Facts and Events
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Ambrose Madison (January 17, 1696 - August 27, 1732) became a planter in the Piedmont of Virginia. He married Frances Taylor in 1721, daughter of James Taylor, a member of the Knights of the Golden Horseshoe Expedition across the Blue Ridge Mountains from the Tidewater. Through her father, Madison and his brother-in-law Thomas Chew were aided in acquiring 4,675 acres in 1723, in what became Orange County. There he developed his tobacco plantation known as Mount Pleasant (and later as Montpelier.) The Madisons were parents of James Madison, Sr. and grandparents of President James Madison.
After Madison died of a short illness in August 1732, three slaves were convicted of poisoning him, and one was executed for the crime. It was the first time in Virginia that slaves were convicted of killing a planter.
Early Land Acquisition in Orange County, VA
Acquisition of Land from Orange County, VA Records:
- Pages 10-13.26 May 1737. Thos Chew of Orange County, Gent., to Frances Maddison, widow, and James Maddison, son and heir of Ambrose Maddison, deceased, both of same. For £200 current money. Ambrose Maddison in his lifetime and the said Thomas Chew obtained a pattent for 4,675 acres in Spotsylvania, now Orange County, bearing date 15 Nov. 1723. Ambrose departed this life before any legal division of the land was made, by which the whole was vested in Thomas Chew as survivor. Thomas Chew hath reserved to himself 1,825 acres bounded... land of Mr. John Scott which devides the said land from the residue of the said tract... To Frances Maddison during the term of her natural life and to James Maddison after the death of Frances, all the residue of the said 4,675 acres, being 2,850 acres adjoyning to the lands of John Baylor, the Ochina [?] Tract and Col. William Todd's land... (signed) Thos. Chew. Wit: Wm. Waller, J. Lewis. 26 May 1737. Acknowledged by Thos. Chew, Gent. On motion of George Taylor admitted to record. [Orange County Virginia Deed Book 2, Dorman, pg. 35]. (Note: since Ambrose Madison had died in 1732, his widow Frances (Taylor) Madison was the acquiree of this land).
- Miller, Ann L. The Short Life and Strange Death of Ambrose Madison.
The Short Life and Strange Death of Ambrose Madison
Ambrose Madison (ca. 1696-1732), Grandfather of President James Madison. Born into a well established Tidewater Virginia family, Ambrose Madison built a rising career as a planter, merchant, entrepreneur and county official before moving westward into the fertile soil of the new Piedmont frontier—to the land that would later become his family’s Montpelier plantation. But his ordered and ambitious life was cut short by an early and violent death. Ambrose Madison was just establishing his family at his new plantation in the summer of 1732 when he was killed by slaves—the first documented murder victim in the region.
Here, for the first time, the scattered remaining records concerning Ambrose Madison are brought together to reconstruct not only much of the life, but also the death of this previously little-known figure—a nearly three-century-old murder mystery.
- Will of Ambrose Madison, 1732.