Monday, September 26, 2011

Thomas Jefferson's Wife Martha Wayles Skelton Jefferson 1748-1782 & Her Half-Sister Sally Hemings 1773-1835

It gets a little complicated...

Martha Wayles Skelton Jefferson (1748-1782), was Thomas Jefferson's (1743-1826) wife. She was born in Virginia at The Forest, the Charles City County plantation of her father John Wayles (1715-1773) & his 1st wife, Martha Eppes (1721-1748), who died just a week after giving her birth. John Wayles was an attorney, slave trader, business agent for the Bristol-based tobacco exporting firm of Tarell & Jones, & wealthy plantation owner. In 1734, her father John Wayles, born in Lancaster, England, had sailed for the colonies alone at the age of 19, leaving his family in England. Her mother Martha Eppes was a daughter of Francis Eppes of Bermuda Hundred. She had already been widowed once, when John Wayles married her. As part of her dowry when she married John Wayles, Martha Jefferson’s mother Martha Eppes brought with her a personal slave, Susanna, an African woman who had an 11-year-old mixed-race daughter, Elizabeth Betty Hemings. John Wayles & Martha Eppes' marriage contract provided that Susanna & Betty were to remain the property of Martha Eppes & her heirs forever. The slave Betty Hemings & her children would eventually be inherited by Martha's daughter, Martha Wayles, by then married to Thomas Jefferson.

Martha Jefferson’s father John Wayles married a 2nd time, to Mary Cocke, who had 4 children. After Mary Cocke died, John Wayles married a 3rd time to Elizabeth Lomax Skelton, who died within 11 months & had no children from their union. 

After his 3rd wife died in 1761, he took the mulatto slave Elizabeth Betty Hemings (1735-1807) as his concubine & had 6 children with her. Born into slavery, these children were 3/4 European in ancestry, & they were half-siblings to Martha Wayles Jefferson. And those surviving eventually came to live at Monticello as slaves.
Martha Wayles Skelton Jefferson had siblings:
From her father & stepmother Mary or Tabitha Cocke Wayles d 1759 - ,
Sarah Wayles (d. infancy), 
Elizabeth Wayles-Mrs Richard Eppes (1752-1810),
Tabitha Wayles-Mrs Robert Skipworth (1754-1851),
Anne Wayles-Mrs Henry Skipworth (1756-1852). 

From her father & his slave Elizabeth Betty Hemings - 
Nance or Nancy Hemings sold from T Jefferson's estate 1827 to Thomas Jefferson Randloph (slave, 1/2-brother 1761-a 1827),
Robert Hemings freed by T Jefferson in 1794 (slave, 1/2-brother 1760-1819 in Richmond, VA),
James Hemings freed by T Jefferson 1776 (slave, 1/2-brother 1765-1801 in Philadelphia, PA),
Thenia Hemings sold to James Monroe 1794 (slave, 1/2-sister 1767-a 1794),
Critta Hemings - Mrs Zachariah Bowles (slave, 1/2-sister 1769-a 1827 perhaps 1850),
Peter Hemings freed in T Jefferson's will (slave, 1/2-brother 1770-1834 in Albemarle, VA),
Sally Hemings (slave, 1/2-sister 1773-1835).
Betty Hemings also had several children born before those from her union with John Wayles. At Wayles death, the Jeffersons inherited her father’s slaves which had come into John Wayles' household with his marriage with her mother Martha Epps, including the Hemings family. The Hemings family members who came to Monticello had privileged positions, They were trained & worked as domestic servants, gardeners, chefs, & highly skilled artisans.

