Martha Jefferson Randolph
September 27, 1772, in Charlottesville, Virginia
October 10, 1836, in Albemarle County, Virginia
Though Dolley Madison served as Thomas Jefferson’s official hostess, the widowed Jefferson also relied on his oldest daughter Martha (Patsy) Jefferson Randolph to assist with White House entertaining. Patsy was 29 years old and married to a congressman when her father became president. Because Patsy and her husband lived in Washington, D.C., she was able to assist with White House entertaining periodically throughout Jefferson’s two terms in 1801-1809. Jefferson, seeking help from a family member and family friend to fulfill the duties of a first lady, created a precedent that other unmarried presidents followed in subsequent years. Patsy not only served as Jefferson’s hostess during his presidency, but also in his retirement years at Monticello. In fact, she and her 11 children spent most of their time living at Monticello, even after Patsy’s husband was elected as governor of Virginia and moved to Richmond.