Dolley (Payne) Madison

Dorthea (Payne) Madison (1768 - 1849)

Privacy Level: Open (White)
Dorthea (Dolley) [uncertain] "Dolly" [uncertain] Madison formerly Payne aka Todd
Born in New Garden, Guilford, North Carolinamap
Ancestors ancestors
Wife of — married in North Carolinia, USAmap
Wife of — married in Harewood, Jefferson County, Va USAmap
Descendants descendants
Died in Washington City, District of Columbia, USAmap
Profile last modified | Created 27 Nov 2011
This page has been accessed 10,656 times.

Categories: Spouses of US Presidents | First Ladies of the United States | North Carolina Notables | Women in the War of 1812 | Nominated Profiles | This Day In History May 20.

U.S. President Wife
Dolley (Payne) Madison was the wife of a United States President.
Join: US Presidents Project
Discuss: presidents



Dolley Payne Todd Madison (May 20, 1768 – July 12, 1849) was the wife of James Madison, President of the United States from 1809 to 1817. She was noted for her social gifts, which boosted her husband’s popularity as President. In this way, she did much to define the role of the President’s spouse, known only much later by the title First Lady—a function she had sometimes performed earlier for the widowed Jefferson.

Dolley Madison also helped to furnish the newly constructed White House. When the British set fire to it in 1814, she was credited with saving the classic portrait of George Washington. In widowhood, she often lived in poverty, partially relieved by the sale of her late husband’s papers.[1]

Dolly Madison: 4th U.S. First Lady

Dolley Madison was a US First Lady, the wife of the fourth President of the United States, James Madison. [2] She was born in May 20, 1768 in a Quaker community called New Garden - now known as Guilford County, North Carolina. Her father, John Payne, was a farmer and starch manufacturer and her mother, Mary Coles, was like most women of the era, a homemaker and primary caregiver. [3] [4]

There is much controversy and confusion over her name: Dolly, Dolley, even Dorothy and Dorothea. If you go to your local library you will find books on both Dolly Madison and Dolley Madison. Some of her biographers insisted that her given name was Dorothea, others wrote that it was really Dorothy - although generally in their book titles they bowed to the convention of Dolly.

Her original name was Dolley Payne, then Dolley Payne Todd, and finally Dolley Payne Madison.[5]No proof of documentation.

Birth Order and siblings

Dolly was the fourth of eight children. She had four brothers and three sisters.[6]

  • Walter Payne (early 1760s -1784)
  • William Temple Payne (mid-1760s - 1795)
  • Isaac Payne (mid-1760s - 1795)
  • Lucy Payne Washington Todd (1777 - 1846)--Lucy m.1 George Steptoe Washington (nephew of the first President); m.2 Thomas Todd, U.S. Supreme Court Associate Justice.
  • Anna Payne Cutts (1779 - 1832)--Anna m. Congressman Richard Cutts (MA).
  • Mary " Polly " Payne Jackson (1781 - 1808)--Mary m. Congressman John George Jackson (VA).
  • John C. Payne (b.1782)--Date of death unknown.

Physical Appearance

Height: 5' 6 1/2" [6]
Hair: Black
Eyes: Blue

Religious Affiliation

Born into the Quaker faith, but expelled after her marriage to non-Quaker James Madison; attended Episcopalian services, and was confirmed in that faith in 1845, July 15 at St. John's Church, Washington, D.C.

Early Years

Her early years are shrouded in mystery and the many blanks have been filled with myths, oral histories, and family legends - some of which were of her own making. In August 1834, she wrote a friend who had been commissioned to write a biographical sketch of her: "My family were all Virginians except myself, who was born on a visit of one year to an Uncle." Eager to be included among the first families of Virginia, Mrs. Madison explained that "their families on both sides, were among the most respectable citizens of the state." The truth is that the Payne family had moved to North Carolina, and that her next oldest brother, William Temple Payne, had been born there too. But DPM wanted to belong to one of Virginia's finest families, and so as she reconstructed her past.

