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Places Documents A Short History of the Jefferson family The Jeffersons are sometimes said to be of Welsh descent, but this is not certain. However, it is certain they are of Scottish and English descent. President Thomas Jefferson was the 19th great-grandson of King William I, the lion of Scotland, through his mother Ann Randolph’s grandmother Mary Isham.  He was also the 23rd  great-grandson of King Henry I of England through has great-grandmother, Mary Branch, wife of Thomas Jefferson. The son of Thomas Jefferson and Mary Branch, Captain Thomas Jefferson Jr. (1679-1731), married Mary Field. He was Justice of Chesterfield County Court in 1706 and High Sheriff from 1718 to 1719. His son Colonel Peter Jefferson was born the 29th of February 1708 in Chesterfield County, Virginia, and was one of six siblings. His formal education was limited, but according to his son, Thomas Jefferson, he read much and improved himself. The public offices and military commissions Peter Jefferson held were: Justice of Goochland County Court in 1735, High Sheriff from 1737 to 1739, Justice of the Peace of Albemarle County in 1744 Lieutenant Colonel in 1745, Colonel in 1754, County Lieutenant in 1755, Member of the House of Burgesses in 1755. In 1734, Peter Jefferson claimed land in what later became Albemarle County, Virginia. He named his plantation Shadwell. In 1739 he married Jane Randolph. She was the granddaughter of William Randolph of Turkey Island and the daughter of General Isham Randolph and Jane Rogers. For two years they lived in what became Powhatan County, Virginia (named for Pocahontas’ father). In 1741 Peter Jefferson built a house on his Shadwell plantation. Peter Jefferson was a surveyor and cartographer. He made the Fry-Jefferson map in 1751,  the first map to accurately show the details of the Allegheny Mountains and the Yadkin Road, also known as the Great Wagon Road, from the Yadkin River for 455 miles through Virginia and Pennsylvania to Philadelphia. Peter Jefferson died the 17th of August 1757. Peter Jefferson and Ann Randolph’s son, Thomas Jefferson (1743-1826), was the 3rd president of the United States. His second wife, Martha Wayles, was his 3rd cousin. It has recently been proven with DNA analysis that Thomas Jefferson had a long term relationship with one of his slaves named Sally Hemings and their descendents are still living. When Thomas Jefferson was Minister to France and went to Paris with his daughters they were accompanied by two slaves named James and his sister Sally Hemings. Jefferson had James Hemings trained as a French chef and the Hemings learned to speak French while they were in Paris. The Hemings were with Jefferson in Philadelphia as chefs. Some historians believe Jefferson’s and Sally Hemings’ relationship began in Paris. Thomas Jefferson began his formal schooling in 1752 at a local school. When he was nine years old he began learning French, Latin and Greek and nature study. Thomas Jefferson was fourteen years old, when his father died. He inherited the Shadwell plantation with 5,000 acres of land that was worked by a large number of slaves. He still studied history and science and received a classical education at local schools. He was also an accomplished violinist. In 1760 when he was 16 years old he began studying mathematics and philosophy at William and Mary College in Williamsburg, Virginia. He graduated from William and Mary in 1762 with highest honors. He read law under Professor Georg Wythe at William and Mary and was admitted to the Virginia bar in 1767. A year later in 1768 he began building a classical mansion called Monticello. Thomas Jefferson owned over 600 slaves and he taught some of his slaves to read and write. Thomas Jefferson was a member of the House of Burgesses representing Albemarle County from 1769. He disagreed with the Coercive Act passed by the British Parliament in 1774 and began writing critical articles. His first published work “A Summary of the Rights of British America” expressed his view that the colonies had a natural right to govern themselves. This was considered a radical idea at the time. In 1775 Thomas Jefferson was a delegate representing Virginia at the second Continental Congress. He was a member of a five man committee to prepare a declaration to accompany a resolution of independence. The committee selected him to write the draft. The Alexander family in Charlotte, North Carolina published a declaration of independence, called the Mecklenburg Declarations, a year earlier. The Alexanders sent it to Philadelphia to be read before the Continental Congress and some of the exact phrases from the Mecklenburg Declaration are in Thomas Jefferson’s draft. The draft was presented to Congress on June 28, 1776. Congress deleted about 25% of the text, including parts critical of slavery. The declaration was approved on the 4th of July 1776. Public offices held by Thomas Jefferson were: Member of the House of Burgesses beginning in 1769, Delegate to the second continental Congress in 1775, Member of the Virginia House of Delegates 1776, Governor of Virginia 1779-1781, Delegate to the Congress of the Confederation 1783, Member of the Committee for foreign exchange rates, Minister plenipotentiary 1784, Minister to France in 1785-1789, The first U.S. Secretary of State in George Washington’s administration from 1790 to 1793, Vice President of the United States 1796, 3rd President of the United States 1800-1809. Thomas broke with George Washington and Alexander Hamilton over the issue of federalism.  In 1793 he retired to Monticello where he continued his opposition. He associated federalism with monarchy and strongly believed in the sovereignty of the states. Thomas Jefferson founded the University of Virginia. It was the first university in the United States completely separate from religious doctrine. He founded the United States Military Academy at West Point in 1802. Jefferson bought the Louisiana Territory from France. This doubled the size of the United States at that time and even today it is still 23% of then entire United States. In 1807 he signed a bill making importation of slaves illegal. Home Genealogy People Places Gravestones Documents