Marty and Karla Grant

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Agnes Hensley (c1763-aft 1850) of Culpeper and Washington Co., VA

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If I have it all worked out correctly, Agnes Hensley is my six times great aunt.

Special Thanks to Ruthe Muench and Laura Schreibman for information shared on this family.

Agnes Hensley has vexed Hensley researchers for generations. She was either a single woman or a very young widow who never remarried after the death of her Hensley husband. She was associated with several Hensleys throughout out her life, so it seems they were her kin instead of former in-laws, though of course we can’t be totally certain of that.

Agnes was born ca 1762/63 per her age of 87 on the 1850 census. She was probably born in Culpeper Co., VA where she was first found in the public records in 1783.

If she is a Hensley by birth, then she is almost certainly a daughter or granddaughter of William Hensley (c1706-1777) of Culpeper Co., VA, as he seems to be the patriarch of most of the Culpeper and Washington County Hensleys. If she is William’s daughter, she is probably from a second or subsequent wife considering he would have been in his 50s when she was born.

It is also possible she’s a child of William Hensley (c1730-1807) instead, which would make her a grandchild of the older William. However, I tend to think she’s not from William (1730) for she was still in Culpeper long after that William went into Buckingham. Of course that doesn’t necessarily prove anything. She could have gone “home” to visit other relatives long enough to appear on the one record we found for her in Culpeper. However a bigger problem is that William (c1730) has a very likely daughter named Ankey or Anky. That unusual name is almost always a nickname for “Agnes,” so this William wouldn’t have two daughters of the same name. That puts her back as a more likely child of the older William, or a grandchild via an unknown son of his.

Let’s look at the notion that Agnes was a widow and not a Hensley by birth. If that’s the case, who was her husband? One strong possibility is Zachariah Hensley (d aft 1774). He was in Buckingham with William (1730) in 1773 and 1774, then no record of him after that, suggesting he died sometime between 1774 and 1782 when statewide tax lists began to be kept and are fairly complete for Virginia, none of which he is listed on.

The big problem with making her Zachariah’s widow is that we have no record that he was ever married. It’s just as likely she was his sister instead of his widow based on the few records we have.

Another potential identity for her is as the wife of Hickman Hensley (1759). Hickman was married to an Agnes according to the family bible record of his son Larkin (1779) in which this entry was made: “Larkin Hensley son of Hickman Hensley and Agness Hensley was born the 22 day of May 1779.”

Hickman’s wife Agnes is generally thought to be Agnes Fisher daughter of James Fisher who died ca 1778 in Surry Co., NC. Agnes Fisher’s brother Thomas Fisher made his Will in Surry on 15 Jul 1778 wherein he left everything to his father James Fisher during his lifetime. After his father’s death, it was Thomas’s wish that everything go to his three sister’s children, namely Elizabeth Renfroe, Sarah Coxe and Agnes Henslee. Their husbands weren’t named, but a Benjamin Henslee witnessed the will along with William Hall. (Surry Co., NC Will Book 1, p. 124.)

One might assume that Benjamin who witnessed the Will was the husband of Agnes Fisher and that could very well be, but we do have proof that Hickman was married to an Agnes and nothing so far indicating Benjamin was.

Since Hickman Hensley lived well into the 1810s and perhaps beyond, one might say that Agnes Hensley of Culpeper and Washington and Scott Co., VA couldn’t possibly be his wife since she was on her own since the 1780s. However, Hickman Hensley left his wife Agnes and took up with her niece, Elizabeth Rentfrow and had several children with her beginning in 1794, all documented in their family bible record. They kept the Rentfrow surname as required by law. The only reason, apparently, that Hickman and she didn’t marry was that he was still married to Agnes Fisher.

So, does this mean Agnes (1763-1850) is Hickman’s estranged wife? It absolutely could mean that. However, if that’s true, why then did she seem to be attached to the Hensleys of Culpeper and Washington? These aren’t Hickman’s immediately family, but rather his cousins. Of course Hickman himself did live in Washington Co., VA briefly (1784) when his brother Charles lived there. This wouldn’t explain his wife’s association with the other Hensleys though.

While it does work in some ways, I don’t think that Agnes Hensley (1763-1850) and Agnes Fisher Hensley are the same person. They certainly could be, but I have one other difficulty with it in addition to wondering why she would be attached to Hickman’s more distant kin after their separation.

For example, Hickman and Agnes had three more children (not actually proven, but highly likely): Samuel (1780 NC), William (c1784 NC) and James F. (c1790 NC). This last one is possibly named James Fisher Hensley after Agnes’s father James Fisher. Both William and James F. Hensley named one of their daughters Agnes, so that seems to make it certain those two are her sons.

The timing and birth places of William and James doesn’t really work well with Agnes Hensley (1763-1850) who was in Washington Co., VA at that time, we think.

Thus, I conclude that Hickman Hensley’s wife Agnes Fisher is not the same person as Agnes Hensley of Washington Co., VA.

That leaves us still wondering who she is though. I think she is a Hensley by birth, who for whatever reason, never married.

The first record found for our Agnes was on 11 Feb 1783 when William Covington made his Will in Culpeper Co., VA. He named his son Robert Covington, daughter Eleanor Hensley, brother Richard Covington, “my three youngest daughters” Grizzel Coper, Elizabeth Covington, Lucy Covington. As executors he named his son Robert Covington, Robert Hensley and William Covington. Witnesses were Francis Covington, Ezekiel Wright, John Wright and Agnes Hensley, who is Robert Hensley’s sister, I think. The Will was proven in court on 18 Aug 1784. Agnes Hensley signed with a mark.

