Thomas’s mother Jane Randolph descends from one of the most prominent families in Virginia. Records show her family line is part of the royal gateway ancestors (royal descendants who moved to America). His paternal ancestry goes way back in Virginia history.
Thomas Jefferson was born April 13, 1743, to Peter Jefferson and Jane Randolph. Her ancestry, going all the way back to William the Conqueror, is surveyed in the next major section, below.
First let’s look at his father’s side, derived from court-sworn primary sources.
His Paternal Ancestry
His father Peter Jefferson achieved gentleman status. It is remarkable that the maiden names of the wives of the Jefferson men are recorded in these primary documents. This means they descended from privileged landowners, and even in many cases other women’s maiden names are rarely recorded. One wife was the daughter of Maj. Peter Field who oversaw a local militia; an officer was also appointed to take levies (taxes) in a given district. Also, the Randolphs and Epes figure prominently in these documents, below, indicating that the three families knew each other for several generations.
Names in bold font indicate President Jefferson’s direct line.
(1) John Jefferson (?)
George Burtcher, 200 acres, James City Co., 3 July 1635, p. 203. Near the head of a little Cr. between the mouth of Hog Island Cr. & mouth of Lawnes Cr., Ely. from the first Cr. to the latter Cr., westwardly towards Chippoakes Cr., southwardly into the woods & northwardly towards James R. 50 acres for his own personal adventure, 50 acres for the personal adventure of his wife Anne Burtcher & 100 acres for the personal adventure of his 2 children: John Jefferson & Jane Burtcher. Note: In the list of names at the end of record John Jefferson is given as “his wife’s son.”
So it looks like Jane was married before, to a Mr. Jefferson.
Mr. William Browning, 650 acres, James City Co., Apr. 10, 1646, Page 100; within the limits of Archers Hope, East upon the Ponds dividing this land from Martins Hundred. 400 acres formerly granted unto George Sandis, Esqr., by patent dated 4 Dec. 1624, and by him sold to Edward Grindall who left it to his heir in England that constituted Capt. Brocas & Mr. Thomas Harwood his Attorneys to dispose of same, and who sold same unto John Browning, father of said William. 250 acres formerly granted unto John Jefferson in 1619, after granted unto Mr. John Uti by order of court, Oct. 16, 1628, & by said Uti for a valuable consideration sold unto said John Browning Nov. 27, 1629, unto all of which said William is now heir apparent by descent from the said John.
Note: there is a William Jefferson who arrives early. But for now I settle on John. It is not clear who John’s descendants were, but the next generations are secured by primary sources.
For John Jefferson’s Involvement in the first plenary meeting of the Virginia government, please click on this link:
(2) Thomas Jefferson and Mary Branch
1 Apr 1682
Deed, Henrico County
William Byrd, for a valuable consideration, to Thomas Jefferson, 157 acres, escheated to his Majesty, granted to Abel Gower and by him assigned to me; wit: Wm Randolph; signed William Byrd; recorded 1 Apr 1682 (Wills and Deeds, etc., 16677-1692, p. 214)
20 June 1678
Will of Christopher Branch, Henrico County
Son Thomas Branch
Grandsons Christopher Branch, Samuel Branch, Benjamin Branch; Samuel and Benjamin are to live with Christopher until they are able to look after themselves;
William and John Branch (relationship not stated);
Christopher, Samuel (brother to Christopher), Samuel (brother to Christopher), Sarah, and Mary Branch, the wife of Thomas Jefferson;
Sole Executor: Christopher Branch
Witnesses: Abel Gower and Richard Ward
Proved 20 Feb 1681/2
1 Dec 1692
Deed, Henrico County
