Humanities History & Culture Sally Hemings' Children How likely is it Sally Hemings' children were fathered by Jefferson? Share Flipboard Email Print Slave quarters at Monticello, home of Thomas Jefferson. Authenticated News / Getty Images History & Culture Women's History Important Figures History of Feminism Key Events & Milestones Women's Suffrage Women & War Laws & Women's Rights Feminism & Pop Culture Feminist Texts American History African American History African History Ancient History & Culture Asian History European History Family History & Genealogy Inventions Latin American History Medieval & Renaissance History Military History The 20th Century View More by Jone Johnson Lewis Jone Johnson Lewis has a Master of Divinity, and is a humanist clergy member and certified transformational coach. She has been involved in the women's movement since the late 1960s. Updated February 01, 2019 When James Thomas Callender published allegations in 1802 alleging that Sally Hemings was not just Thomas Jefferson's slave, but his "concubine," it was the beginning but not the end of public speculation on the parentage of Hemings' children. Sally Hemings' Own Genealogy Sally Hemings was a slave owned by Jefferson who came to him through his wife, Martha Wayles Skelton Jefferson. She may have been Martha Jefferson's half-sister, fathered by Martha's father, John Wayles. Sally's mother, Betsy (or Betty), was herself the daughter of a white ship captain and a black slave woman, so Sally may have had just one black grandparent. Nevertheless, the laws of the time made Sally, and her children no matter who was the father, also slaves. Birth Dates The birth dates of six children of Sally Hemings were recorded by Thomas Jefferson in his letters and records. Descendants of Madison Hemings and Eston Hemings are known. The evidence is mixed for a son who may have been born to Hemings when she returned from Paris. Descendents of Thomas Woodson claims that he was that son. One way to look at the likelihood of Jefferson as the father of the Hemings children is to see whether Jefferson was present at Monticello and whether that is within a reasonable "conception window" for each child. The following chart summarizes the known birth dates and the dates of Jefferson's presence at Monticello within that "conception window": Name Birth Date Jefferson atMonticello Death Date Harriet October 5, 1795 1794 and 1795 -- all year December 1797 Beverly April 1, 1798 July 11 - December 5, 1797 probably after 1873 Thenia? aboutDecember 7, 1799 March 8 - December 21, 1799 soon after birth Harriet May 1801 May 29 - November 24, 1800 probably after 1863 Madison January (19?), 1805 April 4 - May 11, 1804 November 28, 1877 Eston May 21, 1808 August 4 - September 30, 1807 January 3, 1856 What Happened to These Children and Their Descendants? Two of Sally's documented children (a first Harriet and a girl possibly named Thenia) died in infancy (plus, possibly, the child named Tom who was born shortly after the return from Paris). Two others―Beverly and Harriet―"ran" in 1822, were never formally freed, but disappeared into white society. Beverly probably died after 1873, and Harriet after 1863. Their descendants are not known, nor do historians know what names they used after their "escape." Jefferson spent minimal effort to track them after their departure, lending credence to the theory that he let them go purposely. Under an 1805 Virginia law, if he'd freed them or any slave, that slave would not be able to remain in Virginia. Madison and Eston, the youngest of the children, both born after the 1803 Callendar revelations, were freed in Jefferson's will, and were able to remain in Virginia for some time, as Jefferson had requested a special act of the Virginia legislature to permit them to stay contrary to the 1805 law. Both worked as tradesmen and musicians, and ended up in Ohio. Eston's descendents at some point lost their memory of being directly descended from Jefferson and from Sally Hemings, and were unaware of a black heritage. Madison's family includes descendents of three of his daughters. 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