Marty and Karla Grant
John Hensley (c1733-c1792) — of Pittsylvania Co., VA
As there were several John Hensleys in Virginia before 1800, you should refer to my analysis page on that subject.
There were two men named John Hensley in Pittsylvania County at the same time. They might be father and son, or perhaps not. Regardless, there is a good chance we’ve mixed up their records in some cases. One remained in what is now Pittsylvania, while the other wound up in Henry, now Patrick, which was all part of Pittsylvania for a time. The one in Patrick was the younger of the two it seems.
John Hensley was born ca 1731 or earlier if we assume he was at least 21 when he first appeared on a public record (1752). However, that record was a tax list, and it’s possible he only had to be over 16 to be listed, thus born ca 1736 or before. His next record was 1754 when he signed a petition. For that one you probably did have to be 21 at least, so that would put his birth at ca 1733 or earlier.
If his parents are who I believe them to be, he may have been born in Spotsylvania or King George Co., VA or perhaps in Hanover.
I suspect he is a son of Benjamin Hensley and Elizabeth Hickman (m 1731), but I can’t prove that. However, many of their family members did pass through the area and were associated with a John there.
John Hensley along with Benjamin (father, I think) and William (brother, I think) were listed on the 1752 tax list in Lunenburg Co., VA. It’s possible this isn’t the same John, but as that area soon became Bedford, I think it might just be.
Halifax County was formed in 1752 from Lunenburg. Bedford County was formed in 1753/54 from Lunenburg. The Hensleys fell into Bedford, but perhaps near the present Pittsylvania line.
On 22 Jul 1754, John Henslee and others made a petition to the Bedford County court for a road to be made from the Island Ford on Stanton River by the mouth of Black Water River, to the Road at the Meadows of Goose Creek. I’m not 100% certain this is the same John Hensley later of Pittsylvania, but the area in question on this road order was only about 14 miles from Potter Creek where he later lived. (Bedford Co., VA Order Book No 1 A 1754-1758 p. 5, shared by Laura Schreibman.)
Pittsylvania County was formed in 1766/67 from Halifax County.
Two John Hensleys appear on the 1767 tax list for Pittsylvania Co., VA. The first was in John Dixon’s district, the second in Hugh Innes’ district. Both men had one tithable, themselves presumably, and no slaves nor any land. I’m not sure which is this John nor who the other one was.
John Sr could be the same John Hensley listed on the 1768 tax list in Rowan Co., NC. In 1768, Rowan Co., NC was huge and bordered Pittsylvania County at the time. Several members of Benjamin’s family made the move into this section for a couple of years. It’s possible John made the move too.
A 1768 tax list for Rowan listed 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.
Whether the above is him or not, it seems he was back in Virginia pretty quickly (as were most of the others as well.)
John Hensley married Milly sometime ca 1770/1775 in Pittsylvania Co., VA. She was undoubtedly not his first wife. Her name is proven by the death record of their son Solomon who died in 1859. (Thanks to Marsha Moses for finding and sharing that.)
On 29 Nov 1770, John Henslee was appointed a reader in Camden Parish “and it is ordered that he ready prayers at Potter's Creek Schoolhouse and at Ridges Creek and that he be allowed the usual salary.” (Vestry book of Camden Parish, shared by Suzanne Baird.)
I don’t know if the above is John Sr., or Jr., but I suspect Sr.
On 1 Aug 1771, one of the John Hensleys (John Henslee) witnessed a deed between James Clements and wife Martha, of Bedford, to James Mitchell of Pittsylvania, for land on both sides of Potters Creek. James Dalton and John Fowler also witnessed. (Pittsylvania Co., VA Deed Book 2, p. 258, shared by Laura Schreibman.)
On 12 Mar 1772, John Henslee, with Eusebus Hubbard and John Goode, witnessed a deed between Cook to Justice. (Pittsylvania Co., VA Deed Book 2, p. 397, shared by Laura Schreibman.)
On 25 Jun 1772 one of the John Hensleys (John Hensle), along with Gideon Rucker and William Frogg, witnessed a deed from Goode to Cooley. (Pittsylvania Co., VA Deed Book 3, p. 22, shared by Laura Schreibman.)
On 14 Feb 1777, John Henslee, with Caleb Tabe and James Oliver, witnessed a deed between William Bennet and wife Hannah of Pittsylvania, to David Ross of Dinwiddie for land on both sides of Frying Pan Creek. It was the same land patented to Timothy Dalton on 28 Mar 1759. (Pittsylvania Co., VA Deed Book 4, p. 47, shared by Laura Schreibman.)
On 22 Feb 1777, Bryan Ward Nowlin, of Pittsylvania Co., VA, deeded to John Henslee Senr, 100 acres on both sides of Potters Creek. No neighbors were mentioned, and there were no witnesses. Nowlin himself acknowledged the deed in court on 27 Mar 1777. (Pittsylvania Co., VA Deed Book 4, pp. 294-296.)
Potter Creek and Frying Pan Creek (see previous deed) are very near one another.
In 1777, during the American Revolution, many citizens of Pittsylvania County signed an oath of allegiance to the United States. Among the signers were John Henslie, Jr and Jno Henslie, Sen. (Patriots Who Took The Oath of Allegiance 1777 Pittsylvania County, Virginia )
John Hensley Jr either died or left the area after 1777. By 1782 only one John Hensley remained in the county according to the personal property tax list, and I’m assuming that was the older of the two, for after 1782, he was no longer listed as tithable on the tax lists, which probably means he was exempted due to old age.
