Washington, Martha

The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed.

Washington, Martha

Martha Washington, 1731–1802, wife of George Washington, b. New Kent co., Va. The daughter of John Dandridge and Frances Jones Dandridge, she first married (1749) Daniel Parke Custis. She bore him four children, but the first two died in childhood. Custis himself died in July, 1757, leaving Martha one of the wealthiest women in Virginia. Washington first met her in Mar., 1758, lost no time in proposing, and was just as quickly accepted. They were married in Jan., 1759, and Washington took Martha and her family, John Parke Custis (d. 1781) and Martha Parke Custis (d. 1773), to his Mount Vernon estate. They had no children of their own, but John Parke Custis had four, and after John's death Washington adopted the youngest two, Eleanor Parke Custis and George Washington Parke Custis, whose daughter married Robert E. Lee.

See biographies by A. H. Wharton (1897, repr. 1967), A. C. Desmond (1942), and E. Thane (1960).

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