[back to the Yancey Family Surname Resource Center ]




Compiled by
Dennis J. Yancey
19341 NW 61 Ave
Miami FL 33015


Extensive research reveals, that except for a few very minor exceptions, that in accordance with the dominant family tradition, all members of the Yancey family do indeed descend from a common ancestry - a group of Yancey families found living in Hanover/Louisa and Culpeper Counties in Virginia in the early 1700's. The first documented record is that of one Charles Yancey found living in King William County, Virginia in 1704. Tradition has it, however, that members of the family first came to America in 1642 with Sir William Berkeley. During the late 18th century members of the family spread to North and South Carolina, Georgia, Kentucky and Tennessee and later across the nation. There are currently approximately 5,000 households in the U.S. and Canada using the YANCEY surname (including Black Americans).

The consistency in the spelling of the name Yancey among the earliest members of the family in America is rather unusual. The one variation that did develop, however, in a few branches of the family during the early to mid 1800's came about as a result of the dropping of the "E" and use of the variant spelling of "YANCY". (It should be noted that many early census, deed, and other records of the sort do often record the name as spelled YANCY - but in only a few branches of the family has the variant spelling been accepted as correct and handed down to the present generation.) There are currently over 1,400 households in the United States and Canada using this variant surname (including Black Americans).

OTHER name variations:

Although one can find various "derivatives" of the above names supposedly found on offical records mentioning known members of the Yancey family - variations such as: YANCE, YONCE, YOUNCEY, YANSIE YANSEY - In most cases it would appear that this is the result of the transcriber of the record interpeting a poorly legible name. Or in some cases it appears to be the result of the original record taker writing the name the way he heard it - and not the way it was considered correctly spelled by the Yancey family member, or just plain spelling carelessness by the recorder. With only a very few minor exceptions the only two variations of the name include YANCEY & YANCY. And most using the name YANCY appear to trace back to families which originally spelled it YANCEY. Some intentionally changed it to YANCY, others seem to have been lac about the change/difference in spelling.

It should be kept in mind that there are, and have been for some time, Black Americans who carry the surnames YANCEY/YANCY/ YANCIE. Variation in the spelling is much more common among this group. Although uncommon prior to the Civil War, census records have recorded "free blacks and mulattos" by surname Yancey as early as the late 1700's. When gaining their freedom, blacks often took the surname of their previous master. The early (white) Yancey family being plantation owners (and thus slave owners) it is not surprising to see the large number of blacks by surname YANCEY which appear in the 1870 census - the first census taken after the Civil War when blacks were granted freedom. So great was the black Yancey population that in 1870 in Virginia and North Carolina there were more black Yanceys than white. Concentrations of Blacks by surname Yancey can now be found in Georgia, Virginia, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, and other scattered areas along the East Coast.


Seeems to be a very rare French Name.

There is record of one John Dancy coming to Virginia in 1621 from Worcester England. There is also a record of another John Dancy coming about 1660.   Some of their descendants established Dancyville in Haywood County, TN in the early 1800's.  No known connection to the Yancey Family.

Family  of English origin. Charles Chauncey was clergyman and educator and President of Hartford (1654-1672)

In the book THE DESCENDANTS OF JACKSON M. YANCEY AND ELIZABETH B. GOODE HIS WIFE, by Lloyd R. Garrison, it is recorded that one Alexander K. Yancey cited his father as telling him that the Yancey name was originally DE HAUNCY - a name of French origin. That such a French name actually did exist at some time has yet to be shown and no evidence documenting or even supporting this claim has yet been discovered. It may be that the name Mr. Yancey was referring to was actually the name of DE CHAUNCEY (later just CHAUNCEY/ CHANCY).

The DeLancey family is one of French Huguenot descent. Many of the family in America descend from one Etienne (French for Stephen) DeLancey who was born in Caen, Normandy in 1663. Etienne at a young age traveled to England and became a British subject in 1686. Shortly after this, he sailed for America where he became a successful merchant in the state of New York where many of his descendants are still to be found. Many members of the family remained loyal to the Crown during the revolutionary era. FOR MORE INFORMATION REFER TO: THE HISTORY OF THE CITY OF NEW YORK. By Martha Lamb. (vol 1) 1877. Also, THE DELANCEYS - A ROMANCE OF A GREAT FAMILY. By D. A. Story. 1931.

