Marty and Karla Grant
Benjamin Hensley (c1687-c1728) and Elizabeth — of Richmond, Essex and King George Co., VA
I don’t know how I’m related to Benjamin Hensley, but I’m certain he is related to my ancestor William Hensley (c1730s-c1807), maybe his grandfather, though I can’t prove it.
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 (II) or Benjamin (2). However, it may be more helpful to refer to him as: Benjamin (c1687) (son of Benjamin & Beatrice).
Special thanks to Laura Schreibman and Suzanne Baird for data shared on this family.
Benjamin Hensley is a proven son of Benjamin and Beatrice Hensley as named in the older Benjamin’s 1699/1700 Will.
I estimate Benjamin Hensley’s birth as ca 1687. This is based on his first record (other than being named in his father’s will) being in 1708, and assuming he was at least 21 then, which would put him born ca 1687 or earlier. Of course he could be much older, though I doubt much younger. His parents were married by 1679 and if he is the first born, he could have been born closer to 1679 than 1687.
Benjamin was almost certainly born in what was then Rappahannock Co., VA, but later became Richmond in 1692, and even later became King George in 1720.
On 4 Mar 1692, Benjamin Hensley (father of this Benjamin) received a land patent of 49 acres in Rappahannock Co., VA. (Northern Neck Grants No. 1, 1690-1692, p. 140-142 (Reel 288)). Available online at Library of Virginia. I mention this because this land was Willed to the younger Benjamin in 1699/1700.
In 1692 Rappahannock County was divided into Richmond (north of river) and Essex (south of river), thus dissolving the original county. It appears that the Hensleys fell into the northern section, now Richmond County, though some of the elder Benjamin’s land was in what became Essex.
On 28 Jan 1699/1700, the older Benjamin Hensley made his Will in Richmond County. He named his wife Beatrice and son Benjamin. He left Benjamin (Jr) 50 acres for which he had a patent. This must be referring to the 1692 patent, though that was 49 acres.
The Will was proven on 8 Mar 1699/1700 so Benjamin 1st had died by then. This means that any subsequent Benjamins in the records are for the younger man.
In 1708 in Richmond Court, Benjamin Hensley was ordered to be paid for 1 wolf’s head. (Richmond Co., VA Order Book 4, p. 402 shared by Suzanne Baird.)
Benjamin Hensley probably married around this time. His wife was named Elizabeth according to a 1723 deed, though of course we have no way of knowing if Elizabeth was his only wife.
On 3 Mar 1709, Benjamin Hensley failed to appear in court as the defendant in a suit against him by John Popham. The court ordered that William Peck, security for Hensley to pay the plaintiff unless the defendant appears at the next court to answer for himself. (William Peck would have put up money (“security” or a bond) for Hensley, and with Hensley failing to show up, Peck would be required to pay it. (Richmond Co., VA Order Book 5, p. 21 shared by Suzanne Baird).
Something changed, for on 2 Jun 1709 John Popham dropped his claim against Benjamin Hensley. (Richmond Co., VA Order Book 5, p. 39 shared by Suzanne Baird.)
On 3 May 1712, Benjamin Hensley is mentioned as a neighboring land owner in a deed between Thomas Pannell to John England, both of St. Mary’s Parish, Richmond Co., VA for land on Spring Branch and Strothers Creek and the Lower Church into Nancimmon Neck. Benjamin Hensley and E. Turbeville were witnesses to the deed. (Sparacio, Ruth, Deed Abstracts of Richmond County, Virginia Deed Book 6 1711-1714. The Antient Press.)
The above must be the 50 acres that Benjamin inherited from his father Benjamin in 1699/1700.
I can't locate the land above. At that time Richmond County was quite large stretching all the way up the north side of the Rappahannock River to present day Fauquier County. There is a "Strothers Branch" in Fauquier, but I don't think that is the same one mentioned in this deed, but it is possible. They sold this land in 1725.
