James Yancey, son of Lewis Davis & Winifred Kavanaugh Yancey, of Culpeper County, Virginia was born about 1750. Just as he was coming into the age of adulthood, the United States was on the brink of war with the mother country of England. It was about at this time that James Yancey is said to have run away from home. Not much is known about his travels while away from his family in Culpeper but he seems to have joined the Revolutionary cause and became a soldier. Letters have been found which show him as a soldier at Ticonderoga, New York. He seems to have been an associate of the famous General Horatio Gates. James married an Abigail Cudworth in Boston, Massachusetts in 1777 and later moved to South Carolina and became a lawyer. He was the grandfather of William Lowndes Yancey, the famous orator and secessionist.

Citation from: "Concise Dictionary of American History":

In 1777 the British moved to recapture Fort Ticonderoga, New York, occupied by Americans since 1775. British Gen. John Burgoyne's 9,000 men were opposed by Gen. Arthur Saint Clair's 2,500. The British dragged cannon up Sugar Hill (Mount Defiance), which commanded the fort from the Southeast was connected with Ticonderoga by a bridge of boats. Shortly after midnight on July 6, Saint Clair retreated across the bridge, leaving the fort to the British.

[An early Virginia source states the following:]

He [James] resided in Culpeper County before the war and pursued the occupation of a dancing master. From thence he ran away before the commencement of hostilities and went to one of the Carolinas. At the time of his elopement he was indebted many hundreds of pounds more than he was able to pay.

[Letters concerning James Yancey, at Ticonderoga, New York (Transcribed by Marsha Richardson):]


Ticonderoga, Head-Quarters, October 20, 1776

GENTLEMEN: The late success of the enemies of American liberty on this lake, renders it probable, I might say certain, that this post will very soon be attacked. In that case, as the enemy may perhaps attempt a blockade rather than an immediate attack on our lines, a large supply of provisions will be absolutely necessary. You are therefore requested, gentlemen, to lend all the assistance in your power in forwarding provisions of every kind from Bennington to this place, by way of Skennsborough.

The badness of the road may render it necessary to send flour, & c., & c., on pack-horses, in bags. If no other method is practicable, make use of that. Regard not the expense. Mr. Yancy, Deputy Commissary-General, has the general orders to pay every necessary expense and charge that may arise.

I am, gentlemen, by the General’s order, your very obedient servant,

J. Trumbull,

Deputy Adjutant-General

To the gentlemen of the Committee of Safety for the town of Bennington.


Tyconderoga, October 20, 1776

GENTLEMEN: This is to inform you that in consequence of a number of disaffected persons in and about Albany to the common safety of this Continent, there is a great danger of the too long delay of the contracted provisions for this army, from that place, and in particular the article of flour, and that we have not more than will answer for bread for the army present than about sixteen days; and as the advances of the enemy may be but slow, and in order for a blockade, and to cut off all communication to this place, all which makes it of the utmost consequence that we have an immediate supply; and as I am appointed and empowered to act and contract for every necessary provision for this department, by the Commissary-General, Joseph Trumbull, Esq., I thought it of the highest importance to make this pressing application that you would contract and immediately forward to Skeensborough landing, all the flour that can be purchased for the army on the Northern department. And relying, gentlemen upon your publick (sic) patriotism to serve your country, I make not the least doubt that you will comply with is this request. And as to your pay, I will furnish you from time to time with the Continental currency, as fast as my present hurry of business will permit; and beg you will forward me your answer immediately, how much you will be able to supply me with, and in what time, so that I may be able to satisfy the Commander-in-Chief at this place with this very important business.

And you will greatly oblige, gentlemen, with respect, your most humble servant,

James Yancey, D.C.

To the Chairman of the Committee of Safety and Correspondence, at Bennington.


