Hemings or Hemmings

The correct spelling of the last name Hemings depends on the family member. Our practice, as well as that of the Papers of Thomas Jefferson editorial teams, is to use the spelling that the person in question used, if it can be documented. If no documentary proof of a preferred spelling can be found, then we use the spelling that Thomas Jefferson used. The following are the accepted spellings for different Hemings family members:

  • John Hemmings (we have surviving letters including his signature)
  • Madison Hemings (signature survives)
  • Eston Hemings (signature survives)
  • Betsy Hemmings (as spelled on her gravestone)

We have no evidence for a preferred spelling for any other Hemings family members, so we use "Hemings," which was the way Jefferson wrote it.

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