Sarah Anne (Posey) Beverley

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Sarah Anne (Posey) Beverley

Female Slave-owner, Henderson County Kentucky

By Carolyn Warfield


The entire Will of Sarah Anne (Posey) Beverley, the wife of William Beverley1 nativity Caroline County, Virginia, is not printed here; only the “named” bond people she transferred to heirs in Henderson County Kentucky after her death on 15 February 1851.2


      Sarah Anne Posey was the 9th child and youngest daughter born to General Thomas Posey3 (1750-1818), a native Virginian, and Mary Alexander. About 1813, President James Madison commissioned General Thomas Posey as Governor of Indiana. Possibly he influenced the settlement of Posey County, Indiana.


      Subsequently, Sarah Anne Posey married William Beverly, descendant of a large planter and slave-holding family in Virginia, who migrated to Henderson County, Kentucky in 1832, to continue the custom. Undoubtedly Sarah A. Beverley’s husband has passed on by 1837 according to the action taken by the commissioners of the Henderson County Court who intervened in the probate process to divide certain Negroes between Robert G. Beverley and William P. Beverley, heirs of William Beverley deceased.  No wonder I had not found William Beverley’s will and inventory at the country or state level, after reading Edmund Starling’s statement in the “History of Henderson County Kentucky” that William Beverley had died in Henderson in 1845.4   A research associate told me the role of commissioners was to settle land disputes and intestate deaths.  Sarah Anne Beverley is not mentioned in this division of chattel property, but presumably she received a lifetime of one-third interest of dower5 of all the land her husband owned which applied to each parcel he held as inheritable interest at any time during their marriage. I would have to discover what Kentucky’s dower law was during that period to be more conclusive.


The tax records for Sarah A. Beverley divulge her as a female enslaver; even to the point of dividing a number of anonymous slaves among her sons when her last will and testament was actually carried out.  After reviewing Mrs. Sarah A. Beverley’s tax records for 1843, 1845, 1846, and the agricultural census for 1850, it was apparent she and sons Robert G., William P., and Henry M., were actively engaged in the institution of slavery, and oppressed far more than a couple of black people as free laborers. Her tax records and agricultural census reveal the different properties the family possessed that were under her jurisdiction. Although the statistics exist, the slaves were anonymous in these records, and do not serve the rationale for citing those named among the Beverley’s slave transactions listed at the Kentucky African-American Griots website to help researchers find and trace their loved ones


I have amassed various Beverley documents in an effort to locate the record of sale for my paternal great-grandfather to William P. Beverley based on his sworn testimony before the War Department’s Pension Bureau. Being mindful of such historical documents and their explicit narratives allow for a truthful discussion of African-American genealogy. 


** [Abstract of Will of Sarah Anne Beverley, 1851 Will Book C, Henderson County Kentucky, p 108]:


                I give and devise my granddaughter Cornelia Beverly, daughter of my son William [Posey], my Negro ADDISON


                I give and devise to my granddaughter Bellie, daughter of my son Robert [Gaines] my Negro girl named ROSANNA


                I give and devise to my grandson Alexander, youngest son of my son Robert [Gaines] my Negro boy named BEN


                I give to my son Robert G. and William P. Beverley a Negro woman named JULIA ANN and her child which said Negro woman formerly belonged to                       them, and which they gave up to me


Seal, Sarah A. Beverley, 2 January 1850; witness Lucy A. Posey and Hebe C. Preston


** July 1851 Count - Henderson County Kentucky:


      This last Will and Testament of Sarah A. Beverley deceased was proved in open court according to law by the oath of Hebe C. Preston, a subscribing witness thereto, and the handwriting of Lucy A. Posey was proved to the satisfaction of the Court and said Will ordered to be recorded.


Attest William D. Allison, Clerk



1. Edmund Starling, History of Henderson County Kentucky, p 814.

2. Sarah Anne Beverley Will, Henderson County Kentucky, Book C, p 108.

3. Edmund Starling, History of Henderson County Kentucky, p 650.

4. Edmund Starling, History of Henderson County Kentucky, p 814.

5. Carol McGinnis, Virginia Genealogy:  Sources and Resources, p 109.