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 ShepherdJack AbramAgathyAilsey PayneAliceAleckAlexanderAmeyAmyAmeyAnnaAnthonyAnthonyArielAaronBeckBeccaBenBenjamin McDanielBenjamin StewartBenjamin TaylorBetsyBettyBettyBettyBillyBillyBilley/William GardenerBristollCalebCaptainCasloeCaslowCastorCatharine TaylorCattereneaCatyCelia CharityCharlesCharlesCharlesCharlotteCharlotteCibbsClarissaCoreenCreaseCuffeeCussinaDangerfield WalkerDaphneDamanDanielDavidDavyDelphiaDemasDiannaDickDidoDinahDollyDorcasEbenezerEdmundEdomEdwardEdwinElijahElijahElizaElizabethElizabethEllen StewartEllen Ann TaylorEveEzekielFannyFannyFannyFrankFrankFrankGabrielGeorgeGeorgeGeorgeGeorge GilmoreGideonGilbertGilesGuyHannahHannahHannahHanoverHarrietHarryHarryHenryHenryHenryHenryIsabelIsbellIsraelIsaacJackJackJacobJacobJamesJamesJamesJasonJemmyJemmyJennyJerryJerryJesseJesseJimJoannaJoeJoeJoe BolenJohnJohnJohnJohnJohnJohn FreemanJohn TaylorJonathanJosephJoshuaJoshuaJosiahJudaJudyJudyJudyJudyJuliaKateKatyKateyKittyLemonLettLeweyLeweyLewisLiviaLucyLucyMandyMargaretMariaMaryMaryMathew StewartMillyMilleyMilleyMillyMilleyMilleyMollyMosesMosesNancyNancyNannyNanyNedNellNelsonNicholasNicholas Jr. NickPamelaPaplianPattyPaul JenningsPaulPeggPeggyPendarPennyPeterPeterPhilPhoebePhoebePlatoPollyPompeyPriscillaRachelRalph Sr.Ralph Philip TaylorRandalRebecca WalkerReubenReubenRichd WalkerRichmondRobbinRobinRoseRuthSallySallySamSamSamSarrahSarahSarah Sarah StewartSarah Elizabeth TaylorSavinaSawneyShadrachSibbySimonSinarSolomon TaliaferroSophiaSparkSpotswoodStephenSukeySukeySusan EllenSusySyeSlyviaSilveyTabbyTamarThos. 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 TaylorMother of Paul JenningsChild of SilveyChild of PeggChild of PeggChild of MilleyChild of Betty“little girl”

Sarah Madden (indentured)


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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