Jane Contee


Jane Contee (Valley, Prince George's, Maryland, United States; September 17, 1726-Frederick County, Maryland, United States; February 21, 1812) was the original First Lady of the United States in 1781.


Jane Contee was the daughter of Jane Brooke (1703-1779), a native of Maryland and the daughter of Thomas Brooke (1660-1731), president of the Maryland council and thirteenth governor of Maryland. His father, Alexander Contee (1692-1740), was a prosperous Nottingham merchant who acquired large tracts of land and was for many years the clerk of the county court, an office of great importance in those days.

His parents got married in 1720 in Nottingham, Prince George's and together they had 6 children: Alexander Contee (1724-1734), Peter Contee (1726-1779), Thomas Contee (1729-1811), John Contee (1724-1796), Jane Contee (1726-1812) and Catherine Contee (1732-1831).

One of his brothers, Peter Contee (1726-1779), was First Lieutenant of the Flying Camp Battalion in July 1776 and First Lieutenant of the Stevensons Rifle Battalion in September of the same year. He was wounded and captured at Fort Washington on November 16, 1776, and died in New York the following month while in prison.

Jane Contee married John Hanson (1715-1783) in 1747 in Annapolis, Maryland and together they had 13 children: Jane Contee Hanson (1747-1781), Alexander Contee Hanson (1749-1806), David Hanson (1750-1800), John Hanson (1753-1760), James Hanson (1756-1830), John Hanson (1758-1818), Grace Hanson (1762-1763), Elizabeth Hanson (1775-1825), Catherine Contee Hanson (1744-1767), Elizabeth Hanson (1751-1753), Samuel Hanson (1756-1781), Peter Contee Hanson (1758-1776) and John Hanson (1768-1825).

One of his daughters, Jane Hanson (1747-1781), married Philip Thomas (1747-1815), an American physician, patriot, and politician. Peter Hanson (1748-1776), died at the Battle of Fort Washington during the American War of Independence and Alexander Contee Hanson (1749-1806), was a prominent essayist.


Although the title would not come into use until the 1850s or become official until the 1930s, all women who served alongside their presidential husbands, beginning with Jane Contee Hanson in 1781, fulfilled the role of the nation's First Lady.

Jane was a widow for the last 29 years of her life and survived all but one of her 13 children. During her widowhood, she was cared for by her widowed son-in-law, Dr. Philip Thomas, who lived next door to her in Frederick, Maryland.


Jane Contee Hanson died on February 21, 1812, in Frederick County, Maryland, United States, at the age of 83. Like her husband, the burial site was forgotten until it was rediscovered in 2011 in an anonymous mass grave at Mount Olivet Cemetery in Frederick, Maryland.

The Jane Hanson National Monument in her honor was completed in 2015 and is located next to the mass grave where she rests.


  • Biography for John Hanson in the Maryland State Archives.