Beginning in 1716 we have a quandary. One Benjamin began appearing in Essex Co., VA records, where he seems to have died in 1719, while another Benjamin was still in Richmond Co., VA records through 1720 when King George county was formed where that Benjamin continued.
The quandary is which Benjamin is which? Benjamin, son of Benjamin & Beatrice, lived on land that was in Richmond County, which is south of the Rappahannock River. Essex County was north of the river. There is nothing to have prevented Benjamin from moving across the river. His father did have land in Essex earlier, and we have yet to find out what happened to it.
So, the question remains. Is it Benjamin son of Benjamin & Beatrice who died in Essex in 1719, or the “other” Benjamin?
An alternate question is, did Benjamin actually die in 1719? His estate is mentioned several times, which normally suggests death. However, an estate can be referred to for legal reasons as well, not related to death.
Consider this, if Benjamin (son of Benjamin & Beatrice) was indeed born ca 1687, he would have been about 32 in 1719. Kind of young to have died, but the mortality rate was much higher in those days for a variety of reasons, illnesses and accidents being chief among them of course.
However, the way in which the “estate” of Benjamin Hensley was referenced in the Essex court orders, I think it’s unlikely that Benjamin had actually died. He merely had returned to Richmond County leaving debts and property in Essex, which was seized by the court to pay his debts there. Read the following records and judge for yourself.
On 22 Mar 1716, the suit for debt between William Woodford, Gentleman, plaintiff, against Benjamin Hensley, defendant, was dismissed by the court. Reasons not given. One might assume they worked something out. (Essex Co., VA Order Book 1, p. 23)
On 23 May 1716, either the same suit was dismissed again, or a new suit had been brought and dismissed by William Woodford against Benjamin Hensley. (Essex Co., VA Order Book 1, p. 46).
On 17 Sep 1718 Benjamin Hensley was ordered to be fined for swearing ten oaths in the Parish of St. Marys unless he come into next court and show cause to the contrary. He did not appear in the next court, nor the court after that. (Reference? probably Essex Co., VA Order Book 4, p. 201 or nearby, same as below, same date.)
On the same date, 17 Sep 1718, in Essex Court, Benjamin Hensley failed to appear in the suit of against him by John Davis, for trespassing and assault. Therefore the court issued judgement for John Davis against Hensley and William Smith, his security, who would have to pay unless Hensley appears at the next court and answers. (Essex Co., VA Order Book 4, p. 201.)
I would imagine that due to his troubles in Essex, it was around this time that Benjamin moved back across the river into Richmond County.
On 19 Dec 1718, the case against Benjamin Hensley was continued, and the sheriff was ordered to summon him to appear at the next court. (Essex Co., VA Order Book 4, p. 247, shared by Suzanne Baird.)
On 19 Feb 1719 the court ordered that Benjamin Hensley be fined 50 shillings for swearing ten oaths. He failed to appear and answer the charges so the fine was ordered. (Essex Co., VA Order Book 5, p. 268)
On 3 Mar 1719 in Richmond County, the case of (Thomas) Ship vs. Benjamin Hensley, for debt, was brought to court. However, Benjamin didn’t show up, just as he hadn’t in Essex court. Judgement was granted against the defendant and William Peck, his security, unless Hensley appears at next court to answer. (Richmond Co., VA Order Book 8, p. 167 shared by Suzanne Baird.)
On 6 May 1719, in Richmond court, the case of Thomas Ship vs Benjamin Hensley was dismissed as Ship wasn’t prosecuting. They must have worked something out. (Richmond Co., VA Order Book 8, p. 106, shared by Suzanne Baird.)
On 15 Aug 1719, in Essex court, the Estate of Benjamin Hensley was mentioned, suggesting Hensley had died. However, considering the debts, and his non attendance at court, and one additional record (see 18 May 1720), it seems probable that he wasn’t dead, but merely “absconded” meaning he left the county while cases were pending against him. Also see 18 Nov 1719 for more on this. (Essex Co., VA Order Book 5).