BENNINGTON, October 24, 1776

Sir: Yours of the 20th instant, per Mr. Crane, came to hand yesterday about eleven o’clock. I immediately notified the Committee, and consulted them on the request you sent three o’clock afternoon of the same day; and within one hour despatched three of the Committee to different parts, to find what wheat was ready on hand to be immediately manufactured in the service of the Northern army; and are informed by their return, three o’clock this afternoon, that one thousand bushels is now ready, and that part is manufacturing, and the remainder forwarding to the mills for manufactory, together with teams to forward it to you as fast as possible. Several teams loaded with flour will be on the road toward Skeensborough this week; the residue will with all convenient speed. In the mean time, provision will be making for further supply. Before the reception of Mr. Trumbull’s letter of the 22d instant, received this day, requesting the assistance of the Militia, they were marched, and have doubtless joined you before this. They have left us almost to a man; renders it very difficult to furnish assistance to convey what we have already on hand. Should it be thought expedient to discharge twenty or thirty of the inhabitant from their present post, of those that would be judged by their officers the best capable of assisting with teams, carriages, and persons to forward provision, it might be beneficial. Mr. Trumbull mentions the conveyance of the above by pack-horses, (if no other way,) which will render its safe conveyance very precarious, as it will be subject to the wet from above and below. If Militia troops or others could be spared to repair the road a little directly, I think it the only way of supplying with any quantity. As we have not had opportunity apply, we can’t ascertain what quantity we can be able to supply. The General may be assured that we shall exert ourselves to the utmost of our ability. In the mean time, ready cash would greatly facilitate the forwarding, as sundry persons are to be dealt with. Could suitable casks be sent every opportunity to pack the flour in, it would be of service, as they are scare here, and it is difficult to provide necessaries to pack it in, and the coopers are absent. The carriages that come back will easily bring sufficient to pack the next load. Shall readily wait any direction, and let you know every opportunity what supplies we can furnish accordingly.

As we are scattered, you will please to excuse our detaining your messenger thirty-six hours; and it is now nice o’clock at night. He merits the opinion of the Committee of the faithfulness of his trust while here.

We are, gentlemen, with the greatest esteem, and compliments to yourself and Mr. Trumbull, your sincere friends,


To Mr. James Yancey, Deputy Commissary, at Head-Quarters, Tyconderoga.

N.B. Captain Farnsworth is now in Connecticut, and his assistant not to be present till next Monday, when his letter will be seasonably delivered. As we have used the boldness to examine the contents, shall supply his place to the utmost of our power.


Mount Independence, 5th. November, 1776

GENTLEMEN: Your favour(sic) of the 24th. October, per Mr. Crain, I received, and observed the contents. General Gates, on my request, discharged the number of men agreeable to your desire, for the purpose of forwarding provisions. I shall apply for assistance in mending the roads; doubt not it may be completed.

Your favour(sic) of the 28th same month, was handed me yesterday. I have sent men to Skeensborough to receive your flour, give receipts, and forward it to me. You will please to direct all the flour to be delivered to Messrs. Gore and Crain, assistants to me, they being appointed for that purpose.

I have sent you, by Mr. Clark, one thousand dollars, and as soon as can be, will wait on you with more cash. Would have sent you more at this time, but wait for a supply from the Paymaster. My business being in some confusion owing to hurry, prevented my being with you before this. I hope we may be enabled to establish a further correspondence with your people. The particular attention you pay for the welfare of your country demands its most cordial thanks for the same. General Gates directs to return you his sincere thanks for your good attention to the supply of the Army.

I have communicated your letter to Congress, as two of the members were with me since your first letter. Should be glad to know what quantity of flour you can be able to supply between this and the spring. As I may make provision for establishing a magazine there, your answer upon this head should be glad to receive as soon as possible. It will suit me best to see you; which shall endeavour(sic) to do as soon as I can get my hurry of business a little over.

I am, gentlemen, with all the sincerity of a candid heart, your obliged friend and most humble servant.


To the Chairman of the Committee of Safety and Supplies for the town of Bennington.



Albany, 15th. December, 1776

GENTLEMEN: Agreeable to request of yours by letter handed by Mr. Clark, your express, I sent you four hundred pounds, which informed you of by letter forwarded same time.

The Commissary-General for the Northern Department has ordered flour, & c., & c., to be stored in Bennington, by Mr. Farmsworth, who resides at that place. I think it might produce some difficulty were I to contract at present for any flour at Bennington, as Mr. Farmsworth doubtless will be able to receive all the flour you or he can procure at that place. I therefore take this opportunity of informing that I have left your receipt for the above-written sum,with Elisha Avery, Esq. Commissary-General for this district, who will settle with you for what flour you was kind enough to forward to me at Tyconderoga.

If any flour remains on hand, you will draw it to his orders. A hogshead of flour, which was forwarded to me, lies on the road, (as I am informed;) I must entreat you to have it secured, or delivered to Captain Farmsworth.

