John Custis

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John Custis IV
John Custis IV by Charles Bridges, 1725.jpg
John Custis IV by Charles Bridges, 1725
Born August 1678
Died November 14, 1749
Nationality British
Occupation Politician
Spouse(s) Frances Parke
Children Daniel Parke Custis
Parent(s) John Custis III
Margaret Michael Custis
Relatives John Custis II (grandfather)
John Custis I (great-grandfather)
Daniel Parke (father-in-law)

John Custis IV (August 1678–after 14 November 1749) was an North American Colonial British politician and a member of the Governor's Council in the British Colony of Virginia. Often he is designated as John Custis IV or John Custis of Williamsburg to distinguish him from his grandfather, father, and other relatives of the same name. His parents were John Custis (ca. 1654–1714) (usually designated John Custis III or John Custis of Wilsonia), who was also a Council member, and Margaret Michael Custis. Custis was born at Arlington in Northampton County, Virginia. On 4 May 1706 he married Frances Parke, the elder daughter and heiress of Daniel Parke, Jr., governor of the Leeward Islands.

Custis had moved to Williamsburg, Virginia by 1717. There he created a magnificent 4-acre (16,000 m2) garden and corresponded with many celebrated horticulturists and naturalists, including John Bartram, Mark Catesby, and Peter Collinson. Custis served on the governor's Council from 1727 until increasingly ill health forced him to request to be suspended in August 1749. In 1744, John Custis took the extraordinary step of petitioning the Governor and Council to set a slave child free. The petition stated the boy was "Christened John but commonly called Jack, born of the body of his Negro wench, Alice."[1]

He died soon after completing his will on 14 November 1749. At his request, he was buried on the Eastern Shore of Virginia at the Arlington plantation's Custis Tombs. In his will Custis instructed his son, on pain of being cut off with only one shilling, to place on his marble tomb the wording that Custis had "Yet lived but Seven years which was the Space of time he kept a Batchelors House at Arlington on the Eastern Shoar of Virginia. This Inscription put on this Stone by his own positive Orders."

His only surviving son, Daniel Parke Custis, was the first husband of Martha Washington.


  1. ^ Wiencek, Henry (2004). 'An Imperfect God: George Washington, His Slaves, and the Creation of America', p. 73. Farrar, Straus and Giroux. ISBN 0-374-52951-5


  • Will in Prerogative Court of Canterbury Registered Wills, Searle 287, Principal Probate Registry, London, England.
  • Kneebone, John T., et al., eds. Dictionary of Virginia Biography (Richmond: Library of Virginia, 1998- ), 3:636-639. ISBN 0-88490-206-4.
  • Zuppan, Jo. "John Custis of Williamsburg, 1678-1749," Virginia Magazine of History and Biography 90 (1982): 177-197.
  • Custis, John (2005). Zuppan, Josephine Little, ed. The letterbook of John Custis IV of Williamsburg, 1717-1742. Rowman & Littlefield Publishers. ISBN 978-0-945612-80-3. 

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Coordinates: 37°13′45″N 76°00′13″W / 37.229053°N 76.003698°W / 37.229053; -76.003698