Marty and Karla Grant
Benjamin Hensley (c1650-1700) and Beatrice — of Rappahannock and Richmond 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).
As there were several Benjamin Hensleys in Virginia before 1800, you should refer to my analysis page on that subject.
Special thanks to Laura Schreibman for data shared on this family.
This man is the first Benjamin Hensley in Virginia as far as is known. I sometimes refer to him as Benjamin I, or Benjamin 1 or (1) in an attempt to distinguish him from others of the same name. However, as that can get a tad confusing, I think I’ll only refer to him as “Benjamin (d 1700)” from now on since we know for a fact that’s when he died. It would also be safe to refer to him as “Benjamin (Beatrice).”
I estimate Benjamin Hensley’s birth as ca 1650, but he could be much older than that. I doubt he’s any younger than that though. He was married by 1679, so if we assume he was at least 21 then, that puts his birth at ca 1658 or earlier. I’m using 1650 somewhat arbitrarily, but we can almost be certain he was born before 1658.
Benjamin was very likely an immigrant to Virginia from England, though no record of his arrival has been found. Likewise, we don’t know who his parents were, nor what part of England he came from.
One clue about England is found in his Will of 1699/1700. He left money to Elizabeth Toby of “the Bluebell near the Hospital of St. Thomas in Southwark.” That is in London. Whether he was from there or not isn’t known. However, he apparently has some connection to Mrs. Toby who lived there at that time.
I think it’s likely that Benjamin is a brother to William Hensley (c1650-c1708) who was in the same county with him. However, I have no actual proof they were siblings, only highly circumstantial evidence. Using the same sort of evidence, I think Richard Hensley might be another sibling, though I’m less sure about him.
Benjamin first appears in Rappahannock County in 1677. This county was formed in 1656 from the upper parts of Lancaster County. It was named for the river that ran through the middle of it.
On 6 Mar 1677 John Waight sold Benjamin Hansley 20 acres of land on Golden Vale Creek. Witnesses were Thomas Parker and Henry Berry. (Sparacio, Ruth and Sam Sparacio, Old Rappahannock County Deeds and Wills 1677-1682. The Antient Press.)
Golden Vale Creek is in present day Caroline County on the south side of the Rappahanock. This area was part of Rappahanock County in 1677. It became Essex in 1692 and Caroline in 1728. If that was the place from the deed, I don't know if Benjamin actually lived on that land as that was pretty far north and up river from where he lived later on, for he lived in the part of Rappahannock that became Richmond in 1692. That isn't to say he couldn't have moved upstream, then came back down. I didn’t find a record of this 20 acres being sold or otherwise disposed of by Benjamin Hensley.
Benjamin Hensley married Beatrice --- (listed as Bethridge on one record) at some point prior to 1679. I don’t know what her maiden name might have been.
On 28 Feb 1679 Bethridge Hensle witnessed a deed (along with Wareick Camock) between Mr. Fran Doughty and Thomas Windor. Bethridge signed with a mark. I assume this is Beatrice Hensley, wife of Benjamin. Francis Doughty was associated with Benjamin Hensley (see 1691 below.) (Sparacio, Ruth and Sam Sparacio, Old Rappahannock County Deeds and Wills 1677-1682. The Antient Press.)
On 1 Feb 1691 the Will of Francis Doughty was proven in Richmond Co., VA Court by William Berry the executor, as well as by Sem. Cox and Benj. Hensle. (Sparacio, Ruth. Order Book Abstracts of Richmond County, Virginia 1692-1694. The Antient Press.)
On 4 Mar 1692, Benjamin Hensley 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.
In 1692 Rappahannock County was divided into Richmond (north of river) and Essex (south of river), thus dissolving the original county. It appears that Benjamin fell into the northern section, now Richmond County. (Note that the City of Richmond is not in Richmond County, nor even nearby.)
On 2 Oct 1695 the Richmond court ordered, upon the petition of Ann, relict of Edward Price, that David Brennah, Benjamin Hensloe, and Richard Shippie, or any two of them, inventory and appraise the Price estate. Although this says "Hensloe" it probably refers to Benjamin Hensley. (Sparacio, Ruth. Order Book Abstracts of Richmond County, Virginia 1694-1697. The Antient Press.)
On 1 Jun 1698, Sem Cox and Benjamin Henslow and William Berry were ordered to inventory and appraise the estate of Samuel Daw. (Richmond Co. Orders 1697-1699, Richmond Co. Court June 1, 1698 p. 294, shared by Suzanne Baird.)
On 28 Jan 1699/1700, Benjamin Hensley made his Will in Richmond County. He named his wife Beatrice and son Benjamin. He left Benjamin 50 acres for which he had a patent. This must be referring to the 1692 patent, though that was 49 acres. He left money to Elizabeth Toby (no relationship stated) at the Bluebell near St. Thomas Hospital in Southwark. No executor was named. Witnesses were Joseph Wright and Sem Cox.
The Will was proven on 8 Mar 1699/1700 so Benjamin had died by then.
If my birth estimate is correct, then Benjamin was approximately 49 when he died. That was considered old age then. The average life expectancy was 40 in 1600s Virginia.
There is no further mention of Beatrice Hensley in the records, so she may have died soon after her husband, or perhaps lived many years without leaving a paper trail.
Benjamin Hensley had one son (Benjamin) as proven by his 1699 Will. No other children were named or hinted at in the Will. If there were other children they probably died young. Infant mortality was extremely high in the 1600s.
Benjamin Hensley (2) was born ca 1680. His wife was Elizabeth.
See his own page for more about him.
For Family Group Sheet and other notes see my database page for Benjamin Hensley & Beatrice.
Revised: September 13, 2021