Please make out your account, and settle as Elisha Avery may direct. He will pay you, gentlemen, if a balance is due, and receive what may be coming to me.

The situation of my affairs has been such that it was out of my power to pay the polite attention your patriotick spirt merits. The hurry I am in at present, in proceeding on publick(sic) business, prevents my paying you a visit which I intended.

As soon as I may return to my post, I will call on you when I may in person have the honour(sic) of acknowledging the most earnest desire of convincing you how much, gentlemen, I am your most humble servant,

JAS. YANCEY, Deputy Commissary.

To the Committee of Safety.


Additional information concerning James Yancey - living in Boston, Massachusetts 1777-1782

- Information which records him associated with the Cudworth Family, marrying one Abigail Cudworth, and owning a shop on Court Street.


A Report of the Record Commissioners.  The Twenty Fifth Report [Document 150 – 1894]
. . . Proceedings of the Boston Selectmen from may 20 1776 to December 27 1786 covering the period of the Revolution.

Page 43 – July 1777
Mr Benjamin Cudworth, Gentleman, proposes Nathaniel Cudworth Esq & _______ for bondsmen as collector.

Page 61  - March 1778
Mr. Cudworth Bondsmen were approved of by the selectmen at this meeting.

Page 146 - 1781
The selectmen entered upon the consideration of the several petitions for licenses as Auctioneers when the following persons were approved - . . . . . Youncey  & Cudworth

Page 148 – June 1781
Messr Nath Cudworth & James Yancey propose Joseph Ford, Gentleman & Perah Morton Esq for their bondsmen as an auctioneer.


A report of the Record Commissioners of the City of Boston – containing the selectmens minutes from 1776 through 1786.   1894.

Page 157 – Sep 1781
The selectmen having approved the bonds  given by messr Cudworth & Yancey

Page 168 – Feb 1782
The following persons were drawn Jurors for a Maritime Court . . .  James Yancey . . .

Page 190 – Aug 1782
. . . List of inholders & retailers for the last year . . .  approbated . . . James Youncey, Retailer at his shop in Court Street

A Report of the Record Comissioners.  City Document 101 [Marriage Listings]

1777 – James Jancey Esq of Virginia & Mrs. Abigail Cudworth – Jan 2 1777

MORE information on the Cudworth Family.

Samuel Adams to Horatio Gates - advising him James Yancey has gone to South Carolina - 1783

The Writings of Samuel Adams: 1778-1802

 By Samuel Adams



A Standard History of Georgia & Georgians
By Lucian L Knight, 1917
Page 2643-2644

The South Carolina historical magazine.: Volume 50 (1950) Page 244.

Marriage & Death Notices From the city Gazette of Charleston, SC.

Died on the 25th instant [August 1790], at Camden, [South Carolina], James Yancey, Esq, attorney at law.
[Gazette date of Tuesday Aug 31 1790)


Other Biographical Info

History of Spartanburg Co., South Carolina. By J. B. O. Landrum

Dec 1785 - County Court - James Yancey, Esq after taking the oath, was admitted to plead, being the first attorney ever admitted to the practice in the courts at Spartanburg. James Yancey lived in Laurens District and was court lawyer and possibly county attorney. He represented Laurens Co. in the legislature of South Carolina in 1812*. Removing to Charleston, he was afterwards a representative from the same county. He was the father of Benjamin C Yancey, Sr of Abbeville Co. and the grandfather of that distinguished statesman, William L. Yancey, from Alabama and also to Benjamin C. Yancey Jr. who was United States minister to the Argentine Republic.

* DJY:  James yancey died about 1791.  It was his son Benjamin C Yancey Sr - who was a legislator in 1812.

From: "Biographical Sketches of the Bench and Bar of South Carolina" By John B. Oneall. 1859. Vol II Page 322

[Benjamin C Yancey Sr ]  was the son of James Yancey, Esq., who, as I think, -lived in Laurens District, and was a County Court Lawyer and possibly the County Attorney. One of my informants -thinks he was born in Boston, another that he was born in Charleston. It is certain that his mother was a Cudworth, a lady of the lower country, and that he was educated at the school of Dr. Pyles, Laurens District. James McKibbin and John Caldwell were his schoolmates.

Obituary of James Yancey's son Nathaniel Barnwell Yancey
Click Here


The Cudworth Family

Benjamin Cudworth Yancey Sr.

Benjamin Cudworth Yancey Jr.

William Lowndes Yancey