Martha Jefferson – Inside The Private Life of Thomas Jefferson’s Wife

We are about to take you to school! History class to be precise! Martha Jefferson is such an important part of the American history that it would be a sin not to be acquainted with this enigmatic figure. To the well-acquainted history students, she is known to have been the first lady of the state of Virginia as she was married to Thomas Jefferson who was the Governor of the State of Virginia from 1779 to 1781. Although she died at a young age of 33, she made a huge impact in the world of American politics and even art as she was a fine reader and embroiderer. From her complicated family to her marriage, her kids and finally her death, this is a woman we should definitely be talking about and you made the best decision by clicking this article.

Who Was Martha Jefferson?

Her full name is Martha Skelton Jefferson and she was born on the 30th of October, 1748 in Charles City, Virginia, British America. She was the first child born of her parents although she later had other half-siblings. Her father’s name was John Wayles and he is popularly known in the books as a slave trader, attorney, business agent, and even a planter. He was born in England although he migrated to The Colony of Virginia when he was only 19 years old. Her mother’s name was Martha Eppes and was a widow when she got married to John Wayles.

Evidence from documentation suggests that she was a brilliant writer and even has her signature on the cover page of the book The Adventures of Telemachus which is currently a part of the Library of Congress collection. Martha Eppes also brought several slaves that she had inherited into her marriage including an African woman who was named Suzanne and had an 11-year-old daughter named Betty. After her death, these slaves were eventually inherited by her daughter Martha Jefferson who brought them into the Jefferson household.

Martha Jefferson’s father, John Wayles got married twice following the death of his first wife. After her death, he got married to a woman named Tabitha Cocke who died shortly after. Following that, he married another woman names Elizabeth Lomax Skelton and she died barely a year after their marriage. Although he never remarried after the death of his third wife, sources claim that he made Betty, one of his slaves his concubine and the two of them produced 6 children in 12 years. This makes the children born of this union half-siblings with the woman whom this article is about, Martha Jefferson.

Her Marriage To Thomas Jefferson

Martha Jefferson
Martha and husband Thomas

Back to Martha Jefferson. She had her first marriage when she was only 18 years old and this was to an attorney in Virginia named Bathurst Skelton in 1766. He died in 1767 after an illness of sudden onset. Her second marriage, however, which is better known was to Thomas Jefferson and the couple reportedly met in 1768. Interestingly, Martha Jefferson and Thomas Jefferson were third cousins.

Thomas Jefferson is one of America’s founding fathers. He was the third president of the United States from 1801 to 1809 and from 1805 to 1809. George Clinton was his Vice President. Prior to that, he had served as the second Vice President of the United States under the government of John Adams. He was also the first-ever United States Secretary of State from 1790 to 1793. From 1779 to 1781, he served as the second governor of the State of Virginia and it was during this time that he was married to Martha Jefferson. It’s sad that she never saw him become president.

Martha Jefferson’s Kids

The marriage of Martha and Thomas Jefferson produced a total of six children although only one child survived past the age of 26 years. This child was the eldest child called Martha Jefferson. The third child, a son died barely 17 days after childbirth and wasn’t even given a name yet.

What Was Her Personal Life Like?

Reflecting on the personality of this woman, all we rely on are accounts from eyewitnesses. These witnesses testified that Martha Jefferson was a lovely woman who was well educated and very courteous. She stood at an average height of a few inches above 5 feet and was constantly reading.

Martha Jefferson struggled with her health during her marriage and this was mostly due to childbearing. She died on the 6th of September, 4 months after the birth of her last child and she requested her husband never to get married again. After her death, he honored this request.

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