Just like her mother, Martha Wayley Jefferson had been widowed once, when Thomas Jefferson married her. She was married 1st to Bathurst Skelton on 20 November 1766. Their son, John, was born the following year, on 7 November 1767. Bathurst died on 30 September 1768. Although Thomas Jefferson may have begun courting the young widow in December 1770, while she was living again at The Forest with her young son, they did not marry until 1 January 1772, six months after the death of her young son John Skelton on 10 June 1771. Following their January 1, 1772 wedding, the Jeffersons honeymooned for about 2 weeks at her father's plantation The Forest, before setting out in a two-horse carriage for Monticello. They made the 100-mile trip in a horrible snowstorm. Just 8 miles from their destination, their carriage bogged down in 2–3 feet of snow. The newlyweds had to continue their journey on horseback. The 2 horses which had been pulling the carriage, now carried them. Arriving at Monticello late at night to find no fire, no food, & the slaves asleep, they toasted their new home with a leftover half-bottle of wine & "song & merriment & laughter." The couple settled into a freezing one-room, 20-foot-square brick building, they nicknamed "Honeymoon Cottage." Later known as the South Pavilion, it was to be their home, until Jefferson had completed the main house at Monticello.  

In his Memoirs of a Monticello Slave, Isaac described Mrs. Jefferson as small & said the younger daughter, Mary, was pretty "like her mother." Unfortunately, no contemporary portrait of Mary Jefferson Epps exists either. Slave Isaac Jefferson wrote that Martha Wayles Skelton Jefferson was small & pretty. As to her disposition, the Marquis de Chastellux described her as, "A gentle & amiable wife. . ." & her sister's husband, Robert Skipwith, assured Jefferson that she possessed, ". . .the greatest fund of good nature. . .that sprightliness & sensibility which promises to ensure you the greatest happiness mortals are capable of enjoying." As a young girl Martha probably was educated at home by tutors. As a young woman, she was considered accomplished in music, painting & other refined arts. Hessian officer Jacob Rubsamen who visited Jefferson at Monticello in 1780, noted, "You will find in his house an elegant harpsichord piano forte & some violins. The latter he performs well upon himself, the former his lady touches very skillfully & who, is in all respects a very agreeable sensible & accomplished lady." During their courtship Jefferson had ordered a German clavichord for Martha, then changed his order to a pianoforte, "worthy the acceptance of a lady for whom I intend it." During her lifetime Martha Jefferson bore 7 children. Her son John, born during her first marriage, died at the age of 3, in the summer before she married Jefferson. Of the 6 children born during her 10 year marriage with Jefferson, only 2 daughters, Martha & Mary, would live to adulthood. Two daughters (Jane Randolph & Lucy Elizabeth) & an unnamed son died as infants. Her last child, also named Lucy Elizabeth, would die at the age of 2 of whooping cough. Martha herself lived only 4 months after the birth of this last child.
Martha "Patsy" Washington Jefferson Randolph (1772–1836)
Jane Randolph Jefferson (1774–1775)
Unnamed Son Jefferson (b./d. 1777)
Mary "Polly" Jefferson Eppes (1778–1804)
Lucy Elizabeth Jefferson (1780–1781)
Lucy Elizabeth Jefferson (1782–1785)

Before her death in September of 1782, Martha Wayles Skelton Jefferson copied the following lines from Laurence Sterne's Tristam Shandy: "Time wastes too fast: every letter I trace tells me with what rapidity life follows my pen. The days & hours of it are flying over our heads like clouds of windy day never to return--more. Every thing presses on..." The exact cause of Martha's death is not known; however, a letter from Jefferson to the Marquis de Chastellux would indicate that she never recovered from the birth of her last child. Lucy Elizabeth was born May 8, & Martha died the following September. Jefferson noted in his account book for September 6, 1782, "My dear wife died this day at 11:45 A.M." In his letter to the Marquis de Chastellux, Jefferson refered to "...the state of dreadful suspense in which I had been kept all the summer & the catastrophe which closed it." He goes on to say, "A single event wiped away all my plans & left me a blank which I had not the spirits to fill up." Edmund Randolph reported to James Madison in September 1782, that "Mrs Jefferson has at last shaken off her tormenting pains by yielding to them, & has left our friend inconsolable. I ever thought him to rank domestic happiness in the first class of the chief good; but I scarcely supposed, that his grief would be so violent, as to justify the circulating report, of his swooning away, whenever he sees his children." Jefferson buried his wife in the graveyard at Monticello, & as a part of her epitaph added lines in Greek from Homer's The Iliad. "Εί δέ φανόντων περ καταλήφοντ ειν Αίδαο, Αύτάρ έγω κάκείθι φίλσ μεμνήσομ' έταίρσ." A modern translation reads: Even if I am in Hell, where the dead forget their dead, yet will I even there be mindful of my dear companion.  Below the Greek inscription, the tombstone reads: "To the memory of Martha Jefferson, Daughter of John Wayles; Born October 19th, 1748, O.S. Intermarried with Thomas Jefferson January 1st, 1772; Torn from him by death September 6th, 1782: This monument of his love is inscribed."

