Eleanor Calvert

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Eleanor Calvert Custis Stuart
Eleanor Calvert.jpg
Miniature painting of Eleanor Calvert, c1780, by an unknown artist; possibly the Irish-American painter John Ramage
Eleanor Calvert

DiedSeptember 28, 1811
Spouse(s)John Parke Custis
Dr. David Stuart
Children23, including:
Elizabeth Parke Custis Law
Martha Parke Custis Peter
Eleanor Parke Custis Lewis
George Washington Parke Custis
Parent(s)Benedict Swingate Calvert
Elizabeth Calvert

Eleanor Calvert Custis Stuart (1757/1758 – September 28, 1811), born Eleanor Calvert, was a prominent member of the wealthy Calvert family of Maryland. Upon her marriage to John Parke Custis, she became the daughter-in-law of Martha Dandridge Custis Washington and the stepdaughter-in-law of George Washington. Her portrait hangs today at Mount Airy Mansion in Rosaryville State Park, Maryland.[1]

Early life[edit]

Eleanor Calvert was born in 1758 at the Calvert family's Mount Airy plantation near Upper Marlboro in Prince George's County, Maryland.[2] Eleanor was the second-eldest daughter[3] of Benedict Swingate Calvert, illegitimate son of Charles Calvert, 5th Baron Baltimore, and Benedict's wife Elizabeth Calvert Butler.[4] She was known to her family as "Nelly."[4] As a teenager, Eleanor was an exceptionally pretty girl and well-mannered.[4]

Marriage and children[edit]

Painting of Eleanor Calvert by John Hesselius, 1728-1778, 1761.

Eleanor married John Parke Custis, son of the late Daniel Parke Custis and Martha Dandridge Custis Washington (and stepson of George Washington), on February 3, 1774 at Mount Airy. When "Jacky", as he was known by his family, announced his engagement to Eleanor to his parents, they were greatly surprised due to the couple's youth.[4]

After their marriage, the couple settled at the White House plantation, a Custis estate on the Pamunkey River in New Kent County, Virginia.[5] After the couple had lived at the White House for more than two years, John Custis purchased the Abingdon plantation in Fairfax County, Virginia (now in Arlington County, Virginia), into which the couple settled during the winter of 1778–1779.[5][6]

Eleanor and John had seven children:

In 1781, John died of "camp fever", believed to be typhus, following the Siege of Yorktown.[5][6] Eleanor's two elder daughters, Elizabeth and Martha, continued to live with her at the Abingdon plantation. She sent her two younger children, Eleanor and George, to Mount Vernon to live with their grandmother, Martha Washington, and her husband George Washington, future president.[6] John died intestate, so his widow was granted a "dower third", the lifetime use of one-third of the Custis estate assets, including its more than 300 slaves.[7] The balance of the Custis estate was held in trust for their children and distributed as the daughters married and the son reached his majority. Eleanor's "dower third" was distributed among their children following her death.

In 1783, Eleanor married Dr. David Stuart, an Alexandria physician and a business associate of George Washington.[6][8][9] Eleanor and David had sixteen children together, including:[3][10][11]

  • Ann Calvert Stuart (born 1784), married William Robinson[3][10]
  • Sarah Stuart (born 1786), married Obed Waite[3][10]
  • Ariana Calvert Stuart[3][10]
  • William Sholto Stuart[3][10]
  • Eleanor Custis Stuart (born 1792)[3][10]
  • Charles Calvert Stuart (1794–1846), married Cornelia Lee[3][10]
  • Rosalie Eugenia Stuart(1796–1886), married William Greenleaf Webster[3][8][10]

Later life[edit]

In 1792, Eleanor, David and their family left Abingdon and moved to David's home at Hope Park in Fairfax County.[6] About ten years later, they moved to Ossian Hall near Annandale, also in Fairfax County.[6]

Eleanor died on September 28, 1811 at age 53 at Tudor Place, the home of her daughter, Martha Parke Custis Peter, in Georgetown, District of Columbia.[12] She was originally buried at Effingham Plantation in Virginia.

She was reinterred in Page's Chapel, St. Thomas' Church, Croom, Maryland, in the late 1810s near the graves of her parents. Her resting place remained unmarked until a limestone grave slab was installed in the chapel floor in autumn 2008.[13]


  1. ^ Mt Airy Mansion at Wildnet.com. Retrieved September 2010
  2. ^ Arlis Herring (February 9, 2008). "Eleanor Calvert". Arlis Herring. Retrieved March 1, 2008.
  3. ^ a b c d e f g h i Edmund Jennings Lee. Lee of Virginia, 1642-1892. Heritage Books. Retrieved March 1, 2008.
  4. ^ a b c d Helen Bryan (2002). Martha Washington: First Lady of Liberty. John Wiley & Sons, Inc. Retrieved March 1, 2008.
  5. ^ a b c Yates, Bernice-Marie (2003). The Perfect Gentleman: The Life and Letters of George Washington Custis Lee. Fairfax, Virginia: Xulon Press. p. 37. ISBN 1-59160-451-6. Retrieved June 27, 2011.
  6. ^ a b c d e f Templeman, Eleanor Lee (1959). Arlington Heritage: Vignettes of a Virginia County. New York: Avenel Books, a division of Crown Publishers, Inc. pp. 12–13.
  7. ^ Slavery by the Numbers, US History- President's House
  8. ^ a b James Edward Greenleaf (1896). Genealogy of the Greenleaf Family. F. Wood. p. 220. Retrieved March 1, 2008.
  9. ^ "The Papers of George Washington: Documents". The Papers of George Washington. 2009. Archived from the original on June 2, 2010. Retrieved March 1, 2008.
  10. ^ a b c d e f g h National Genealogical Society (1917). National Genealogical Society Quarterly. National Genealogical Society. Retrieved March 1, 2008.
  11. ^ Johnson, R. Winder (1905). The Ancestry of Rosalie Morris Johnson: Daughter of George Calvert Morris and Elizabeth Kuhn, his wife. Ferris & Leach. pp. 16–17, 29–30. Retrieved May 20, 2011.
  12. ^ "Died". The Lady's miscellany, or, Weekly visitor, for the use and amusement of both sexes. M'Carty & White. 13: 398. 1811. Died. At Tudor Place, thereat of Thomas Peter, esq- near George-Town, Mrs. Eleanor Stuart, consort of David Stuart, esq.-of Osian Hall, in the county of Fairfax—in the 56th year of her age
  13. ^ "Application: St. Thomas' Episcopal Parish Historic District" (PDF). Maryland Historic Trust. Retrieved May 14, 2018.
  • Torbert, Alice. Eleanor Calvert and Her Circle. New York: William-Frederick Press, 1950.

External links[edit]