Portrait by Robert Edge Pine, 1785. Courtesy Washington / Custis / Lee
Collection, Washington and Lee University,
Portrait by John Beale Bordley, 1841. Courtesy Kenmore
Association, Fredericksburg, VA
Martha Parke Custis Peter
Copy by Armistead Peter III (1975) of the well-known Pine portrait
Courtesy, Tudor Place Foundation, Inc.
Eleanor and Elizabeth Parke Custis were two of Martha
Washington's four grandchildren. Martha's son, John Parke Custis,
born during her earlier marriage to Daniel Parke Custis, had four
children by his wife Eleanor Calvert: Elizabeth (Betsey) Parke (1776-1832),
Martha (Patsy) Parke (1777-1854), Eleanor (Nelly) Parke (1779-1852),
and George Washington Parke (1781-1857).
John Parke Custis died in 1781, and in 1783 his
widow Eleanor married David Stuart, an Alexandria physician. The
eldest two daughters (Elizabeth and Martha) lived with their mother
and stepfather, while Nelly and her brother lived with their grandparents
George and Martha Washington.
Short visits between the two homes were frequent,
but in the winter of 1795-96, when the letter from George Washington
in Philadelphia to Nelly dated 21 March
1796, was written, Nelly was sent for an extended stay with
her mother at the Stuart estate of Hope Park, located ten miles
west of Alexandria in Fairfax County. George and Martha spent
that winter in Philadelphia so that the President could attend
the First Session of the Fourth Congress.
Martha (Patty) Parke Custis (1777-1854), the second daughter of John Parke Custis and Eleanor Calvert, was born in the Blue Room at Mount Vernon. Patty married Thomas Peter (1769-1834) on January 6, 1795 at Hope Park. Before she was married, Patty requested a miniature of himself from her step grandfather, George Washington. Painted in Philadelphia, 1794-1795, by Walter Robertson, the miniature is watercolor on ivory and is set in gold, and depicts the General in his continental army uniform. Martha Peter's daughter Britannia later recorded: "When Mrs. Peter was about to be married, she wrote to General Washington and asked him to sit for his miniature for her, -telling him, that the wish nearest her heart was, to possess his likeness. He replied by saying, -he would with pleasure comply with her request; but, -he could never believe the wish nearest a young lady's heart ľon the eve of her marriage, was to possess an old man's picture."
Patricia Brady, ed., George Washington's Beautiful
Nelly: The Letters of Eleanor Parke Custis Lewis to Elizabeth
Bordley Gibson, 1794-1851, xix, 1-3, 20-23.
Information on Martha Parke Custis courtesy of Wendy Kail, Archivist, Tudor Place Historic House and Garden.
Tudor Place Archives, Britannia's Gleanings, pp. 96- 97, MS 7, Box 8, F 1. More information on
Martha Parke Custis Peter»