Robert Hughes was related to two important enslaved families at Monticello, the Hemings family through his father and the Granger family through his mother, Ursula Granger Hughes (1787–post 1847). After Jefferson’s death in 1826, Robert Hughes, his mother, and his siblings remained in slavery at Edgehill, the plantation of Jefferson's grandson, Thomas Jefferson Randolph; his father was given his freedom unofficially.
Robert Hughes was the Edgehill blacksmith and a Baptist preacher. He and his wife, Sidney Evans, a household servant, and their children became free at the end of the Civil War. Hughes began acquiring land, owning 130 acres at his death. He was the founding minister of the still-flourishing Union Run Baptist Church adjacent to Edgehill. In 1997 Getting Word participants, including Timothy Hughes and some of his other descendants, witnessed the rediscovery of his grave marker. The first word revealed on the stone was “Memory.”