see also: Origin of the Yancey Family

More info on earliest Yanceys

By Dennis J Yancey

Information concerning the earliest Yanceys found living in America is quite obscure and so much conflicting and inconsistent information has been published concerning the early members of the family that it has taken many years of research by various dedicated Yancey genealogists to differentiate between what is fact, what is hear-say and family tradition, and what is down right erroneous information. A summarization of the results of this extensive research follows. The dominant family tradition is that of four or five brothers coming over from Wales in 1642 with Sir William Berkeley (Colonial Governor of Virginia) and settling in the James River area of Virginia - but years of research have failed to document or even suppor this family story.  The tradition that all persons of a particular surname descend from a common immigrant (or a group of family brothers) is quite common among American families - especially those with more uncommon surnames. Genealogists, however, are often wary of such statements - as they have often proved to be erroneous. In the case of the Yancey families, even though no documentation exists proving the existence of the group of Yancey brothers coming to America in the mid 1600's, research has shown that (except for a few very minor exception) that all Yanceys, do indeed, have a common ancestry - descending from a group of families living in the Hanover and Culpeper Counties of Virginia in the early 1700's.  The very earliest valid documentation of a person by surname Yancey is that of a Charles Yancey whose name is found among the list of property owners recorded on the Quit Rent Rolls of Virginia found living in King William County Virginia in 1704 and owning 100 acres. 


The Charles Yancey found living in King William County Virginia in 1704 -  It would seem that this same Charles Yancey married and continued living in what was later to be Hanover and Louisa counties with his wife and children. (Hanover County was formed from New Kent and King William Counties in 1720 and Louisa County was formed from part of Hanover in 1742.) Various genealogical reports record the wife of this Charles as a Miss (Mary?) Bartlett; the International Genealogical Index [IGI] records them as being married 14 January, 1704 in King William County but no verification of this has been found. Family tradition has it that Charles of King William County was the son of an earlier Charles Yancey and wife, Miss (Mary?) Leighton - thought to be a descendant of the Scotch divine Alexander Leighton (cruelly persecuted for his religious teachings). Various reports have recorded birth, marriage, and death dates for these two Charles' - none of which have been documented and years of research have not produced any evidence proving (or even supporting) the above information concerning the two Charles and such information should not be considered as fact until proven as such. If a group of Yancey brothers did come to Virginia in 1642 as lore has it - the Charles recorded on the Quit Rent Rolls was probably either a son or more probably a grandson of one of the immigrant brothers. This same Charles Yancey (of King William County) is recorded as owning land in 1722 that was later to be part of Louisa county between North Anna and Little River. Between 1725 and 1730 he received land grants from King George II entitling him to 448 acres of land in Hanover county. Rather recently documents were discovered that recorded Charles and his wife and seven sons: James, Richard, Charles, Robert, John, Jechonias, and Archelaus living in Hanover county in the mid 1730's. Documents record him deeding land to his son James in 1734 and in 1735 to his son Archelaus. The latest recorded date that Charles is known to have been living is in 1745 when he deeded a negro slave to his son Robert. Contrary to some reports, no extant will has been found of this Charles Yancey of Hanover and it would seem that he died sometime soon after the deed of 1745.



Besides the Hanover/Louisa County branch of the Yancey family, which descend from the above mentioned Charles Yancey, the other main branch of the family found living in early America could be named the "Culpeper County branch" - as they descend from a Lewis Davis Yancey who was an early settler of that area which was later to be Culpeper County in Virginia. Some researchers feel that Lewis Davis Yancey may have been the brother of the Charles of Hanover and some evidence would indicate that Lewis Davis Yancey may have come from the Hanover County area during the early 1700's to settle in Orange County (from which Culpeper County was formed in 1748). It is interesting to note that on the 1704 Quit Rent Roll of King William County where the Charles Yancey is recorded there is also record of a man by the name of Lewis Davis. It would seem that the Davis family may have been intimately associated with the Yanceys. Records show a Lewis Davis living in Hanover county in 1735 near the Yanceys and dying in Louisa county in 1747 without leaving a will. Going back to Lewis Davis Yancey - about the year 1730 he married Mildred Winifred Kavanaugh - daughter of Philemon & Sarah Williams Kavanaugh (Mildred Winifred was usually referred to solely as Winifred). Philemon Kavanaugh had come to this country from Ireland in 1705 and is said to have held a land grant of 40,000 acres of land in what was later to be Culpeper County. It was a portion of this land that he deeded to his daughter Winifred in 1731 and upon which was built the Yancey estate of "Arlington" (which was passed down though the family for many generations). In 1733 Lewis Davis Yancey received a patent for two hundred seventy acres of land lying near the fork of the Rappahanock River - this land lay near the land that had been deeded to his wife. In 1748 he was granted an additional 300 acres in the same area. Lewis Davis Yancey's family lived during the period of the Revolutionary War and various of his sons and grandsons served in the war against the British. Lewis, himself, being of a relatively advanced age, did not actively serve in the military - but various records do document him supporting the revolutionary cause by "stalling" beef to the militia in 1781 ("Stalled" beef meant beef on hoof - ready to be slaughtered") . It was during the Revolutionary era that Lewis wrote his will (in 1778) and at the time the will was written, two of his sons were away from home serving in the Revolutionary Army and he was not sure that they would return. They did return and did claim their inheritance when the will was probated in Culpeper County in 1788 (four years after Lewis had died). Lewis Davis Yancey was buried there on the Yancey Estate - as was his wife. They were the parents of ten children - all born in Culpeper County: Elizabeth, Charles, John, Philemon, Lewis, Winifred, Ann Eleanor, Richard, Robert and James. The exact death date of Winifred Kavanaugh Yancey is not known, but she is known to have been living in 1797 when she "relinquished" land in Culpeper County to her son Charles. It would seem that she must have passed away soon after this. She was buried next to her husband. A tombstone (not the original) still marks their graves. Inscribed on the tombstone of Lewis is: "LEWIS DAVIS YANCEY 1689-1784 MARRIED 1710 MILDRED W. CAVANAUGH". The markers not being original and the dates not being consistent with other verified dates, many researchers have come to the conclusion that the date given for Lewis' birth may be in error. He was probably born in 1698. The marriage date recorded also seems to be in error and is probably the birth date of Winifred.