His wife's death left Jefferson distraught. After the funeral, he withdrew to his room for 3 weeks. Afterward he spent hours riding horseback through the woods on the hill surrounding Monticello. His daughter Martha wrote, "In those melancholy rambles I was his constant companion, a solitary witness to many a violent burst of grief." Half a century later his daughter Martha remembered his sorrow: "the violence of his this day I not describe to myself." Not until mid-October, did Jefferson begin to resume a normal life, when he wrote, "emerging from that stupor of mind which had rendered me as dead to the world as was she whose loss occasioned it." In November of 1783, he agreed to serve as commissioner to France, eventually taking his older daughter Martha "Patsy" with him in 1784, & sending for Mary "Polly" later. Accompanying them in France was the family slave Sally Hemings.

Sally Hemings was lady’s maid to Jefferson’s daughters, & also worked as a chambermaid & seamstress. She spent 2 years in Paris, after accompanying 9-year-old Mary "Polly" Jefferson across the ocean. According to her son Madison, Sally Hemings began a relationship with Jefferson in Paris, & bore him a number of children. Although she was not freed by the terms of Jefferson's will, she was not among the slaves sold at the 1827 estate auction at Monticello. Jefferson's daughter Martha "Patsy" Jefferson Randolph presumably gave Sally "her time," that is, freed her unofficially, so that she would not be subject to the 1806 Virginia law requiring freed slaves to leave the state within 1 year. Madison Hemings recalled that after Jefferson's death in 1826, he & his brother Eston took their mother to live with them in a rented house down in Charlottesville. Sally Heming would have been about 54 at that time, & she would live nearly a decade more.

The claim that Thomas Jefferson fathered children with his slave Sally Hemings burst into the public arena during Jefferson's 1st term as president, & it is still the subject of discussion & debate. In September 1802, political journalist James T. Callender, a failed office-seeker & former ally of Jefferson, wrote in a Richmond newspaper that Jefferson had for many years "kept, as his concubine, one of his own slaves." "Her name is Sally," Callender claimed that Jefferson had "several children" by her.  Public knowledge of even the rumors that Jefferson had parented several slave children became a scandal during his Administration.

In 1873, the Pike County (Ohio) Republican, ran a series entitled, "Life Among the Lowly," Which included a memoir by Madison Hemings, a resident of Ross County, Ohio. Hemings stated that his mother Sally, who was the half-sister of Jefferson's wife, Martha Wayles Skelton Jefferson & a slave of Thomas Jefferson, gave birth to 5 children "& Jefferson was the father of them all."  Madison Hemings said in 1873, that his mother had been pregnant with Jefferson's child (who, he said, lived "but a short time"), when she returned from France in 1789. 

Sally Hemings' children listed in Monticello records are -
Harriet (1795-1797),  
Beverly (born 1798), 
an unnamed daughter (born 1799; died in infancy), 
Harriet (born 1801), 
Madison (1805-1877), 
Eston (1808-1856). 

