The Resource Custis-Lee-Mason family papers

Custis-Lee-Mason family papers

Custis-Lee-Mason family papers, 1756-1863
Custis-Lee-Mason family papers
Inclusive dates
  • Papers, 1756-1863, of the Custis, Lee, and Mason families of Virginia, consisting of correspondence to and from members of these families. Collection is divided into three series: Series I: Custis Family Papers, 1756-1844. Series II: Lee Family Correspondence, 1832-1863. Series III: Mason Family Papers, 1822-1846
  • Custis family correspondence, 1756-1844, contain mainly correspondence to Mary Lee Fitzhugh Custis (1788-1853) of Alexandria County, District of Columbia and Virginia. Letters deal mainly with social, family, and personal news of her correspondents, who include her daughter Mary Custis Lee (1807-1873), Robert Randolph, Eleanor Parke Custis Lewis, T. James, Anna Maria Fitzhugh, S. E. Goldsboro, M. Meade, Lucy Jane Randolph, Rosalie [Fizhugh?], and William W. Meade. Many of the letters from Mary Custis Lee portray life as the wife of a military officer in the United States army during the 19th century. Of particular interest are: a) a letter, 27 May 1756, from Daniel Parke Custis of New Kent County, Virginia, to Robert Cary and Company, merchants of London, England, concerning his tobacco crop; b) a letter, n.d., from Mary Fitzhugh Lee Custis at Old Point Comfort, Virginia, to her husband George Washington Parke Custis, at Arlington, in Alexandria County, District of Columbia, concerning the status of one of their slaves; and c) a letter, n.d., from William W. Meade to Mary Lee Fitzhugh Custis concerning a contribution to the American Colonization Society
  • Lee family correspondence, 1832-1863, contains mainly correspondence to Mary Randolph Custis Lee (1807-1873) of Alexandria County, District of Columbia and Virginia, containing social, family, and personal news of her correspondents, who include: A. T. Hale, Mary B. Carter, Henrietta Dimmock, Julia C. Stuart, M. F. Powell, Robert E. Lee, Lloyd N. Rogers, Anna Maria Fitzhugh, S. E. Goldsboro, E. C. Huger, Mary C. Goldsboro, and George Washington Parke Custis. There are three letters, one from Mary Lee Fitzhugh Custis and two from Mary Randolph Custis Lee, to George Washington Custis Lee while he was a cadet at the United States Military Academy at West Point, New York. Letter, 12 July 1837, from Robert E. Lee (1807-1870) to his wife Mary Randolph Custis Lee describes an exhibit on George Washington at a Baltimore museum, for which her father George Washington Parke Custis had lent items. Also included letter, 1 March 1863, from T. G. B. to Mary describing a family's life during the Civil War
  • Mason family correspondence, 1822-1845, containing mainly correspondence to James Murray Mason (1798-1871) concerning the estate of his father-in-law, Benjamin Chew (d. 1844), including the dispute surrounding ownership of the Chew home, "Cliveden," Germantown, Pennsylvania, and other legal matters involving the estate of Chew, for whom Mason was an administrator. Also includes a letter, 9 July 1822, from Chew to Mason regarding Mason's upcoming marriage to Chew's daughter. Also includes the answer, n.d., of Benjamin Grayson, John W. Grayson, and George M. Grayson to a bill in chancery in the Superior Court of Chancery, Winchester District, and addressed to the honorable Henry St. George Tucker (1780-1848)
Member of
  • Accessioned
  • Described
  • Revised
  • Cellulose acetate lamination.
Biographical or historical data
  • Mary Lee Fitzhugh Custis was born 22 April 1788 to William Fitzhugh (1741-1809) and Ann Randolph Fitzhugh (1747-1805). She married George Washington Parke Custis (1781-1857) in 1806, and they were the parents of Mary Randolph Custis (1807-1873) who married Robert E. Lee (1807-1870). Mary Fitzhugh Custis died 23 April 1853 at Arlington in Alexandria County, Virginia, and was buried there. George Washington Parke Custis was the son of John Parke Custis (1755-1781), and the grandson of Daniel Parke Custis (1711-1757) and Martha Dandridge Custis Washington (1731-1802).
  • Mary Randolph Custis Lee was born 1 October 1808 at Annedale, Clarke County, Virginia to George Washington Parke Custis (1781-1857), the grandson of Martha Washington, and Mary Lee Fitzhugh (1788-1853). She married Robert E. Lee (1807-1870) at Arlington House 30 June 1831, where they lived off and on for many years before the Civil War began. Mary Custis Lee died 5 November 1873 in Lexington, Virginia. She was buried in the Lee Chapel at Washington and Lee University, Lexington. The Lees had seven children including George Washington Custis Lee (1832-1913).
  • James Murray Mason was born 3 November 1798 in Georgetown, District of Columbia, to John Mason and Anna Maria Murray. Educated at schools in Georgetown, he graduated from the University of Pennsylvania in 1818. Mason studied law at the College of William and Mary, then moved to Winchester, Virginia, in 1820 to practice law. Mason served in the Virginia House of Delegates from 1826 to 1831, except for 1827-1828. Elected to Congress, he served from 1837 to 1839. The Virginia state senate sent Mason to the United States Senate in 1847, and he became chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations and Finance Committees. When the Civil War began, Mason left the Senate and offered his services to the Confederate States of America. He was appointed the Confederate diplomatic commissioner to Great Britain. Taken from the British ship Trent, Mason spent a brief time in U.S. custody before being released. He went to Great Britain to carry out his duties. After the Civil War, Mason moved to Canada where he stayed before returning to Virginia in 1868. Mason died near Alexandria, Virginia, 28 April 1871, and was buried at Christ Episcopal Church. He married Elizabeth Margaretta Chew (b. 1798) 25 July 1822, and they had eight children.
Cataloging source
Custis-Lee-Mason family papers
  • The Library of Virginia
Cumulative index finding aids
  • Inventory
  • Inventory
Immediate source of acquisition
Freeman, Douglas Southall
Organization method
Collection is organized into three series. Series I: Custis Family Correspondence, 1756-1844. Series II: Lee Family Correspondence, 1832-1863. Series III: Mason Family Papers, 1822-1846.
Type of unit
cu. ft.



Member of

Library Locations

    • Library of VirginiaBorrow it
      800 East Broad Street, Richmond, VA, 23219, US
      37.5415632 -77.4360805
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