The Naming Project

Saying their Names

The nearly 300 names on this list include all the African Americans enslaved at Montpelier whose names are currently known from documents and oral history sources. Some names appear in only one document, giving evidence of only a single moment in a life. Other names appear frequently enough in the historical record to make it possible to draw out more detailed life stories. No matter how much or how little is known about each person, their names must be said and their lives must be honored.

The Naming Project is an ongoing effort at The Montpelier Foundation, drawing on years of research to uncover and share the names and stories of the Black people who lived, worked, and were enslaved at Montpelier. This page will serve as the repository for these stories, and will grow as we continue to piece information together and develop more biographical sketches.

AbbyAbnerAbrahamAbrahamAbramAbram ShepherdAgathyAilsey PayneAliceAleckAlexanderAmeyAmyAmeyAnnaAnthonyAnthonyArielAaronBeckBeccaBenBenjamin McDanielBenjamin StewartBenjamin TaylorBetsyBettyBettyBettyBillyBillyBilley/William GardnerBristollCalebCaptainCasloeCaslowCastorCatharine TaylorCattereneaCatyCelia CharityCharlesCharlesCharlesCharlotteCharlotteCibbsClarissaCoreenCreaseCuffeeCussina – Daffney – Dangerfield WalkerDaphneDamanDanielDavidDavyDelphiaDemasDiannaDickDidoDinahDollyDorcasEbenezerEdmundEdomEdwardEdwinElijahElijahElizaElizabethElizabethEllen StewartEllen Ann TaylorEveEzekielFannyFannyFannyFrankFrankFrankGabrielGeorgeGeorgeGeorgeGeorge GilmoreGideonGilbertGilesGuyHannahHannahHannahHanoverHarrietHarryHarryHenryHenryHenryHenryIsabelIsbellIsraelIsaacJackJack –                   Jack Abram – JacobJacobJamesJamesJamesJasonJemmyJemmyJennyJerryJerryJesseJesseJimJoannaJoeJoeJoe BolenJohnJohnJohnJohnJohnJohn FreemanJohn TaylorJonathanJosephJoshuaJoshuaJosiahJudaJudyJudyJudyJudyJuliaKateKatyKateyKittyLemonLettLeweyLeweyLewisLiviaLucyLucyMandyMargaretMariaMaryMaryMathew StewartMillyMilleyMilleyMillyMilleyMilleyMollyMosesMosesNancyNancyNannyNanyNedNellNelsonNicholasNicholas Jr. NickPamelaPaplianPattyPaul JenningsPaulPeggPeggyPendarPennyPeterPeterPhilPhoebePhoebePlatoPollyPompeyPriscillaRachelRalph Sr.Ralph Philip TaylorRandalRebecca WalkerReubenReubenRichd WalkerRichmondRobbinRobinRoseRuthSallySallySamSamSamSarrahSarahSarah Sarah StewartSarah Elizabeth TaylorSavinaSawneyShadrachSibby – Silvey – SimonSinarSolomon TaliaferroSophiaSparkSpotswoodStephenSukeySukeySusan EllenSusySyeSlyviaTabbyTamarThos. J. RandolphTomTomThomasTonyTroilusTrueloveTurkTydalTyreVioletVioletWalkerWashWebsterWilliamWilliamWilliam AdamsWilliam Henry TaylorWilloughbyWinneyWinnie StewartYatesYork

Child of SukeyDaughter of GabrielChild of Rebecca WalkerChild of Rebecca WalkerSon of SamUncle of Benjamin StewartGrandfather of Benjamin StewartGreat-grandfather of Benjamin StewartHusband of Sarah StewartMother of Ralph Taylor –                Mother of Paul JenningsChild of SilveyChild of PeggChild of PeggChild of MilleyChild of Betty“little girl”

Sarah Madden (indentured)


John Freeman waited table at the White House and was sold by Jefferson to Madison, with the stipulation that he be freed in 1815. He remained in Washington as a free man.


Lucy was enslaved by James Madison Sr. and inherited by Nelly Madison. When Nelly died, Lucy – who was elderly and unable to work – was appraised at negative $60.


Elijah was enslaved by Dolley Madison’s uncle, who leased Elijah to James Madison in 1818 and 1819. Madison asked for a reduced rate due to “the lameness of Elijah.”


Joanna, born March 16, 1773, was 10 years old when James Madison Sr. gave her, her mother Eliza, and her four siblings to his newlywed daughter and son-in-law.


Henry and his mother Margaret were given by James Madison Sr. to his son William Madison. When William died 60 years later, the estate valued Henry at only $25.


