John Wayles Eppes (1773 - 1832)

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Nicknames: "Jack"
Birthdate:
Birthplace: Eppington, Chesterfield, Virginia
Death: Died in Millbrook, Buckingham, Virginia, USA
Occupation: Senator from Virginia
Managed by: Danny Jones
Last Updated:

About John Wayles Eppes

Additional Curator's Notes:

After reading sources for Jefferson's slave mistress, Sally Hemings, I have come to the conclusion that the slave given to John Wayles Eppes and bride Mary Wayles Jefferson probably was NOT the daughter of Sally Hemings, nor was it likely she was the illegitimate daughter of Thomas Jefferson. There are no daughters named Betsy in any records for Sally Hemings. It is highly possible that the newlyweds received a slave as wedding present. It is possible the slave's last name was Hemings. I just can't tie her to Sally Hemings or Thomas Jefferson. Maria Edmonds-Zediker, Volunteer Curator, 9/1/2011.

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http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_Wayles_Eppes

John Wayles Eppes (April 19, 1773 – September 13, 1823) was an attorney, a United States Representative and a Senator from Virginia. One of the planter class, he married his first cousin Maria Jefferson, the youngest surviving daughter of Martha Wayles Skelton and Thomas Jefferson. After her early death following the birth of her third child, Eppes was a widower for five years before marrying Martha Burke Jones from North Carolina.


Descendants of his slave Betsy Hemmings, who was with his household from the age of 14, say that Eppes as a widower took her as a concubine when she was about 21. The oral tradition among her descendants is that their relationship continued through his second marriage, and she had several children with him. Hemmings was buried next to Eppes in the planter's family cemetery at Millbrook plantation, and her grave is marked by a fine tombstone. Martha Jones Eppes chose to be buried at her daughter's plantation.


Personal life


Eppes was born in Chesterfield County, Virginia, the only son and youngest of six children of Francis Eppes and Elizabeth (née Wayles) on April 19, 1773. He 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 and commenced practice in Richmond, Virginia.


Marriage and family


Eppes married his first cousin Maria Jefferson (known also as "Polly"), the daughter of Martha (Wayles) and Thomas Jefferson, October 13, 1797 at Monticello. The couple resided at Mont Blanco in Chesterfield County, Virginia.


Among the wedding presents received from Thomas Jefferson was the 14-year-old enslaved girl Betsy Hemmings (1783-1857), born at Monticello as the mixed-race daughter of Mary Hemings. She was the granddaughter of Betty Hemings. Her father was unidentified. (The oral tradition of the Betsy Hemmings descendants (as they spelled it) was that Betsy, born in 1783, was the daughter of the recently widowed Thomas Jefferson, whose wife died in 1782. The historian Lucia Stanton found that Jefferson had taken Mary Hemings and her children with him as part of the household staff when he became governor; she lived with him and his family at Williamsburg and Richmond from 1779-1781.)


Eppes and Maria had three children:

a daughter born December 31, 1799 who lived only weeks;
a son Francis W. Eppes (September 20, 1801–May 30, 1881), and
Maria (February 20, 1804–February 1806).[6]

After her son Francis was born, in 1802 Maria Jefferson Eppes "borrowed" Critta Hemings, one of Betty Hemings' daughters, from her father's household to care for the infant boy as a nurse. In 1827 after Jefferson's death, Francis W. Eppes purchased his former nurse from the estate and gave her freedom. She was then 58 years old and lived until 1850.


Mary Jefferson Eppes died two months after the birth of her third child Maria, on April 17, 1804 at her father's home. The girl Martha died at age three.


Eppes was a widower for five years. In 1809 he married the nineteen-year-old Martha Burke Jones from North Carolina; she was known as Patsy. They had four surviving children, born from 1810 to 1820. Among their children was Mary Eppes, who married Philip A. Bolling.


Betsy Hemmings


After Mary's death in 1804, Eppes moved his household and slaves to another plantation called Millbrook in Buckingham County, Virginia. The household included the enslaved Betsy Hemmings, then 21 years old, who was recorded as being the nurse of his son Francis.


According to her descendants, Betsy became a concubine to Eppes in a relationship that began when he was a widower and continued for the rest of his life, even after his second marriage in 1809. Betsy bore his son, Joseph, and a daughter, whom she named Frances, a name traditional in the Eppes family. The names of her other children were lost in 1869 when the records of Millbrook burned in a fire.


As the historians Philip D. Morgan and Joshua D. Rothman have written, there were numerous interracial relationships in the Wayles-Hemings-Jefferson families, as well as in Albemarle County and Virginia, often with multiple generations repeating the pattern. For instance, Eppes' father-in-law Thomas Jefferson had such a relationship with his slave Sally Hemings when he was a widower, as his father-in-law John Wayles had as a widower with his slave Betty Hemings. Each man had six mixed-race children with their slaves, who were also mixed-race. The succeeding generations had increasing proportions of European ancestry, so that Jefferson's "natural" children were seven-eighths European, legally white in Virginia at that time.


