Peter Jefferson

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Peter Jefferson
Born(1708-02-29)February 29, 1708
DiedAugust 17, 1757(1757-08-17) (aged 49)
Albemarle County, Virginia Colony
Occupationsurveyor, cartographer
Spouse(s)Jane Randolph Jefferson
Children10, including Thomas, Lucy and Randolph

Peter Jefferson (February 29, 1708 – August 17, 1757) was the father of US President Thomas Jefferson (1743–1826). A surveyor and cartographer, his "Fry-Jefferson Map" of 1751—created in collaboration with Joshua Fry—accurately depicted the Allegheny Mountains for the first time and showed the route of "The Great Road from the Yadkin River through Virginia to Philadelphia distant 455 Miles"—what would later come to be known as the Great Wagon Road.


Jefferson was born in what is now Chesterfield County, Virginia and was the son of Captain Thomas Jefferson[1] and Mary Field (granddaughter of Henry Soane of the Virginia House of Burgesses). His siblings included Judith Jefferson Farrar (wife of George Farrar) and Field Jefferson. He did not receive any formal education while young, but according to his son Thomas Jefferson, he nevertheless "read much and improved himself."

Personal life[edit]

In 1734, Jefferson claimed the land in present-day Albemarle County, which he eventually named Shadwell after his wife's birthplace. He married Jane Randolph, daughter of Isham Randolph and granddaughter of William Randolph, in 1739. For a year or two following his marriage, his residence was in present-day Powhatan County Virginia near Fine Creek. Jefferson built a house on the Shadwell tract in 1741 or 1742, and moved there sometime before his son, Thomas, was born in 1743. His friend William Randolph, a widower, died in 1745, having appointed Jefferson as guardian to manage his Tuckahoe Plantation and care for his four children. That year the Jeffersons relocated to Tuckahoe, returning to Shadwell in 1752, where Jefferson died in 1757. His estate was divided between his two sons, young Thomas and Randolph.[2]


Peter Jefferson's children were:

  • Jane Jefferson (1740–1765) - died unmarried at age 25
  • Mary Jefferson Bolling (1741–1811) - married John Bolling III, who served in the Virginia House of Burgesses and who was a descendant of Pocahontas
  • Thomas Jefferson (1743–1826) third President of the United States of America.
  • Elizabeth Jefferson (1744–1774) - mentally handicapped.
  • Martha Jefferson Carr (1746–1811) - married Dabney Carr, founder of the underground Committee of Correspondence in Virginia on the eve of the American Revolution
  • Peter Field Jefferson (1748) - died as an infant.
  • Peter Jefferson (1750) - died as an infant.
  • Lucy Jefferson Lewis (1752–1811) - married Charles Lilburn Lewis
  • Anna Scott Jefferson Marks (1755–1828) - twin of Randolph
  • Randolph Jefferson (1755–1815) - twin of Anna Scott

Thomas Jefferson, Lucy Jefferson, and Randolph Jefferson were notable for having a number of descendants in common with the Lewis family of Virginia.[3]


Peter Jefferson and his family moved from Shadwell to Tuckahoe Plantation in Goochland County in 1745, where Thomas Jefferson first attended school. Jefferson was made one of the first officers of the newly created Albemarle County (formerly northern Goochland County) in 1745. Later in that same year, he was made guardian over the children of William Randolph, his wife's cousin who had recently died. Jefferson was a cartographer and surveyor. In 1746, he and Thomas Lewis ran the famous "Fairfax Line"—a surveyor's line between the headwaters of the Rappahannock and North Branch Potomac Rivers—which established the limits of the "Northern Neck land grant" (also known as the "Fairfax Grant").

In 1749, Peter Jefferson, along with Joshua Fry, Thomas Walker, Edmund Pendleton and others, established the Loyal Company of Virginia, and were granted 800,000 acres (3,200 km²) in present-day Virginia, West Virginia and Kentucky. In the same year, with Joshua Fry, Jefferson extended the survey of the Virginia-North Carolina border, begun by William Byrd II some time earlier. The detailed Fry-Jefferson Map, cited by his son Thomas in his 1781 book Notes on the State of Virginia, was produced by him and Fry.

1751 Fry-Jefferson map depicting 'The Great Waggon Road to Philadelphia'


Peter Jefferson died at his house on the Shadwell tract in Albemarle County when his son Thomas was 14 years old.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Meacham, Jon (2012) Thomas Jefferson: The Art of Power. Random House. p. 5
  2. ^ Malone, Dumas (1948). Jefferson, The Virginian. Jefferson and His Time. Little, Brown. pp. 31–33.
  3. ^ Sorley, Merrow Egerton (2000) [1935]. "Chapter 33: Families Related to the Lewis Family". Lewis of Warner Hall: The History of a Family. Baltimore, Maryland: Genealogical Publishing Co. p. 821. ISBN 9780806308319.