Jane Randolph Jefferson
February 10, 1720[a]
|Died||March 31, 1776 (aged 56)|
|Children||10, including Thomas, Lucy and Randolph|
Jane Randolph Jefferson (February 10, 1720 – March 31, 1776)[a] was the wife of Peter Jefferson and the mother of US president Thomas Jefferson. Born in the parish of Shadwell, near London, she was the daughter of Isham Randolph, a ship's captain and a planter. Jefferson was proud of her heritage and brought customs of aristocracy to her family. Jefferson was revered within her family's household and positively influenced her son, Thomas Jefferson.
Jane Randolph was born on February 10, 1720,[a] at Shakspear Walk,[b] in Shadwell, then a maritime village about a mile east of the Tower of London.[c] She was the daughter of Isham Randolph, a mariner and planter born in Virginia, and his wife Jane Rogers, who were married in St Botolph-without-Bishopsgate, London in 1717. The Randolphs lived in London and at Randolph's estate in Goochland County, Virginia.
The Randolphs lived in Virginia by October 1725, when Jane's sister, Mary, was born in Williamsburg. As was common in the eighteenth century, she received her education entirely at home. Jane was the oldest of eight children and was raised in the Anglican faith.[d] The Randolph family was described by a merchant in 1737 as a "very gentle, well-dressed people."
Randolph married Peter Jefferson in Goochland County, Virginia on October 3, 1739. More specifically, she may have been married at her father's plantation, Dungeness. For a year or two following her marriage, the couple lived at Peter's plantation and house, Fine Creek Manor. in present-day Powhatan County, Virginia near Fine Creek. (It is now part of Fine Creek Mills Historic District). In 1741 or 1742, they established a home along the Rivanna River, which they named Shadwell, after her London birthplace. In 1745, they moved to Tuckahoe Plantation, upon the death of William Randolph, a widower and Jane's cousin, to raise the Randolph children. The Jeffersons returned to Shadwell in 1752 when Thomas Mann Randolph came of age.
Jane and Peter offered a privileged life for their family whether in established areas of eastern Virginia or, later, as they settled in the Shadwell plantation of the Piedmont. They ate on fine dishware, frequently entertained, enjoyed classic books and music, and attended dances. The family was considered prosperous and cultured. While Thomas Jefferson rarely mentioned his mother, much is known of her from extant records, including public records and inscribed family bibles. She was particularly known for her ability to manage the family's finances.
Jane Randolph Jefferson… possessed fine intellectual gifts, and was considered well educated for those days, comparing favorably with other Southern ladies occupying the same rank in society. She was a notable housekeeper, and had an exceedingly amiable and affectionate disposition.— William Judson Hampton, Our Presidents and Their Mothers
Peter died in 1757 at Shadwell, after which Jane inherited the Shadwell plantation and house. Jane managed the affairs of the household and raised her eight surviving children. The children ranged in age between 17 years and 22 months of age, the eldest a daughter and the youngest were a set of twins. Thomas, the eldest son, became the "man of the house" and assumed his father's business responsibilities. At the time of Peter's death, the estate included 2,750 acres, 66 slaves, and a staff that included hired laborers.
In 1770, the main house at Shadwell was destroyed in a fire, and Jane had a smaller house built as a replacement. Thomas lived at Shadwell[e] until the fire, at which time he removed to Monticello. By 1773, Thomas had taken responsibility for settling Jane's debts. Unable to reimburse him, she provided Thomas with deeds to her remaining slaves. Her health declined, requiring a number of visits by physicians and periodic convalescence with Thomas and Martha at Monticello. Her final years were lived under the strain of the American Revolutionary War. She died suddenly due to apoplexy on March 31, 1776. She was 56. Jane was buried in the Monticello family graveyard.[f]
Jane had the following children:
Over time, speculation arose regarding the nature of Thomas Jefferson's relationship with his mother. Some look to the lack of remaining correspondence with his mother to mean that there was a lack of affection for his mother. Yet, Jefferson did not retain correspondence with many people important to him, such as his wife and best friend. There is evidence that Jane was “revered” in family remembrances and 19th century biographers. Author William Judson Hampton and others credited Jane for her son's success as a statesman and his writing abilities. She also instilled in her son her love of music and the finer things of life, as well as her religious beliefs. Jon Meacham finds that Thomas lived with his mother at Shadwell "long into Jefferson's adulthood" to indicate his affection for his mother. He did not move to Monticello until the main house at Shadwell was destroyed in a fire.[e] His first daughter was named Martha, and his second daughter was named Jane Randolph Jefferson for his mother.
Ancestor William Randolph established the Randolph family in Virginia. He established a residence at Turkey Island and his descendants included General Robert E. Lee and Mary Isham Randolph, the grandmother of Chief Justice John Marshall (1755 – 1835). Jefferson, said by historian Jon Meacham to have been proud of her British heritage, descended from gentry of England and Scotland, said to include the "powerful Scot Earls of Murray" (also spelled Moray). The Randolph family traced their heritage to Lord Regent of Scotland Thomas Randolph, 1st Earl of Moray of the 14th century.