William Randolph and Francis Epes, feofees in trust for town of Henrico Co. to Thomas Jefferson of same, for 265 pounds of tobacco, ½ acre lost #29. Witness Henry Randolph; signed Wm Randolph, Fra. Epes; recorded 1 Dec 1692 (Will and Deed Book 1688-1697, p. 369)
1 Oct 1698 (recorded date)
Account of estate of Thomas Jefferson, Henrico County
Large part of book is only in fragments
Account mentions Thomas Jefferson, Jr. and Martha (Wills and Deeds 1697-1704)
16 Nov 1700
Marriage Contract, Henrico County
Contract of marriage agreed upon between Joseph Mattocks of Charles City Co. and Mary Jefferson, relict of Thomas Jefferson, decd. of County and Parish of Henrico. They chose Seth Ward, Christopher Branch, and Thomas Jefferson, all of Henrico Co. to be trustees. Joseph Mattocks agrees Mary will enjoy all the estate she is now possessed of and may dispose of it as she sees fit, and he will give her ½ of his personal estate, except feather bed and 1 small brass kettle which he has given to his daughter Mary Maile. Said Mary Jefferson shall have ½ of his estate after his death and binds himself £200. Witnesses: Peter Field, Ben Branch, Mary Jefferson, Ashley (?) Branch; signed Joseph (IM) Mattocks. On page 214 follows the inventory of Mary Jefferson’s possessions which she is to keep for herself, witnessed by Peter Field and Thomas Jefferson; 16 Dec. 1700 and signed by Joseph Mattocks 1 Apr 1701 (Wills and Deeds, Etc. 1697-1704, p. 213)
(3) Thomas Jefferson and Mary Field
1 Mar 1708
Deed, Henrico County
Thomas Jefferson and his wife Mary, of County and Parish of Henrico, a daughter of Maj. Peter Field, decd., late of New Kent Co., to Abraham Burton of Bristol Parish, Henrico County, for 10,000 pounds of tobacco, 200 acres in Appomattox in Bristol Parish, on south side of Swift Cr., descended to said Mary as one of the daughters and co-heirs of Maj. Peter Field, to whom land was granted 20 Oct 1687 and 19 Apr 1690, and bounded according to lease to John Burton, and line between said Jefferson and James Franklin;
Witnesses: Fran’s Epes, Jr., and Henry Randolph, Jr.
Signed Thos. Jefferson and Mary Jefferson
Recorded: 1 Mar 1709
(Deed Book 1706-1709)
15 Mar 1725
Will of Thomas Jefferson, Henrico County
To son Field, mourning ring worth 20 shillings; negroes and items, some of which were bought of Turpin, Joseph Wilkinson, and Thomas Edwards
To son Peter, my land on fine Cr. and Manekin Cr., but if he die before 21, then to my three daughters Judith, Mary, and Martha;
To daughters Mary and Martha, items; and the ½ part of Gilley’s Mill; the land I lately bought off George Carter, the land mortgaged by Grills;
And all the rest of estate to be sold by Maj. William Kennon and Henry Wood;
And then £10 to be given to my daughters Mary and Martha;
To my sister Martha Winn to take care of my daughter Martha, and Capt. Henry Randolph to take care of my daughter Mary;
If daughters die before 21, survivors to get their share; and if both die, to daughter Judith Farrar;
Son Peter to be executor;
Witnesses: Benjamin Branch and Henry Moody
(Wills and Deeds 1725-1737, p. 293)
(4) Peter Jefferson and Jane Randolph
1 Apr 1732
Deed, Henrico and Goochland Counties (Goochland grew out of Henrico in 1728)
Richard Grills of Henrico Co., hatter, to Peter Jefferson, Gentleman, of Goochland Co., for £100, land on south side of Swift Cr. and plantation on north side of said creek where said Grills lately dwelt, 150 acres; the upper half was taken up by said Richard’s father;
Witnesses: George Robertson, Jr., Alex. Horton, Sam’l Pitchford, Eliz. (X) Bevill;
Signed Richard Grills, 1st Mon. in May 1732
(Wills and Deeds, 1725-1737, p. 343)
Marriage, Goochland County
3 Oct 1739
Peter Jefferson married Jane Randolph; surety Arthur Hopkins; witness: H. Wood (p. 1)
For the documents of the powerful Randolph family of Virginia, please click here:
The Randolphs of Early Virginia
Peter left a will in Albemarle County, Virginia (Albemarle County grew out of Goochland County in 1744).
He names his son Thomas.
