The Life of Henry Francis

All information on Henry Francis comes from census and state records.  Surry County, Virginia records list Henry Francis and Polly Taylor marrying on 15 March 1822.  Henry was listed as being "of Isle of Wight County".  Witnesses present were John Williams, Sr., John Williams, and Henry Charity.  The Williams family attended other Francis weddings, but their relationship to the Francis family is unknown.  Henry Charity is more than likely a relative of Polly, whose mother was a Charity.  John Blunt officiated the ceremony.  The couple's denomination is listed as D.M.E.C. 
Henry first appears as a head of household in the 1820 Surry County census as a free negro.  There were three males under the age of fourteen, three males between the ages of fourteen and twenty-six, and one male age forty-five and upwards.  The was also one female between the age of twenty-six and under forty-five.  All persons in the household are listed as free negroes.  
In the 1830 Surry County census, Henry Francis was still head of household, but the number of people in his home changed.  There were four males under the age of ten and one male between the ages of twenty-four and thirty-six. There were also more females in the hosehold: one under the age of ten years, one between the ages of ten and twenty-four, and on between the ages of twenty-four and thirty-six.  All were listed as free negores. 
The 1840 Surry County census lists Henry as the head of household to three males under the age of ten, three males between the ages of ten and twenty-four, one male between the ages thirty-six and fifty-five, and one female between the ages of fifty-six and one hundred.  Again, all members of hte household are categorized as free negroes.

It is unknown if Polly Taylor died or divorced Henry Francis.  However, on April 20, 1845 Henry married Anna Banks.  Robert W. Berryman performed the ceremony and William Charity stood as a witness.

1850 is the last census record listing Henry as the head of household.  This is the first U.S. census that lists all household members by name.  

Henry Francis - a 65 year old Mulatto farmer born in Virginia, who is unable to read or write
Anna Francis - a 62 year old Black woman born in Virginia, who is unable to read or write
Julia Francis - a 20 year old Mulatto woman born in Virginia, who is literate
Miles Francis - a 15 year old Mulatto boy born in Virginia, who is literate
Lucretia Banks - a 12 year old Black girl born in Virginia, who is literate
Edward Slade - a 12 year old Black boy born in Virginia, who is literate
Sally Wilson - a 70 year od Black woman born in Virginia, who is unable to read or write

The relationship of household members to the head of household was not listed until the 1880 U.S. census.  However, we know from Surry County, Virginia marriage records and the marriage ledger of Robert W. Berryman that Henry Francis married Anna Banks in Surry County in 1845.

We believe Julia Francis is the daughter of Henry and Polly Francis.  She is listed in the Register of Free Negroes for Surry County as having the same Caucasian certifier as all other of Henry's children. 

Miles Francis is actually named Henry Miles Francis, but he is always referenced as Miles in census records.

Edward Slade is the great grandson of Priscilla Francis (Banks), who is the daughter of Thomas Francis.  We know there is a relationship to Henry, but have no knowledge of how Priscilla and Henry are related.  

We are not sure how Lucretia Banks or Sally Wilson are related to the Francis household.  It is not unusual for Black families to have widely extended family members and friends living in their household.

The last state record of Henry Francis is in the alphabetical listing of Surry County, Virginia, Wills and Administrations.  Henry Francis was listed as a free negro.  The county performed an inventory, appraisal, and sale of Henry's property on 11 June 1851 because he did not have a prepared will.  $139.49 was the resulting value collected.

The Life of Polly Taylor

Polly Taylor was the daughter of Aaron Taylor and Elsey Charity.  According the the Surry County Register of Free Negroes:

#301.  POLLY FRANCIS the daughter of Else Charity a free woman aged 20 years is 5'3" high is of bright complexion has long hair and a Mole on the left side of her nose near the eye.  Registered of the above description the 25th Novr. 1822.  Pursuant to law.

