Marty and Karla Grant

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Jonathan Hensley (c1717/1720-aft 1738) of Orange Co., VA

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Special thanks to Suzanne Baird for data shared on this family.

Jonathan Hensley is an interesting case in that we only have one record for him. That proves he existed, but doesn’t prove much else.

The record in question was dated 23 Jun 1738 when a lawsuit by John Branham against Jonathan Hensley was continued until the next court by mutual consent. (Orange Co., VA Order Book 1 p. 342, shared by Suzanne Baird.)

And that’s it. That’s the one and only record found (thus far) for Jonathan Hensley.

What can we conclude from it?

One, he probably lived in Orange Co., VA where the suit was filed, though it is possible to be sued in a county you didn’t reside in if that’s where the debt or offense occurred.

Two, he was probably at least 21 in order to be sued, thus born ca 1717 or earlier. If we consider he could have as young as 18, then born before ca 1720.

Since the continuation of the case wasn’t found, he either died, or the record of it was lost. If they settled out of court, that was usually noted in the court minutes. The death of the plaintiff or defendant was also usually noted.

Lacking any further records of Jonathan Hensley, it could be that he died in 1738 or soon after. On the other hand, many early Virginia records have been lost. It is entirely possible he lived a number of years after 1738 and just remained out of the public eye, owning no land, only renting, and thus being practically invisible as far as public records go.

One interesting thing to note is that the name “Jonathan” just wasn’t used in the Hensley family. The next known Jonathan Hensley was born ca 1770 to Richardson Hensley of Spotsylvania Co., VA. Coincidence or namesake?

Who was the father of Jonathan Hensley (c1717)? If we limit the options to those known to live in Orange County who were old enough, then the only choice is William Hensley (Sr) (c1690s-c1764).

Of course that doesn’t prove Jonathan is William’s son. Other than being in the same county (Jonathan was actually there before William arrived), and them being age compatible, there is nothing to link them together.

Who else then? William’s brothers Joseph Hensley (c1690s-1744) and Edward Hensley (c1690s-c1750) are certainly age compatible. However, both of them left Wills and neither mentioned Jonathan. Of course, if he died ca 1738, they wouldn’t need to have mentioned him as their Wills were after that.

Samuel Hensley (c1670s-1735), father of the above three, is another possibility, however, he too left a Will, before 1738 in his case, but did not mention Jonathan.

That only leaves one more option, Benjamin Hensley (II) (c1680s-aft 1728). Benjamin never lived in Orange as far as is known, but that doesn’t automatically disqualify him.

Therefore, unless there was another Hensley who was of age in the area that we don’t know about, Jonathan almost certainly has to be a son of William or his brothers Joseph and Edward, or their cousin Benjamin.

I vote on William because he did move to Orange County.

However, this is just my opinion based on a single record.


There is no evidence that Jonathan Hensley was married or had any children. However, if he was born ca 1717/1720, then he could have probably begun having children ca 1738 and into the 1740s if he lived beyond 1738. Due to the lack of anyone of the next generation or two being named Jonathan, I would think he had no children of his own.

The exception is Jonathan Hensley (c1770-aft 1818) who is a son of Richardson Hensley, proven son of George Hensley (c1710-c1775). One might conclude that Richardson named a son after his own uncle, but George had no brother named Jonathan for George is a proven son of Samuel (d 1735) who left a Will naming his sons, and no Jonathan was mentioned.

Family Group Sheet (no data).

Revised: November 20, 2021

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