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Portrait of Ellen Randolph Coolidge

Ellen Wayles Randolph (Coolidge) (1796-1876) View Interactive Version ]

Also known as: Eleanora

Ellen Wayles Randolph, the third child of Martha Jefferson Randolph and Thomas Mann Randolph, was born on 13 October 1796. An accomplished scholar, particularly in languages, and a favorite of her grandfather, Ellen often accompanied Jefferson on trips to his home in Bedford, Poplar Forest. She was considered the belle of the family and remained the eldest unmarried daughter for many years. Ellen traveled to Richmond, Washington, D.C., Baltimore, and Philadelphia, where she was popular with her grandfather’s old friends, as well as young gentlemen. On 27 May 1825, Ellen married a wealthy Boston merchant, Joseph Coolidge, Jr., in the parlor at Monticello. After their marriage, Ellen and Joseph maintained close ties with the Monticello family from their home in Boston, Massachusetts. Ellen gave birth to six children in four years, including twin boys. When her husband’s business interests took him to China for long periods, Ellen met him in London in 1838 for an extended visit and described her activities and impressions of the country in a journal still extant. After Joseph left China in 1844, the Coolidge family spent some years in Europe before returning to Boston. Ellen died in Boston on 30 April 1876.

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