James Hemings (1765 – 1801) was an American mixed-race slave owned and freed by Thomas Jefferson. He was an older brother of Sally Hemings and a half-sibling of Jefferson's wife Martha Wayles Skelton Jefferson because their father was John Wayles. As a young man, Hemings was selected by Jefferson to accompany him to Paris when the latter was appointed Minister to France. There Hemings was trained to be a French chef; independently, he took lessons to learn to speak the French language.
He returned to the United States with Jefferson, likely because of kinship ties with his large Hemings family. Jefferson continued to pay Hemings wages as his chef when he worked for the president in Philadelphia. Hemings negotiated with Jefferson for his freedom, which he gained in 1796, after training his brother Peter for three years to replace him as chef. Said to suffer from alcoholism, Hemings committed suicide at age 36.James Hemings in Wikipedia