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Martha Wayles Skelton Jefferson

Martha was born on October 30, 1748 in Charles City County, Virginia.

Her father John Wayles was a lawyer, debt collector, slave trader, and planter.

When she was 18 she married Bathurst Skelton. He died four years later when she was 22.

On New Years day of 1772 she married Thomas Jefferson. They were married in her father's house.

Thomas referred to his with as "Patsy."

Matha Jefferson was five and a half years younger than Jefferson.

They shared a love of literature and music.

They lived in Monticello. At one point Thomas took down the origianl Monticello and rebuilt it somewhat bigger.

She gave birth to six children. Only two of the children, Martha and Mary survived. Child birth was dangerous at that time. If could prove fatal to the mother or child. Patty, as she was called was pregnant for ninetine of the first twenty-seven months of their marraige.

In early summer of 1782, Martha Jefferson was very illl and confined to her bed. Jefferson stayed by her side for weeks.

She died on September 6, 1782, before Thomas became president.

Martha had asked Jefferson to not remarry when she died. The reason for this request was that Martha's mother died early and Martha was raised by two different step mothers. She didn't want her children raised by a step mother. Jefferson never remarried.

Dolley Madison, the wife of Jefferson's Secretary of State, often was the hostess of White House dinners.



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Sources of Information:

Barden, Cindy,Meet the First Ladies, Lorenz Corp.
Gormley, Beatrice,First Ladies: Women Who Called The White House Home (First Ladies) , Scholastic Paperbacks, 1997
Smith, Carter, Editor,Smithsonian Presidents and First Ladies DK Publishing, New York, 2002

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This page was last updated: August 18, 2017