Marty and Karla Grant

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Benjamin Hensley (c1740s or 1760s-aft 1789) of Washington and Montgomery Co., VA

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While there are many Benjamin Hensleys in early Virginia (see my page on that subject), this one has been particularly hard to figure out due to so few records found for him.

He is either part of the William Hensley (c1706-1777) of Culpeper Co., VA family, or part of the Benjamin Hensley and Elizabeth Hickman family. I think he’s probably a son of Charles Hensley (c1741), who is a son of the Benjamin just mentioned.

Benjamin Hensley was born before ca 1761 judging by his entry on the 1782 tax list, meaning he was 21 or older at that time. If he is the same person as Capt. Benjamin Hensley of earlier records, then he was more likely born in the 1740s than the 1760s. However, we can’t be sure if Capt. Benjamin and this Benjamin are the same person. I tend to think they are not the same.

The very first record we have for Captain Benjamin (who may or may not be this same Benjamin) is the 1768 Rowan Co., NC tax list. At that time Rowan was a really large county. Those listed on this tax list include: 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. Note that Charles is listed as well, for those two were together later also.

Keep in mind that instead of the above being Benjamin, suspected son of William, it might be a different person entirely. The biggest competition is a Benjamin found in Pittsylvania Co., VA records in the 1770s and 1780s who moved to Greenville Dist., SC by 1800, lived there until the 1810s when he moved to Buncombe Co., NC (now Henderson) where he seems to have died in the 1820s. That Benjamin is likely a son of John Hensley (1730s-1792), a likely son of Benjamin Hensley and Elizabeth Hickman.

However, to be thorough I’ll continue to follow this Capt. Benjamin through the available records even knowing it may not be the same one we are interested in at this moment.

Those listed in 1768 are mostly identified as sons or grandsons of Benjamin Hensley (c1706-aft 1752) and Elizabeth Hickman:

1.         Benjamin (c1732-aft 1779) is the one listed in 1768 with sons James and Harry.

2.         Benjamin “Jr” (c1750-1815) is a son of Benjamin (c1732) above.

3.         John (bef 1751-aft 1774) is probably a son of John (c1733) of Pittsylvania.

4.         Charles (c1741-aft 1795) is probably a son of Benjamin / Elizabeth Hickman

Capt. Ben Hensley is the only one left. He probably isn’t Benjamin / Elizabeth Hickman himself because he’d be in his 60's about then which is probably too old to be a militia captain.

He can’t be a son of Benjamin (1730s) because Benjamin Jr fills that role. He is more likely a son of John (c1730s), or if not, then he may be the one I suspect as a son of William. However, none of William’s other children were known to ever live in this region.

The Hensleys of Rowan in 1768 were probably all living along the Dan River which also flowed into neighboring Virginia right there. This is present day Stokes Co., NC and Patrick Co., VA. Since members of Benjamin / Elizabeth Hickman’s family lived in this area, it’s not beyond reason to think at least some of Benjamin’s nephews also went there, in this case John and Captain Benjamin.

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 Benjamin Hensley and James Hensley listed. Does this mean the others returned to Virginia? Or is this particular tax list incomplete? We can’t tell which Benjamin this is.

The 1772 list for Surry was the same, just one Benjamin and James.

In 1774 there was still only one Benjamin and James in Surry, but they’d been rejoined by Charles, Henry and John. I suspect this is Benjamin s/o Benjamin / Elizabeth Hickman, and not Captain Benjamin from 1768, but there is no way to be sure.

Across the state line in Virginia, 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, including Capt. Benjamin Hensley, Benjamin Hensley Jr, James Hensley, Benjamin Hensley Sr, Hickman Hensley, Benjamin Hensley and Henry Hensley. If you’re counting, that’s four Benjamin’s!

Captain Benjamin is almost certainly the same Captain Benjamin from 1768 Rowan. The others:

1.         Capt. Benjamin Hensley (c1740), the one we are following here.

2.         Benjamin “Jr” (c1750-1815) is a son of Benjamin (c1732).

3.         James son of Benjamin (1732)

4.         Benjamin Sr (c1732-aft 1779)

5.         Hickman (1759) son of Benjamin (1732)

6.         Benjamin (c1748/55) son of John (c1733)

7.         Henry (1750s) son of Benjamin ( 1732)

Benjamin Hensley is listed on the 1782 tax list in Montgomery Co., VA just three houses from Charles Hensley (c1741). Whether this is the same Benjamin from the earlier records is open to interpretation. In 1782 Benjamin has one tithe (himself), one horse and one cow.