One William Fancy came to America in 1643 and settled in the New Haven Colony that later became Connecticut. Many of his descendants also spelled the name Fanshaw or Fancher.  There is no evidence to suggest that this family had any links to the Yancey/Yancy family. for more info on this family see: 

In 1856 one James Hancer and his wife Rachel landed in New York Harbor. They had immigrated from Suffolk County, England where they had converted to the Mormon faith. Upon coming to America the surname was corrupted to HANCEY. The family went west and settled in the Utah area. It would seem that all persons who carry this extremely uncommon surname of HANCEY descend from this James and Rachel Hancer of England. FOR MORE INFORMATION REFER TO: JAMES HANCEY AND HIS FAMILY. By the James Hancey Family. 1988.

Various members of the Jantzi/Yantzi family immigrated to America in the 1830's. They came from the Lorraine region of France, but were German-speaking AnaBaptists (Mennonites) and the family probably originated in Switzerland. The first members of the family to arrive in America landed at New York Harbor. A few settled in the Lewis County area of the state, but others soon traveled North to Canada. Some members of the family in Lewis County, New York early on changed the spelling from Jantzi to Yancey to retain the old pronunciation. These members of the Jantzi family who changed the spelling to YANCEY seem to be the main exception (although very few in number) to the statement that all Yanceys descend from the Yanceys of early Virginia. FOR MORE INFORMATION REFER TO: THE FAMILY HISTORY AND GENEALOGY OF JOSEPH AND CATHERINE JANTZI. By Ruth Y. Ryan. Also STRANGERS AND PILGRIMS. By Arlene Yousey. 1987.

Families who carry these surnames seem to be descendants of a group of families found living in Herefordshire and Worcestershire England in the 1500's. Evidence would indicate that the name is a corruption of the surname CHAUNCEY which is a name of French origin. It would appear that the earliest member of the family to travel to the New World was one James Jauncey who in the late 1600's settled in the Bermuda Islands with his wife Angelique DuBois. Various members of the family, later traveled to New York. Many of them were British mariners and were followers of the Anglican faith. During the Revolutionary War some in the Jauncey family remained loyal to the British Crown. FOR MORE INFORMATION REFER TO: THE JAUNCEYS OF NEW YORK. By Joseph O. Brown. 1876. Also THE BERMUDA BRANCH OF THE JAUNCEY FAMILY. By Joseph O. Brown. 1873.

In 1818 one Johan Jakob Jenne and his wife, Anna Katharine Stein came to America from Germany. They landed in Philadelphia and settled in Lancaster and York County, Pennsylvania. The children of Johan Jenne came to use the name YANEY instead of Jenne. Members of the YANEY family later moved West. It would seem that there are other families which used this same surname that are of a distinct ancestry. It would seem that many by this surname are of Germanic descent, although census records do also indicate various Irish immigrants of the mid 1800's as bearing this name. The YANEY name in most cases has evolved from such European names as JENNE or JENNI. REFER TO: JENNE 1818 TO YANEY 1975 - DESCENDANTS OF JOHAN JAKOB JENNE AND ANNA KATHERINE STEIN - IN AMERICA. By Thelma Yaney Bigham. 1975.

Although this surname is quite uncommon, it would seem that there are various distinct families using this surname with no common ancestry. One American Yanney family descends from one Benedict Jenni who came to America from Switzerland with his wife Anna Barbara about 1845 and settled in Tuscarawas County, Ohio. The name was corrupted to the present spelling of YANNEY upon arrival of the family in America. FOR MORE INFORMATION REFER TO: THE NATIONAL CYCLOPEDIA OF AMERICAN BIOGRAPHY (Vol. #49 Page 587)

In his book AMERICAN SURNAMES (1969), Elsdon Smith implies that the name LANGLEY is in some way related to the surname of YANCEY. Evidence has yet to be found to prove this claim and further research needs to be done to better ascertain the possibility of such a connection.

