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.
Abby – Abner – Abraham – Abraham – Abram – Abram Shepherd – Agathy – Ailsey Payne – Alice – Aleck – Alexander – Amey – Amy – Amey – Anna – Anthony – Anthony – Ariel – Aaron – Beck – Becca – Ben – Benjamin McDaniel – Benjamin Stewart – Benjamin Taylor – Betsy – Betty – Betty – Betty – Billy – Billy – Billey/William Gardner – Bristoll – Caleb – Captain – Casloe – Caslow – Castor – Catharine Stewart Taylor – Catterenea – Caty – Celia – Charity – Charles – Charles – Charles – Charlotte – Charlotte – Cibbs – Clarissa – Coreen – Crease – Cuffee – Cussina – Daffney – Dangerfield Walker – Daphne – Daman – Daniel – David – Davy – Delphia – Demas – Dianna – Dick – Dido – Dinah – Dolly – Dorcas – Ebenezer – Edmund – Edom – Edward – Edwin – Elijah – Elijah – Eliza – Elizabeth – Elizabeth – Ellen Stewart White – Ellen Ann Taylor – Eve – Ezekiel – Fanny – Fanny – Fanny – Frank – Frank – Frank – Gabriel – George – George – George – George Gilmore – Gideon – Gilbert – Giles – Guy – Hannah – Hannah – Hannah – Hanover – Harriet – Harry – Harry – Henry – Henry – Henry – Henry – Isabel – Isbell – Israel – Isaac – Jack – Jack – Jack Abram – Jacob – Jacob – James – James – James – Jason – Jemmy – Jemmy – Jenny – Jerry – Jerry – Jesse – Jesse – Jim – Joanna – Joe – Joe – Joe Bolen – John – John – John – John – John – John Freeman – John Taylor – Jonathan – Joseph – Joshua – Joshua – Josiah – Juda – Judy – Judy – Judy – Judy – Julia – Kate – Katy – Katey – Kitty – Lemon – Lett – Lewey – Lewey – Lewis – Livia – Lucy – Lucy – Mandy – Margaret – Maria – Mary – Mary – Mathew Stewart – Milly – Milley – Milley – Milly – Milley – Milley – Molly – Moses – Moses – Nancy – Nancy – Nanny – Nany – Ned – Nell – Nelson – Nicholas – Nicholas Jr. – Nick – Pamela Barbour Taliaferro – Paplian – Patty – Paul Jennings – Paul – Pegg – Peggy – Pendar – Penny – Peter – Peter – Phil – Phoebe – Phoebe – Plato – Polly – Pompey – Priscilla – Rachel – Ralph Sr. – Ralph Philip Taylor – Randal – Rebecca Walker – Reuben – Reuben – Richd Walker – Richmond – Robbin – Robin – Rose – Ruth – Sally – Sally – Sam – Sam – Sam – Sarrah – Sarah – Sarah – Sarah Stewart – Sarah Elizabeth Taylor – Savina – Sawney – Shadrach – Sibby – Silvey – Simon – Sinar – Solomon Taliaferro – Sophia – Spark – Spotswood – Stephen – Sukey – Sukey – Susan Ellen – Susy – Sye – Slyvia – Tabby – Tamar – Thos. J. Randolph – Tom – Tom – Thomas – Tony – Troilus – Truelove – Turk – Tydal – Tyre – Violet – Violet – Walker – Wash – Webster – William – William – William Adams – William Henry Taylor – Willoughby – Winney – Winnie Stewart – Yates – York
Child of Sukey – Daughter of Gabriel – Child of Rebecca Walker – Child of Rebecca Walker – Son of Sam – Uncle of Benjamin Stewart – Grandfather of Benjamin Stewart – Great-grandfather of Benjamin Stewart – Husband of Sarah Stewart – Mother of Ralph Taylor – Mother of Paul Jennings – Child of Silvey – Child of Pegg – Child of Pegg – Child of Milley – Child of Betty – “little girl”
Sarah Madden (indentured)
Benjamin McDaniel, who often worked as a courier, traveled over 50 miles to Dr. Henkal’s in New Market in June 1843, carrying a pass signed by Dolley Madison.
Milly, sometimes called “Granny Milly,” was 104 years old when she met General Lafayette at Montpelier in 1825. She lived in a cabin with her daughter and 70-year-old granddaughter.
Anthony, age 17, escaped from Montpelier on June 14, 1786. He was captured a year later, escaped the next day, and was last known to be heading toward Philadelphia.
“Gabriel & Daughter” appear on an 1845 list of enslaved people drawn up by Dolley Madison’s son, John Payne Todd. The name of Gabriel’s daughter is unknown to us.
York was mentioned in James Madison Sr.’s records beginning in 1768, and continuing through the 1780s. He was issued a pair of size 6 shoes on November 2, 1787.
Silvey was sold with her children Fanny, Abraham, Frank, Elizabeth, and William to Montpelier’s new owner, Henry Moncure, for $1000. Silvey died in childbirth on April 18, 1847.
Aleck drove James Madison’s wagon to Fredericksburg and Richmond in the 1820s and 30s, delivering tobacco and wheat to merchants, and returning with goods for the Madisons.
Daphne was enslaved by James Madison Sr. in the 1780s. Her son Shadrach and daughter Anna were inherited by Madison Sr.’s son-in-law, Isaac Hite, in 1801.
Gabriel was in his 50s when Dolley Madison gave him to her son John Payne Todd in 1844. Todd tried to free Gabriel in his will, but due to estate debts, this likely never happened.
Clarissa’s name appears on James Madison Sr.’s tax records in the 1780s. She may be the same woman as Clarisea, who was listed on Ambrose Madison’s 1732 inventory.
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. Many 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, consultants, and colleagues, including Ann Miller, Douglas Chambers, Elizabeth Dowling Taylor, Whitney Martinko, Bob Vernon, C. Thomas Chapman, Amy Larrabee Cotz, Lisa Timmerman, Meg Kennedy, Tiffany Cole, Lydia Neuroth, Elizabeth Ladner, Hannah Scruggs, Zann Nelson, and many others.
We are grateful to build on and expand their work.
This is an awesome project, Taylor! So proud of you!
This is beautiful. I hope other historic sites are doing, or will do the same.
Thank you for your kind words! We will continue to add more biographies, so please keep checking back in.