John Wayles Eppes

John Wayles Eppes (April 19, 1773 – September 13, 1823) was an American lawyer and politician. He represented Virginia in the U.S. House of Repfresentatives (1803–1811, 1813–1815) and in the U.S. Senate (1817–1819), after serving in the Virginia House of Delegates (1801–1803). A member of the wealthy planter class, he was related through his mother to Martha Jefferson, the wife of Thomas Jefferson, with whom Eppes was close.[1]

John Wayles Eppes
John w eppes
United States Senator
from Virginia
In office
March 4, 1817 – December 4, 1819
Preceded byArmistead T. Mason
Succeeded byJames Pleasants
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Virginia's 14th district
In office
March 4, 1803 – March 3, 1811
Preceded byAnthony New
Succeeded byJames Pleasants
In office
March 4, 1813 – March 3, 1815
Preceded byJames Pleasants
Succeeded byJohn Randolph
Member of the Virginia House of Delegates
In office
Personal details
BornApril 19, 1773
Chesterfield County, Virginia
DiedSeptember 13, 1823 (aged 50)
Buckingham County, Virginia
Political partyDemocratic-Republican
Spouse(s)Mary Jefferson Eppes
Martha Burke Jones
ChildrenFrancis W. Eppes
Alma materHampden–Sydney College
ProfessionLawyer, planter, politician

Early life

Eppes was born at Eppington, in Chesterfield County, Virginia, the sixth child and only son of Elizabeth (née Wayles) and Francis Eppes on April 19, 1773. His father was a first cousin and his mother was a half-sister to Martha Jefferson.[2]

After being taught by tutors, Eppes attended the University of Pennsylvania at Philadelphia, and graduated from Hampden–Sydney College in Virginia in 1786. He studied law and was admitted to the bar in 1794, commencing practice in the state capital, Richmond.

Marriage and family

Eppes married his first cousin Mary Jefferson (known as "Polly" in childhood and "Maria" as an adult) on October 13, 1797 at Monticello.[1] They resided at Mont Blanco plantation in Chesterfield County, Virginia.

The couple had three children:[2]

  • An unnamed boy, born December 31, 1799, who lived only weeks
  • Francis W. Eppes (September 20, 1801 – May 30, 1881)
  • Maria Jefferson Eppes (February 15, 1804 – February 1806)

Mary died at Monticello on April 17, 1804, two months after the birth of Maria, and is buried there beside her mother. Two of her children are also buried there.[3]

On April 15, 1809, Eppes married Martha Burke Jones, daughter of Willie Jones, a prominent North Carolina planter and politician. They had six children.[1]

Betsy Hemmings

After Mary's death in 1804, Eppes moved his household and slaves from Mont Blanco to another of his plantations called Millbrook in Buckingham County, Virginia. Among the slaves was Betsy Hemmings, the mixed-race daughter of Mary Hemings and granddaughter of Betty Hemings.[4][5] According to her descendants, Hemmings became a concubine to Eppes in a relationship that began when he was a young widower. She bore his son, Joseph, likely named for her brother.[6] She named their daughter Frances,[4] a name traditional among men in the Eppes family.[5] She lived at Milbrook for the rest of her life,[7] and when she died in 1857, was buried next to John Wayles Eppes in the family cemetery there.[4][8]

Political career

Eppes was a member of the Virginia House of Delegates from 1801 to 1803. On March 4, 1803 he was elected as a Democratic-Republican to the Eighth United States Congress and the next three succeeding Congresses, so he was frequently away from his plantation. He chaired the Ways and Means Committee for the Eleventh Congress but failed to be elected to the Twelfth. He spent the next two years at his plantation, Milbrook.

He was elected to the Thirteenth Congress (March 4, 1813 – March 4, 1815) and chaired the Committee on Ways and Means again. After losing the election to the Fourteenth Congress, he was elected to the United States Senate and served from March 4, 1817, until December 4, 1819, when he resigned because of ill health. He chaired the Committee on Finance during the second session of the Fifteenth Congress.

Retirement and death

Late in life Eppes suffered from various ailments. He died at Millbrook on September 13, 1823, and was buried in the Eppes family cemetery at the Millbrook.