It is believed Aaron Taylor's grandfather, Edward Taylor (born 1781), was a slave that took his owner, Joseph Eelbeck, to court for abandoning him in Virginia.  Eelbeck had moved to North Carolina and put Edward in the care of churchwardens in Surry County, SoutwarkeParish.  His son, Aaron Taylor married Milly Scott.  After Milly's death, Aaron married Polly's mother, Elsey Charity on 23 December 1799.  They had at least two daughters: Polly, who married Henry Francis, and Elizabeth, who married Benjamin Francis.  The relationship of Henry and Benjamin has not been proven, but it is believed the two were brothers.

The Charity family can be traced back to the 1660s in Surry County, Virginia.  Below is existing research done by Paul Heinegg of the Charity origins in Surry.  

Charity, born say 1660, was a "Negro girle" tithable in Arthur Jordan's household in the 1677 list for Surry County, Virginia, and a "Negro woman" in his household in the 1678 list [Magazine of Virginia Genealogy, vol.22, 3:60]. She was a "Negro woman" slave of Arthur Jordan freed by his 24 September 1698 will [DW 5:160]. She may have been the daughter of a "Negro Woman Judith" who was to be free seven years after George Jordan's decease according to his 25 February 1677/8 Surry County will, proved 5 November 1678 [DW 1671-84, 192]. Judith was probably the slave by that name who was taxable in Mr. Thomas Jordan's household in Surry County from 1679 to 1685 [Magazine of Virginia Genealogy, vol.22, 3:65; 4:48, 51; vol. 23, 1:44, 47]. Charity was called a free "negro woman" when she was presented by the Surry County court in May 1702 for having a bastard child. On 20 August 1712 she brought suit for 30 pounds sterling damages against George Jordan, Jr., for an assault and "other Enormitys" on her daughter Jane Mingo. Jane would have been about ten years old at that time if she was the child Charity was presented for in 1702. Jordan delayed the case until 17 December 1712 when the jury found that he took her away by force from her mother and detained her in his service for several days before the assault took place. They also found that Charity was born in Virginia, freed by Arthur Jordan's will in 1698, and had Jane Mingo in Surry County after she was freed. After hearing evidence from Thomas and William Hux, the jury found in Jane's favor for only one shilling damages, and only if the court ruled that Jane was legally a free person. The court ruled so later in that session [Orders 1701-13, 17, 399, 401, 403, 407, 410].

Charity's was the mother of  Jane Mingo, probably born before May 1702 when her mother was presented for having a bastard child. She may have been the mother of Mary Mingo whose "Molatto Son" Shadrack Mingo was ordered bound to Doctor John Ramsey in Norfolk County on 16 August 1754 [Orders 1753-55, 73]. Perhaps another descendant was William Mingo, head of a Southampton County household of 9 "other free" in 1810.   

William Charity, born say 1720, was among fourteen free African Americans of Surry County, Virginia, who were presented by the court on 21 November 1758 for failing to pay tax on their wives, "supposing the said persons to be Mulattoes" [Orders 1757-64, 135]. He proved a claim in Surry County court on 23 October 1764 for taking up a runaway [Orders 1764-74]. He died before 27 October 1778 when the Surry County court ordered his estate appraised [Orders 1775-85, 70].  Some of his children were Henry (born about 1741), Davis (born about 1749), Elizabeth (born about 1751), Benjamin (born about 1758), John, Sterling (born about 1768), and Jeffrey (born about 1774).

David1 Charity, born say 1749, was presented by the Surry County court on 15 May 1770 for not listing his tithables [Orders 1764-74, 213]. He was head of a Surry County household of 4 persons in 1782 [VA:43], 4 in 1784 [VA:78], and 10 "other free" in 1810 [VA:604]. He was taxable in Surry County from 1784 to 1812: taxable on a horse and 2 cattle in 1784; charged with Tom Stephens' tithe in 1797 and 1798; taxable on a horse in 1816 [Personal Property Tax List, 1782-90, frames 379, 448, 549; 1791-1816, frames 8, 106, 158, 234, 287, 323, 365, 444, 519, 558, 611, 649, 667, 706]. And he was taxable on 60 acres from 1795 to 1814 [1795 Property Tax Alterations; Land Tax Lists]. Some of his children were Elsey Charity (born about 1782, married Aaron Taylor, and was the mother of Polly Taylor), Elizabeth (born about 1783), and John (born about 1786).