David Yancey of Louisa Co., VA 1777-1807

see also information on Yancey Mills and other family members

Ancestry: David Yancey, son of Capt. Charles, son of Robert, son of Charles, son of Charles Yancey

From: Laurus Crawfurdiana by Frank A. Crawford Vanderbilt, 1888

"David Yancey, ninth child of Charles and Mary Yancey, grandson of David Crawford was born June 20 1777, in Louisa County, Va. He married Ann [Nancy] Minor of Albemarle Co. They had one child, but the mother and child both died.

Mr. Yancey made a noted defense of his brother Robert in a court martial case, which was published in a pamphlet. The trial resulted in his honorable acquittal. He was a large, fine looking man, and of commanding talents. Miss Minor was consumptive [had pnuemonia] when they were married. He contracted the disease from her and for the cure of which, he was directed to take a sea voyage to a warmer climate. He landed in Jamaica with his nephew, Dr. William Kimbrough, and in a short time both died of yellow fever."

. . . With respect to David Yancey, Dr Crawford writes: "To give you an estimate of his standing I enclose you a copy of the action of the Court of Louisa Co., Va. upon his resignation of office on account of health. Several of the men named I knew well. Though advanced in age at the time, some were living after I was grown. In those days the County Court of Virginia were composed of the leading men in the county, and as you will see my grandfather, Chas. Yancey, was the President Magistrate. I have often heard old gentlemen say that David Yancey was the most promising man in Virginia. He was the compare  of Wm. Wirt, afterwards Attorney General of the U.S., and who was a frequent visitor here at my Grandpa's, as I have often heard Grandma Yancey speak of him and also of Col. [Daniel] Boone. I have often wished that I had taken notes of her remarks on people of the olden time. Wm. Wirt was at that time a resident of Richmond and practiced in the law at that place and also in Louisa and spent a good deal of his time when in the city at my grandpa Yancey's. Gov Jas. Barbour and his brother, Judge P.P. Barbour, afterwards an associated judge of the U.S. Supreme Court were also his compeers.

From: Miscellaneous Virginia Law Reports 1784-1809. By W. H. Bryson. 1990


David Yancey was born at Yanceyville, Louisa County, Virginia, and lived there his entire life. He received a B.A. from the College of William and Mary in 1796. He was engaged in the practice of law in November 1801 and was probably admitted to the bar a year or two earlier. In July 1800, he married Ann Minor, the daughter of James Minor, but she died on March 2, 1805, at the young age of 20. There were no children. He was a lieutenant in the Louisa County militia in 1804 In a letter to a friend, Peachy R. Gilmer, in February, 1807, he indicated that his practice was going well. However, another letter to Gilmer dated August 22, 1807, from Red Sulphur Spring indicated that he was seriously ill; he wrote that if he was not cured there, he would go to a warmer place.  In September he requested a passport.

Yancey wrote a codicil to his will on December 7,1807, and the Richmond newspapers reported his death in Jamaica sometime before January 30, 1808. He probably died of tuberculosis, probably in his early thirties.

David Yancey had a brother, Robert, and two sisters, Polly and Eliza, the latter of whom was married to William Kimbrough, but she predeceased her brother, David.


David Yancey's reports are found in a small paper booklet that is now in the David Watson Collection in the Library of Congress, MMC 2514, box 2. Yancey was a close personal friend and a close neighbor of Watson in Louisa County. They practiced law in the same part of Virginia, and therefore it is not surprising that Watson had these reports made by his friend and brother at the bar.

This collection of cases was made by David Yancey from his observations in the courtroom no doubt while waiting for his own cases to be called. Some of the information, however, was given to him by others. Yancey does not mention which of these cases he argued himself, but he does refer to several other lawyers: W. Leake, J. Barham, D. Carr, and Brown.

The cases reported are all from the District Court of Charlottesville from April 1804 to April 1806.

From "History of Louisa County" By Harris

David Yancey appears to have been the first man from Louisa to have received the diploma of Bachelor of Arts from William & Mary, and his diploma was found in the Overton Collection and was deposited with the college as a rare manuscript. Mr. Yancey was a lawyer, born and reared in Yanceyville, and of a family who were all educated as the times permitted.

From the "Louisa County Historical Magazine", Vol 12 page 36 - is information concerning an early map of Louisa County made by David Yancey.

Richmond Enquirer January 30, 1808

Communication. From letters just received in Norfolk, by a vessel directly from Jamaica, it unhappily appears that Mr. David Yancey and Doctor William Kimbrough, of Louisa county in this state, lately, died in that island.

Mr. Yancey was carried off by a pulmonary disease, which after baffling all the efforts of medical skill, had induced him to take leave of his friends and to make a last attempt at recovery, by trying the influence of foreign voyages and travels; but he had scarcely arrived at the island of Jamaica, when he sunk under the weight of his inexorable disorder.

His nephew and friend Dr William Kimbrough, who accompanied him in his travels unfortunately followed him to the grave, the day after his death. He fell a victim to the yellow fever.

The death of David Yancey will be deeply lamented by his friends -- it will be deplored in the middle country. It is a real loss to Virginia.

He was among the most valuable of the young men of first promise in this state, who in the course of a few years past, have gone to an early grave. Those who knew him well, and many there are in Virginia, will say, that for the united virtues of the head and the heart, for all the qualities which render a man interesting to his family and friends, to society and to his country, David Yancey was eminently distinguished.

The companions of his early studies, the associates of his more advanced researchers at the College of Wm. & Mary, the professional gentlemen who pratcised with him, at the Bar of Louisa, and in the adjacent counties, in short, the whole circle of his extensive acquaintance, will long remember him, with a degree of respect and affection, that rarely falls to the lot of any individual.