On 18 Nov 1719 the Essex court allowed payment to Richard Buckner, assignee of Benjamin Hensley for three wolves heads. Since Benjamin was the one entitled to the money but Buckner was the one collecting, it seems likely this was done because Benjamin himself couldn’t appear in the county without getting in trouble. Or, perhaps this was to settle a debt with Buckner. (Essex Co., VA Order Book 5, p. 390)
On that same date (18 Nov 1719), in Essex Court, the Estate of Benjamin Hensley was mentioned again. An attachment was obtained by John Davis on 15 Aug 1719. It was "served in ye hands of John Evans and Francis Johnson" by John Sanders, Constable of St. Mary's Parish. This probably means that Evans and Johnson were administrators of the estate. The record does not refer to Benjamin as deceased, though, further proof that he was still alive, just not within the county. (Essex Co., VA Order Book 5, p. 394.)
The estate of Benjamin Hensley was mentioned again on 19 Jan 1719/1720 when the Essex court ordered that Francis Johnson, garnishee, having been summoned but not appearing, be taken into custody. (Essex Co., VA Order Book 5, p. 404)
Note that the dual years in dates used during this era can get confusing. Two calendars were in use (Julian and Gregorian) until 1752. In the Julian calendar, March 25th was New Years, but in the Gregorian, it was January 1st as we’re used to now. That’s why many old documents dated Jan, Feb and March often have two years, 1719/1720. That meant it was 1719 under the old calendar, but 1720 under the new calendar. The confusion can come in when a date is from Jan-Mar but only one year is listed. Is that the “new” or “old” calendar year?
On 3 Mar 1720, another suit for debt was brought to court, John Beacher, via his agent Charles Burgess, against Benjamin Hensley. Hensley didn’t appear for this case either. The court granted judgement against Hensley and Edward Barrow, Gentleman, Sheriff of this county unless the defendant appears at next court. Was the sheriff his security/bond? Or was this a way of holding the sheriff responsible for not bringing Hensley to court? (Richmond Co., VA Order Book 8, pg. 170, shared by Suzanne Baird.)
On 4 Apr 1720, William Berry, son of Henry Berry, deceased, of Hanover Parish, Richmond Co., VA leased 150 acres to Benjamin Hensley of the same place for 5 shillings. The land was described as adjoining Robert Peck, Robert Richards, Uncle William Berry, Huckleberry Swamp and brother John Berry. Witnesses were Alexander Mecants and Samuel Dishman, Jr. (Richmond Co VA Deed Book 1714-1720 pp 494-495, shared by Suzanne Baird.)
On 6 Apr 1720, John Farguson, attorney for William Berry, acknowledged in court Berry’s deed to Benjamin Hensley. (Richmond Co., VA Order Book 8, p. 177, shared by Suzanne Baird.)
On the same date, 6 Apr 1720, in Richmond court, the case of Thomas Ship vs Benjamin Hensley was dismissed as Ship wasn’t prosecuting. This seems to be a duplicate of the entry from 6 May 1719, unless there had been a new case since then. (Richmond Co., VA Order Book 8, p. 180, shared by Suzanne Baird.)
Also on the same date, 6 Apr 1720, Charles Burgess, as agent for John Beacher vs Benjamin Hensley dropped his suit against Hensley. (Richmond Co., VA Order Book 8, pg 182 shared by Suzanne Baird.)
On 18 May 1720, back in Essex court, regarding the attachment obtained by John Davies against the Estate of Benjamin Hensley. Francis Johnson, garnishee, by Robert Jones, had 1 bushel of wheat, and 20 pounds of tobacco, being all the estate of Benjamin Hensley’s in his hands. Judgement was granted to the plaintiff on 24 May 1720 and directed to the sheriff of Richmond County. Apparently they knew where Benjamin was living. (Essex Co., VA Order Book 5, p. 430 shared by Suzanne Baird.)
In 1720, effective 1721, King George County was created from the upper part of Richmond County, which included where Benjamin Hensley lived at the time.
