On January 7, 1790, in Philadelphia, she married John Todd, Jr. (1764-1793), a lawyer who was instrumental in keeping her father out of bankruptcy and who found Mary Payne a position as the manager of a boarding house. The couple had two sons, John Payne February 29, 1792-1852 and William Temple (b./d. (1793). In 1793, a yellow fever epidemic broke out in Philadelphia. Her husband moved Dolley and John Payne out of the city to safety, while he returned to attend to the sick including his parents. John Todd and his parents soon died, however.  Their youngest son, William Temple Todd, also died in 1793 from yellow fever. Dolley and her other son, John Payne, were both also afflicted with yellow fever, but recovered.
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