Monroe’s father died in 1774, when James was only sixteen years old. James, as the eldest son, had the responsibility of providing for the education and care of his younger siblings. James turned for help to his uncle, Joseph Jones. Jones was a judge in Fredericksburg who had no children of his own at the time. Judge Jones had a special bond with his young nephew and provided him with key guidance for many years. Judge Jones later served on the Virginia Supreme Court and enjoyed the friendship of George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, and James Madison. Jones’s connections proved vital to his young nephew’s later political successes.