On 4 Aug 1721 Benjamin Hensley was granted an imparlance until next court in the suit against him by James Ireland. An imparlance is an extension designed to let the parties work it out themselves. (King George Co., VA Order Book 1721-1723, pg. 10, shared by Suzanne Baird.)
On 1 Sep 1721, the case by James Ireland against Benjamin Hensley was dismissed. They apparently worked it out. Benjamin was apparently quite good at doing that. (King George Co., VA Order Book 1721-1723, p. 14, shared by Suzanne Baird.)
On 6 Oct 1721, in court, Benjamin Hensley plead not guilty in a suit brought against him by Thomas Hancock. A trial was scheduled for next court. The reason for the suit wasn’t given. (King George Co., VA Order Book 1721-1723, p. 18 shared by Suzanne Baird.)
On 3 Nov 1721, the case of Thomas Hancock against Benjamin was dismissed. On the same date, the court ordered Hancock to pay costs for Edward Hagan who attended court to present evidence for Hancock. (King George Co., VA Order Book 1721-1723, pp. 22-23 shared by Suzanne Baird.)
On 1 Dec 1721, Benjamin Hensley and others were ordered to be summoned by the sheriff for next court to explain why they didn’t report for jury duty. (King George Co, Orders 1721-1723, p. 28, shared by Suzanne Baird.)
On 8 Dec 1722, the court allotted 30 pounds of tobacco each to a large group of men for guarding David Seale in the prison house. The list included William Hensley and Benjamin Hensley. It seems likely this is Benjamin and his 1st cousin William, son of Samuel (d 1735). However, it does seem that Benjamin himself had a son named William who might have been old enough then to have been involved here. However, since he wasn’t referred to as William “Jr” to distinguish him from the older William, I’ll have to conclude it is the older William. (King George Co., VA Order Book 1721-1723, p. 74 shared by Suzanne Baird.)
On 5 Jan 1723, William Strother, Jr., Gentleman, brought a suit against Benjamin Hensley for “beating assaulting and evil entreating of the plaintiff.” He sued for damages of 100 pounds sterling. The sheriff was unable to locate Benjamin Hensley within his jurisdiction, so an attachment was granted against Benjamin Hensley’s estate for the amount requested. (King George Co., VA Orders 1721 - 1723, p. 87 shared by Suzanne Baird.)
We can conclude from the above that Benjamin Hensley was a rough character, and also quite good at avoiding the law for we know he still resided in King George county at the time. However, that particular county was a frontier with no defined western border, so Benjamin could have been someone in the county still and avoided location by the sheriff.
On that same date, 5 Jan 1723, Benjamin Hensley was granted an imparlance (continuance) until the next court in the case brought against him by William Sarjant. This is interesting. Did Benjamin appear in court himself when the previous record on the same date says he couldn’t be found? No attorney or agent was mentioned acting on his behalf in this case. Or is it possible there were two different Benjamin’s being referenced? Benjamin’s son Ben Jr would have been a teen by this time, so the assault case could refer to him, perhaps. (King George Co., VA Orders 1721 - 1723, p. 85 shared by Suzanne Baird.)
On 1 Feb 1723, a case brought by David Seale against Benjamin Hensley was dismissed as neither appeared in court. (King George Co., VA Orders 1721 - 1723, p. 94 shared by Suzanne Baird.)
The next day, 2 Feb 1723, the case by William Strother, Jr against Hensley was dismissed upon Hensley’s promise to pay the attorney’s fees and costs. (King George Co., VA Orders 1721 - 1723, p. 96 shared by Suzanne Baird.)
On 30 Jul 1723, Benjamin Hensle and wife Elizabeth of King George County sold land to Thomas Reiley and wife Elizabeth of Stafford County for 5000 pounds of tobacco, being 100 acres, part of the land obtained from William Berry. The land was from the eastern part of Benjamin's plantation without taking any of the housing or any cleared ground. Benjamin signed the deed and his wife signed with a mark. Witnesses were Thomas Gregsby and James Kay. Elizabeth, wife of Benjamin, relinquished her dower rights to the land on 2 Aug 1723. (King George Co., VA Deed Book 1, p. 156)
The above deed would have left Benjamin with about 50 acres, though they didn't keep that land long, selling it in 1725 (see below).
