The Marriage of Martha Dandridge
and Daniel Parke Curtis
The Parke, Custis, Jones, and Dandridge Families
There is no existing record of the first meeting of Martha Dandridge and Daniel Parke Custis. As a young girl it is likely she saw him at Saint Peter's Church or at neighborhood social functions, since their respective homes were only a few miles apart. The twenty year disparity in their ages would certainly discourage any interested thoughts on the part of either until Martha's physical maturity was attained. Such a time must have arrived about 1748 or 1749. Daniel, then a thirty-eight-year-old bachelor, was living at White House, one of his father's plantations, on the south side of the Pamunkey River in New Kent County. Martha, the eighteen- year-old eldest daughter of John Dandridge, was living at her home, Chestnut Grove, somewhat closer to New Kent Courthouse than White House.
Custis was the only son of the eccentric and wealthy John Custis, one of the largest land holders in the colony. He held large tracts of land on the Eastern Shore, Smith's and Mockhorn Islands off the coast, York County, New Kent County, King and Queen County, King William County, and smaller parcels of property in Williamsburg, James City, and Hanover Counties. He was the fourth of his name in Virginia.
The first John Custis and his wife, Joanne Powell, were inn-keepers in Rotterdam, where they "kept a victualling house in that town, liv'd in good repute, and was the general host of our nation there." 1 It is thought