Studying Thomas Jefferson's family gives some context to his life and allows us to see a different side to him that did not necessarily appear in the political atmosphere.
Thomas Jefferson's Family
Family That He Was Born Into
- Thomas Jefferson was born in Shadwell, Virginia on April 13, 1743.
- He was born into a family that was closely related to some of the most prominent and wealthy people living in Virginia at that time.
- His mother was Jane Randolph.
- Her father was a ship captain named Isham Randolph of Dungeness.
- Jane was also a cousin of Peyton Randolph.
- Furthermore, she was the granddaughter of members of the English and Scottish gentry.
- His father was Peter Jefferson. Information concerning his background is unknown.
- Peter became executor of the estate of his friend Colonel William Randolph when he died in 1745.
- Peter got charge of his Tuckahoe Estate and Randolph's baby son, Thomas Mann Randolph, Jr.
- Thomas Jefferson's family included nine siblings plus his adopted sibling Thomas.
- Two of his siblings died when they were children.
- When he was two years old, Thomas Mann came into his life.
- When this event occurred, the family moved to Tuckahoe.
- They lived there until Thomas was nine years old, and then they returned to their hometown of Albemarle.
- At this time Peter Jefferson was appointed to the Colonelcy of the County.
- Thomas' father passed away when he was 14 years old and he inherited the Jefferson family's land land as well as his father's slaves.
Family That He Created
- Thomas Jefferson fell in love with Martha Wayles Skelton when she was around 23 years old.
- She was the daughter of a prominent Virginia lawyer named John Wayles.
- She was also the widow of one of Jefferson's classmates from William and Mary.
- They got to know each other and dated for much of 1770 and 1771.
- They were married on New Year's Day in 1772.
- Martha had some significant problems with childbirth.
- First of all, she gave birth six times in 10 years.
- All of the babies were very weak when they were first born. Only two of them lived.
- One of the surviving children was named Martha, who also went by the name of Patsy; she was born in 1772, almost exactly nine months after the wedding of Thomas and Martha.
- The other surviving child was named Polly.
- She was born in 1778.
- As the years progressed, Martha continued to grow weaker and weaker due to the pregnancies.
- Jefferson spent a lot of time with her, and often turned down opportunities in the public life since he was so devoted to his wife.
- She passed away on September 6, 1782, forty years before her husband would pass on.
- On her deathbed, she made him promise to never marry again.
- He held to his promise and never remarried.