Betsy Hemmings lived as a slave at Milbrook for the rest of her life, and cared for the children of Eppes' second family. The matriarch of the slave community, she was distressed when in 1828 Francis Eppes took some of her grown children with him as slaves when he moved with his young family and relations to Florida.


Betsy, also called Mam Bess, died at the age of 73 in 1857. She was buried at Millbrook plantation next to her master John Wayles Eppes in the white family cemetery, which was unusual for those times. Her gravesite is marked by a substantial tombstone attesting to the Eppes family's affection and respect for her; her descendants believe its location also marks the importance of her role in the life of John W. Eppes. These are the only two tombstones still visible in the family cemetery.


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 of 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


Eppes retired to his estate, Millbrook, in Buckingham County, Virginia, where he died September 13, 1823. He was buried in the private cemetery of the Eppes family at Millbrook, near Curdsville, Virginia.


John's second wife Patsy Eppes died at Millbrook in 1862. She was buried in the family cemetery of her daughter Mary (Eppes) and her husband Philip A. Bolling at their plantation in nearby Chellowe. Local stories were that she did not want to be buried near her husband's mistress.


A portrait of John W. Eppes hangs in the dining room of Weston Manor house in Hopewell, Virginia. He had given the plantation as a wedding gift to his cousin Christian Eppes and William Gilliam.

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John Wayles Eppes (April 19, 1773 – September 13, 1823) was a United States Representative and a Senator from Virginia.

Eppes was born at Eppington, Chesterfield County, Virginia the only son and youngest of six children of Francis Eppes and Elizabeth (née Wayles) on April 19, 1773. He 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 and commenced practice in Richmond, Virginia.

He married his cousin Mary Wayles Jefferson (known also as "Polly" and "Maria"), the daughter of Thomas Jefferson, October 13, 1797 at Monticello and the couple resided at Mont Blanco in Chesterfield County, Virginia. Amongst the wedding presents received from Jefferson was the 14-year-old slave Betsy Hemings (who may have been Jefferson's illegitimate daughter). Eppes and Maria had three children: a daughter born December 31, 1799 who lived only weeks; a son Francis W. Eppes (September 20, 1801–May 30, 1881) and Martha (February 20, 1804–July 1807). His wife Maria died just two months after bearing Martha, on April 17, 1804 at her father's home. Eppes later moved to a new plantation called Milbrook in Buckingham County, Virginia where Betsy Hemmings is recorded as being the nurse of his son Francis. When Betsy had a daughter by Eppes the child was named Frances.

In 1809 Eppes married nineteen-year-old Martha Jones from North Carolina; she was known as Patsy. They had their first child in 1810 and the last in 1820.

Eppes was a member of the Virginia House of Delegates from 1801 to 1803 and on March 4, 1803 he was elected as a Democratic-Republican to the Eighth United States Congress and the next three succeeding Congresses. He chaired the Ways and Means Committee for the Eleventh Congress but failed to be elected to the Twelfth. and spent two years planting at Milbrook. He was elected to the Thirteenth Congress (March 4, 1813-March 3, 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.

Eppes retired to his estate, ‘Millbrook’, in Buckingham County, Virginia, where he died September 13, 1823 and was interred in the private cemetery of the Eppes family at Millbrook, near Curdsville, Virginia. When Betsy Hemings died in 1857 she was buried next to Eppes' grave with an elaborate stone. Patsy Eppes died at Millbrook in 1862 and was buried at her daughter's home in nearby Chellowe instead of beside her husband at Millbrook. Anecdotal evidence suggests that Patsy Eppes would not be buried near her husband's mistress, Betsy Hemings.

A portrait of Eppes hangs in the dining room of Weston Manor house in Hopewell, Virginia. The plantation was a wedding gift to his cousin Christian Eppes and William Gilliam. -------------------- John Wayles Eppes (April 19, 1773 – September 13, 1823) was a United States Representative and a Senator from Virginia.

Eppes was born at Eppington, Chesterfield County, Virginia the only son and youngest of six children of Francis Eppes and Elizabeth (née Wayles) on April 19, 1773. He 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 and commenced practice in Richmond, Virginia.

