Francis Wayles Eppes VII
- Born: 20 Sep 1801, Bermuda Hundred, Virginia
- Marriage: Mary Elizabeth Cleland Randolph about 1825
- Died: 10 May 1881 at age 79
- Buried: Greenwood Cemetery, Orange Co., Florida
Francis Wayles Eppes VI was the grandson of President Thomas Jefferson being born to Mary Jefferson and John Wayles Eppes.
Francis Eppes studied law, but never completed his legal studies and married Mary Elizabeth Cleland Randolph. Francis and Mary moved to Jefferson's Poplar Forest plantation. Poplar Forest was originally planned for his daughter Mary, Jefferson now designated it as Francis' inheritance. Poplar Forest was the only Jefferson property to pass to the intended heir. Jefferson's debts disrupted the rest of his bequests. The Eppes' lived there until 1828, when they decided to move to Florida. Poplar Forest was too isolated and Francis was ready to try his fortunes elsewhere.
In 1829, Eppes moved from Albemarle County, Virginia to Leon County, Florida and settled just east of Tallahassee establishing the Francis Eppes Plantation, a successful cotton plantation.
Eppes spent his formative years at Monticello where he had come to appreciate his grandfather's political view that a liberally educated citizenry is of critical importance in a democracy. Once in Florida, Eppes took an active interest in educational issues in his new home state. In Tallahassee, he began 35 years of distinguished service to his community. In 1833, Eppes was appointed one of fourteen justices of the peace in Leon County. He served as Intendant (mayor) of Tallahassee from 1841-1844 and again from 1856-1857.
In 1851, the Florida Legislature authorized two seminaries of higher learning in Florida. One seminary was to be located west of the Suwanee River and one to the east of the river. In 1854, Francis attempted to get approval for the west seminary to be located in Tallahassee, but was rejected. In 1856, Francis initiated the proposal again, but this time offered to fund an initial endowment of $10,000, with a $2,000 per year stipend and a new building. The legislature accepted the proposal, and that year the Florida Institute in Tallahassee became the State Seminary West of the Suwannee River. Classes began in 1857. Eppes served on the Seminary's Board of Trustees for eleven years and for the last eight of those years he served as president of the Board. The Seminary later became the Florida State University.
Francis died on May 10, 1881 and was buried at Greenwood Cemetery, Orange County, Florida. Three of his children and at least three of his grandchildren were buried at Monticello, joining Francis' grandfather, grandmother and mother.
Francis married Mary Elizabeth Cleland Randolph about 1825. (Mary Elizabeth Cleland Randolph was born about 1803 in Albemarle Co., Virginia.)