Jane Randolph Jefferson

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Jane Randolph Jefferson
Jane Randolph

(1720-02-10)February 10, 1720
DiedMarch 31, 1776(1776-03-31) (aged 56)
Spouse(s)Peter Jefferson
Children10, including Thomas, Lucy and Randolph
Parent(s)Isham Randolph
Jane Rogers

Jane Randolph Jefferson (February 10, 1720 – March 31, 1776) 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.

Early life and education[edit]

Thomas Jefferson personally showed little interest in his ancestry and details of his mother's life must be gleaned from public records and inscribed family bibles.[1]

Date and place of birth[edit]

Baptism record for Jane Randolph Jefferson. It shows she was baptised at St Paul's, Shadwell on 25 February 1720, aged 15 days, the daughter of Isham Randolph of Shakspear Walk, mariner and Jane, his wife.
The hamlet of Shadwell at the time of Jane Randolph's birth. The street where she was born and the church where she was baptised are marked blue. Some local placenames: B. Maidenhead Lane C. Codpeic Row D. Cock Hill E. Cut throat Lane. F. Labour in Vain Street

She was born on February 10, 1720, at Shakspear Walk,[2] in Shadwell. Shadwell was at that time a maritime village about a mile east of the Tower of London. The Shakspears, a prominent local family, owned a ropewalk — hence the name — and plausibly claimed to be related to the playwright.[3][4] Shakspear Walk was dug up in the 19th century to make the Shadwell Basin of the London Docks.


She was the daughter of Isham Randolph, mariner, and his wife Jane.[5] Isham, the son of William Randolph, a major Virginia planter, and Jane Rogers of London were married in Bishopsgate Church in the City of London in 1717.[6] Jane Randolph Jefferson was a first cousin of Peyton Randolph and aunt of Edmund Randolph.[7] She had an older brother, Isham, born two streets away in 1718, who died shortly after his baptism.[8]

She most likely immigrated to Virginia as a child with her family by 1725 and, as was common in the eighteenth century, received her education entirely at home. While Jefferson rarely mentioned his mother, much is known of her from extant records, particularly her ability to manage the family's finances.[7]

Marriage and family[edit]

Randolph married Peter Jefferson, a surveyor and minor planter, at her father's plantation, Dungeness, in Virginia in 1739. Shortly afterwards they established a home near Charlottesville, which they named Shadwell, after her London birthplace.[7] Together, they had the following children:

  • Jane Jefferson (1740–1765) - close to her brother Thomas, she died unmarried at age 25.
  • Mary Jefferson Bolling (1741–1817) - her husband John Bolling III served in the Virginia House of Burgesses.
  • Thomas Jefferson (1743–1826), third President of the United States
  • Elizabeth Jefferson (1744–1774)
  • Martha Jefferson Carr (1746–1811) - her husband Dabney Carr, Thomas Jefferson's best friend and a member of the Virginia House of Burgesses, helped launch the intercolonial Committee of Correspondence in Virginia in March 1773
  • Peter Field Jefferson (1748) - died as an infant.
  • Peter Jefferson (1750) - died as an infant.
  • Lucy Jefferson Lewis (1752–1810)
  • Anna Scott Jefferson Marks (1755–1828) - twin of Randolph
  • Randolph Jefferson (1755–1815) - twin of Anna Scott

Jane Randolph Jefferson died from what Jefferson described as an "apoplexy" on March 31, 1776, barely three months before Jefferson wrote the Declaration of Independence.[7]


  1. ^ Malone, Dumas. Jefferson, The Virginian. Jefferson and His Time. Little, Brown. 1948, 437–40.
  2. ^ The spelling varied.
  3. ^ French, George Russell (1869). "The Shakespears of Stepney, or Shadwell". Shakspereana Genealogica. Macmillan. pp. 546–556. Retrieved 15 May 2019.
  4. ^ "T.C.N." (24 June 1865). "Shakespear Family". Notes and Queries. 3rd Series. London: Bell. VII (182): 498–9. Retrieved 15 May 2019.
  5. ^ Baptism records of St Paul's Shadwell for 1720. This is corroborated by the Jefferson family bible which is, however, less complete.
  6. ^ Jefferson Family Bible, University of Virginia Special Collection
  7. ^ a b c d "Jane Randolph Jefferson", Monticello, Thomas Jefferson Foundation
  8. ^ Baptism records for St Paul's, Shadwell; Jefferson Family Bible, University of Virginia Special Collections
  • "Jane Randolph Jefferson". Monticello. Charlottesville, Virginia: Thomas Jefferson Foundation, Inc. February 2003. Retrieved November 1, 2010.