Land Acquisition in Colonial Virginia

general information about early Virginia landowners
and how it relates and compares
to the earliest Yanceys of America

Some Terms to know:
            Acquiring Land - terms
            Bounty Land
            Burned Virginia Counties
            Dowry  (very common in colonial America)
            Headright System   also
            Patent / Warrent
            Indentured Servant
            Law of Primogeniture - and land inheritance
            Planter (Plantation) - in colonial times usually inferred slave ownership)
            Virginia Company
            Yeomanry (yeoman in colonial times - usually referred to a small non-slave holding farmer)
Some Great Sources for learning more about life in early Virginia and about Land Acquisition and Records

            The Planters of Colonial Virginia by Thomas Wertenbaker - -  I highly recomend reading this book!
                    subjects include Yeomanry versus Planters/Slavery/Land Aquisiton/Headrigt systems
            Cavaliers and Pioneers by Nell M Nugent
                    compiles abstract/transcripts of the land transactions of the 1600's - good to use as a measuring stick
            Mother Earth - Land Grants in Virginia
                    one interesting statement  is the fact that aroudn 1700 only 10% of land granted was being cultivated.

            Note the above source focus on the 1600's versus the 1700's (in the 1700's the land transatction were usually of greater acreage)
County formatiom Maps
            Virginia County Formation Maps
            County Research

Geography of early Virginia

            Land Regions

Land Records of early Yanceys

            Tax and Deed records - pre 1800

Some Families who we could compare/contrast with the Yanceys as to land records

            On the links below - look for terms like "acres", "grant", "Land" etc,
            Note most of these families have a pretty tight association with the Yanceys (except Quarles)

            Families on the 1704 Quit Rent Rolls - -  another source
            Quarles - Came to America mid 1600's?? - John Quarles had 100 acres in 1704. but thousands of acres not many decades later
            Saxon - not listed on 1704 rent rolls. Had many 100's of acres by mid 1700's
                        saxons seemed to have acquired land by transporting various people to America (headrights).
            Crawford - family came to America in 1640's. David Crawford Sr with 400 acres on 1704 rent rolls. Thousands of acres acquired later
                Yanceys may have aquired property via dowry of Crawford wives.
                The Crawford acquired much land by paying for the transport of people to America (headrights).
            Dumas - Jeremiah Dumas with 250 acres on 1704 rent rolls. various hundreds of acres aquired later.
            Kavanaugh - came to America about 1705.  Not on 1704 rent rolls. ended up with about 4000 acres witin a short time.
                Lewis Davis Yancey probably aquired much land via the dowry of his Kavanaugh wife.
                 The Kavanaughs seem to have aquired land by transporting people to America. (headrights)
            Lewis  - John Lewis with 2600 acres on 1704 rent rolls
            Nuckolls - James Nuckolls - 300 acres on quit rent rolls
            Estes - Abraham Estes - 200 acres on 1704 quit rent rolls
                Major Charles Yancey of Buckingham County - probably aquired much via the dowry of his Spencer wife.
            Garland - came to Vriginis about 1690, was on the 1704 rent rolls with 2600 acres.

            Some discussion of working up the social ladder and the rapidity of land acquisition
This coments is pretty amazing:   "Of the forty-four Burgesses who sat in the Assembly of 1629, no less than seven—John Harris, William Allen, William Popleton, Anthony Pagett, Richard Townsend, Adam Thoroughgood and Lionell Rowlston—were listed as servants in the muster of 1624."

            George Washington / Thomas Jefferson - how wealthy were they?

            George Washington obtained most of his wealth - via his wife's dowry.


            It is interesting to see that various Yancey acquired land upon marriage - due to dowry practices common in the place/time.
            It is also noted that it seems common practice that land or slaves were deedes to sons when they became adults or married.
            Children did not normally have to wait until their father died to acquire an inheritance.
            Also of interest are the numbers of families closely associated with the Yanceys who acquired land through the headright system
            as they apprently paid for the transport of others to America.

Additional Sources

Some Possible Conclusions
by Dennis Yancey) - I welcome contrasting optinions.

With the first documented Yancey being Charles Yancey with 100 acres of land in King William County Virginia. and knowing that             immigrants who paid their way often started off with 50 acres headrights. And also knowing how quickly most Virginians were able to   acquire additional land - it seems very likely that the Yanceys came to America right about the year 1700 - as did various families they are closely associeted with (Saxon, Kavanaugh, Dumas and others).  With no even mention of the name Yancey on any record of any type in the 17th century (1600's) it seems unlikely that they came over with or about the same time as Sir William Berkeley - as lore often cites.  About 3 generations could have expired from 1642 to 1704 - where large families were common. and yet in 1704 we only find one solitary Yancey land holder with only 2 "headrights" worth of land .
Also the average repidity of land acquisitons makes it also seem like the 1704 Charles Yancey must have been a recent immigrant.
Any theory of close connection of William Berkley  with the Yancey family - - -seems to be devoid of substance.
Though this site discusses the possibility that it may have been the Crawford family that had associations with Berekely and it is this family that originally started the family story of a connection with Berkeley.  Note two Crawford sisters married into the Yancey Family.
Also the larger land grants (various hundred of acres) that some Yanceys were able to acquire in the early to mid decades of the 1700's do not seem to be too far out  of the norm for the typical family who may have started out with a few hundred acres when they first arrived. Note specific family examples above on this page for a comparison.  One can campare land and slave counts of Yanceys to extant records of families across the board to get a general idea of where the Yanceys found themselves in the social strata of the period.  Note land acreage was just one factor among various  - land withoutu available cheap labor to work it, as an example, was not necessarily a great asset.   Also much of the land had to be cleared before it could be used for farming (again requiring  much labor).
Also I often feel like there is often the possibility that we "totally miss the boat" in our interpretation of colonial records and culture  - when we, as it were, (allegorically speaking) are looking through our modern day lenses - instead of looking through the bi-focals of the colonial period.   In other words - judging the past - by applying our way of interpeting the current modern  world that we know - and in so doing  maybe totally missing and not taking into account huge fatcors that are totally foreign to us.  As an example - people may totally misjudge things if they are not aware of things like "laws of primogeniture",  "land dowrys" between one family and another, the extremely cheap price of land in Colonial Virginia, and how tobacco and slavery impacted almost every aspect  of southern life in some way or another.