For a transcription, go here:
(5) Thomas Jefferson and Martha Wales Skelton
He left a will, which has been transcribed here:
His Maternal Ancestry
It may seem fanciful and even uncritical hero worship to claim that the Randolphs go all the way back to Medieval royalty, but about 260 American men and women really do descend from royals. They are known as royal gateway ancestors. The elite in England left behind a good paper trail.
Douglas Richard’s monumental five-volume Royal Ancestry is a secondary source, but it is built on primary sources like baptisms, christenings, deeds, wills, and other probate.
We have to reach down 26 generations before we get to President Thomas Jefferson.
(1) William the Conqueror married Maud of Flanders
(2) Henry I and mistress Ansfride, widow of Anskill (knight and tenant of Abingdon Abbey)
(3) Robert Fitz Roy marred Mabel Fitz Robert (“fitz” usually means “son” or “daughter,” and “Fitz Roy” means “son of king,” for roy or roi is French for “king”)
(4) William Fitz Robert (2nd earl of Gloucester) married Hawise of Leicester (daughter of Robert of Meulan, Knight, and 1st earl of Leicester)
(5) Amice of Gloucester married Richard de Clare (knight and 3rd earl of Hertford)
(6) Maude de Clare married William de Brewes of Bambert, Sussex
(7) John de Brewes married Margaret of Wales
(8) Richard of Brewes
He was knight of Stinton [in Salle] Norfolk and married Alice le Rus
(9) Margaret or Margery de Brewes married Roger de Coleville or Colville (knight)
(10) Elizabeth de Coleville married Ralph Basset
He knight of the shire for Staffordshire
(11) Simon Basset
He was knight of Sapcote and Stony Stanton, Leicestershire and married Isabel le Boteler
(12) Ralph Basset
He was knight of Sapcote and Stony Stanton, Leicestershire and marred Subyl de Astley
(13) Alice Basset married Robert Moton
He was knight of Peckleton and Stapleton-in-Barwell, Leicester and son of William Moton (knight)
(14) William Moton
He knight of Peckleton, Leicestershire and Stoke-Mandeville, Buckinghamshire and married Agnes
(15) Robert Moton
He was knight of Peckleton, Leicestershire and Cheadle, Staffordshire; knight of the shire for Leicestershire, sheriff of Warwickshire and Leicestershire; he married Margaret or Margery Mallory (daughter of Anketil Mallory, knight of Kirkby Mallory, Leicestershire)
(16) Reginald Moton
He was Esquire of Peckleton, Leicestershire, married Margery Bugge
(17) Anne Moton
She married William Grymsby (Esquire of Drakelow)
(18) Anne Grymesby
She married Richard Vincent (Gentleman of Messingham, Lincolnshire)
(19) George Vincent
He was Esquire of Peckleton, Leicestershire (justice of the peace for Leicestershire) married Anne Slorey (sic)
(20) Elizabeth Vincent
She married Richard Lane of Courteenhall, Northamptonshire (one of his sons, Richard, knight, was Chief Baron of the Exchequer, Lord Keeper of the Great Seal)
(21) Dorothy Lane
She married (2) William Randolph of Little Houghton, Northamptonshire, son of Robert Randolph (Gentleman)
(22) Richard Randolph
He was Gentleman of Morton Hall (in Morton Morell, Warwickshire married Elizabeth Ryland, daughter of John Ryland (Gentleman of Warwickshire). They had four sons: Richard, William, Thomas and John; and four daughters: Dorothy, Mary, Elizabeth, and Margaret.
Note: Other collateral lines show that the Randolphs descend from King Edward I and King Henry II.
Now let’s come to America.
(23) Col. William Randolph
He was born 7 Nov 1650 and married, before 13 Nov 1678, Mary Isham, daughter of Capt. Henry Isham, Gentleman, of Henrico County, Virginia. William immigrated to Virginia in 1672, where he settled at Turkey Island in Henrico County.
