THE THORNTON - YANCEY CONNECTION
Various reports concerning early Yanceys of America make reference to one James Yancey of Virginia, and later Granville County, North Carolina. He died in Granville County in 1779 leaving a will which mentions various children - although not mentioning a wife nor any in-laws. Many reports, however, record his wife as one Ann THORNTON. Although this information is quite wide-spread, it is also very suspect.
The first genealogical report to make mention of the wife of James Yancey - is a report entitled "THE NANNEY or YANCEY HISTORY" written by Tempe H. Carraway, of North Carolina, about 1930. She herself was a descendant of James Yancey and one of the first serious Yancey family researchers. In her report she records the birth date of James as 1712, the marriage date as 1735 and his death date as 1779. It is not clear whether she intended these as estimates or documented dates. She did mention the wife as Ann Thornton - but she made no mention as to her source - nor was there any information included in her report concerning the parentage of Ann or the Thornton family in general. It would seem that a good part of Mrs. Carraways information came from family sources as well as a limited amount of published genealogical resources. Although an excellent report, and a landmark in the history of Yancey family research, it does have some minor errors and one should compare her report to other documented resources to ensure accuracy.
For many years people have quoted Mrs. Carraways book - in stating that the wife of James Yancey was Ann Thornton. It was only until recently that various researchers pointed out that various deed records of Granville County, North Carolina record the wife of James as Elizabeth Yancey. There is also an extant hand-written arithmetic book which is to have belonged to Lewis Yancey (son of James). In the book are the names: "Capt. James Yancey", and with it: "Elizabeth H Yancey". It seems without doubt, that this Elizabeth was James' wife (no indication what the H stands for). One should take note, however, that it would seem a valid possibility that James could have had more than one wife - although he seems to have been a widower when he died in 1779. This arithmetic book was handed down through the family and at one time belonged to Mrs. Carraway and was later passed on to her daughter.
The only evidence - and circumstantial at that, is the fact that James named one of his son's THORNTON YANCEY. The practice of giving a child the maiden surname of the mother as his given name was actually quite common at this time period. Such names as Bartlett Yancey, Williams Yancey, Yancey Thornton, Duke Yancey are examples.
Although the name of THORNTON does seem to be a possibility for the maiden surname of the wife of James Yancey - decades of research has yet to reveal any proof. And if James was only married once - the evidence indicates that her name was Elizabeth - I have never fund a single primary source that records the name of Anna - and I question the validity of that name.
Also it should be noted that various researchers show record the wife of James Yancey as being a daughter of one Thomas Thornton & Agatha Curtis.. Here again this seems unfounded and questionable.
There are also researchers who believe the wife of one John Thornton was an Agatha Yancey.
It should also be noted that the IGI records an exact marriage date for James & Ann Thornton Yancey - but this information appears to be very "suspect" as explained in another "write-up" I have written concerning the LDS IGI file.