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Martin Hemings

Martin Hemings (1755-?) was the enslaved son of Elizabeth Hemings. He was born and raised at The Forest, the plantation home of John Wayles. After Wayles's death in 1773, Martin was sent to Monticello and worked as a butler for Thomas Jefferson. According to family legend, Martin Hemings was responsible for hiding the Jeffersons' family silver as Tarleton's troops approached Monticello in 1781.1 Jefferson eventually sold Martin over an unknown dispute.

Chronology

1755. Born at The Forest, son of Betty Hemings, slave of John Wayles.

1771 November 11. Household servant at The Forest. First appearance in documentary record.

1772 November 4. Sells Jefferson's mockingbird.

1774 March. By this time, Martin Hemings is acting as butler at Monticello. In this role, he accompanies Jefferson to residences in Williamsburg and Richmond.

1778 September. Inoculated against smallpox.

1781 June. Encounters Tarleton's troops at Monticello. Enters family legend as the one responsible for hiding the silver.

1781 December. Possibly in Williamsburg to recover escaped slave.

1784-1789. Serves other masters in Jefferson's absence, including James Monroe.

1790-1792. Returns to Monticello during Jefferson's vacations.

1792 August-September. Jefferson and Martin disagree, Martin asks to be sold, Jefferson seeks buyer.

1794 November. At Monticello.

1795 January 22. Described as remaining on as hand for Thomas Mann Randolph.

Primary Source References

1771 November 11. "Gave Ben at Forest 2/6 Martin 2/6 James 5/9."2

1772 January 18. "Gave Martin 2/3."3

1772 June 23. "Gave Martin 5/."4

1772 November 4. "Pd. Martin at Forest for mocking bird 5/."5

1774 March 14. "Recd. from the Forest 4 Doz. 10 bott. of Jamaica rum (note I shall keep a tally of these as we use them by making a mark in the margin in order to try the fidelity of Martin."6

1775 April 9. "Borrowed of Martin 1/9 3/4."7

1775 April 16. "Repd. Martin 1/9 3/4."8

1776 October 17. "Gave Martin to buy sundries 14/6."9

1776 October 18. "Gave Martin to buy wood 6/."10

1776 November 10. "Pd. for shoes for Martin 6/."11

1776 December 6. "Pd ... mendg. Martin's breeches 3/9."12

1776 December 7. "Pd. Galt visit to Martin 13/9."13

1777 October 22. "Repd. Martin in full 6/3."14

1777 November 5. "Gave Martin for ferrge. & expences to F. Willis's 6/."15

1777 November 14. "Gave Martin to pay for washing 8/."16

1777 November 26. "Gave Martin to buy oats 19/."17

1778 May 9. "Gave Martin to pay oats 19/."18

1778 May 11. "Pd. a taylor altering coat for Martin 30/."19

1778 May 26. "Gave Martin to buy necessaries 6/."20

1778 June 1. "Gave Martin to buy corn 30/."21

1778 June 9. "Gave Martin to pay for sundries 22/."22

1778 September 28. "Delivd. Fr. Eppes for Doctr. Read inoculatg. Martin & Jame £6."23

1778 December 19. "Pd. Martin for bread candles &t. 36/."24

1779 June 3. "Pd. Martin for sundries £4-7."25

1779 June 21. "Pd. Martin for household expences £4-13. Advance to do. for do. £4-10."26

1779 July 8. "Gave Martin to buy fruit £3."27

1779 July 23. "Pd. Martin in full for houshold expecs. £19-10."28

1779 September 20. "Repd. Martin mending chariot & ferrge. at Woodson's 42/."29

1779 September 25. "Pd. Martin for houshold expences 18/."30

1779 September 27. "Pd. Martin houshold expences £9."31

1779 October 4. "Repd. Martin houshold expences £5-14."32

1779 October 6. "Pd. Martin houshold expences £8-15. Advanced do. for do. 5/."33

1779 October 8. "Pd Martin for houshold expences £5-8.Advanced do. for do. £5-7."34

1779 October 28. "Pd. Martin houshold expences £7-18."35

1779 December 30. "Repd. Martin expences at York £7-10."36

1780 January 2. "Pd. Martin houshold expences £7-14."37

1780 February 16. "Pd. Martin for a cask £9."38

1780 March 8. "Pd. Martin for Joseph Neilson £23-8."39

1780 July 12. "Pd. Martin for 2. tumblers £12."40

1780 July 26. "Gave Martin for ferrge. 48/."41

1780 August 15. "Pd. Martin houshd. exp. £5-2."42

1780 November 3. "Gave Martin to buy ginger £30."43

1781 January 21. "Repd. Martin £29-2."44

1781 February 19. "Repd. Martin for 2. tumblers £24."45

1781 December 18. "Gave Martin for expences 48/sp."46

1781 December 24. "I owe Martin 33/9."47

1782 November 6. "Pd. Martin in full 22/9."48

1782 November 30. "Pd. Martin in full £3-4."49

1782 December 1. "Gave Martin for ferrge. 1/4."50

1783 May 6. "Gave Martin 18/."51

1783 May 17. "Gave Martin to buy sundries £6."52

1783 May 22. "Recd. back to Martin £5-2-8."53

1783 June 29. "Gave Martin to buy sundries £4-2."54

1783 July 3. "Recd. back from Martin 12/."55

1783 September 30. "Pd. Martin expences to Richmd. 7/3 & postage 5/8."56

1792 November 22. (Jefferson to Daniel Hylton). "Martin and myself disagreed when I was last in Virginia insomuch that he desired me to sell him, and I determined to do it, and most irrevocably that he shall serve me no longer. If you could find a master agreeable to him, I should be glad if you would settle that point at any price you please .... Perhaps Martin may undertake to find a purchaser. But I exclude all idea of his own responsibility: and I would wish that the transaction should be finished without delay, being desirous of avoiding all parley with him myself on the subject."57

1795 January 22. (Jefferson to Martha Jefferson Randolph). "Gamble promises the clover seed and gongs shall come by the first conveyance: so that from all these Mr. Randolph is relieved. There remain on his hands Martin and the Chariot."58

Further Sources

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