John Wayles (January 31, 1715 - May 28, 1773) was Martha Wayles Skelton Jefferson's father and Thomas Jefferson's father-in-law. He was born in Lancaster, England, in 1715 and emigrated to Virginia, likely in the 1730s, though the date is not known. He established his home at The Forest, in Charles City County.
On May 3, 1746, Wayles married Martha Eppes, born at Bermuda Hundred on April 10, 1721. Martha gave birth to twins on December 23, 1746, a boy and a girl. According to Thomas Jefferson's notes, the girl was stillborn and the boy lived only a few hours. Almost two years later, on October 31, 1748, Martha Wayles gave birth to her only surviving child, also named Martha. Martha Eppes Wayles died less than a week later, on November 5, 1748, at the age of 27.
John Wayles's second marriage was to Tabitha Cocke. The first child of this marriage, Sarah, did not survive to adulthood. The second child, Elizabeth, was born February 24, 1752; Tabitha was born November 16, 1753; and Anne was born August 26, 1756. Jefferson notes that Wayles's second wife died, but fails to record the date; obviously, her death occurred sometime between August 1756 and January 26, 1760, when Wayles married Elizabeth Lomax Skelton (incidentally the widow of Reuben Skelton, brother of Martha Wayles's first husband Bathurst Skelton). Elizabeth Lomax Skelton Wayles died a little more than a year after her marriage to John Wayles, on February 10, 1761. They had no children.
After the death of his third wife, John Wayles took his slave Elizabeth Hemings as his "concubine," according to several sources, and was the father of her children Robert, James, Peter, Critta, Sally, and Thenia Hemings.
Wayles died on May 28, 1773, leaving substantial property and debt. Thomas Jefferson and Wayles's other co-executors spent several years handling the complex estate. The majority of Wayles's papers and financial records do not survive, having disappeared from Eppington in the mid-nineteenth century.
- Anna Berkes, 11/12/07
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