There is a John Hensley in neighboring Henry Co., VA in 1782, who remained in that area until it became Patrick County, where he apparently died ca 1819/1820. That could be the younger of the two Johns from Pittsylvania, but I tend to think not. I could be wrong though.
On 25 Nov 1778, John Hencely of Pittsylvania, deeded to Taliaferio Hencely of the same place, for £30, 50 acres on both sides of Potters Creek. Both their names changed to Henslee within the same deed, showing how much trouble clerks had with this surname! John Henslee signed the deed. There were no witnesses. John Hensley acknowledged the deed himself in court on 26 Nov 1778. (Pittsylvania Co., VA Deed Book 5, pp. 77-80.)
The above deed is somewhat remarkable in that John’s son, Taliaferro Hensley, was no more than 8 years old at this time! While you have to be of legal age to sell land, there is no age limit on purchasing land, so this could indeed be a small child. Or, is it possible there was an older Taliaferro Hensley in the area? If so, who was he?
The above appears to be half of John’s 100 acres he purchased in 1777 from Nowlin.
On 9 Aug 1780, Bryan Ward Nowlin sold John Hensley another 100 acres on both sides of Potters Creek, for £25. There were no witnesses. Nowlin acknowledged the deed himself in court on 15 Aug 1780. (Pittsylvania Co., VA Deed Book 6, pp. 30-31.)
John Hensley was listed on the 1782 personal property tax list in Pittsylvania Co., VA, with 1 white tithe (himself), 1 horse and 2 cattle. In fact, he was the only Hensley listed there in 1782. He was also on the land tax list in 1782 with 100 acres.
John Hensley was listed on the 1783 personal property tax list in Pittsylvania Co., VA. This time he had no white tithables, meaning he was probably exempted by the court due to his age. He did have 1 horse and 2 cows. Benjamin Hensley, his son I believe, was listed also for the first time.
Only John Hensley was listed on the 1784 personal property tax list in Pittsylvania Co., VA. Again he had no white tithables, 1 horse and 2 cows. Benjamin Hensley, his son was not listed for some reason, though he was back by 1785.
In fact, only Benjamin was listed in 1785. I didn’t find John.
On 10 Dec 1785, John Henslee of Pittsylvania, sold 100 acres on both sides of Potters Creek to Herman Cook for £50. John Henslee signed the deed. There were no witnesses. John acknowledged the deed himself in court on 19 Dec 1785. (Pittsylvania Co., VA Deed Book 7, pp. 547-548)
The above was the last deed found for John in Pittsylvania. It could be that he had no more land after that.
John Hensley was listed on the 1786 personal property tax list in Pittsylvania Co., VA. Again he had no white tithables, 1 horse and 2 cows. Benjamin was once again missing.
John and Benjamin Hensley were listed on the 1787 personal property tax list in Pittsylvania Co., VA. John had no white tithables, 1 horse and no cows. He paid his taxes on Apr 27th. Benjamin paid his on May 15th.
Benjamin left the county around this time, leaving John there as the only Hensley.
John Hensley was listed on the 1788 personal property tax list in Pittsylvania Co., VA. This one clearly states he was exempt from taxes. He had 1 horse. He was the only Hensley on the tax list.
John Hensley was listed on the 1789 personal property tax list in Pittsylvania Co., VA. This one clearly states he was exempt from taxes. He had 1 horse. He was the only Hensley on the tax list.
The 1790 census is lost for Virginia, but John probably would have been listed in Henry.
John Hensley was listed on the 1790 personal property tax list in Pittsylvania Co., VA. Although he was undoubtedly still exempt (he wasn’t getting younger!), he was still taxed for one tithe, this one between the age of 16 and 21. That would have to be his son, Taliaffero (“Toliver”) Hensley. He was also taxed for 2 horses. Taxes were paid on Apr 14th.
John was not listed on the 1791 tax list, nor were any other Hensleys.
He was “back” for the 1792 personal property tax list in Pittsylvania Co., VA, though his entry included no tithes or horses. Perhaps he was already dead and this was his estate. His entry was dated May 22nd.
That’s the last record I currently have for John Hensley. He did not appear on the 1793 or later tax lists. No other Hensleys did either until 1797 when Taliaferro was listed, and 1798 when Taliaferro and brother Solomon were listed. Those were both John’s sons, I believe.
I don’t know when John’s wife Milly died, but I have found no records on her at all other than her name on Solomon’s death record as his mother.
John Hensley only has one proven child, and that is Solomon Hensley as stated on Solomon’s death record. However, it is highly likely that he is the father of several children with more than one wife, Milly probably being his last wife.
From first wife:
1. John Hensley “Jr” listed on 1767 tax list, putting him born ca 1751 or earlier if at least 16 then. This could be same person as John (bef 1761-1819) of Henry & Patrick who I currently have as a son of William, thus a nephew to this John.
2. Benjamin Hensley (bef 1755-1820s) could be John’s son. This isn’t proven, but they were in Pittsylvania at the same time.
From marriage with Milly:
3. Taliaferro Hensley (1770/75-aft 1830) of Pittsylvania, Franklin, Grayson and Ashe NC. Was with Solomon across two counties and back. John deeded him land in 1778.
4. Solomon Hensley (c1779-1859) of Pittsylvania, Franklin, Cabell (WV) and Wayne (WV). His death record lists his parents as John and Milly, and his birth place as Pittsylvania Co., VA (shared by Marsha Moses.)
5. Lucy Hensley who married David Nowlin in 1794 is probably a daughter.
Revised: October 2, 2021