Marty and Karla Grant

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Sampson Hensley (c1782-c1810) of Washington Co., VA

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Sampson Hensley is my 1st cousin, 6 times removed if he’s a nephew of my ancestor Larkin Hensley, which is possible. However, there is an equal chance he’s Larkin’s younger half brother. If that’s the case, then Sampson is my 5 times great uncle.

Sampson Hensley was born ca 1782, presumably in Washington Co., VA. I base his approximate birth year on his appointment as a militia ensign in 1800. He would have to be at least 18 for that, so born ca 1782 or older. He could have been much older, but if so, he should have appeared on some tax lists prior to when he first did (1807). Then again, he may have lived outside of Washington Co., VA for some of that time.

I speculated that Sampson might be a son of Samuel Hensley (1754-1841) and Eleanor Elliott, but I’m less convinced than I once was. My main reason for including him there was that Samuel’s daughter Mary Hensley Benham (c1778-1862) named one of her sons Sampson, born ca 1810, right about the time Sampson Hensley died. My assumption was that her son was named in honor of her late brother. However, the naming could be a coincidence, or perhaps it was indeed in honor of Sampson Hensley, but it wouldn’t automatically mean he was her brother. He could just as easily be a well loved 1st cousin. Also, none of the others in Samuel’s family named any of their children “Sampson.” However, Samuel’s younger brother William Hensley (c1760s) did have one named Sampson, born ca 1800, perhaps in honor of the older Sampson Hensley.

I’m certain that Sampson Hensley is indeed closely related to Samuel, William et al. But how exactly? Samuel and William are probably sons of William Hensley (c1730s-c1807). It seems reasonable to assume Sampson is part of the same family, but a son of one of older William’s other sons. However, none of William (1730s)’s other sons seem to be Sampson’s father as far as I can determine. Admittedly, the records are scarce, but in my view he just doesn’t fit.

An alternate idea is that Sampson wasn’t a grandson of old William, but rather a son. I’m reasonably certain that old William (1730) was married several times and had other children born in the 1780s and 1790s. Sampson could certainly be one of those. That would make him a half brother of Samuel (1754) and William (c1760s) and thus an uncle to Mary Hensley Benham who may have named her own son after him, her uncle that was younger than herself.

Convoluted? Perhaps, but it works with what little data we have. Can I prove it? No. Can I disprove it? No.

So, for now, I’m going to tentatively assign Sampson Hensley (c1782) as a son of William Hensley (c1730-1807) and an unknown second or third wife.

Sampson Hensley is not listed on any of the Washington Co., VA personal property tax lists 1782 through 1800. Since he first came to notice in the 1800 militia record (see below), this suggests he just turned 18 that year, the minimum age for militia duty.

On 21 May 1800 Fielding Hensley (who would be Sampson’s older half brother if my analysis is correct) was recommended as a Lieutenant in the Washington Co., VA militia in 2nd Battalion, 70th Regiment to replace William Carmack who was resigned. Sampson Hensley replaced Fielding as Ensign. (Clark, Gerald H. The Militia of Washington County, VA Officers 1777-1835 Militia Men 1798-1835. 1979)

To be made an Ensign at such a young age, as opposed to a private, suggests he was from a prominent family, which the Hensleys certainly were.

Sampson Hensley is not listed on the 1800, 1801, 1802, 1803, 1804, 1805 or 1806 tax lists in Washington Co., VA. He was certainly alive during those years, but apparently didn’t have his own household or personal property, at least not in Washington Co., VA. It’s possible he resided just over the state line in Sullivan Co., TN during this time. Most of the Hensleys lived quite close to the state line, and some definitely also lived in Sullivan Co., TN, so it’s not unreasonable to think Sampson might have as well.

On 20 Nov 1804 Samuel Wilson was recommended as a Lieutenant in the Washington Co., VA militia in place of Sampson Hensley who didn't accept the offered promotion. (Clark, Gerald H. The Militia of Washington County, VA Officers 1777-1835 Militia Men 1798-1835. 1979)

Sampson makes his debut on the personal property tax lists in 1807. He is listed with one white tithe over 16 (himself), and two horses.

There was no 1808 tax list.

Sampson Hensley is listed on the 1809 personal property tax list with one white tithe (himself) and 2 horses.

Sampson Hensly is listed on the 1810 personal property tax list with one white tithe (himself) and 4 horses.

Sampson is not listed on the 1810 census on his own, nor does he seem to be with any of the Hensley households in Washington Co., VA. He is probably residing with another family, and thus not a head of household. It’s also possible he was dead by this time, having died that very year between tax time and census time.

Sampson Hensley is listed on the 1811, 1812, (not 1813), 1814, 1815 and 1816 tax lists in Washington Co., VA. However, each time he only has horses listed for taxes, no white tithes (males over 16), meaning he himself wasn’t taxed. That means he was either dead or a non resident of the county, though still owning personal property in the county. If dead, this means his estate took awhile to be settled, or else the tax records just took awhile to catch up.

I checked the 1820 census to see if perhaps Sampson Hensley was listed somewhere else, but I found noone of that name listed anywhere. It should be noted that the 1820 census is lost for Eastern Tennessee where he certainly could have been residing, if still living.

Sampson Hensley never appeared on the land tax lists, so apparently never owned any land in Washington Co., VA.


I have no data on whether he ever married or not. If he turned 18 ca 1800, and didn’t die until ca 1810, that was plenty of time to marry had have a few children.

Click here for family group sheets of this family. Other notes and sources might be listed there.

Revised: January 23, 2022

Copyright © 1996-2022 Marvin A. Grant, Jr. All Rights Reserved.

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