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Photographer: Kelbert McFarland Photography


Monticello + Jefferson's Family Houses

Updated: Mar 8, 2019

We were inspired by the February celebrations of the presidents to continue to post about the different American presidents' houses throughout their lives and even their family's houses before. So far we have covered Washington, Lincoln, and Adams. Like Adams, and unlike Lincoln and Washington, it is unlikely that the Jefferson paternal line descended from nobility so it is more difficult to trace his lineage in England. Surnames usually give this away as we discussed in our post on Adams- names that are similar like Peters, Owens, or Andrews indicate they were either the son of a commoner or sometimes the slave of someone named Adam, for example. Jefferson indicates the same- likely the son of a commoner named Jeff and so their lineage was not considered important to document (to our dismay!). We do know that the Jeffersons lived in Suffolk before coming to the colonies. Coming to the colonies proved to be the right move for these upwardly mobile Brits as Jefferson's grandfather was a Captain in Virginia and Jefferson's father, Peter, was a planter. Peter settled his family at Shadwell but sadly the house and birthplace of our president was destroyed by a fire. The house was named after Jefferson's mother, Jane Randolph's, parish in London.

The Randolph family is one of the "First Families of Virginia" and is much easier to trace than the Jeffersons. We discovered in our genealogy that Mary Randolph was our many-times-great-grandmother, who married into the Stith family, making our Stith ancestor the first or second cousin of President Jefferson. So this line will be personally more fun for us to investigate too! The Randolphs, shortened from Fitz Randolph, were the Lords of Spennithorne & Middleham, given to them by William the Conquerer. Prior to 1066, the family were simply the counts of Penthièvre and dukes/kings of Brittany- no last name required. Below is Chateau de Brest, where they lived for centuries. It looks a lot like the early castles I visited on my honeymoon in the South of France.

From Twitter

When the family became the Lords of Spennithorne & Middleham after the Battle of Hastings, they would live at Spennithorne Hall. Luckily it was sold just last year so we are able to see listing photos from "On the Market" of the estate and really look at the style. This is obviously much updating and overhauling of the hall they would have first built.

A couple of generations of Randolphs lived in Sussex- hi Prince Harry- after leaving Spennithorne Hall. Before the Randolphs came to America they were the Sirs of the village of Little Houghton, Northamptonshire. Below is the village church, St. Mary the Virgin. It was built in the 1100s or 1200s, with changes, updates, and much restoration to follow and keep it true to its original Gothic design.

And next is Little Houghton House where these "Sir Randolphs" would have lived. It has also been recently listed at On the Market so we are able to see a lot of the property.

When they came to America, the Randolph family established Tuckahoe Plantation. This is the remaining childhood home of our president as Shadwell burned and they were able to move into the (below) house of his mother's family.

From Tuckahoe Plantation

The house was built in the 1700s and is a perfect example of the architecture of the times to me. Jefferson was educated in a one room school house which still exists on the property. The house now allows weddings and the website says you can use the "Old Stable" which I think is the following. If I lived in Virginia, I absolutely would have wanted to look at this venue.

On the land he inherited from his father, Jefferson built Monticello, which we are all familiar with- it's the building on the nickel. The 43 room property is famed for its neoclassical architecture in addition to its historical significance.

From Traditional Building

The South Square room, below, is my favorite as I love silhouettes and toile. I have a similar hanging method with the silhouettes in my bedroom currently.

I also, love the Tea Room, below. Jefferson displayed busts of Ben Franklin and George Washington etc. which is just so funny to think of.

You can take a virtual tour on the website if you have never gotten to visit this amazing estate but we will leave you with one last image of the parlor room as it is possibly the most stunning!