Jefferson's daughter Patsy, or Patsey, as they spelled it then, was placed in the most select private school in Paris, the Abbaye Panthémont. Patsy's real name was Martha, but she was called Patsy to distinguish her from her mother, whose name was also Martha. Sadly, Jefferson's wife died in September, 1782.
So grief stricken was the future president that his family and friends feared that his depression would cause mental paralysis, or even death. His friends, including James Monroe acted to have Jefferson appointed ambassador to France. Jefferson left his small daughter Polly with cousins and brought Patsy with him to Paris in 1784. Before installing him in the Catholic convent school, Jefferson recieved assurances from the Abbesse, Marie Catherine de Béthizy-Mézières, that there would never be any effort to proselytize Patsy to convert to Catholicism.
Since there was, among the fifty students, a number of Protestant girls from England in the convent school Jefferson felt comfortable leaving his daughter there. There were also three Princesses of the French royal blood at the convent when Patsy was there. Jefferson welcomed his daughter home on weekends and wrote a number of letters to her, usually urging her to apply herself more deligently, especially in drawing and Latin.
Abbaye Panthémont, Patsy Jefferson's School 1784-1788. Photo by Harlan Lewin, 2007.
Abbaye de Panthémont, Rue de Grenelle, Paris. Photo by Harlan Lewin, 2007.
Interior of Abbaye de Panthémont at present a Protestant Church. Photo by Harlan Lewin, 2007.
Decoration, exterior front of Abbaye de Panthémont. Photo by Harlan Lewin, 2007
Mansion ("Hotel") across rue de Grenelle from Abbaye de Panthémont. Photo by Harlan Lewin, 2007