Martha Skelton Jefferson


Martha Skelton Jefferson


The young widow Martha Skelton, whom Thomas Jefferson married in 1772, had many suitors. Two gentlemen among their number decided to visit her together. Arriving at her house, they heard as they stood in the hall the sound of music — a violin accompanied by a harpsichord, and a lady and a gentleman singing. At once the two would-be suitors realized who the gentleman was: Jefferson. They knew this because he was the only violinist in the vicinity. Acknowledging to each other that if Jefferson was pursuing the beautiful young widow, then they were wasting their time, and they stole out of the house and returned home.

Biographical Note: 

Martha Skelton Jefferson was the only wife of her second husband, president Thomas Jefferson. When Thomas Jefferson came courting, Martha Wayles Skelton at 22 was already a widow, an heiress, and a mother whose firstborn son would die in early childhood. Family tradition says that she was accomplished and beautiful — with slender figure, hazel eyes, and auburn hair — and wooed by many.