Hancock and his wife Margaret on November 21, 1791, in Fincastle.   She wed William Clark, the famous explorer, in January 1808.   Clark reportedly named the Judith River in Montana after the young girl he left in Fincastle while he sought a route to the Pacific.