From NKAA, Notable Kentucky African Americans Database (main entry)

Fayette County (KY) Enslaved, Free Blacks, and Free Mulattoes, 1850-1870

Fayette County, one the three original counties formed by Virginia in 1780, is located in the central Bluegrass Region surrounded by six Kentucky counties and bounded on the south by the Kentucky River, the border it shares with Madison County.

Fayette County was named for Marquis de Lafayette, a French aristocrat who was a military officer in the American Revolutionary War and during the French Revolution. (Many locations in the United States are named for General Lafayette.) The county seat of Fayette County is Lexington, created by Virginia in 1782 and named after Lexington, MA.

Fayette County encompasses the second largest population in Kentucky. In the First Census of Kentucky, 1790, there were 14,626 whites, 3,752 enslaved, and 32 free persons of color. In 1800, the population was 14,028, according to the Second Census of Kentucky: 9,715 whites, 4,225 enslaved, and 88 free coloreds. In 1830, there were 13 African American enslaved holders in Fayette County and 15 in Lexington. By 1860, the county population had increased to 12,585 [excluding the enslaved]; ten years later, after enslavement had ended in Kentucky, the Fayette County population was 26,736, according to the U.S. Federal Census.

There was a significant enslaved population in Fayette County; below are the number of enslaved holders, enslaved, free Blacks, and free Mulattoes for 1850-1870.

1850 Slave Schedule

  • 1,553 slave owners
  • 9,946 Black slaves
  • 858 Mulatto slaves
  • 518 free Blacks
  • 153 free Mulattoes

1860 Slave Schedule

  • 1,720 slave owners
  • 8,537 Black slaves
  • 1,611 Mulatto slaves
  • 453 free Blacks
  • 232 free Mulattoes

1870 U.S. Federal Census

  • 10,795 Blacks
  • 1,590 Mulattoes
  • About 406 U.S. Colored Troops listed Fayette County, KY, as their birth location.

For more see the Fayette County entry in The Kentucky Encyclopedia, edited by J. E. Kleber; History of Lexington, Kentucky, by G. W. Ranck; History of Fayette County, Kentucky, by W. H. Perrin; Black Marriage Bonds of Fayette County, Kentucky, 1866-1876, by G. Garrison; and African American Presence, by the Historic South Hill Neighborhood Association.

Kentucky County & Region

Read about Fayette County, Kentucky in Wikipedia.

Kentucky Place (Town or City)

Read about Lexington, Kentucky in Wikipedia.

Item Relations

Cite This NKAA Entry:

“Fayette County (KY) Enslaved, Free Blacks, and Free Mulattoes, 1850-1870,” Notable Kentucky African Americans Database, accessed May 26, 2024,

Last modified: 2023-01-13 21:36:35