What Is Known About Thomas Jefferson's Family?

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.