Frances Jones (colonist)

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Frances Orlando Jones (6 Aug 1710 – 9 July 1785) was born in New Kent County, Virginia, where she also died.

Frances married John Dandridge on July 22, 1730 in New Kent County, Virginia. Frances was the daughter of Orlando Jones and Martha Macon, prosperous Virginia landowners, and she is more commonly known as the mother of the first First Lady of the United States, Martha Washington.

Politics runs in the family[edit]

Frances' father, Orlando Jones, was a Burgess for New Kent County in 1718 in the House of Burgesses, the leading legislative body in Colonial Virginia. Her grandfather, Col. Gideon Macon (father of Martha Macon), was also a member of the House of Burgesses from 1696 to 1702, and was secretary to Sir William Berkeley, governor of Virginia, during his second term in office.

Upon Col. Macon's death in 1702, his widow, Martha Woodward Macon, married Captain Nathaniel West who was also a representative in the House of Burgesses.

Captain Nathaniel West and Martha Woodward Macon West had two children. Their daughter, Unity West, married John Dandridge's brother, William Dandridge. William Dandridge was appointed to the Governor's Council in 1727, the highest political position available to colony residents.[1] All of this would suggest that Frances, her husband, and children would have been quite familiar with colonial politics.


Frances, or Fanny, was born on a plantation near Williamsburg on Queen's Creek within easy distance of the growing capital. Frances had an older brother, Lane Jones, born in 1707, and Frances was born in 1710. Her mother, Martha Macon Jones, died when Frances was only six years old.

Orlando Jones soon remarried. His second wife, Mary Elizabeth William Jones, became the sole parent of the two children just three years later when Orlando Jones died. Orlando and Mary had no children together.

A year later, Orlando's widow married John James Flourney and her stepchildren lived with them in Williamsburg. Mary Elizabeth William Jones Flourney was their guardian, and as such, could use the income from the Queen's Creek plantation to support the two stepchildren. The sister of the late Orlando Jones sued twice for custody of her niece and nephew, but was denied. When Lane Jones reached the age of eighteen, he legally emancipated himself and moved in with his aunt in Timson's Neck.

Ten months later, when Frances was sixteen, she also sued for emancipation. She did not move in with her aunt, but instead lived with a planter in New Kent. Her mother's parents had been from that region and a number of Macon relatives lived there.

Their Virginia home[edit]

Shortly after Frances Jones married John Dandridge in New Kent County, Virginia on July 22, 1730, they moved to their new home, Chestnut Grove. John Dandridge became Clerk of Courts in New Kent and kept that position for the next 26 years. He was also vestryman and churchwarden for St. Peter's Church, Church of England. John was a prominent planter, and a Colonel in his military district.

The Dandridges' home, Chestnut Grove, was on the bank of the Pamunkey River in New Kent County, Virginia. John's older brother, William Dandridge (1689–1743), lived on the opposite bank of the river with his wife Unity West Dandridge at their estate, Elsing Green, in King William County, Virginia. Chestnut Grove Plantation burned down in 1926, but its former site was only four miles from the location of New Kent's current County Courthouse.

John and Frances Jones Dandridge also owned a house in Williamsburg and visited there frequently.

The Dandridge children[edit]

John and Frances Jones Dandridge produced eight children, Martha Dandridge being the eldest. As was typical of the time, the children were educated at home, their education being considered quite liberal. John and Frances employed a tutor for their children. It was also quite unusual that Martha was presented to society in Williamsburg at the young age of 15.

Their daughter, Martha, first married Daniel Parke Custis. Following his death she later married George Washington and became First Lady of the United States of America.

One of their sons, Bartholomew Dandridge, followed in his father's footsteps and became Clerk of Courts in New Kent County. And he, like his father, also served as both vestryman and churchwarden, but at the Blisland Parish rather than the St. Peter's Parish.

  • Martha Dandridge Custis Washington (2 Jun 1731 - 22 May 1802)
  • John Dandridge (1733–1749)
  • William Dandridge (1734–1776)
  • Bartholomew Dandridge (1737–1785)
  • Anna Maria "Fanny" Dandridge Bassett (1739–1777)
  • Frances Dandridge (1744–1757)
  • Elizabeth Dandridge Aylett Henley (1749–1800)
  • Mary Dandridge (1756–1763)

Illegitimate children of John Dandridge:

  • Ann Dandridge Costin
  • Ralph Dandridge

Later life[edit]

Her husband, Colonel John Dandridge, died in Fredericksburg on 31 August 1756. He was interred at St. George's Episcopal Church in Fredricksburg.

There are a number of conflicting reports on the date of death for Frances Jones, but the one most commonly reported is July 9, 1785.


Wharton, Anne Hollingsworth (1897). Martha Washington. C. Scribner's Sons. OCLC 3357626. 

Lossing, Benson John (1886). Mary and Martha, the mother and the wife of George Washington. New York : Harper & Brothers. OCLC 1708048. 

Brady, Patricia (2005). Martha Washington: An American Life. Viking. ISBN 0-14-303713-7. 

External links[edit]