Elizabeth Hensley (bef 1765) of Washington Co., VA

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The author (Marty Grant) is not related to Elizabeth Hensley as far as can be proven. She did live in the same county (Washington Co., VA) as my ancestor Larkin Hensley (c1761-1806)

Since I have only found ONE record for Elizabeth Hensley, there is a question as to whether she was a Hensley by birth, or a widow Hensley. I'm going to work from the assumption that she is a widow. That means a lot of what I think about Elizabeth is based on assumptions, one built on top of another, so keep that in mind.

Elizabeth --- was born before 1765 per her age on the 1810 census. I don't know where she was born, but somewhere in Virginia is the most likely place, though of course there are other possibilities.

Her 1810 census entry shows her with an apparent son born ca 1784/94, so (assuming that this person is her son), she was married to a Mr. Hensley sometime before ca 1794.

Who was her husband then? If we assume she was in the Washington Co., VA area early on, then the suspects are limited. Using ca 1794 as a possible marriage date, what male Hensleys were in Washington around that time? Let us use the 1794 tax list as a guide. These men were listed: Samuel Hensley, William Hensley Jr., Fielding Hensley, Nicholas Hensley, William Hensley and Capt. Joseph Hensley.

Of those, Samuel Hensley (1754-1841) was in Washington County on up until his death in 1841, so he wasn't Elizabeth's husband. William Hensley Jr is a son of Joseph, and he moved to KY just after 1794 and his wife was named Lucy, so he isn't Elizabeth's husband. Fielding Hensley (c1761) was in the area until his death in the 1830's, and his wife is Nancy Cornett, so he isn't a suspect. Nicholas Hensley (c1765) was in the area until ca 1809 when he moved to KY where he died in the 1840's, so that removes him from consideration. Joseph Hensley (1750/60-1832) was in the area just a year or two more after 1794 before moving to KY where he died. Records prove his first wife was Jane, second wife Nancy.

That only leaves William Hensley (Sr) from the 1794 list as a suspect for Elizabeth's husband. Of course more analysis is needed. Read on.

Let us move to the 1795 tax list. The only new entry is Larkin Hensley (bef 1761-1806) who's wife was Sarah, so he isn't likely the one.

In 1804 there was Fielding, Nicholas, Ichabod, William Sr, William Jr, Samuel and Larkin. The 1805 list showed the same names.

The 1806 list was a little different, showing Samuel, Fielding, Nicholas, William Sr and William Jr, just as before, but new listings include Jesse and Sarah Hensley. Missing from 1806 Larkin and Ichabod. Records show that Larkin died about this time, and that Sarah is his widow. Ichabod moved to Tennessee.

The 1807 list shows some of the same names from 1806: Samuel, Fielding, William Sr, Nicholas and William Jr. New names are Simeon and Thomas (sons of Samuel), and Sampson. Missing are Jesse (still around but not listed for some reason), and Sarah (moved to TN).

There is no 1808 list, but in 1809 we see some differences. Listed, same as before, are Sampson, Nicholas, Samuel, Jesse, William and Fielding. No new names. Missing are Simon and Thomas (who were both still around, just not listed for some reason), and one of the Williams.

The only name missing (without explanation) in 1809 is William Hensley Sr. He does not appear on any additional Washington County records.

Analysis of the 1794 through 1809 tax list data seems to show only one Hensley who could have been Elizabeth's husband, and that is William Hensley Sr. This is far from conclusive, but it is a good working theory.

Elizabeth Hensley herself does not appear on the early Washington Co., VA Personal Property Tax lists. This probably means she had no taxable property or in those earlier years (before 1810) or she was with her husband (William Sr?) so not listed by name. He was not listed in 1809, but neither was she.

Elizabeth Hensley was listed on the 1810 census in Washington Co., VA.  She was in close proximity to several Hensleys and Hensley related families: Ithe Hensley was five houses away. William Godsey (husband of Agnes Hensley) was two houses away. Elizabeth's household contained two women aged 45 and up. There is no way to know who this other woman was, but possibilities include her mother, a sister or sister-in-law or some other relative. It should be noted that Agnes Hensley (c1763) is not listed in 1810. It could be her.

1810 census analysis (based on available evidence): (Explanation of this census)

1810 Washington Co, VA pg 229 Elizabeth Hensley 00100-00002-0-0
1 Male(s) 16-25		(1784-1794)	Son? (1784/94)
2 Female(s) 45 & up   	(bef 1765)	Elizabeth () Hensley (bef 1765)
					Sister? Sister-in-law? (bef 1765)

Elizabeth Hensley was not listed on the 1810 personal property tax list, though the 1810 census clearly shows she had a male over 16 living with her. He should have been listed, and perhaps he was. There is no way to know if he was a Hensley or someone else.

Elizabeth Hensley does not appear on any of the 1811 or later tax lists in Washington Co., VA or in the Scott Co., VA tax lists (Scott County was formed in 1814 from the western part of Washington, taking several of the Hensleys into the new county.)

The 1810 census is the first and last sure record I have for Elizabeth Hensley.

Now for some more speculation. Many of the Washington and Scott Co., VA Hensleys had connections in eastern Tennessee (Hawkins, Sullivan, Greene, Monroe, Knox Counties, among others.) There is a widow Elizabeth Hensley (1765) in Jefferson Co., TN. She was born in Virginia, and there are some possible connections of her family to the south west Virginia area, so it is entirely possible that this is the exact same person. I don't have anything solid enough to tie the two Elizabeth's into one person, but here are the pros and cons:


  1. Both are named Elizabeth Hensley

  2. Birth dates are compatible

  3. The one in 1850 Jefferson Co., TN was born in Virginia. I assume Elizabeth of Washington Co., VA was too.

  4. The one in 1850 Jefferson Co., TN had a son named Robert with wife Mary. There is a marriage in Washington Co., VA for a Robert C. Hensley to Mary Roberts in 1835. Same couple? If so that is further linkage.


  1. Elizabeth is an extremely common name

  2. There were many many Hensleys from Virginia who wound up in TN, not all from south western Virginia.

  3. Robert Hensley with wife Mary, seem to have a son born ca 1830, which pre-dates an 1835 marriage. Of course he might be Robert's from a previous marriage.

  4. None of Robert and Mary's known children were born in Virginia, though the Robert who married Mary Roberts there lived there a couple of years.

  5. Robert was born ca 1799/1800. Elizabeth of 1810 VA had no apparent son that age with her on the 1810 census.

See, based on the evidence, or lack thereof, I can't conclude that Elizabeth Hensley of 1810 Washington Co., VA is the widow of William Hensley Sr, though I feel strongly that she probably is. I also can't conclude that Elizabeth of 1810 Washington is the same Elizabeth (1765) who later lived in Jefferson Co., TN, though they certainly could be the same person, but I sort of doubt it, but I'm open to it if evidence can be found other than my speculations.

Children of Elizabeth Hensley. There is no record of Elizabeth's children, though the 1810 census shows a male born ca 1784/94 living with her. He could be her son, but if so, I don't know who he is.

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