Extensive research has shown that most Yancey families whose lineages trace back to the early 1700's seem to descend from either the Charles Yancey family of the Hanover/Louisa County area or the Lewis Davis Yancey family of Culpeper County. There are various Yancey lines with many recorded descendants who have not yet been able to trace their lineage back far enough to connect in with these two main branches. But it would not seem too far fetched to claim that most Yanceys are descended from these two main branches of the family.  Below are various branches whose connection has yet to be fully proven or documented.


CHARLES W. YANCEY - Born about 1770-1780. 1830 living in Franklin County, Indiana. Died about 1838 in Butler County, Ohio. Wife is to have been Mary Ann _________, Parents of Ambrose Yancey and Elcey Yancey. AMBROSE YANCEY - Born 5 November 1818 in Butler County, Ohio. Married 3 May 1839 in Franklin County, Indiana to Phebe Jane Goffe. Ambrose died in 1892 leaving many descendants. ELCEY YANCEY - born 17 October 1816 in Butler County, Ohio. Married 19 February 1835 in Butler County, Ohio to Alexander Duke. She died in 1888 also leaving descendants.



Cyrus Yancey, born about 1777 in Virginia. 1802-1814 recorded on various deed records in Anderson & Pendleton Counties in South Carolina. 1830,1832 in McMinn County, Tennessee. In 1850 a Cyrus Yancey found living in Hall County Georgia in the houishoeld of J.H. & Nancy Hanson (Nancy is thought to be a possible daughter). The wife of Cyrus is to have been one Sarah Smith. Children of CYRUS included one MEREDITH, ALEXANDER & NANCY. MEREDITH YANCEY was born 19 July 1803. He married Mary Witt in Monroe County, Tennessee in 1833. He is recorded on the 1840 & 1850 census of Monroe County. He later moved to Crawford County, Arkansas where he is recorded on the 1860 and 1870 census. He died in 1893 leaving many descendants. ALEXANDER YANCEY was born about 1801 in South Carolina. He married about 1825 one Elizabeth Bowman. The family is recorded on the 1830 census of McMinn County, Tennessee. Later in 1840 they were in Hamilton County, Indiana and in 1850 in Boone County, IN. By 1860 they were in Cass County, Missouri. CYRUS is thought to be a descendant of the Culpeper County Virginia Yanceys (descending from Lewis Davis Yancey) - but the exact identity is quite obscure.



Thought to be brothers. George W. Yancey is found on 1840,50,60, & 70 census of Telfair County, Georgia. He was born about 1815 in North Carolina. He married Sarah Brinkley 8 Jan 1837 in Upson co., GA. About 1840 he is to have married one Susannah Cravey and 12 Feb 1848 he married Susannah's sister Mary Cravey. He had various children who grew up in the Telfair County area. George's brother John Yancey was also on the 1840 census of Telfair County but he has not been located on the 1850 census. He is recorded on the 1860 census for Telfair. By 1870 he had moved to Smith Co., Texas and was also there on the 1880 census. He married Elizabeth Cravey 10 Feb 1840. They had various children. The parentage of George & John is unknown.



