MIS-TRANSCRIPTION AND YANCEY FAMILY RESEARCH
In recent decades thousands of people have been involved in the "crowdsourcing"
of transcribing old documents containing information of a
genealogical nature (census, court, probate, military and other records).
The greatest example of this are the records indexed by FamilySearch - literally millions, if not billions of names
transcribed by human indexers. Also in recent decades,
machine/computer based transcribing / OCR technology has really come
of age. The Google Book search feature is an example of this. All
in all - this indexing of documents and books is an incredible boon to
genealogical researchers. However one has to consider that both human
and computer indexers will never be 100% accurate - just because of the nature
of the items being indexed. Yancey genealogists especially, need to be
aware of how "mis-transcriptions" may influence and affect the
results and interpretation of their genealogical research using tools that rely
Because of various reasons, but often because the original
documents are so hard to read - names can often be mis-indexed or
mis-transcribed in databases like those at familysearch or ancestry.com.
Here in the link below is an example of a Yancey
family whose name has been been indexed as ZANCEY on familysearch indexes.
below are the most common mis-transcriptions for the
name YANCEY/YANCY ( documents have been mistakenly transcribed
with these name spelligs when it shoudl have been Yancey/Yancey).
In searching genealogical indexes/databases - it is
often a good idea to look for variant spellings such as these because
possibility of variations in name indexing. Only those with an “
appear to be legitimate spellings of other names that have sometimes
mistranscriebd as Yancey. (for example Zancey does not appear to
legitimate name – but YOUNG surely is – both are spellings that in some
have been mis-transcribed for persons by name "Yancey".
see also this link
As an interesting exercise – look for these names on a
findagrave – where so often we have a photo of the engraved name on the
headstone – and you will note most of these names just don’t exist.
Researchers also have to seriously consider the opposite - the fact that
in some cases names which are totally unrelated to Yancey/Yancy have been
mis-transcribed as Yancey/Yancey/Yansey - most especially in massive databases
of indexes to records originally written in cursive hard to
read writing. In a database with billions/millions of names it
is almost certain there will be more than just one or two - that have
been mis-transcribed as Yancey.
Here is an example of an English Census record that sure
appears to be the name JANCEY - that has been indexed as Yancey.
The most common legitimate names to be mis-transcribed
as Yancey/Yancy/Yansey include the following:
TANSEY - Irish name
JANCEY - English name
JAUNCEY - English name
YAXLEY - English name
How does one know for sure if a name that has been indexed
as Yancey/Yancy - really was such? In some cases it can be difficult to
Here are some tips as to how to judge.
See also this link - for various "Ancey" spelled names
- See if you can look at the original document (a
scan/microfilm of the original) . As an example - there are various (less
than 100 or so) entries for the name Yancey/Yancy on European records in
familysearch databases. When one looks at the originals in many of these
cases these seem to be very hard to read entries where there is clearly the
possibility/probability it is some other name totally unrelated to Yancey.
- Check similar records of the time period - where
mis-transcription would be much less likely. For example: names engraved
on grave stones (such as at findagrave.com). Or printed material
where there is no real question as to the spelling - such as government
published material, books of the period, city / phone
Note as an example - Findagrave appears to contain not a
single entry for a Yancey/Yancy grave in Europe (except for American soldiers
If you find a family supposedly by name Yancey on a census
record – look for the same family on census records before and after to see if
they also show up in prior and successive years with the same spelling.
check one source against another. For
example one may note a Yancey entry in the area of Herfordshire,
But when one checks other sources like census and other records
one notes that the name JANCEY/JAUNCEY is a common name in the
There are known cases of this name being mis-transcribed as
Yancey. Or for example if a US immigration record is found with a
supposed Yancey coming from England - cross check it against
subsequent US census records to see what name spelling is used.
- Even in some cases where the originally spelling
seems to be perfectly clear as "Yancey" one has to consider
rare cases where the person (such as a census taker) wrote down what he thought
was the name - when in actuality it wasnt recorded correctly. When one
considers the massive nature of databases like those at familysearch- one has
to consider that there will be even a handful of such cases where even on the
original document the name seems to be certainly spelled as Yancey - when in
actuality the name has been written in error. Using cross
referencing of other related sources - such as discussed in bulleted items above
- will help clarify this situation.
- Realize that what seems to have been is not always
what actually was. As an example - - if one looks in phone books etc. of
European cities - - one can indeed find in a few very rare cases -
the name of Yancey/Yancy. Many of these have been found to be black Yanceys whose family came from the country of Liberia - and
whose ancestry originally traces back to slaves who left America and brought the name to
Africa and later Europe. Also one has to consider the possibility of Americans
traveling abroad - and even being born and married abroad.
- If a certain spelling existed in a certain region over
a period of time - - one would think it quite possible that persons by
such name/spelling still may exist there today. Using such social media
Twitter, Linkedin and many others - one can often locate people of a
certain name in a certain region. Or conversely one can show that the
name is totally absent from a given region. As an example even after
heavy analysis of LINKEDIN - I have yet to find a single Yancey/Yancy entry in Europe
that didnt have connections/roots in America.
Note that systems like FACEBOOK have BILLIONS of
users - users that can often be searched within a few clicks of the mouse.
- Try checking Google book search for books printed in the
region/time period. Realize that even Google's OCR technology often gets
the name wrong on older documents.
One interesting exercise is to see if one can find the name
of Yancey on any European document earlier than 1800 or so.
see this as an example of a mis-index.
are various additional examples of mistranscriptions on European
records - that have erroneously led people to believe
that the Yancey/Yancy name existed in Europe - when there really
doesnt seem to be hard evidence to support that. Similar cases also exist for immigration records that seem to indicate Yanceys immigraing to America.
Also there are a few very rare cases of American Yanceys living abroad and having children abroad -including England
Things that I have NOT found:
have NOT found any grave markers in Europe with the spelling
Yancey/Yancy (using multi million grave databases like Findagrave)
have NOT foud any Yanceys/Yancys on social media whose are living in Europe - that
appears to descend from a set of Yanceys in Europe that are not
connected to / or descendants of American Yanceys/Yancys.
Social Media searches go against millions (if not billions of
I have NOT found the name YANCEY / YANCY on any printed
European sources of the 19th century (such as city directories etc, -
where one would expect the name Yancey to show up if it existed.
(I say "printed" to differentiate from hand written sources - where the
atcual spelling is often hard to read or interpret)
it does seem probable that our immigrant Yancey ancestors came from the British Isles
around the year 1700 - - It would appear that that the Old
World ancestors used a name spelling other than YANCEY/YANCY - and tha
tthe name Yancey - originated right before or after the immigration to
Other Links of Interest
Spelling Doesnt Count