Moses, a blacksmith enslaved by Madison’s father, was known for the quality of his work. Madison specifically instructed an overseer “To get a plow made by Moses” in 1790.


Eliza, born February 17, 1750, was 33 when James Madison Sr. gave her to his daughter and son-in-law, along with Eliza’s children: Joanna, Diana, Demas, Pendar, and Webster.


Sometimes referred to as “Tradesman Harry,” Harry was also a carriage driver. In 1789 Harry made the return trip to Montpelier alone, by a route of his own choosing.


Ariel’s name appears in an 1847 letter from Dolley Madison, indicating that Ariel had carried a message to Dolley. It is unclear whether Dolley or someone else enslaved Ariel.


Lemon’s name appears only once in the documentary record. Tax records show that he was an enslaved laborer on James Madison Sr.’s land in Culpeper County in 1783.


Catharine “Caty” Taylor was often separated from her husband Ralph when Dolley Madison lived in Washington. After Dolley’s son died, Caty sued for her family’s freedom.


Known as “Old Anthony” by the 1790s, Anthony may have been enslaved by Ambrose Madison in 1732 or earlier. Anthony and his wife Betty had at least one son, Billey Gardner.


Born December 10, 1763, Sally was 19 years old when James Madison Sr. gave her to his new son-in-law, Isaac Hite. In his commonplace book, Hite wrote next to Sally’s name: “sold.”


Shadrach, born January 7, 1767, was enslaved by James Madison Sr. and was the overseer of a tract called “Shadracks.” He was inherited by Madison Sr.’s son-in-law Isaac Hite.


Cussina was one of the 14 children listed in the 1732 estate inventory of Ambrose Madison. Her name does not appear in any other surviving document.


Enslaved by Nelly Madison, Solomon Taliaferro was freed by her grandson in 1853. He married twice, had at least one grandchild, and was a member of the United Brethren Church.


Betty, sometimes called “Big” or “Old” Betty, was enslaved by James Madison Sr. and possibly by his father Ambrose. She married Anthony and was the mother of Billey Gardner.


Joseph’s name appears only once in the documentary record, when James Madison wrote that Joseph’s health had not worsened, but a second tumor had appeared.


Harriet was a skilled weaver, whom Dolley Madison deeded to her son in 1844. He tried to sell Harriet to several buyers, finally selling her for $275 on December 24, 1845.


Gideon was one of several enslaved people given by James Madison Sr. to his son Francis in January 1773. Gideon worked on Francis’s property in Culpeper County in 1783.


Born on September 18, 1781, Webster – along with his mother and sisters – became a wedding gift from James Madison Sr. to his daughter Nelly Hite in 1783.


Polly appears on James Madison Sr.’s tax records from 1782-1786, the only years when enslaved people were listed by name. Nothing else is known about her.


Stephen was one of 50 enslaved people Dolley Madison transferred to her son in 1844. Little else is known about him, except that he took “vegetable pills” when he was sick.


Two-year-old Elizabeth, her baby brother Caleb, and their mother Charlotte were sold by John Payne Todd to Henry Moncure, when he bought Montpelier in 1844.


Peter performed valuable services for the Madisons on a trip to Philadelphia in 1805. By 1829, he was worth “nothing” to the appraisers of Nelly Madison’s estate.


William Gardner, known as “Billey,” was enslaved and taken by James Madison to Philadelphia, where he was sold after getting too many ideas about liberty.


Abby was enslaved by James Madison Sr. in the 1780s, according to his tax records. The only other thing we know about her is that she wore a size 5 shoe.


Aisley Payne, an enslaved cook for 30 years, later told a newspaper reporter how she, as a young housemaid, prepared for Gen. Lafayette’s 1824 visit to Montpelier.


Ezekiel, age 19, escaped from Montpelier in 1794, heading toward Pennsylvania. His companion was recaptured near Harper’s Ferry, but Ezekiel’s fate is unknown.


When Judith Rives stopped by Montpelier in 1837, she asked “the little girl who came to the door” whether anyone was home – but didn’t ask the young girl’s name.

Research into the enslaved community has been conducted at Montpelier for many years. Members of the Montpelier African American Descendants Community have generously shared their family histories and genealogical research. The Naming Project relies as well on the documentary research not only of current Montpelier staff members, but also that of past staff members, interns, and consultants, including Ann Miller, Douglas Chambers, Elizabeth Dowling Taylor, C. Thomas Chapman, Amy Larrabee Cotz, Lisa Timmerman, Meg Kennedy, Tiffany Cole, Lydia Neuroth, Elizabeth Ladner, Hannah Scruggs, Zann Nelson, and many other colleagues. We are grateful to build on and expand their work.


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