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 (1748-1802).
Born Eleanor Calvert
Mount Airy, Upper Marlboro, Prince George's County, Province of Maryland
Spouse(s) John Parke Custis
Dr. David Stuart
Children Elizabeth Parke Custis Law
Martha Parke Custis Peter
Eleanor Parke Custis Lewis
George Washington Parke Custis
Ann Calvert Stuart Robinson
Sarah Stuart Waite
Ariana Calvert Stuart
William Skolto Stuart
Eleanor Custis Stuart
Charles Calvert Stuart
Rosalie Eugenia Stuart Webster
Parent(s) Benedict Swingate Calvert
Elizabeth Calvert

Eleanor Calvert Custis Stuart (1757/1758 – September 28, 1811)[1] was a prominent member of the 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 George Washington. Her portrait hangs today at Mount Airy Mansion in Rosaryville State Park, Maryland.[2]

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.[1] Eleanor was the second eldest daughter[3] of Benedict Swingate Calvert, illegitimate son of Charles Calvert, 5th Baron Baltimore, and his wife Elizabeth Calvert Butler.[1][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]

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.[1][5] "Jacky", as he was known by his family, announced his engagement to Eleanor to his parents, who were greatly surprised by the marriage choice 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.[6] After the couple had lived at the White House for more than two years, John Parke 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.[6][7]

Eleanor and John had seven children, four of whom lived to maturity:[1][5][6]

In 1781, John died of "camp fever" following the Siege of Yorktown.[6][7] Eleanor's two elder daughters, Elizabeth and Martha, continued to live with her at the Abingdon plantation, while her two younger children, Eleanor and Wash, moved to Mount Vernon to live with their grandmother, Martha Washington, and with Martha's husband, George Washington.[7] John died intestate, so his widow was granted a "dower third", the lifetime use of 1/3 of the Custis estate assets, including its more than 300 slaves.[8] 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.[7][9][10] Eleanor and David had sixteen children, including:[3][11][12]

  • Ann Calvert Stuart Robinson (born 1784), married William Robinson[3][11]
  • Sarah Stuart Waite (born 1786), married Obed Waite[3][11]
  • Ariana Calvert Stuart[3][11]
  • William Sholto Stuart[3][11]
  • Eleanor Custis Stuart (born 1792)[3][11]
  • Charles Calvert Stuart (1794–1846), married Cornelia Lee[3][11]
  • Rosalie Eugenia Stuart Webster (1796–1886), married William Greenleaf Webster[3][9][11]

Later life[edit]

In 1792, Eleanor, David and their family left Abingdon and moved to David's home at Hope Park in Fairfax County.[7] About ten years later, they moved to Ossian Hall near Annandale, also in Fairfax County.[7] 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.[1][5][13] 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 her mother and father. Her resting place remained unmarked until a limestone grave slab was installed in the chapel floor in autumn 2008.[14]:22


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j Arlis Herring (Feb 9, 2008). "Eleanor Calvert". Arlis Herring. Retrieved 2008-03-01. 
  2. ^ Mt Airy Mansion at Wildnet.com Retrieved September 2010
  3. ^ a b c d e f g h i Edmund Jennings Lee. Lee of Virginia, 1642-1892. Heritage Books. Retrieved 2008-03-01. 
  4. ^ a b c d Helen Bryan (2002). Martha Washington: First Lady of Liberty. John Wiley & Sons, Inc. Retrieved 2008-03-01. 
  5. ^ a b c d e f g Geneall. "Eleanor Calvert". Geneall. Retrieved 2008-03-01. 
  6. ^ a b c d 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 2011-06-27. 
  7. ^ 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. 
  8. ^ Slavery by the Numbers
  9. ^ a b James Edward Greenleaf (1896). Genealogy of the Greenleaf Family. F. Wood. p. 220. Retrieved 2008-03-01. 
  10. ^ "The Papers of George Washington: Documents". The Papers of George Washington. 2009. Retrieved 2008-03-01. 
  11. ^ a b c d e f g h National Genealogical Society (1917). National Genealogical Society Quarterly. National Genealogical Society. Retrieved 2008-03-01. 
  12. ^ 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 2011-05-20. 
  13. ^ "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 
  14. ^ Emma K. Young (October 2009). "National Register of Historic Places Registration: St. Thomas' Episcopal Parish Historic District". Maryland Historical Trust. Retrieved 2015-08-01. [permanent dead link]
  • Torbert, Alice. Eleanor Calvert and Her Circle. New York: William-Frederick Press, 1950.