Eleanor Covington Hensley was wife of Robert Hensley (c1759). Was this the same Agnes who later wound up in Washington and Scott Co., VA? I think so. Since Robert went there it makes sense that his sister did too as pretty much all of the siblings wound up there.

Later that same year, on On 11 Nov 1783, Agness Hensley, assignee of Fielding Hensley, had a treasury warrant (land entry) issued to her for 25 1/2 acres on Cove Creek bordering Hartsock. "Assignee" means that although Fielding was the one entitled (or qualified) to receive this land, he transferred his rights to Agnes Hensley for some reason. This land was surveyed for her on 24 Apr 1797 and granted to her on 1 Nov 1800.

Fielding Hensley (c1763) is a proven son of the William Hensley (c1730-1807) of Buckingham. Agnes, though probably about two years younger than Fielding, would be his aunt if indeed a daughter of William (c1706) who was probably Fielding’s grandfather.

Agnes Hensley did not appear on any of the early Personal Property tax lists in Washington Co., VA from 1782 through 1804. This means she wasn’t heading her own household at the time, but probably living with someone else, one of her siblings or nephews perhaps.

On 1 Nov 1800 Agnes Hensley, assignee of Fielding Hensley, was granted 25 1/2 acres on Cove Creek. This appears to be the same land from the 1783 warrant. (Land Office Grants No. 46, 1797-1801, p. 388 (Reel 112)).

Agnes Hensley was listed on the Washington Co., VA Land Tax Lists from 1802 through 1814 with her 25 acres that was granted in 1800. Although the deeds show it as 25.5 acres, the land tax records only show 25. She was not listed on the personal property tax lists during this period.

The 1790 and 1800 censuses are lost for Virginia. She probably wouldn’t have been listed anyway as only heads of household were listed by name.

She was not listed on the 1810 census. She was probably with a sibling or other relative.

Agnes Hancely was listed on the 1814 personal property tax list in Washington with 1 tithe and no horses. The tithe probably wasn't herself but someone else who was living with her. This is the first and last time she was listed on a Personal Property tax list in Washington.

Her 1814 land tax entry described her land as being in Washington County, 30 miles west of the court house on South Fork.

In 1814 Scott County was formed from the western part of Washington, taking several of the Hensleys into the new county, including Agnes.

Agnes was listed on the 1820 census in Scott Co., VA. Unfortunately, this census was alphabetical, so I can't tell who her neighbors were. She was living alone.

1820 Census, Washington Co., VA p. 192, Agnes Hensley age 45+ (before 1775)


Age and Approximate Birth Range 

Who each person *might* be

1f 45 and up (before 1775)

Agnes Hensley (c1763)

On 10 Apr 1820 Agnes Hensley sold her 25 ½ acres to Solomon Sells for $50. (Scott Co., VA Deed Book 7 page 344)

In Scott County Court on 10 Aug 1824 Samuel Hensley, one of the witnesses, proved the deed from Agnes Hensley to Solomon Sells. (Scott Co., VA Court Minute Book 3 page 29).

Samuel Hensley (1754-1841) was either Agnes’ brother or more likely an older nephew.

Agnes Hensley was not listed on the 1830 census in Scott Co., VA. She was probably with relatives. None of the Hensley households had any "extra" females her age living with them in 1830 as far as I could find.

She was living with Henry Darnell in 1850, and probably in 1840 as well for he did have someone her age with him in 1840.

1840 Census, Scott Co., VA p. 22, Henry Darnell age 20-29 (1810/1820)


Age and Approximate Birth Range 

Who each person *might* be

1m 20-29 (1810/1820)

Henry Darnell (c1813)

1m 15-19 (1820/1825)


2m 0-4 (1835/1840)

1. William J. Darnell (c1838) son

2. John Darnell (c1840) son

1f 70-79 (1760/1770)

Agnes Hensley (c1763) aunt?

1f 50-59 (1780/1790)

? Henry’s mother?

1f 20-29 (1810/1820)

Hannah R. Hensley Darnell (c1818) wife

She was still with the Darnell’s in 1850.

1850 census, Scott Co., VA, Western District, p. 372, house 297, family 297





Real Value

Birth Place

Henry Darnell






Hannah R.






William J.












Polly A.




































Agness Hensley






One might assume that Hannah (a proven Hensley) was Agnes’s daughter or granddaughter, but it seems more likely she was a grand niece or something like that. Her parents aren’t proven, but I think she’s probably a child of John Hensley (c1798) and Mary Head, relationship to Agnes unknown, though undoubtedly related.

I wasn’t able to find Agnes on the 1860 census, so it’s likely she died during the 1850s.


If Agnes never married, then it’s probable she had no children, though of course if she did they would have been born out of wedlock. There is no evidence this happened in her case though.

If she were a widow Hensley, she was widowed rather early, so any children would have been born in the 1780s most likely. There are several unplaced Hensleys who could be her children, but I’ve seen no evidence at all to suggest she ever had any.

Revised: October 28, 2021

Copyright © 1996-2021 Marvin A. Grant, Jr. All Rights Reserved.

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