All 4 of Sally Hemings’s surviving known children became free close to their 21st birthdays. The oldest surviving son Beverly Hemings & his sister Harriet Hemings were allowed to leave Monticello without pursuit & apparently passed into white society. Their descendants have not been located. Their brothers Madison Hemings & Eston Hemings remained at Monticello until after Jefferson's 1826 death; both were freed in his will. As one DNA study indicates, the widower Jefferson & Martha Wayley Jefferson's half sister Sally Hemings parented at least one, possibly several illegitimate children, after the death of Martha Jefferson.  The Thomas Jefferson Foundation states on the Monticello webiste, "TJF & most historians now believe that, years after his wife’s death, Thomas Jefferson was the father of the six children of Sally Hemings mentioned in Jefferson's records, including Beverly, Harriet, Madison, & Eston Hemings."

This article is based on information from the Thomas Jefferson Encyclopedia produced by the Thomas Jefferson Foundation, based on Gaye Wilson, Monticello Research Report, October 10, 1998. 

Also see John Kukla, Mr. Jefferson's Women, (New York: Knopf Books, 2007)

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Biography - 1708 Husband Rules Children & Wife - Virginia - Ann Walker


Ann Walker's Fight To Attend Church

In 1708, Ann Keith Walker (1637- a 1708) appeared before the all male Royal Governor and Council in Williamsburg, Virginia, in a continuing dispute between her and George Walker (c1640-1732), her husband, over their religious beliefs and practices.

Ann, a member of the Church of England who tried to attend services regularly, faced opposition from her husband. He tried to prevent her from attending the church of her choice, and he was also adamant in his determination to direct the religious education of their children.

Ann Keith & George Walker, both born in Virginia, had married in 1691. George was a boat pilot on the James River, a gunner, and a shopkeeper at Fort Point Comfort. Ann had produced twins Elizabeth & Margaret in 1692; Jacob in 1694; Helen in 1696; George in 1698; Sarah in 1700; and Frances in 1702.

Unable to resove their differences, husband and wife both complained to the governor and Council. She asked for full liberty to attend church, to pursue her religious beliefs, and to raise her children as members of the Church of England. He asked for confirmation of his authority as a father to direct the religious education of their children.

The governor and Council granted both requests in part. Ann Walker was allowed freedom to attend church as she wished; and George Walker, "as Long as he proffesses to Be a Christian and Continues in the Exercise of it," was allowed to direct the religious education of their children, retaining "that authority over his Children that properly Belongs to Every Christian man."

The Church of England was the established church in colonial Virginia; but by 1708, many Virginians were Presbyterians or Quakers, as some earlier Virginians had been Puritans and later many Virginians became Baptists or Methodists.

The case of Ann Walker demonstrates the importance of religious beliefs among early Virginians; how differences of religious opinion could divide members of a family; how such important differences affected the religious education of children; how family members might call on the government to settle such controversies; and how men ruled in 18th-century Virginia.

In this instance, the authority of the husband prevailed over the wishes of the mother, even though the mother was a confirmed & committed member of the Church of England, the official church of the British American colonies, and the father was not.

Newspaper - 1736 Runaway Woman - Maryland Indentured Servant


RAN away, on the 30th of September last, from the City of Annapolis, ...a Servant Woman, named Sarah Miers, a Dutch Woman, and talks broken English, pretty Tall, Round Shoulder'd. Likely in the Face, and had a Flat Nose: They took with them some Wearing Apparel, viz. a dark Grey Coat trimm'd with Black, a Woman's Blue Cloak, fac'd with White Silk; a Seesucker Gown, one White Linen Ditto; one strip'd Calimanco Ditto, a brown Camblet Petticoat, a Woman's Bermuda hat, lin'd with Blue Silk, and several other Things, viz. Bedding, Linnen, and in particular a Red Rugg. They went in an old carvil Work Long-Boat, with one Mast, and a Square Sail.

Virginia Gazette (Parks), Williamsburg, From Friday, October 8, to Friday, October 15, 1736.