  1. ^ a b c Looney, J. Jefferson and the Dictionary of Virginia Biography (April 14, 2016). "John Wayles Eppes (1772–1823)". Encyclopedia Virginia. Virginia Foundation for the Humanities. Retrieved January 10, 2019.
  2. ^ a b "Maria Jefferson Eppes", Thomas Jefferson Encyclopedia, Monticello website
  3. ^ "Mary "Maria" Jefferson Eppes". Retrieved January 10, 2019.
  4. ^ a b c Jacques, Edna Bolling. "The Hemmings Family in Buckingham County, Virginia". Retrieved January 10, 2019.
  5. ^ a b "Betsy Hemmings", Hemings Family/People of the Plantation, Monticello, accessed February 14, 2011
  6. ^ Annette Gordon-Reed, The Hemingses of Monticello, New York: W.W. Norton, 2008, Frontispiece: "The Hemings Family Tree-1," pp. 127-128
  7. ^ "Betsy Hemmings: Loved by a Family, but What of Her Own?", Plantation & Slavery/Life after Monticello, Monticello, February 14, 2011
  8. ^ Laura B. Randolph, "THE THOMAS JEFFERSON/SALLY HEMINGS CONTROVERSY: Did Jefferson Also Father Children By Sally Hemings' Sister?" Archived 2012-01-19 at the Wayback Machine, Ebony, February 1999, accessed February 16, 2011

External links

U.S. House of Representatives
Preceded by
Anthony New
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Virginia's 16th congressional district

March 4, 1803 – March 4, 1811
Succeeded by
James Pleasants
Preceded by
James Pleasants
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Virginia's 16th congressional district

March 4, 1813 – March 4, 1815
Succeeded by
John Randolph
U.S. Senate
Preceded by
Armistead T. Mason
U.S. Senator (Class 2) from Virginia
March 4, 1817 – December 4, 1819
Served alongside: James Barbour
Succeeded by
James Pleasants
Anna Claypoole Peale

Anna Claypoole Peale (March 6, 1791 – December 25, 1878) was an American painter who specialized in portrait miniatures on ivory and still lifes.

Armistead Thomson Mason

Armistead Thomson Mason (August 4, 1787 – February 6, 1819), the son of Stevens Thomson Mason, was a U.S. Senator from Virginia from 1816 to 1817. Mason was also the second-youngest person to ever serve in the US Senate at the age of 28 and 5 months even though the age of requirement for the US Senate in the constitution is 30 years old.

Betty Hemings

Elizabeth "Betty" Hemings (c.1735 – 1807) was an enslaved mixed-race woman in colonial Virginia. With her master, planter John Wayles, she had six children, including Sally Hemings. These children were three-quarters white, and, following the condition of their mother, they were enslaved from birth; they were half-siblings to Wayles's daughter, Martha Jefferson. After Wayles died, the Hemings family and some 120 other slaves were inherited, along with 11,000 acres and £4,000 debt, as part of his estate by his daughter Martha and her husband Thomas Jefferson.

More than 75 of Betty's mixed-race children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren were enslaved from birth. They worked on Jefferson's plantation of Monticello. Many had higher status positions as chefs, butlers, seamstresses, weavers, carpenters, blacksmiths, gardeners, and musicians in the household. Jefferson gave some of Betty's enslaved descendants to his sister and daughters as wedding presents, and they lived on other Virginia plantations.

Betty's oldest daughter Mary Hemings became the common-law wife of wealthy merchant Thomas Bell, who purchased her and their two children from Jefferson in 1792 and granted them greater freedoms than other slaves were typically permitted. Mary was the first of several Hemingses to gain freedom before the Civil War. Betty's daughter Sally Hemings had six children fathered by Thomas Jefferson over a period lasting nearly four decades. Jefferson freed all four of her surviving children when they came of age, two of them by his will. His daughter Martha Randolph gave Sally "her time," an informal freedom allowing her to live with her sons during her last decade.

Buckingham County, Virginia

Buckingham County is a rural United States county located in the Commonwealth of Virginia, and containing the geographic center of the state. Buckingham County is part of the Piedmont region of Virginia, and the county seat is the town of Buckingham.Buckingham County was created in 1761 from the southeastern portion of Albemarle County and was predominantly farmland. The county was probably named in honor of the Duke of Buckingham, though the precise origin is uncertain. Several changes were made to the borders, until the existing boundaries were established in 1860.

As of the 2010 census, the county population was 17,146. The county experienced steady population growth over the preceding forty years. Buckingham is part of the Charlottesville Metropolitan Statistical Area.


