Monticello Slaves who gained freedom


Jefferson freed two slaves in his lifetime and five in his will. Three others ran away and were not pursued. All were members of the Hemings family; the seven he officially freed were all skilled tradesmen.


Freed by Jefferson during his lifetime

  • Robert Hemings (1762-1819), freed 1794
  • James Hemings (1765-1801), freed 1796


Freed in Jefferson’s will (1826-1827)

  • Joseph (Joe) Fossett (1780-1858)
  • Burwell Colbert (1783-1850+)
  • Madison Hemings (1805-1856)
  • John Hemmings (1776-1833)
  • Eston Hemings (1808-1856)


Left Monticello but not pursued

  • James Hemings (born 1787)
  • Beverly Hemings (born 1798)
  • Harriet Hemings (born 1801)


Other Monticello slaves who gained freedom

Many other Monticello slaves also gained freedom, most after being sold following Jefferson’s death. Below is a partial list:

  • Peter Farley Fossett (1815-1901), freedom purchased by his father (Joseph Fossett) his family, and friends of Thomas Jefferson in 1850.
  • Peter Hemings (1770-1834+)
  • Robert Hughes (1824-1895), freed by Emancipation
  • Elizabeth-Ann Fossett Isaacs (1812-1902), freedom purchased by her father, Joseph Fossett.
  • Henry Martin (1826-1915), freed by Emancipation
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