Syphax, Maria Carter, 1804-1886

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Maria Carter Syphax (1804-1886) was the daughter of Arianna Carter, an enslaved maid of George and Martha Washington, and was owned by George Washington Parke Custis. In 1821 She married Charles Syphax. In 1826, Mr. Custis gave Maria Carter Syphax and her children their freedom and a seventeen-acre plot within the Arlington plantation. The Syphaxes had ten children who lived as free persons on the estate. According to Syphax family tradition, George Washington Parke Custis was the father of Maria Carter Syphax.

Many of their children became leaders in the Arlington community. Their son William Syphax served as Chief Messenger for the U.S. Department of the Interior. Through William’s efforts, his mother was able to retain the rights to her Arlington property when the U.S. government confiscated Custis’s estate after the Civil War.

Archival Resources
Role Title Holding Repository
Role Title Holding Repository
referencedIn The other heirs of Arlington House : interview with Steve Hammond Virginia Historical Society Library
referencedIn The land of Maria Syphax and the Abbey mausoleum Virginia Historical Society Library
Place Name Admin Code Country
Arlington VA US
Arlington VA US
Arlington VA US


Birth 1804

Death 1866



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Ark ID: w648525s

SNAC ID: 85305668