Eppington is a historic plantation house located near Winterpock, Chesterfield County, Virginia. It was built about 1768, and consists of a three-bay, 2 1/2-story, central block with hipped roof, dormers, modillion cornice, and flanking one-story wings in the Georgian style. It has a later two-story rear ell. It features two tall exterior end chimneys which rise from the roof of the wings. Its builder, Francis Eppes, was brother-in-law and first cousin of Martha Jefferson (1748–1782), the wife of Thomas Jefferson. After her death, Eppes and his wife raised Jefferson's two daughters, while their father was Minister to France. Charles Eppes sent samples of American trees, including Bald Cypress, Eastern Red Cedar, Southern Magnolia and Wax-myrtle as well as hams from Monticello to Thomas Jefferson in France at Thomas Jefferson's request. Daughters of the Eppes studied natural and agricultural sciences, noting what times of year crops came in as well as when Eastern whip-poor-wills arrived and started singing. One of the daughters, Lucy Elizabeth, died in 1784 and was buried at Eppington. Mary (Polly) Jefferson (1778–1804), married in 1797 her cousin, John Wayles Eppes (1772–1823) and spent much of her time at Eppington.In 1790, Charles Eppes had 124 slaves and 2 white overseers living on Eppington. The yard near the house was a service yard, an area for the house slaves to do work such as smoking country ham, milking cows, churning butter and drawing water from a well. A fence line appears to have kept the field slaves separate from house slaves. The service yard was hidden from visitors with tended gardens, orchards and lawns. The value of the slave's labor added greatly to the wealth of the plantation until the American Civil War. As early as 1806, a school building was on the property. Later, by the mid-eighteen hundreds, the building was converted into a kitchen to replace a previous building that had been the kitchen.

Archibald Thweatt acquired Eppington over several purchases starting on December 1812. Epps Falls, at Eppington, were deemed dangerous for passing boats by the Virginia General Assembly. The General Assembly, in 1819, gave Archibald Thweatt, owner of Eppington, compensation from any damages but allowed the Upper Appomattox Canal company to build a dam and locks around the falls. Archibald Thweatt and his heirs were also given leave to build a grist mill on the dam. Archibald Thweatt raised Merino wool. Also, in 1819, he made a land arrangement which was critical to keep open the right of way road from Richmond to Petersburg.When the Upper Appomattox Canal Navigation System was complete, neighboring farmers could ship farm produce from the docks at Eppington. There were large loading facilities. When coal was first mined at the Clover Hill Pits, in 1837, it was taken by mule, later by rail, to the docks at Epps Falls. A boat that could carry seven tons of coal, made a four-day round trip to Petersburg for two dollars and thirty eight cents. Rail Service to the docks was discontinued when the Clover Hill Railroad was built to the James River. But it was latter added back when the successor, the Brighthope Railway was expanded in 1881.

It was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1969.

Francis W. Eppes

Francis Wayles Eppes VII (September 20, 1801 – May 10, 1881) was a planter from Virginia who became prominent near and in Tallahassee, Florida. His maternal grandparents were President Thomas Jefferson and his wife Martha; his paternal grandparents were Francis Wayles Eppes VI, also a prominent planter in Virginia, and his wife Elizabeth Wayles, half-sister to Martha Wayles Skelton Jefferson.

After marrying and moving in 1829 from Virginia with his family to near Tallahassee, Florida, Eppes established a cotton plantation. His first wife died and in 1837 he married a second time. With both wives, he had a total of 13 children.

Long interested in education, in 1856 Eppes donated land and money to designate a school in Tallahassee as one of the first two state-supported seminaries, now known as Florida State University. He served as president of its board of trustees for eight years.

Isaac Jefferson

Isaac Jefferson, also likely known as Isaac Granger (1775 – c. 1850) was a valued, enslaved artisan of U.S. President Thomas Jefferson; he crafted and repaired products as a tinsmith, blacksmith, and nailer at Monticello.Although Thomas Jefferson gave Isaac and his family to his daughter Maria and her husband John Wayles Eppes in 1797 as a wedding gift, Isaac Jefferson/Granger appeared to gain his freedom by 1822, according to his memoir. In the 1840 census he was recorded as Isaac Granger, a free man working in Petersburg, Virginia. The Rev. Charles Campbell interviewed him there and published his memoir under the name of Isaac Jefferson in 1847. Granger/Jefferson describes Thomas Jefferson as a master, and his part in the lives of his slaves.

List of Hampden–Sydney College alumni

This is a list of notable alumni of Hampden–Sydney College, including graduates and non-graduates. Individuals are sorted by category and alphabetized within each category. The Alumni Association of Hampden–Sydney College considers all former students to be members, whether they graduated or not, and does not generally differentiate between graduates and non-graduates when identifying alumni. Currently, Hampden-Sydney has an estimated 8,000 living alumni.