William Randolph left a will in Henrico County, Virginia:
6 Mar 17__ (probably 1710)
Will of William Randolph, Gentleman
Turkey Island, County and Parish of Henrico
Being in 60th year of my age (pages missing)
To my wife Mary, for life, plantation, 400 acres, part of 1000 acres called Turkey Is. and at her death to my son William; also to her rest of land in Virginia, except land already disposed of; also to her land on Martin’s Swamp and an acre in Town of Bermuda Hundred;
To sons Thomas and Isham, 750 acres to be equally divided, my son Thomas to have his choice;
To sons Richard and John, 3 tracts I purchased of John Woodson, Samuel Knibb and John ____; 900 acres to be divided; to Richard the upper part and to John the lower part.
To son Edward all the tract in Chickahominy Swamp, between lands given to son William above Westham upper Cr and Tuckahoe Cr, being 3256 acres, purchased of Edmund Jennings, Esq., to be equally divided between sons Isham, Thomas, Richard, John and Edward. Son Isham to have the lower part adj. son William and then Thomas, Richard, John and Edward;
To son Isham half of lower island above Westham;
Land on north side of James R. above Turkey Island to son Edward; …
Daughters Stith and Bland, each a ring;
Executors wife and sons William, Henry and Thomas
Rec. 1 June 1713
(Wills and Deeds 1710-1714, pp. 215-18)
(24) Isham Randolph
He left a will in Goochland County, Virginia (Goochland was formed out of Henrico in 1728).
6 Apr 1741
To prevent my creditor John Hanbury of London, Merchant, from being put to any difficulty in recovering money I owe him;
To enable my executrix to discharge and pay my promise to Peter Jefferson upon his marriage to my daughter Jane, £200 after Hanbury is paid;
My wife is to give my unmarried daughters £200 each; she may well sell some land and give money to my unmarried daughters and my three sons;
To my wife Jane all my land in Goochland Co. and Amelia Co. and all my slaves;
I have in my possession in right of my wife certain leasehold estates of yearly value and am entitled to certain sums of money jointly with her by decree in chancery chargeable on Kenton, the estate of William Lilburn, Esq., decd., in the Bishopric of Durham;
Also one other sum of money, the legacy of Elizabeth Lilburn, to be my executors when estate of Kenton is sold;
I confirm my wife my right therein;
William Randolph, Esq., Col. Richard Randolph, William Randolph, Jr., Beverly Randolph, and Peter Jackson to be guardians to my children;
Exec: my wife
Wits: Tarlton Fleming, William Redford, Hannah Fleming;
Signed Isham Randolph
Codicil: Negro Phyllis was given to my dau Mary by my sister Mary Stith, and negro girl Hannah was purchased by me with money given by Sir John Randolph, knight, for my dau; also 1 negro boy Slatee was given to my son William by my brother William Randolph, Esq. (same wits)
Rec. 21 Dec 1742
Deed Book 4, 110 (addendum)
(25) Peter Jefferson married Jane Randolph
See marriage record, above.
For a post that covers the documents of the powerful Randolph family, please click here:
(26) Thomas Jefferson married Martha Wales Skelton
Nell Marion Nugent, Cavaliers and Pioneers: Abstracts of Virginia Land Patents and Grants, 1623-1800, in Five Volumes, vol. 1 (Richmond: Press of the Dietz Printing Company, 1934)
Douglas Richardson, Royal Ancestry: A Study in Colonial and Medieval Families, vols. 3 and 4, Kimball G. Everingham, ed. (Salt Lake, 2013)
Benjamin B. Weisiger, Colonial Wills of Henrico County, Virginia: Part One 1677-1737 (Athens, GA: Iberian, 1998 [orig. 1978])
—, Henrico County, Virginia, Colonial Deeds, 1677-1705 (Athens, Georgia: Iberian, 1996 [orig. 1986])
—, Henrico County, Virginia, Colonial Deeds, 1706-1737 (Athens, Georgia: Iberian, 1995 [orig. 1988])
—, Henrico County, Virginia, Colonial Deeds, 1737-1750 (Athens, GA: Iberian, 1995 [orig. 1988])
Kathleen Booth Williams, Marriages of Goochland County, Virginia, 1733-1815 (Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing, 1979 1986 [orig. 1960])