He married his cousin Mary Wayles Jefferson (known also as "Polly" and "Maria"), the daughter of Thomas Jefferson, October 13, 1797 at Monticello and the couple resided at Mont Blanco in Chesterfield County, Virginia. Amongst the wedding presents received from Jefferson was the 14-year-old slave Betsy Hemings (who may have been Jefferson's illegitimate daughter). Eppes and Maria had three children: a daughter born December 31, 1799 who lived only weeks; a son Francis W. Eppes (September 20, 1801–May 30, 1881) and Martha (February 20, 1804–July 1807). His wife Maria died just two months after bearing Martha, on April 17, 1804 at her father's home. Eppes later moved to a new plantation called Milbrook in Buckingham County, Virginia where Betsy Hemmings is recorded as being the nurse of his son Francis. When Betsy had a daughter by Eppes the child was named Frances.

In 1809 Eppes married nineteen-year-old Martha Jones from North Carolina; she was known as Patsy. They had their first child in 1810 and the last in 1820.

Eppes was a member of the Virginia House of Delegates from 1801 to 1803 and on March 4, 1803 he was elected as a Democratic-Republican to the Eighth United States Congress and the next three succeeding Congresses. He chaired the Ways and Means Committee for the Eleventh Congress but failed to be elected to the Twelfth. and spent two years planting at Milbrook. He was elected to the Thirteenth Congress (March 4, 1813-March 3, 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.

Eppes retired to his estate, ‘Millbrook’, in Buckingham County, Virginia, where he died September 13, 1823 and was interred in the private cemetery of the Eppes family at Millbrook, near Curdsville, Virginia. When Betsy Hemings died in 1857 she was buried next to Eppes' grave with an elaborate stone. Patsy Eppes died at Millbrook in 1862 and was buried at her daughter's home in nearby Chellowe instead of beside her husband at Millbrook. Anecdotal evidence suggests that Patsy Eppes would not be buried near her husband's mistress, Betsy Hemings.

A portrait of Eppes hangs in the dining room of Weston Manor house in Hopewell, Virginia. The plantation was a wedding gift to his cousin Christian Eppes and William Gilliam. -------------------- John Wayles Eppes (April 19, 1773 – September 13, 1823) was a United States Representative and a Senator from Virginia.

Eppes was born at Eppington, Chesterfield County, Virginia the only son and youngest of six children of Francis Eppes and Elizabeth (née Wayles) on April 19, 1773. He 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 and commenced practice in Richmond, Virginia.

He married his cousin Mary Wayles Jefferson (known also as "Polly" and "Maria"), the daughter of Thomas Jefferson, October 13, 1797 at Monticello and the couple resided at Mont Blanco in Chesterfield County, Virginia. Amongst the wedding presents received from Jefferson was the 14-year-old slave Betsy Hemings (who may have been Jefferson's illegitimate daughter). Eppes and Maria had three children: a daughter born December 31, 1799 who lived only weeks; a son Francis W. Eppes (September 20, 1801–May 30, 1881) and Martha (February 20, 1804–July 1807). His wife Maria died just two months after bearing Martha, on April 17, 1804 at her father's home. Eppes later moved to a new plantation called Milbrook in Buckingham County, Virginia where Betsy Hemmings is recorded as being the nurse of his son Francis. When Betsy had a daughter by Eppes the child was named Frances.

In 1809 Eppes married nineteen-year-old Martha Jones from North Carolina; she was known as Patsy. They had their first child in 1810 and the last in 1820.

Eppes was a member of the Virginia House of Delegates from 1801 to 1803 and on March 4, 1803 he was elected as a Democratic-Republican to the Eighth United States Congress and the next three succeeding Congresses. He chaired the Ways and Means Committee for the Eleventh Congress but failed to be elected to the Twelfth. and spent two years planting at Milbrook. He was elected to the Thirteenth Congress (March 4, 1813-March 3, 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.

Eppes retired to his estate, ‘Millbrook’, in Buckingham County, Virginia, where he died September 13, 1823 and was interred in the private cemetery of the Eppes family at Millbrook, near Curdsville, Virginia. When Betsy Hemings died in 1857 she was buried next to Eppes' grave with an elaborate stone. Patsy Eppes died at Millbrook in 1862 and was buried at her daughter's home in nearby Chellowe instead of beside her husband at Millbrook. Anecdotal evidence suggests that Patsy Eppes would not be buried near her husband's mistress, Betsy Hemings.

A portrait of Eppes hangs in the dining room of Weston Manor house in Hopewell, Virginia. The plantation was a wedding gift to his cousin Christian Eppes and William Gilliam.

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John W. Eppes, U.S. Senator's Timeline

1773
April 7, 1773
Chesterfield, Virginia
1797
February 23, 1797
Age 23
Virginia, United States
1799
February 20, 1799
Age 25
Charlottesville, Albemarle, Virginia, USA
December 31, 1799
Age 26
1801
September 20, 1801
Age 28
Bermuda Place, Chesterfield, Virginia, USA
1832
September 5, 1832
Age 59
Millbrook, Buckingham, Virginia, USA
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