Friday, September 16, 2011

Newspaper - 1751 Runaway Love Triangle in Virginia


Stafford County, October 13th, 1751. RAN away from the Subscriber, this Day, a Servant Man, anmed William Frye...had on when he went away a bluish grey Kersey Coat, with yellow Buttons...The said Runaway went off with the Wife of the Subscriber, named Mary, a short, thick Woman of a dark Complexion, with black hair, black Eyes, aged about 30 Years, and has lost one of her front Teeth: She is a neat Woman in Sewing, Spinning, and knitting Stockngs, and can do almost any Manner of Taylors Work, but is oblig'd to use Spectacles when at Work. She took with her a striped Silk Stuff Gown...And, as the above-mentioned Mary has eloped from her said Husband, I hereby foreward all Persons from trusting her on my Account, for I will not pay any Debts she shall contract after the Publication hereof.

Virginia Gazette (Hunter), Williamsburg, October 31, 1751.

Newspaper - 1777 Army Deserter from the Revolution Runs Away with his Pregnant Wife

DESERTED from the 2d Virginia Regiment in New Jersey, the following ...Serjeant, 30 Years of Age...his Wife, who was heavy with Child, went off with him...the Serjeant...enlisted into Captain Alexander's Company, and may be taken in Frederick County, Virginia. ALEXANDER SPOTSWOOD, Col. 2d Virg. Reg.

Virginia Gazette(Dixon & Hunter), Williamsburg , September 5, 1777

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Newspaper - Runaway Slaves Who Could Read & Write


Virginia Journal and Alexandria Advertiser (Richards), Alexandria, September 29, 1785.
RAN AWAY...a MULATTO WOMAN, named MOLLY; of a middle size. She took with her two Virginia cloth jackets and petticoats, one brown and one green baize ditto, with sundry other things.---As she can read, and is handy at her needle, it is probable she will endeavour to pass for a free woman.

Virginia Gazette and General Advertiser (Davis), Richmond, August 24, 1791.
The following NEGROES...A MULATTO WOMAN went off with the above, who has since been been taken up at Norfolk, and as she can write, she probably has furnished the others with passes, changing thier name.

The Herald and Norfolk and Portsmouth Advertiser (Willett and O'Connor), Norfolk, November 9, 1795.
RUN AWAY...A likely mulatto woman named SILLAR, about the common stature, 25 years of age, and walks generally very brisk; she has been brought up a House Servant and can read a is expected as she carried off her bed, bedding, and a number of good clothes, that she as been coaxed away by some free Negro or other, who has conveyed her off by water and intends to pass her as a free woman

Norfolk Herald (Willett and O'Connor), Norfolk, September 14, 1797.
Run away Negroes...JACK, a Carpenter by trade, about 40 years of age, 5 feet 9 or 10 inches high, of a dark complexion. PHEBE, his wife, and his daughter BETSEY, about 16 years of age, a very likely wench; also Two of the said Phebe's Children, one of which is 5 or 6 years and the other 6 months old. It is suspected Jack's wife will forge passes as she is very artful and can write...A Negro Fellow named Joe, son to the above Jack, about 20 years of age, plays on the Violin.

Norfolk Herald (Willett and O'Connor), Norfolk, October 2, 1800.
Negro Girl named NANCY, about 19 years of age, about 4 feet 4 inches, good stout looking girl; her complexion paler than general; had on when she went away a black new fashioned paste-board bonnet, trimmed with black ribbon, a blue handkerchief on her neck, dark callico short gown, purple worsted petticoat, she had a sifter in which she had cakes to sell about town...She has changed her name to BETSEY. Speaks very good Dutch, can read and write, and may forge herself a passport.

