From Thomas Jefferson Encyclopedia

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Shadwell was the plantation of the Jefferson family. Located in Albemarle County, Virginia, it was named after the parish in London where Jane Randolph Jefferson was born.[1] The land was purchased from William Randolph by Peter Jefferson in 1736 for “Henry Weatherbourn’s biggest bowl of Arrack punch”.[2] A year later, in 1737, Peter Jefferson built the original house on the property and in 1739, following their marriage, his wife Jane Randolph Jefferson joined him there. Thomas Jefferson was born at Shadwell in 1743, but spent only a few years of his childhood there.[3]

The original house built by the Jefferson family was a one-and-a-half story frame dwelling, which burned in February of 1770.[4] Archaeological work has been done on the property, and in 1991 two cellar foundations were uncovered, one of which is believed to be the site of the original main house built by Peter Jefferson.[5]

In 1841, Col. Frank Ruffin and his wife, Cary Anne Nicholas Randolph Ruffin, built the current main house. Although located on the original ‘punch-bowl tract’ of land, the current Shadwell residence is not located near the site of the original Jefferson house.[6]


  1. Susan Kern, “The Material World of the Jeffersons at Shadwell.”
  2. Edward C. Mead, Historic Homes of the South-West Mountains: Virginia (Bridgewater, Virginia: C. J. Carrier Company, 1962), 55-56.
  3. Kern.
  4. Ibid.
  5. K. Edward Lay, The Architecture of Jefferson County: Charlottesville and Albemarle County, Virginia (Charlottesville: University Press of Virginia, 2000), 301 n. 19.
  6. Mead, 63-64.

--Alana 15:11, 12 June 2007 (EDT)