MINES/MEANS, DABNER, MILES, LEWIS YANCEY - all thought to be brothers. MINES YANCEY was born 3 February 1793 in Virginia. He served from South Carolina in the War of 1812. He married and Miss Jane Edwards 10 November 1817 in Pendleton District of South Carolina. In 1820 & 1830 he is found living in Hall County, Georgia. In 1850 he is found living in Jefferson County, Alabama where he died in 1859 leaving various descendants. DABNER YANCEY born about 1795 in Virginia, He also served in the War of 1812 from South Carolina. about 1815 he married a Miss Mary Siddall. In 1820 he is found living in Pendleton district SC. 1830 & 1840 he was living in Pickens County, SC. By 1850 he was living in Cherokee County, Georgia and in 1860 in Milton County, GA. He died in 1869 leaving various children. MILES YANCEY was born about 1796 in Virginia. He is to have eloped with one Catherine Wilson about 1811 in South Carolina. He also served in the war of 1812. In 1820 he is found living in Pendleton District SC. In 1830, 1840 & 1850 in Pickens Co., SC. In 1860 he was living in DeKalb County, Alabama where he died in 1864 leaving many descendants. LEWIS YANCEY was born about 1799 in Virginia. He also served in the war of 1812 from South Carolina. He married about 1827 one Rebecca Siddall. He is found on the 1820 census of Pendleton District SC. In 1830 & 1840 in Hall County, Georgia. By 1850 he was living in Dekalb County Alabama where he probably died sometime after 1860.



RICHARD YANCEY - 1820, 1824 living in Hall County, Georgia. 1830 living in Campbell County, Georgia. Married (1st) in the 1790's -wife's name unknown . Married (2nd) 27 November 1834 in Hall County Georgia at age to Sarah Gaisum. Thought to be father of WILLIAM, ELEANOR, JAMES & possibly TYRA YANCEY (probably others too). WILLIAM YANCEY born about 1797 in South Carolina - married about 1820 Esther _______. They are found living in Hall Co., GA in 1820 and in Campbell Co., GA in 1830,1840, and Esther is on the 1850 & 1860 censuses. They had various children. ELEANOR YANCEY - born about 1798 in South Carolina -married 17 November 1839 in Campbell Co., GA to David Darnell. They are found on the 1850 census of Campbell Co., GA (no children are recorded). JAMES YANCEY born about 1800 in South Carolina - Married before 1820 to Nancy _______. They are found recorded on the 1820 census of Jackson Co., GA and the 1830,1840,1850 censuses of Campbell County Georgia with various children. TYRA or TIRA J YANCEY - born about 1821 is recorded by some as being a son of RICHARD - but it would seem much more probable that he was a grandson. Tyra married 20 October 1839 in Campbell County, GA to Janet Hill. They are found on the 1840 & 1850 census of Campbell County. They are recorded on the 1870 census of Lafayette County, Arkansas and the 1880 census of Cass County, Texas.



One large branch of the family which is most probably related to one of the two main branches of the family - but for which the exact connection is uncertain is the WILLIAM/AUSTIN/FANNY/CHARLES YANCEY branch. It is one, the origin of which has eluded researchers for decades. The earliest record of a William Yancey is on tax records of Hanover County Virginia in 1758. A William Yancey is later found living in Granville County North Carolina in the early 1760's. Various deed records of William are found in the late 1760's in Mecklenburg County NC from which Tryon County NC was formed. Various records show him living in Tryon Co., NC from about 1768 to 1784. He is found on the 1790 census living in Rutherford County NC. This may be the same William Yancey found living in 1792 in Laurens County, South Carolina "with sons". and it may be the same William Yancey who died in Montgomery County, Tennessee about 1814. There is also a William Yancey found living in the Barnwell district of South Carolina in 1810. William married some time before 1760 a Miss Sophie Davis of Granville Co., NC and they are probably the parents of AUSTIN & FANNY YANCEY. Another child may have been one CHARLES YANCEY. AUSTIN YANCEY is to have been born 29 August 1752 and married 11 February 1775 in the Tryon/Rutherford County area (documentation for these dates are lacking- but dates seem reasonable) His wife is to have been one Sarah Garrison. In 1820 he was living in Montgomery County, TN and in 1830 in Franklin County, IL. In 1833 he applied for a pension. FANNY (FRANCES) YANCEY was born about 1768 in North Carolina - she is thought to be another child of WILLIAM & SOPHIE YANCEY. She married about 1790 one Nathaniel Dobbs. They early on traveled to Georgia and in 1850 are found on the Gwinnett County Census records. They had various children. Another possible son of WILLIAM & SOPHIE YANCEY is one CHARLES YANCEY. A Charles Yancey is found living in 1790 in Bladen County, North Carolina. and by 1800 in Robison Co.,NC. It is thought quite possible that this is the same Charles Yancey who is to have died in Gwinnett Co., Georgia about 1817. Although information concerning his wife and children is scant - Possible children include: Charles, Wesley, Alford, Ezekiel, Levi, Elisha, William, and Elijah Yancey.