First Marriage: 07 Jan 1790

Husband: John Todd Jr (1763-1793) Age 21[6]
Occupation: lawyer
Marriage Date: 07 Jan 1790
Marriage Place: Pine Street Meeting House, Philadelphia, PA
Dolly and John lived in a modest three-story brick house at the corner of Fourth and Walnut Streets. Todd died in a yellow fever epidemic on 14 October 1793. They had two sons John Payne and William Temple (July 4, 1793). Her 29 year old husband,son William and husband's parents all died from Yellow Fever. [1]

Second Marriage: 15 Sep 1794

In 1794, she was introduced to James Madison by her friend Aaron Burr. James (1751-1836) -- planter and Virginia Congressman -- was 17 years her senior. On 15 September 1794, she married at age 26. The wedding was held at "Harewood" Estate in Charles Town, West Virginia.
The couple lived in Madison's elegant three-story Spruce Streetbrick house until his retirement in 1797. That's when they moved to the Madison family plantation in Orange, VA. It's called, "Montpelier."
The Madisons had no children of their own, but raised Dolley's son John from her first marriage.

First Lady (04 Mar 1809 - 03 Mar 1817)

Dolly was the first presidential wife to plan and approve the Inaugural Ball. She was also the first wife to associate herself with a humanitarian project.
04 Mar 1809 - 03 Mar 1817
Age: 40

Death: 12 Jul 1849

According to legend, it was at Dolley funeral that incumbent President Zachary Taylor eulogized her as "First Lady." It might have been the first known use of the title, but no record of his eulogy is extant. (heresay)
12 Jul 1849 Washington DC: Died at home. Age 81.
Initially buried in Congressional Cemetery, DC. Re-interred at Montpelier estate, Orange, VA.
Cemetery: Montpelier Estate National Historic Site [7]
Place: Montpelier Station, Orange County, Virginia, USA

File Format: jpg. Dolly Madison-1.


  1. 1.0 1.1 Wikipedia: Dolly Madison
  2. Entered by Travis Wagner, Apr 13, 2012
  3. Entered by Janice Hardin, Nov 27, 2011
  4. Entered by Vicki Norman, Jan 10, 2014
  5. Dolly Madison Project online
  6. 6.0 6.1 6.2 First Ladies Biographies: Dolly Payne Madison
  7. FindAGrave: Memorial ID: Dolly Payne Todd Madison Memorial

More Genealogy Tools

Sponsored Search

Memories: 3

On 11 Sep 2016 John Akard III wrote:

Dolley had planned a dinner party at The White House. The word that the British were approaching very soon, sent her to make her preparations for departure leaving the dinner on the tables. Before the British set fire to The White House, they sat down and ate the dinner.

On 17 Jan 2014 Robin Kabrich wrote:

Dolly Madison is responsible for saving many American treasures in the White House during the War of 1812, most notably an irreplaceable portrait of George Washington. She ordered the removal of several artifacts before leaving herself, just before the British burned the White House.

On 16 Nov 2008 Crystal McCann wrote:

For half a century she was the most important woman in the social circles of America and remains one of the best known and best loved First Ladies.

Login to add your own memory.

Searching for someone else?
First: Last:

No known carriers of Dolley's mitochondrial DNA have taken an mtDNA test.

Have you taken a DNA test for genealogy? If so, login to add it. If not, see our friends at Ancestry DNA.

Images: 5

Dolly Madison Image 2
Dolly Madison Image 2

The Octagon
The Octagon

Dolley Madison's Grave
Dolley Madison's Grave

Dolley Madison signature
Dolley Madison signature


On 23 Mar 2018 at 02:18 GMT G Moore wrote:

I removed the 1776 Project template. I didn't see any sources showing her participation in the American Revolution as a soldier or patriot or civil servant. I don't think that she fits the criteria for found father, also. Correct me if I am wrong. I did add the North Carolina Notables category

On 11 Sep 2016 at 12:43 GMT John Akard III wrote:

Dolley married James Madison at "Harwood" the home of her sister, Lucy Payne Washington (later Todd). Dolley reciprocated by having Lucy's second wedding at The White House.

Dolley is 21 degrees from Rosa Parks, 19 degrees from Anne Tichborne and 14 degrees from Victoria of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland on our single family tree. Login to find your connection.

P  >  Payne  |  M  >  Madison  >  Dorthea (Payne) Madison