List of James River plantations

James River plantations were established in the Virginia Colony along the James River between the mouth at Hampton Roads and the head of navigation at the Fall Line where Richmond is today.

List of United States Senators in the 15th Congress by seniority

This is a complete list of members of the United States Senate during the 15th United States Congress listed by seniority, from March 4, 1817, to March 3, 1819.

Order of service is based on the commencement of the senator's first term. Behind this is former service as a senator (only giving the senator seniority within his or her new incoming class), service as vice president, a House member, a cabinet secretary, or a governor of a state. The final factor is the population of the senator's state.The two main parties at this point were the Federalists (F), and Democratic Republicans (DR). At the end of this congress, there was one person elected who was an Anti-Democrat (AD).

List of United States Senators in the 16th Congress by seniority

This is a complete list of members of the United States Senate during the 16th United States Congress listed by seniority, from March 4, 1819, to March 3, 1821.

Order of service is based on the commencement of the senator's first term. Behind this is former service as a senator (only giving the senator seniority within his or her new incoming class), service as vice president, a House member, a cabinet secretary, or a governor of a state. The final factor is the population of the senator's state.The two main parties at this point were the Federalists (F), and Democratic Republicans (DR).

List of former members of the United States House of Representatives (E)

This is a complete list of former members of the United States House of Representatives whose last names begin with the letter E.

Martha Jefferson

Martha Skelton Jefferson (née Wayles; October 30, 1748 – September 6, 1782) was the wife of Thomas Jefferson. It was her second marriage. She served as First Lady of Virginia during Thomas' term as Governor from 1779 to 1781. She died in 1782, nineteen years before he was elected President, and forty-three before his passing.

The couple had six children. Only two daughters, Martha and Mary, lived to adulthood. Weakened by childbirth, Martha died several months after the birth of her last child. Thomas adhered to her request not to remarry, though it is widely held that he had children by Sally Hemings, a favored slave who was three-quarters white and a half-sister to Martha. After Martha's death, Thomas burned their letters to one-another and rarely spoke of her, so she remains a somewhat enigmatic figure.

Mary Hemings

Mary Hemings, also known as Mary Hemings Bell (1753-after 1834), was born into slavery, most likely in Charles City County, Virginia, as the oldest child of Elizabeth Hemings, a mixed-race slave held by John Wayles. After the death of Wayles in 1773, Elizabeth, Mary and her family were inherited by Thomas Jefferson, the husband of Martha Wayles Skelton, a daughter of Wayles, and all moved to Monticello.

While Jefferson was in France, Hemings was hired out to Thomas Bell, a wealthy white merchant in Charlottesville, Virginia. She became his common-law wife and they had two children together. Bell purchased her and the children from Jefferson in 1792 and informally freed them. Mary Hemings Bell was the first Hemings to gain freedom. The couple lived together all their lives. (They were prohibited from marriage by Virginia law at the time.)

In 2007 Mary Hemings Bell was recognized as a Patriot of the Daughters of the American Revolution, because she had been taken as a prisoner of war during the American Revolution. By this honor, all her female descendants are eligible to join the DAR.

Mary Jefferson Eppes

Mary Jefferson Eppes (August 1, 1778 – April 17, 1804), known as Polly in childhood and Maria as an adult, was the younger of Thomas Jefferson's two daughters with his wife who survived infancy. She married a first cousin, John Wayles Eppes, and had three children with him. Only their son Francis W. Eppes survived childhood. Maria died months after the birth of her third child.

Political party strength in Virginia

The following table indicates party affiliation in the Commonwealth of Virginia for the individual offices of:


Lieutenant Governor

Attorney GeneralIt also indicates the historical composition of the collective:


House of Delegates

State delegation to the United States Senate (individually)

State delegation to the United States House of Representatives

United States Senate Committee on Finance

The United States Senate Committee on Finance (or, less formally, Senate Finance Committee) is a standing committee of the United States Senate. The Committee concerns itself with matters relating to taxation and other revenue measures generally, and those relating to the insular possessions; bonded debt of the United States; customs, collection districts, and ports of entry and delivery; deposit of public moneys; general revenue sharing; health programs under the Social Security Act (notably Medicare and Medicaid) and health programs financed by a specific tax or trust fund; national social security; reciprocal trade agreements; tariff and import quotas, and related matters thereto; and the transportation of dutiable goods. It is considered to be one of the most powerful committees in Congress.

Weston Manor

Weston Manor is an 18th-century plantation house on the south shore of the Appomattox River in Hopewell, Virginia.

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