Mary Hemings, the eldest child of Elizabeth Hemings, was a domestic servant. She was the first of her family to live at Monticello (1774) and the first to become free. During Jeffersonís absence in France in1786, she was hired out to Charlottesville merchant Thomas Bell, who became her common-law husband. They had had two children and lived in Charlottesville. Bell purchased Mary Hemings and their children from Jefferson in 1792 and freed them. Mary Bellís two older children, Joseph Fossett and Betsy Hemmings, remained in slavery at Monticello after their mother was sold.