Biography: Patty Allen (1770-after 1831)

Follow archivist and historian Heather Bollinger as she uncovers and reports the lives of enslaved and free people who lived and worked at this National Historic Landmark. Patty Allen labored as a cook for the Peter family.  Yet her journey as an enslaved person started long before she came to Tudor Place.  Documents showed at one year old, Patty, was enslaved to John “Jacky” Parke Custis (1754 – 1781), the only son of Martha Washington before she married George Washington. Following Jacky’s father’s death in 1757, under Virginia’s laws concerning intestacy (dying without a will), almost 18,000 acres of land and personal property including about 285 enslaved persons were held in trust for him until he came of age. When his sister died in 1773, Jacky became the sole heir of all that was the Custis estate, including Patty.


In recent years, Tudor Place has been substantiating its narrative of enslavement through in-depth research, outreach to descendants and archaeological digs in various places on-site. These fragments represent a history that was mostly erased from the landscape and stands in contrast to the preserved house and intact objects of the Peter family. Piecing these fragments together builds humanity around the individual’s whole life and contributes a more unified narrative of the story of Tudor Place that includes the lives of the enslaved and free people. Tudor Place hopes to instill in visitors an understanding of how the practice of slavery was distinctive in the District of Columbia—and in particular Georgetown where the landscape included enslaved and free, artisans and laborers, differing religions, young and old, so that we may celebrate the triumphs and the complexities of the past to forge a better future.

Read Patty Allen’s biograph here: