Isham Randolph
ISHAM RANDOLPH (1685-1742).jpg
BornFebruary 24, 1687
DiedNovember 2, 1742 (aged 55)
Jane Lilburne Susan Rogers
(m. 1717)
  • Jane
  • Mary
  • Isham
  • William
  • Thomas
  • Elizabeth
  • Dorothea
  • Ann
  • Susannah
RelativesThomas Jefferson (grandson)
Charles Lilburn Lewis (grandson)
James Pleasants (grandson)

Isham Randolph (February 24, 1687 – November 2, 1742) was a planter, a merchant, a public official, and a shipmaster.[1] He was the maternal grandfather of United States President Thomas Jefferson.[1]

Early life

Isham Randolph was born on the Turkey Island plantation in Henrico County, Virginia on February 24, 1687. He was the third son of William Randolph (1650–1711) and Mary Isham (c. 1659–1735).[2] His father was a colonist, landowner, planter, and merchant who served as the 26th Speaker of the Virginia House of Burgesses.

Randolph graduated from the College of William & Mary.[3]

Marriage and children

In 1717, Isham Randolph married Jane Rogers in London[4] at St. Paul's Church in the Shadwell parish (today east London).[4] Jane was from a wealthy landed gentry family of England and Scotland.[3] Isham and Jane Randolph moved to Virginia. Together, they had nine children[nb 1] and were familially connected to many other prominent individuals:

Career and death

Following his father, he was a prominent planter, merchant, public official, and also was a shipmaster.[1] In London, Randolph was a well-established merchant[10] and agent for the colony of Virginia. By the birth of his second daughter, Mary, in October 1725, he returned to Colonial Virginia.[6] In 1730, he built Dungeness, with English manor house style architecture on what became a large tobacco plantation,[11][12] near Goochland, Virginia[13] just west of Fine Creek (near the Fine Creek Mills Historic District).[11] At the time that he acquired the land for Dungeness, it was frontier land,[6] 40 miles from Richmond, Virginia.[3] It became a house of "refinement and elegant hospitality" with a hundred or more servants.[14]

Randolph was a prominent member of the Virginia planter class, often referred to as the "planter aristocracy", owning enslaved Africans which grew tobacco on his plantations.[11] He also participated in the triangular trade, in addition to bringing indentured servants and slaves to colonial Virginia.[3]

Like his good friend, Colonel William Byrd, Randolph had an interest in science and engaged in amateur science circles while in London. He was noted for his abilities as a naturalist by members of the Royal Society.[3] Upon the recommendation of naturalist John Bartram, Randolph was visited by botanist Peter Collinson and led an excursion to gather specimens in colonial Virginia.[3][14]

In 1738, Randolph became the adjutant general of Virginia. The following year, he became a colonel of the militia of Goochland County. He was also a member of the Virginia House of Burgesses.[6] Randolph died in November 1742[4] and was buried on Turkey Island.[14] In his will he assigned guardians of his children, including his son-in-law, Peter Jefferson (the father of President Thomas Jefferson.)[6]

The distinguished qualities of the Gentleman he possessed in an eminent degree: To justice probity & honor so firmly attached that no view of secular interest or worldly advantage, no discouraging frowns of fortune could alter his Steady purpose of heart. By an easy Compliance and obliging deportment he new no enemy but gained many friends; this in life meriting an universal esteem.

— From the inscription on his tomb[15]


See also


  1. ^ Robert Isham Randolph, whose grandfather's grandfather was Thomas Randolph, wrote that various sources erroneously treat sons Thomas and Isham as one child named "Thomas Isham". He also noted that some sources list birthdates for the children well after Isham Randolph of Dungeness had died in 1742.[4]


  1. ^ a b c Custis, John (2005). Zuppan, Josephine Little (ed.). The Letterbook of John Custis IV of Williamsburg, 1717-1742. Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, Inc. p. 47. ISBN 9780945612803.
  2. ^ Glenn, p. 458.
  3. ^ a b c d e f Willard Sterne Randall (18 June 1994). Thomas Jefferson: A Life. HarperCollins. pp. 5–6. ISBN 978-0-06-097617-0.
  4. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m Randolph, Robert Isham (October 1937). "The Sons of Isham Randolph of Dungeness". The Virginia Magazine of History and Biography. Virginia Historical Society. 45 (4): 383–386. JSTOR 4244820.
  5. ^ a b c d e Page, Richard Channing Moore (1893). "Randolph Family". Genealogy of the Page Family in Virginia (2 ed.). New York: Press of the Publishers Printing Co. pp. 263–264.
  6. ^ a b c d e Historical Genealogy of the Woodsons and Their Connections. H. M. Woodson. 1915. pp. 46–47.
  7. ^ McAllister, John Meriwether; Tandy, Lura Boulton, eds. (1906). "Charles Lewis". Genealogies of the Lewis and Kindred Families. Columbia, Missouri: E.W. Stephens Publishing Company. p. 101.
  8. ^ Sorley, Merrow Egerton (2000) [1935]. "Chapter 13: Col Charles Lewis of Buck Island". Lewis of Warner Hall: The History of a Family. Baltimore, Maryland: Genealogical Publishing Co. ISBN 9780806308319.
  9. ^ a b Abbot, Willis John (1895). "The Harrison Family". Carter Henry Harrison: A Memoir. New York: Dodd, Mead & Company. pp. 1–23. ISBN 9780795020988.
  10. ^ William G. Hyland Jr. (26 February 2015). Martha Jefferson: An Intimate Life with Thomas Jefferson. Rowman & Littlefield Publishers. pp. 64–65. ISBN 978-1-4422-3984-5.
  11. ^ a b c John B. Boles (25 April 2017). Jefferson: Architect of American Liberty. Basic Books. p. 16. ISBN 978-0-465-09469-1.
  12. ^ A Guidebook to Virginia's Historical Markers. University of Virginia Press. 1994. p. 156. ISBN 978-0-8139-1491-6.
  13. ^ "Dungeness Historical Marker". Retrieved December 26, 2019.
  14. ^ a b c Henry Stephens Randall (1858). The Life of Thomas Jefferson. Derby & Jackson. p. 10.
  15. ^ Glenn, pp. 450–451,