Marty and Karla Grant
Benjamin Hensley (c1732-aft 1779) and Elizabeth — of Louisa, Halifax, Bedford, Pittsylvania and Henry Co., VA and Rowan and Surry Co., NC.
I don’t know how I’m related to Benjamin Hensley, but I think he and my ancestor William Hensley (c1730s-c1807) are first cousins. I can’t quite prove that though.
As there were several Benjamin Hensleys in Virginia before 1800, you should refer to my analysis page on that subject. In an attempt to distinguish this Benjamin from others of the same name, we sometimes refer to this man as Benjamin (IV) or Benjamin (4). However, it may be more helpful to refer to him as: Benjamin (c1732) (wife Elizabeth of VA and NC).
Special thanks to Laura Schreibman and Suzanne Baird for data shared on this family.
Benjamin Hensley is almost certainly a son of Benjamin (c1706) and Elizabeth (Hickman) Hensley, though that isn’t exactly proven. However, as this Benjamin named one of his sons “Hickman” that seems to tie him to Benjamin (c1706).
I estimate Benjamin Hensley’s birth as ca 1732. This is based on his first public record being in 1758 when he served in a militia. One had to be at least 16 for that, so if he was only 16 then, he was born ca 1732. His parents married in 1731, so he couldn’t be much older than ca 1732 anyway.
Benjamin would likely have been born in Spotsylvania Co., VA. He would have gone with his parents to Wolf Trap Swamp in Louisa and Orange Co., VA while still rather young.
One of the Benjamin Hensleys was on the 1752 tax list in Lunenburg Co., VA in the section that later became Bedford. I think that was this Benjamin’s father, but I could be wrong.
Benjamin Hensley was listed on a Colonial Militia List for Albemarle Co., VA dated Sept. 1758.
While it’s possible this was his father instead, dad would have been about 52 then, so not as likely to be doing militia duty unless an officer. It is notable that George Adam Salling was also listed on this record. He was associated with Benjamin Hensley across several counties (Albemarle, Halifax and Rowan Co., NC).
Benjamin apparently moved to Halifax Co., VA ca 1759, aged about 17. At that time, Halifax County was much larger, and included present day Halifax, Pittsylvania, Henry, Patrick and about half of Franklin county. It’s southern border was the state line with Rowan Co., NC. The northern boundary was mostly Bedford County, with Lunenburg bordering on the east.
In Halifax County Court in Aug. 1759, George Adam Salling brought a suit against Benjamin Hensley. This same man was listed in the 1758 Albemarle Militia with Benjamin Hensley. This is the main item connecting Benjamin of Albemarle to Benjamin of Halifax. (Halifax County Virginia Pleas No. 2, Court Orders 1755-1759.)
Benjamin Hensley apparently served during the French and Indian War in 1760. See the 1779 record below for more on that.
On 17 Jul 1761 William Stokes brought a suit against Benjamin Hensley in Halifax Court. (Halifax County, Virginia Pleas No. 3 Court Orders 1759-1762.)
On 18 Mar 1762 James Roberts, Jr of Halifax County sold land to Benjamin Hensley of same place. One lot (# 116) in town of Peytonsburg on south side of Randolph Street.
Peytonsburg no longer exists as a town, but it is in present day Pittsylvania County near the Halifax line. In 1766 Pittsylvania County was formed from western Halifax, effective 1767. Benjamin's Peytonsburg land fell into the new county (assuming he still owned it at this time.)
By 1767, Benjamin Hensley had moved southwest to Rowan Co., NC in the area that soon became Surry County and is Stokes County today. This county borders Henry Co., VA which was part of Pittsylvania at that time.
In Rowan Co., NC court in 1767 George Adam Salling brought a suit against Benjamin Henslee. This is what ties this Benjamin to the one in Halifax / Pittsylvania, for George Adam Salling was associated with Benjamin in Albemarle and Halifax Counties.
The 1768 tax list for Rowan Co., NC shows several Hensleys. Listed were John Hanslee 1 tithe, Benjamin Hansley and sons James and Harry 3 tithes, Benjamin Hansley Jr 1 tithe, Charles Hansley 1 tithe, and Capt. Ben Hansley 1 tithe.
That’s three Benjamin Hensleys. The one with sons James and Harry is this Benjamin (c1732). Benjamin Jr is probably his son born ca 1750.
Who then is Capt. Benjamin Hensley? It could be the father of Benjamin (1732), Benjamin (1706), but I kind of doubt it. He would have been about 62 at this time, so certainly could have still been alive, but would he be fit enough to be a militia captain at that age? Possible, but we can’t be sure.
Surry County was formed in 1770, effective 1771, from the northern part of Rowan, taking the Hensleys with it. However, the 1771 tax list only shows one Benjamin Hensley and James Hensley listed. Does this mean the others returned to Virginia? Or is this particular tax list incomplete? Which Benjamin was it? 1732 or his son 1752? There is really no way to know.
