Custis was born in York County on the Queen's Creek plantation of his parents, John Custis, who became a member of the governor's Council in 1727, and Frances Parke Custis. His uncle William Byrd (1674–1744), also a member of the Council, and Lieutenant Governor Alexander Spotswood stood as his godfathers. A member of one of the colony's wealthiest landed families, Custis was the child of an unhappy marriage. His parents were both hot-tempered and eccentric. Sometime after the death of his mother from smallpox in March 1715 but before 1717, Custis's father moved into a brick townhouse on Francis Street in Williamsburg and indulged his interest in horticulture by planting a notable garden with many new and experimental plants. Custis grew up in the capital and may have attended the grammar school and College of William and Mary.
In 1748 Custis began courting Martha Dandridge, daughter of a local planter and county clerk. She was the niece of William Dandridge, a naval officer and member of the governor's Council who had died four years earlier, and the elder sister of Bartholomew Dandridge, who served in the Convention of 1776, on the Council of State, and on the Virginia Court of Appeals. She was then seventeen years old, twenty years Custis's junior. Custis's father objected strenuously to the Dandridge family's inability to provide a substantial dowry and to what he perceived as her inferior social status. Eventually the young woman persuaded Custis's father to relent and give permission for them to marry. Late in 1749, not long after he had signed a will in favor of his son, Custis's father died. Custis then inherited nearly 18,000 acres of prime farmland, houses in Williamsburg and Jamestown, about 200 additional slaves, and English treasury notes and cash worth several thousand pounds. He married Martha Dandridge on May 15, 1750, at Chestnut Grove, her New Kent County residence.
As one of the richest men in the colony, Custis could have taken a leading role in public affairs but never chose to do so. He and his second son became ill on July 4, 1757. His son survived, but Daniel Parke Custis died at White House on July 8, 1757. The medicines prescribed for treating his illness suggest that he died of some sort of virulent throat infection, such as scarlet fever, a streptococcal infection, diphtheria, or quinsy. He was buried beside his mother and children in the family burial ground at the Queen's Creek plantation in York County.
October 15, 1711 - Daniel Parke Custis is born in York County on the Queen's Creek plantation of his parents, John Custis (1678–1749) and Frances Parke Custis.
May 15, 1750 - Daniel Parke Custis marries Martha Dandridge at Chestnut Grove. They will have four children.
July 8, 1757 - Daniel Parke Custis dies at White House of a virulent throat infection. His widow, Martha Dandrige Custis inherits the property that was her dower right and manages the large estate for the benefit of their children.
- Colonial History (ca. 1560–1763)
Cite This Entry
- APA Citation:
Brady, P., & the Dictionary of Virginia Biography. Daniel Parke Custis (1711–1757). (2013, November 20). In Encyclopedia Virginia. Retrieved from http://www.EncyclopediaVirginia.org/Custis_Daniel_Parke_1711-1757.
- MLA Citation:
Brady, Patricia and the Dictionary of Virginia Biography. "Daniel Parke Custis (1711–1757)." Encyclopedia Virginia. Virginia Foundation for the Humanities, 20 Nov. 2013. Web. READ_DATE.
First published: April 15, 2013 | Last modified: November 20, 2013
Contributed by Patricia Brady and the Dictionary of Virginia Biography.