The next year Benjamin Hensley and Charles were both listed on the 1783 tax list in Washington Co., VA. Benjamin was near Samuel (1754) and Joseph Hensley (1750), likely sons or grandsons of William Hensley (d 1777) of Culpeper. However, Charles was in a different district, apparently the part of Washington that soon became Russell County. Charles was near Hickman Hensley, his probable nephew.

Let’s assume that Capt. Benjamin of 1760s and 1770s is not the same man we are interested in. Where then was our Benjamin prior to 1782? He could very easily be a son of Charles for we have Charles born ca 1741 and Benjamin ca 1761 based on tax list entries. That certainly works as father and son. Of course if Benjamin is the same as Capt. Benjamin, then he and Charles are rather close in age, which suggests brothers. However, since I can’t prove this Benjamin’s age, I’m going to think perhaps father and son for now pending evidence to the contrary.

We don’t find this Benjamin listed on any Virginia tax lists (so far) in 1784, 1785, 1786 or 1787. However, by 1788 a Benjamin appears on the tax list in Montgomery Co., VA which bordered Washington at that time. I think this is the same Benjamin from 1783 Washington, but I’m not 100% certain. It helps that he was also in Montgomery back in 1782.

It should be noted that the tax lists for Montgomery 1783, 1784, 1785 and 1786 are missing. The 1787 list survives, but Benjamin Hensley wasn’t listed on it, suggesting he moved there later that year or early in 1788, or came of age around that time. The 1788 entry shows him as a white male over 21 (born before ca 1767). He was taxed for himself and one horse. He was the only Hensley listed there.

Montgomery County, Virginia was formed in 1776, effective 1777 and at the time was huge taking in a considerable amount of what is now West Virginia as well as a good portion of south western Virginia.

In 1788, effective 1789, a large portion of northern Montgomery was cut off to form Kanawha County, taking nearly half of Montgomery.

Benjamin was still in Montgomery for the 1789 tax list, once again with one male over 21 (himself) and 1 horse. He was the only Hensley listed there.

That same year, 1789, effective 1790, Wythe County was created from Montgomery taking more than half of the county with it.

Benjamin Hensley was not listed on the 1790 through 1795 tax lists in Montgomery. Unfortunately there is no 1790 through 1792 tax lists for Wythe. However, the lists begin in 1793 for that county, and he was not listed there then nor through 1800.

It is possible Benjamin died around 1789 in Montgomery, but it is also possible he moved further into the frontier. On that note I did check Kanawha Co., VA (now WV) tax lists for Hensleys in 1792 and 1793 and there were none there. The 1794 and 1795 lists are missing. No Hensleys were there in 1796. The 1797-1800 lists are missing. No Hensleys there in 1801 or 1802.

This was the end of the search for Benjamin Hensley until recently (2021) when Kyle Wear found a Benjamin Hensley in St. Louis, MO involved in a lawsuit in 1812. We have no further information on that Benjamin at present. He certainly could be this same Benjamin, but I don’t know if he is or not. However, I’ve yet to find another Benjamin that this could be. More research in Missouri might turn up something.

More on this in the children’s section below.


Benjamin Hensley presumably married and had some children. If he is the same man as Capt. Benjamin Hensley of the 1768 and 1779 records then he was probably married by the late 1760's at least, so could have children born ca 1760s through 1780s. None are identified so far. If he isn’t Capt. Benjamin, then he probably wouldn’t have any children born before ca 1782.

Kyle Wear suggested that perhaps Samuel Hensley (1767-1827) of Culpeper and Washington Co., VA, Overton Co., TN and Howard and Clay Co., MO could be a son of this Benjamin for he did name one of his own “Benjamin” and he does seem to fit into the Washington and Culpeper Hensleys somehow. Benjamin fits since he more or less vanished from SW Virginia at the same time Samuel left with his Livingston in-laws.

Samuel certainly could be Benjamin’s son. This only works if Benjamin was born in the 1740s though. If we could find any evidence of Benjamin Hensley in Grainger or Overton Co., TN, or Hart Co., KY or Howard or Clay Co., MO then that would add weight to Kyle’s theory.

Revised: September 23, 2021

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

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