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Martha WASHINGTON

American Martha WASHINGTON

born Martha DANDRIDGE

Wife of George Washington, first First Lady of the United States

Source :  Tim DOWLING

Born: on June 21, 1731 in Chestnut Grove, New Kent County, Colony Of Virginia, USA
Died: on May 22, 1802 in Mount Vernon, Virginia, USA


Biography

Martha Dandridge was born on her parents' plantation Chestnut Grove in the British colony, Province of Virginia. She was the oldest daughter of John Dandridge (1700–1756), a Virginia planter and English immigrant, and Frances Jones (1710–1785) of English and Welsh descent. Martha had three brothers and four sisters: John (1733–1749), William (1734–1776), Bartholomew (1737–1785), Anna Marie "Fanny" Dandridge Bassett (1739–1777), Frances (1744–1757), Elizabeth Dandridge Aylet Henley (1749–1800), and Mary Dandridge (1756–1763).

She may have had an illegitimate half-sister (date of birth unknown), Ann Dandridge Costin, who was born into slavery; her enslaved mother was African and Cherokee and her father was believed to be John Dandridge. Her father may also have sired an illegitimate half-brother, Ralph Dandridge (date of birth not known), who was probably white.

On May 15, 1750 at age 18 Martha married Daniel Parke Custis, a rich planter two decades her senior. They lived at White House Plantation on the south shore of the Pamunkey River, a few miles upriver from Chestnut Grove. She had four children with him. A son and a daughter, Daniel (1751–1754) and Frances (1753–1757), died in childhood, but two other children, John (Jacky) Parke Custis (1754–1781) and Martha ("Patsy") Parke Custis (1756–1773) survived to young adulthood. Her husband's death in 1757 left Martha a rich young widow at age 25, with independent control over a dower inheritance for her lifetime, including properties and slaves, and trustee control over the inheritance of her minor children. "She capably ran the five plantations left to her when her first husband died, bargaining with London merchants for the best tobacco prices."

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