The 1772 list for Surry was the same, just one Benjamin and James.
However, in 1774 there was still only one Benjamin and James in Surry, but they’d been joined by Charles, Henry and John. John and Charles (c1741) were brothers of Benjamin (1732), I think. James and Henry were sons of Benjamin (1732).
One of the Benjamin Hensleys was back over the line in Pittsylvania Co. VA by 27 Sep 1775, for on that date he was appointed a Lieutenant in the county militia. (Pittsylvania Co., VA Deed Book 4, p. 293).
Perhaps the entire group of Hensleys were back in Virginia by this time.
Henry County was created in 1776, effective 1777, from western Pittsylvania County, taking in the Hensleys. At the time, Henry contained all of present day Henry, Patrick and about half of Franklin county.
A 1778 militia list for Henry Co., VA shows seven Hensleys, four of whom were Benjamins!
They were Capt. Benjamin Hensley, Henry Hensley, Benjamin Hensley Jr., James Hensley, Benjamin Hensley Sr., Hickman Hensley and Benjamin Hensley.
Of these, Henry, James and Hickman are all proven children of Benjamin (c1732). Benjamin Jr. (c1750) is very likely this same Benjamin’s son. That leaves the identity of Capt. Benjamin and just Benjamin, unknown. One of those two could be Benjamin (c1706) if still alive.
On 26 Aug 1779 a statement was made in Henry County court proving that Benjamin Hensley served as a Lieutenant in the Virginia Battalion in 1760. (That would have been during the French and Indian War.) (Bockstruck, Lloyd DeWitt, Henry Co., Virginia's Colonial Soldiers. p. 253.)
The same source shows that James Cowden, assignee of Benjamin Henslee, received a 2000 acre warrant for Benjamin's service in 1760 under William Byrd. This means that Benjamin transferred his rights to James Cowden for some reason or another, perhaps to settle a debt.
Only one Benjamin Hensley was still in Henry by the time of the 1783 tax list. He was gone by 1784.
Did this Benjamin Hensley (c1732) moved back into North Carolina after 1779? His children all moved to what was then Burke Co., NC around that time. It’s possible he did as well, but we have no record of him there.
In an 1836 affidavit relating to Robert Hensleys’ Revolutionary War Pension, a neighbor of his stated he had talked with the mother of Robert Hensley. At that time, Robert was residing in Hawkins Co., TN. On the 1830 census in that county is a widow Betsy Hensley aged 90-99 (1730/1740). It’s not a huge leap to imagine this is Elizabeth, widow of Benjamin Hensley (1732). The only problem I have with drawing this conclusion is would a woman in her 90s likely be considered the head of household? Of course she could have been as fit as a fiddle, as they say.
However, her household also contained a 20 something woman and a 40 something woman, either of them who could be the “Betsy” listed as head of household. Regardless, if this is the same Elizabeth, widow of Benjamin, where was she between ca 1779 and 1830? That’s a huge gap. Then again, it’s not that difficult to stay out of public records in those days, especially for a woman.
If this is Benjamin’s widow, then she died sometime after 1830 in Hawkins Co., TN. Perhaps after 1836 if the affidavit was referring to a recent conversation.
Where do you suppose Elizabeth, “Betsy” was living between ca 1779 (Henry Co., VA) and the 1830s? We know Robert Hensley was in Tennessee soon after the revolution, and remained there until his death after 1850. Betsy must have been living with him all those years. It should be noted that there was no 1790 census for Tennessee, and that the 1800, 1810 and 1820 census records are lost, so if she were on her own during those years, those census records no longer exist. She may appear in some other types of records, yet to be found in or around Hawkins Co., TN.
Benjamin Hensley (c1732) and wife Elizabeth are the proven parents of three sons:
1. James Hensley (bef 1752) proven by 1768 tax list.
2. Henry "Harry" Hensley (bef 1753) proven by 1768 tax list.
3. Hickman Hensley (1759) proven by his family bible listing parents as "Benjamin and Elizabeth"
Although solid evidence is lacking, it seems reasonable to assume that Benjamin is also the parents of these other children who were always near him or each other.
4. Benjamin Hensley (c1750), lived in Burke (now McDowell) Co., NC. Is probably the Benjamin "Jr" found with Benjamin on some records.
5. Robert Hensley (1760) of Hawkins and Roane Co., TN. No real evidence connecting him to Benjamin, but his two only known children were named "Benjamin" and "Elizabeth" which could be a coincidence or perhaps not.
6. Isom Hensley (1760/70) of Sullivan, Hawkins and Greene Co., TN and Scott Co., VA. Named oldest son Benjamin.
7. Colbert Hensley (1760/65) of Yancey (now Madison) Co., NC. Named a son "Hickman."
8. John Hensley (1765/72) of Buncombe Co., NC. Associated with the others.
For Family Group Sheet and other notes see my database page for Benjamin Hensley & Elizabeth ---
Revised: September 12, 2021