The Syphax family descends from Charles Syphax and Maria Carter, who were enslaved household servants owned by George Washington at Mount Vernon in Virginia. They were later owned by George Washington Parke Custis at Arlington House in Virginia. The Syphax family was one of the most influential enslaved families in the area.
Maria Carter was the daughter of Arianna Carter and George Washington Parke Custis. She and her children were freed by Custis in 1826 and given a seventeen-acre plot of land within the boundaries of Arlington plantation.