Doctor Kimbrough, though younger and less known to him, who performs the painful task of announcing Mr. Yanceys death to his friends, is understood to have been a young gentleman of the most amiable character, and to have exhibited marks of intelligence from which his friends derived the most flattering expectations.

Letters found in the Library of Congress -  written by David Yancey to James Madison

Image 1033 of 1158, James Poindexter to David Yancey, September 11, 18







The Last Will and Testament of David Yancey of Louisa County, Virginia
[written before he left for Jamaica, West Indies - seeking a better climate that would be more conducive to his health situation - he died there. His burial place is unknown].

If I die at home, let my body be deposited in the space which I had left between my beloved wife and my dear sister, POLLEY YANCEY. Not that I suppose this position can benefit me or them after death, but there is something in human nature which makes the idea that we shall hereafter rest with those who have been more dear to us, grateful to the heart. Let a decent monument be erected over the grave of her that was most dear to me, my late wife -- not that this "stored urn" can "back to its mansion call the fleeting breath"; not that "honor's voice" can "provoke the silent dust or flattery soothe the dull, cold ear of death". Nor when the heart yields a willing homage to the rare combination of virtues of the loveliest of women does it stop to consider the objections to the indulgence of its favorite wish, but obeys alone the generous impulse of a heart which still vibrates with the impulse of its infant love. Let it be a monument of her virtues. Let posterity learn to admire -- to imitate the excellencies of one whose heart was pure, generous, affectionate and benevolent; whose temper was mild. yet firm; whose desire of doing good was limited only by her power; whose prudence was proverbial; whose understanding was sound and who won on the hearts of all, even of her own sex, by her goodness and the charms of her conversation. In her, there was no guile. Perhaps this monument of her virtues and of our love may in time to come, inspire some youthful breast, who may thoughtless dance around this receptacle of the dead, with a zeal to imitate her example.

I give to ANNE WARDLAW, daughter of Dr. WILLIAM WARDLAW, a negro girl named [blank], now in possession of DABNEY MINOR, of Albemarle, being the one for which I exchanged old Letty with him. My wife, in her lifetime, promised a young negro to this niece.

I give to the brothers and sisters of my beloved wife and to the children of those who are dead, to be divided in the same way, my negro man Bartlett; the money due me from DABNEY MINOR by bond for the purchase of negroes which I got by my wife and whatever balance there may be, after deducting all expenses from what I have already received on account of my said wife; an account of which I intend to state in my ledger, but if no such statement should be made, this clause about said balance to be void, as nobody can make such statement but myself and I wish to avoid all controversies about my will. If I live any time I shall probably make a statement of the whole of the estate of my beloved wife and strike a balance. If I do, that balance shall be paid or delivered, as the case may be, to the relations of my said wife, as aforesaid, in lieu of the legacies before mentioned, except that to ANNE WARDLAW.

To my dear brother, ROBERT YANCEY, who has been not only a brother, but a father to me and the goodness of whose heart I have proved, not withstanding the bare and villainous attempts that have been made by a band of assassins to destroy him, I would give everything, if he needed it, but fortune has smiled on him as to property, though he has been more persecuted than any other man in the state. He has enough and I know he will approve of my aiding the children of our dead sister, ELIZA KIMBROUGH, who have been untimely deprived of a mother and a father such as are rarely to be found. Their house was once the most perfect paradise I ever enjoyed, but death has blasted the prospect.

To my dear and only brother, therefore, I leave the choice out of my library of such books as he may wish and the balance of my books I give to my nephew, WILLIAM KIMBROUGH, Jr.

ANNE having died, I have given directions to Dr. WARDLAW how to dispose of the negro girl given her. The rest of my estate, I give to be equally divided between the children of my sister, ELIZ. KIMBROUGH.

1807 D. YANCEY

At a court held for Louisa County on the 13th day of June 1808:

This will was this day exhibited in open court by ROBERT YANCEY, and FREDERICK HARRIS and JOHN MICHIE came into court and made oath that they were well acquainted with the handwriting of DAVID YANCEY, and they verily believed the whole of this will to be in his own handwriting. It is therefore ordered that the said will be recorded and on the motion of ROBERT YANCEY, administration of the will annexed is granted him on the estate of the said DAVID, he being entered into and acknowledged his bond conditioned as the law directs.



I DAVID YANCEY, of the State of Virginia, now of Kingston, make this codicil to my will. I make my beloved nephew WM. KIMBROUGH, Executor. I give him my two trunks with their contents, except the books which are disposed of. I give him my watch. I wish to be buried in a plain, decent manner without pomp or parade. I wish him to defray all expenses and his own expenses out of the money in the hands of Campbell and Whittle and out of the balance, if there is as much, I give to my said nephew, one thousand dollars. The small locket I give to my brother ROBERT. I give MARY GARRETT the small trunk with the trinkets in the lower drawer of the inside of my desk. I give my big locket which I wear around my neck to DABNEY MINOR.

In testimony, whereof I do hereunto set my hand and seal this seventh day of Dec. one Thousand Eight Hundred and Seven.


At a court held for Louisa County on the 12th day of December 1808:

This signature to the within codicil was this day in open court proved to be DAVID YANCEY hand and by the court ordered to be recorded.

Teste: [Not signed by Clerk]

Diploma below of David Yancey - College of William and Mary
Note the signature of James Madison (President of Wm & Mary) who would later become President of the United States.


David Yancey
From "Laurus Crawfurdiana"