The Murder of Henry Yancey

of Louisa County, Virginia

In 1784, in Louisa County Virginia, Henry Yancey was murdered by his brother Stephen Yancey, what follows are various documents which give the background of the matter and the final fate of Stephen Yancey

Ancestry: Henry & Stephen Yancey, sons of Archelaus, son of Charles, son of Charles Yancey

[Citation from Louisa County Court Records]

The deposition of John Yancey taken at the Court House of Louisa County on Thursday the first day of July 1784 on the examination of Stephen Yancey on suspense of murdering Henry Yancey. The Deponent sayeth that being at the house of Mary Yancey on Wednesday the 16th of June past a fight issued between said Stephen Yancey and said Henry Yancey that he endeavored to part them but in vain. He told them as they were so intent they might fight it out in a very little time. The said Stephen Yancey desired to be parted that he, the said deponent took the said Henry Yancey from off the said Stephen that then the said Stephen stepped to the door, drew his knife and forbid the said Henry from entering the house (although said Henry was employed by said Mary, as a manager of her estate) if he did, he would instantly kill him. Said Stephen also ordered said Henry to be gone off the plantation, that the said Henry attempted to enter the house in consequence of which received a wound in the breast by a knife from the said Stephen which enraged the said Henry still more. On which the said Henry declared he would be revenged , then the said Stephen took a gun and snapped it at the said Henry twice. Said gun was not loaded, then said Henry asked for an ace, but did not get one. Then the gun was taken from the said Stephen. In consequence of which they agreed to make peace the terms of which were they were to be friends and [___?] called for of either side that then this deponent left them and in a few minutes heard said Henry cry out that he was a dead man, on which he went to him and found him wounded in the belly and further said not. John Yancey.

The deposition of Andrew Todd, taken at the Court House of Louisa County on Thursday the first day of July 1784 on the examination of Stephen Yancey on suspicion of murdering Henry Yancey. The deponent saith that he did not see Henry Yancey until about two hours before his death and was not present when he died and about two hours or more after his death in company with Doctor Honeyman examined the wound which he had received in his left side about two inches above the hip bone, the external wound in the skin was about one inch in length and penetrated upwards about two inches towards his stomach before it entered entirely into the belly. In the direction of the wound and opposite to the internal orifice there was a morification of the intestine of about three inches or more in length and about half around the intestine there was the appearance of a considerable inflammation of some of the vicera contained in the abdomen as having preceded his death and further saith he thinks the above described wound was the most probable and principal cause of his death and further saith not. Andrew Todd.

The deposition of John Cosby Jr taken at the Court House of Louisa on Thursday the first day of July 1784 on the examination of Stephen Yancey in suspicion of murdering Henry Yancey. The deponent saith he saw Stephen Yancey in two days after he stabbed Henry Yancey. Said Stephen appeared to be much bruised and further saith not. John Cosby.

The deposition of Sarah Fields taken at the Court House of Louisa County on Thursday the first day of July 1784 on the examination of Stephen Yancey on suspicion of murdering Henry Yancey. The deponent sayeth that being at the house of Mary Yancey on Thursday the 16th of June past. A difference arose between Stephen Yancey and Henry Yancey decd, but that she was not present at the first fight between the said Stephen Yancey and Henry Yancey. The deponent sayeth when she came into the house the deceased Henry Yancey applyed to her to get him clean clothes and that she advised he should wash himself first and that while she was pouring water for this purpose Stephen Yancey came out with his right hand behind him. Using provoking language to said deceased Henry that the said deceased Henry Yancey desired him to keep off and let him alone that he was not so drunk as he had been but that the said Stephen approached in a menacing manner and the said Henry struck him on which the said Stephen took hold of his brother Henry with his left hand. When she, this deponent, discovered a knife in the other hand of the said Stephen and being alarmed at the same, spoke to the deceased Henry Yancey and informed him thereof on which the said Henry Yancey gave back several paces against the house and that the said Stephen then struck the said Henry with the knife in his right hand, a wound in the belly that after John Yancey had got his brother Henry into the yard, after the wound given the said Stepehen came up and asked him if he had got enough that if he had not he could give him more and further saith not. Sarah Field.

To the sheriff of Louisa County. I send you herewith the body of Stephen Yancey for a murder committed on the body of Henry Yancey and that the said Stephen Yancey you receive into your custody and him safely keep so that he may have a further trial on Thursday the said 6th day of July next and that you cause the justices of this county to be summoned to appear at our said court house on the above said day to examine touching the said murder and that he may be dealt with as the law directs given under my hand this 24th June 1784. Jno Poindexter, summoned John Yancey, Dr Robert Honeyman, Doc Todd, Sarah Fields and any others who were present.