Norfolk Herald (Willett and O'Connor),Norfolk, October 29, 1801.
Forty Dollars Reward. RAN-AWAY from the subscriber, living in Petersburg, Virginia, in the afternoon of Thursday, the 22d inst. a likely spare made Negro Woman, named LUCINDA, (but sometimes she is called Lucinda Walker, and at other times Lucinda Brown) about 24 years of age, she is of the common height, and rather black: she has a remarkable pleasant countenance, smooth insinuating manners, and speaks very correct and distinct--she had previously sent off the most of her clothes in a trunk, (supposed marked at the bottom W.D. or W.I.D.) of which she has a variety of good materials and well made. I am informed she had made up just before her elopemont, a habit and coat of dark blue cloth in the fashion; and it is likely she will travel in that dress--she can both read and write a little: I am pretty certain that she has been enticed off by some bad designing man, probably white, and that she has through them procured free papers, or a pass of some kind which she will make use of. She was born and brought up in the family indulgently...expressing a desire to go to Europe.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Newspaper - Runaway House Slaves


Maryland Journal and Baltimore Advertiser (Goddard), Baltimore, June 27, 1780.
NEGROES, who ran away...Lucy, Hannah, and Nan...They are most of them very artful, and expect to pass as free people...Lucy's business has been to wash and iron. Young Hannah and Nan are exceeding good flax spinners. They are all mostly cloathed in Virginia cloth...They have stole some guns, and many different sorts of clothes, and I expect they will change their names.

Virginia Gazette (Clarkson & Davis), Richmond, August 19, 1780.
RUN away...a young mulatto wench named Sukey. Her dress when she went away was white Virginia cloth, a linen bonnet made in the fashion; she has a large bushy head of hair, her upper fore teeth much decayed, and some of them out, which causes her to lisp, shows her teeth when laughing, and is very brazen and impertinent. She can wash, iron, and cook.

Virginia Gazette and General Advertiser (Davis), Richmond, January 26, 1791.
RAN-AWAY...a large fat likely negro woman, known by the name of SARAH, but looks young to her age, which is between 40 or 50, of a bold insinuating countenance, artful and cunning to the highest degree...She is an excellent house servant, as to spinning cotton of flax, sewing, knitting, cooking, washing, or any thing else a wench can do, and can work very well in the crop--She is fond of making and selling ginger bread, &c. ...Her clothing when she went away was a large scarlet frize cloak, a hat dress with white ribbon and buckle, one callico jackcoat, one suit of green durants, sundry suits of strip'd and white Virginia cloth, and wore two silver rings on her fingers.

Virginia Herald and Fredericksburg Advertiser (Green), Fredericksburg, November 14, 1793.
RAN Orange county, the last of September, NEGRO MOLLY, a lusty likely woman, about 41 or 42 years of age, rather dark complexion; she is a healthy, neat, industrious wench, a good cook, washer and ironer, and is well acquainted with house business

American Gazette and Norfolk and Portsmouth Public Advertiser
(Davis), Norfolk, September 15, 1795.
RUN AWAY this morning, a negro Woman named MOLLY, But has of late gone by the name of BETTY...She is very black, has a bushy head, and remarkable white teeth, is about 5 feet 9 or 10 inches high, and supposed to be about 36 years of age; is a very good washer and ironer, and am informed a good cook, and is well acquainted with all kind of house business.

Norfolk Herald (Willett and O'Connor), Norfolk, August 2, 1800.
Negro Woman named PATTY...about 28 years of age, thick, well set, and about 5 feet 5 inches high. She has short curled hair, and prominent features, particularly eyes, noes, and mouth. Her teeth are bad and yellow, and the whites of her eyes are much affected by smoke. On her shoulders are two scars visible when she does not wear a handkerchief; and her right arm shews the marks of very frequent bleeding. Her voice is rather shrill; she is very talkative and disposed to be impertinent; but when it suits her purpose can assume every appearance of perfect humility. I expect she is in Norfolk, in company with a sister who bears a very striking resemblance...Patty is a good cook and washer, and probably will practice one or the other for a livelihood.

Norfolk Herald (Willett and O'Connor), Norfolk, March 12, 1801.
Run-a-way...Negro SAREY...well known in Norfolk as a negro hiring herself out to day's work at washing

Norfolk Herald (Willett and O'Connor), Norfolk, July 6, 1802
Ran Away...a tall, spare black woman named POLLY, about 20 years old, formerly the property of Major Roger West: she has been brought up to house-work, is a good cook, washer and nurse.