This is also the first record we have with Benjamin’s wife listed.
On 2 Aug 1723, Benjamin Hensley acknowledged in court the deed to Thomas Ryly. Benjamin’s wife Elizabeth relinquished her dower rights to the land. (King George Co., VA Orders 1721 - 1723, p. 127 shared by Suzanne Baird.)
On 5 Sep 1723, three suits against Benjamin Hensley were all dismissed. The plaintiff’s were Mary Hughs, John Williams and Ruth Williams. (King George Co., VA Order Book 1723-1725, p. 210 shared by Suzanne Baird.)
On 8 May 1725 Benjamin Hensley once again didn’t show up for court. He was being sued by Margaret Pratt, executrix and Evan Price, executor of John Pratt, deceased. Judgement was granted to the plaintiff unless Hensley showed up at next court to answer. (King George Co., VA Order Book 1723-1725, p. 256 shared by Suzanne Baird.)
On 4 Jun 1725, Benjamin Hensley came into Court and confessed judgment unto Margaret Pratt and Evan Price, (see 8 May 1725 above). He was ordered to pay them 1000 pounds of tobacco and costs. (King George Co., VA Order Book 1723-1725, p. 259 shared by Suzanne Baird.)
On 3 Sep 1725, Benjamin Hensley was brought into court for being “of ill behavior and being drunk and swearing 2 oaths.” He apparently plead guilty and was fined. (King George Co., VA Order Book 1723-1725, p. 273 shared by Suzanne Baird.)
On 2 Oct 1725, Benjamin once again didn’t appear in court when required. This was a suit by George Tilley against him. Judgement was granted against Benjamin Hensley along with William Hensley, his security. I think this is his 1st cousin, William, son of Samuel Hensley (d 1735). (King George Co., VA Order Book 1723-1725, p. 273, shared by Suzanne Baird.)
On 8 Nov 1725, probably the next court after the 2 Oct 1725 entry above, Benjamin Hensley failed to appear again, and he, along with his security William Hensley were ordered to pay 31 shillings, 6 pence with costs. (King George Co., VA Order Book 1723-1725, p. 291, shared by Suzanne Baird.)
On 27 Dec 1725, Benjamin Henslee and wife Elizabeth of King George County sold 50 acres to John Holdsworth of same place for 4000 pounds of tobacco. The land was described as bordering Thomas Reiley, Thomas Williams, John Berry and Robert Strother. Witnesses were Joseph Berry and James Kay. Elizabeth Hensley relinquished her dower rights. (King George Co., VA Deed Book 1 p. 324.)
This seems to be the last of the land Hensley acquired from Berry. On 1 Sep 1726 Thomas Reiley and wife Elizabeth sold the above 100 acres and referred to it as being near the plantation where Benjamin Henslee now lives. (King George Co., VA Deed Book 1 page 371.)
On 7 Jan 1726, Benjamin Hensley and wife Elizabeth came into court and acknowledge his deed to John Holdsworth (from 27 Dec 1725). (King George Co., VA Order Book 1725-1728 shared by Suzanne Baird.)
On 1 Jul 1726, Benjamin continued his habit of not showing up in court, this time in a suit brought against him by Nicholas Smith, Gentleman. Judgment was granted against Hensley along with his security, William Peck, unless he appear at next court. And as usual, by next court (7 Oct 1726) the case was dismissed as they’d apparently reached an agreement. (King George Co., VA Order Book 1725-1726, pg. 323 and Order Book 1725-1726, pg. 332, both shared by Suzanne Baird.)
On 4 Aug 1727, Joseph Berry, Robert Strother and Benjamin Hensley witnessed a deed in King George from Henry Berry of Spotsylvania County. (King George Co., VA Deed Book 1, p. 440)
Benjamin Hensley Jr began appearing in the King George records as of 31 Aug 1727. This is Benjamin and Elizabeth’s son, I believe, the same Benjamin who married Elizabeth Hickman in 1730. He appears as Benjamin Jr through 5 Oct 1728.
