Since I got Sally Hemings’s relationships with the Jefferson family off by a generation, I thought I might as well look her up and get it straight in my head. From the Monticello site:
Sally Hemings, whose given name was probably Sarah, was the daughter of Elizabeth (Betty) Hemings. According to her son, Madison Hemings, her father was Thomas Jefferson’s father-in-law John Wayles. There are no known portraits of her. Sally Hemings became Thomas Jefferson’s property as part of his inheritance from the Wayles estate in 1774 and came with her mother to Monticello by 1776. As a child she was probably a nursemaid to Jefferson’s daughter Mary (slave girls from the age of six or eight were childminders and assistants to head nurses on southern plantations).
Her father was John Wayles, the father of Jefferson’s wife Martha – so she was Martha Wayles Jefferson’s half-sister. She was Jefferson’s half-sister-in-law. She was the aunt of their daughters. She was a close relative…but of course as a slave, she wasn’t treated as a relative. She was treated as a slave.
That’s how plantation life was. Lots of slaves were close relatives of their owners and their owners’ families, but they weren’t treated as relatives.
It’s such a bizarre way to live. Fanny Kemble wrote about it in her Journal of a Residence on a Georgia Plantation.