Citation from "Henings Statutes"

Be it enacted by the General Assembly, That the whole estate, both real and personal of Stephen Yancey, who was convicted of murder at the session of the general court in October last, and executed accordingly, be and the same is hereby vested in Waddy Thompson, Garret Minor, and Charles Yancey, gentlemen, trustees, to be by them or any two of them sold for the best price that can be had, giving one month's previous notice of the time and place of sale in the Virginia Gazette, and convey the same to the purchase in fee, the money arising from the sale thereof shall e applied by the said trustees, in the first place to the payment of the just debts of the said Stephen Yancey, and the residue to be divided and apportioned equally between the widow and children, and the portions of the latter paid by the said trustees to their guardian or guardians: provided that nothing herein contained shall be construed to hinder the widow of the said Stephen Yancey from taking her dower in the lands and one third of the slaves for life, if she prefers that, to a child's part of the lands and slaves. . .


There are various references to the Stephen Yancey Estate and children in the Journal of the House of Delegates of Virginia January 1785. click here

From the "Virginia Gazette 4 Dec 1784"

"Yesterday was executed, at the gallows near this city, pursuant to his sentence passed the last session of the General Court, Stephen Yancey, from Louisa County for the murder of his brother"

DJY: Stephen Yancey left no will. What follows is information abstracted from court records in reference to the settlement of his estate.

The probate records give very little textual information that would document the members of Stephen Yanceys family and his relatives - what follows are names that are mentioned in the estate settlement - very little information is recorded with the name on the original records - a very brief name and description and a monetary amount. The monetary amounts have here been excluded.

The dates associated with these entries span from 1785 through 1793. These entries, however, do not seem to have been recorded in court records until 1793.

Names mentioned in the estate settlement follow: (info in brackets has been added for informational purposes and is not in the original record)

Estate of Stephen Yancey . . .

John Gardner who intermarried [married] with Ann Yancey, legatee [daughter of Stephen]
Wm. Hughs
Augustus Yancey, legatee [son of Stephen]
John Lea
Ro. Yancey [Cousin of Stephen]
Charles Yancey [Cousin of Stephen]
Geo. Thomson
Wm. Cosby
John Carpenter
John Yancey [brother of Stephen?]
John Dickins
Thomas Johnson
James Beadles
Geo Lumsden
Bartholomew Warren
Thomas Almond
Capt. Charles Yancey [cousin of Stephen]
Fleming Thomason
James Byars
Jane Yancey [widow of Stephen]
John Bond
John Carpenter
Elizabeth Byars
Thomas Gooch
Geo Brackenridge
Chs Thompson
John [Timbalake?]
Nathaniel W. Charleston
John Cosby [brother in law?]
William Cole
Thomas Bond [father in law?]
John Gardner [son in law?]
Capt Yancey [cousin]
James Beadles
Matthew Thompson
William Whitlock
William Poindexter
Jno McGehee
James Daniel
Elizabeth Samson
James Beadles
Joseph Fleeman
Bar[nard?] Dickinson
William Price
Jno Edwards
Th Almond
Geo Thomason
Jno Carpenter
Wm McGehee
Enos Tate
Bartholomew Warren
Jane Yancey [wife]
Ann Yancey
Jos Norman
William Cosby
L:indsey Harris
Richard Paulett
Jno Trice
Richard Lane [son in law?]
Nathan Smith
Jno Yancey [brother?]
Bernard Dickinson
Capt Yancey [cousin]
Tho Bond [father in law?]
Frank Walker
Jno Thomson
Richard Lane [son in law?]
Mary Yancey [mother of Stephen?]

Various Guardianship records record the following information:

From "Louisa County Virginia 1743-1814 Where Have All the Children Gone" By Rosalie Davis 1980.

GDN BOND: Charles Yancey Gdn to Augustine & Rebecca Yancey, orphans of Stephan Yancey , decd, L500 cur money, Sec John Poindexter Jr. 14 Mar 1785.

GDN BOND: Thomas Bond Gdn to Caty Yancey & John Yancey orphans of Stephen Yancey decd, L500 curr money , Sec. Samuel Ragland. 14 Mar 1785

GDN BOND: John Yancey Gdn to Elizabeth Yancey, orphan of Stephen Yancey, decd. L200 curr money, Sec Charles Yancey & John Cosby. 9 Jan 1786

GDN BOND: Robert Kimbrough Gdn to Elizabeth Yancey, orphan of Stephen Yancey decd, L200 curr money, sec Charles Yancey. 8 June 1795

ACCT: Miss Rebeckah Yancey Sep 1786-1794 . . . legacy due from the estate of Stephen Yancey . . . By interest on the above sum from March 1788 until May 1794, when she came of age. 14 Nov 1796

ACCT: Catherine Yancey and John Yancey, orphans of Stephen Yancey decd in acct with Thomas Bond, Guardian . . . 14 Nov 1796