On 3 Nov 1727, Jonathan Williamson and Higgason King, along with Benjamin Hensley as security, failed to appear in court. This was related to the case of William Hensley, William Hensley Jr, Benjamin Hensley Jr and others. (King George Co., VA Order Book 1725-1728, p, 388, shared by Suzanne Baird.)
Benjamin Sr does not seem to appear in any King George records after the 4 Aug 1727 deed that he witnessed, not counting the 3 Nov 1727 court record in which he didn’t appear. He may have died sometime after 5 Oct 1728, the last time his son was listed as “Jr” on the available records. If he died in 1728, he would have been about 41 at the time if my ca 1687 birth estimate is correct. While this seems rather young, it has to be remembered how tough times were back then. Also consider how rough Benjamin himself seemed to be, judging by the court records.
Benjamin’s wife Elizabeth does not appear on any records after 7 Jan 1726.
We also have to consider that Benjamin might have moved out of King George as others were doing around this time.
Benjamin Hensley has no proven children. However, I think circumstantial evidence, mixed with some educated guesses, shows he had at least two sons, and probably some unidentified daughters. Since I can’t prove any of these are his children, use this information with that in mind. I could be quite wrong about this list. However, they pretty much have to be his children due to lack of other suspects.
1. Benjamin Hensley (III) (c1706-aft 1752)
2. William Hensley (c1706-1777)
Benjamin Hensley was born ca 1706 in Richmond, now King George, Co., VA. He isn’t a proven child of Benjamin and Elizabeth, but there is really no other place to put him. The only other Hensley around who could be his father was Samuel (d 1735), but he wasn’t the father for he didn’t mention Benjamin in his Will.
Benjamin married Elizabeth Hickman in 1730. See their own page for more information.
William Hensley, first appearing in the public records in 1727, puts his birth at ca 1706 assuming he was at least 21 in 1727. Of course that is the same estimated birth year for his brother Benjamin. I would suspect that Benjamin was a year or so older than William, for being named after their father is usually reserved for the first son. That could make William born ca 1707-1710 instead, or push Benjamin III back a little earlier. There isn’t enough evidence available to estimate any better.
The only “proof” I have for including William as Benjamin and Elizabeth’s son is that he was associated with Benjamin (III) and, as with that Benjamin, there are no other Hensley men around at the time who could be his father except Samuel (d 1735). Samuel did have a proven son named William, but he was older than this one by a few years, thus the use of “Jr” for this one in records of 1727 and 1728.
This William wound up in Culpeper Co., VA where he died in 1777.
See his own page for more information.
James Hensley, first appearing in the public records in 1743, puts his birth at ca 1722 or earlier, assuming he was at least 21 in 1743. If he is really Benjamin’s son, he was probably born long before 1722. He could just as easily be a grandson, but if so, I don’t know who his father might have been. The last we have on this James is 1751.
The only “proof” I have for including James as Benjamin and Elizabeth’s son is that he was associated with Benjamin (III) and, as with that Benjamin, there are no other Hensley men around at the time who could be his father except Samuel (d 1735). Samuel did have a son named James, but I don’t think this is him, but it certainly could be.
Samuel Hensley, first appearing in the public records in 1745, puts his birth at ca 1724 or earlier, assuming he was at least 21 in 1745. If he is really Benjamin’s son, he was probably born long before 1724. He could just as easily be a grandson, but if so, I don’t know who his father might have been. The last we have on this Samuel is the same 1745 record, so it’s just the one record.
The only “proof” I have for including Samuel as Benjamin and Elizabeth’s son is that he was associated with Benjamin (III) and, as with that Benjamin, there are no other Hensley men around at the time who could be his father except Samuel (d 1735). Samuel did have a son named Samuel, but I don’t think this is him, but it certainly could be.
For Family Group Sheet and other notes see my database page for Benjamin Hensley & Elizabeth.
Revised: September 20, 2021