Monticello Slaves who gained freedom

Reading Level: Middle School

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