John Dandridge


Here lied interred the Body of Colonel John Dandridge of New Kent County who departed this life the 31st day of August 1756, Aged 56 years.

Section - Section 9
ID -114

Birth -1700

Death - 1756

Age - Age 41-60

Gender - Male

Profession - Clerk of Court

Veteran- N/A

Data -

[1] Colonel John Dandridge, father-in-law for George Washington was a brother of Colonel William Dandridge of the Council, was born in 1700 and came to Virginia about 1722. He had grant of a water front lot in Hampton, Elizabeth City County. His children were all born there. He served as County Clerk, which is those days (Colonial days) was considered a very lucrative position.

Colonel Dandridge married Frances Jones, daughter of Orlando Jones on July 22, 1730. He was the father of Martha Dandridge who married first Daniel Parks Custis, second George Washington. He died on August 31, 1756, aged 56 years. Historians do not seem to know why he died in Fredericksburg. Some state that he was here visiting his daughter, Martha who married General Washington, but that cannot be true because he died more than two years before his daughter was married. I have also read that he was here attending races at “Chatham”, held by William Fitzhugh.

In Saint George’s graveyard, near the northeast corner of the church Colonel Dandridge is buried.  His grave is marked by a flat stone, about four feet from the church, and with the following inscription:

No. 5.  Here lies the body of Colonel John Dandridge, Of New Kent County, who departed this life the 31st day of August, 1756, aged 56 years.

In Washington’s diaries, June 28 1788, he wrote that Mary Washington had “perceived that the Tomb of her Father, the late John Dandridge, Esq to be much out of sorts.”

Below is a letter written by George Washington to Charles Carter of Fredericksburg:

Dear Sir:

When Mrs. Washington was at the Church of Fredericksburg she perceived the Tomb of her father, the late John Dandridge Esquire, in a ruinous condition, and being desirous of having it done up again.  Will you permit me, my dear Sir, to request the favor of you to engage a workman to do this.  The cost I will remit so soon as it is known, and you shall inform me of the execution.

I would thank you for ascertaining the price before hand, having from disinclination to dispute accounts, felt, in too many instances, the expansion, of Tradesman’s consciences when no previous agreement has been made.

My best wishes in which Mrs. Washington joins me, are tendered to Mrs. Carter.  With much truth,

I am Dear Sir,

Your Most Obedience and Affectionate,
Honorable Servant,
George Washington

[2] In the burial ground of St. George’s church, near the northeast corner of the building, lies buried the father of Martha Washington, which fact has only some years since been brought to light, or if it had been before known, it was by the citizens of the past generation of the town. The reason it was unknown to the present generation is accounted for from the fact that the slab over the grave has been covered with dirt for more than half a century, most likely from the erection of the present church building, and was discovered only a few years ago. When the grave was discovered the slab covering it was cleaned off, and the inscription on it was found to read as follows :

“Here lies the body of Col. John Dandridge, of New Kent county, who departed this life the 31st day of August, 1756, aged 56 years.”

How he came to be buried in Fredericksburg is not positively known. It has been claimed by some persons that he was here on a visit to his daughter Martha, who married Gen. Washington, and the weather was so hot that his body could not be taken back to New Kent county, but that cannot be true because he was buried here more than two years before his daughter married Washington.

The most satisfactory explanation of Col. Dandridge’s presence in Fredericksburg, that we have heard given, is that he was attending the celebrated races at Chatham, held by Wm. Fitzhugh which drew to the town people from all sections of the country. But be that as it may, this Col. Dandridge is beyond doubt the father of Martha Washington, unless there were two gentlemen by that name and bearing the same appellation residing in New Kent county at that time, which is not probable.

[3] One account of his death was that he had come to Fredericksburg to visit his niece, Mary, daughter of Captain William Dandridge, and wife of Col. John Spottswood (who was on the St. George’s vestry). He was in their home when he had an attack of apoplexy and died in a short time. He was, of necessity, buried promptly.

Col. Dandridge was buried in Fredericksburg, rather than take the body 90 miles to his home, perhaps because of the oppressive summer heat and there was no way to preserve the body over the days it would have taken to return to New Kent County.

Sources -

[1] Sue Gordon
[2] Quinn’s History of Fredericksburg
[3] Death source: Old New Kent County [Virginia]: Some Account of the Planters, Plantations, and Places, Vol. 1, by Malcolm Harris, Genealogical Publishing Co., Baltimore, 2006

Notes - N/A;


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