The dominant family tradition as to the origin of the Yancey family - is that the family descends from four or five brothers who are to have come to Virginia in 1642 with Sir William Berkley (Governor of Virginia). Tradition has it that they were members of the NANNEY family of Merionethshire Wales (a well known royal family of South Wales and owners of the Nannau Estate). The name is to have been changed or corrupted to Yancey upon arrival of these brothers in the New World. Evidence for this tradition is backed up by the fact that the Coat of Arms for the two families are very similar as well as various early Yancey writings which also refer to the claimed connection. But, to date, no hard evidence has been found to prove the connection between the two families. Research, however, has revealed that members of the Nanney family did indeed travel to the America's in the mid 1600's. There is record of one Robert Nanney of England immigrating to Massachusetts in 1635. Later, in the late 1700's various of his descendants settled in Virginia and North Carolina. There is also a record of one Hugh nanney living in Virginia in 1689 in the James River area. No evidence has been found to connect him with the Nanneys of Wales - but the connection seems quite probable. Recent research has also discovered one John Nanney/Nanni who is to have traveled to the New World during the reign of Charles I of England. This would be just about the same time the Yancey/Nanney brothers are to have come to Virginia (according to tradition). Although it should be kept in mind that the Nanney-Yancey theory has not been proved, and could possibly be proved invalid at some time, extensive research does seem to reveal a very plausible connection between the two families.

Various researchers have had a hard time "swallowing" the Nanney to Yancey name change. One important thing should be kept in mind - the Welsh did not even begin using surnames, for the most part, until the 1600's. And of course when they did start using surnames not everyone in a large extended family would choose the same surname. And the Welsh do not seem to have been very consistant in surname use from one generation to the next in the 1600's of Wales. Dramatic changes from one generation to the next were common. It was also the case that some took the surname of their mother instead of their father. In short, the Welsh seem to have been rather inconsistant and very loose about use of surnames and passing of surnames from one generation to the next in the 17th century. Although proof is lacking, the theory is quite plausible.

This would appear to be a name of Irish origin. Various Irish families by this name appear to have come to America during the mid 1800's probably as a result of the "potato famine" and other economic conditions in Ireland. No connection to the Yancey family has been found.

There are various records of families by the name of Wancey in the Wiltshire and London areas of England.  No indication that there is any connection to Yancey.

A Family name concnenrated in Alberta Canada that seems to have Ukranian origins.

Apparently a family of Germanic origin - that came to Virginia in the 1700's.

Another Family of Germanic origin that came to New England area in 1700's
A family that came from Syria and settled in Nebraska


YONCE/YONTZ/YANCE (numerous variations)
Most by these surnames appear to be of Germanic origin. It would appear, however, that there are various family groups carrying these names with no common ancestry. Many branches of these families of early America were probably of Lutheran faith and not of the Protestant Episcopal (Church of England) that very dominantly existed in Virginia up until the late 1700's (Of which the early Yanceys were followers and strong supporters). Quite a bit of research has been done on these families as represented in the book: YONCE FAMILIES IN THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA" BY LUTHER V. YONCE - 1993. In comunicating with him and reviewing his research it was both his and my opinion that there was no evidence of a connection between the Yancey/Yancy's and the Yonce's. There is no evidance of any close connection between families of Germanic origin and the very earliest Yanceys in America.

Many by this name descend from one Phillip C. Younce who came to America from Holland in 1700. He had many descendants that settled in Watauga and Ashe Counties in North Carolina. For more information see: HERITAGE OF WATAUGA CO., North Carolina, Vol 2, 1987.

The Youtsey name is quite uncommon and it would seem that most, if not all, by this surname descend from one JOHN PETER YOUTSEY, born in 1726 (probably in Germany). He seems to have immigrated to America in 1744, landing in Philadelphia and later settling in Frederick County, Maryland. FOR MORE INFORMATION REFER TO: THE DER FAMILY: 1750 - 1986. By Roy H. Wampler. 1986 (Pages 337-344,392-395)


Other valid surnames with similar spelling/phonetics include: NANCY, YOUSEY and YANCIK.


After extensive research has been done on various surnames similar in spelling and phonetics to the surname YANCEY, evidence has yet to be found that would even indicate a possible connection between any of the above surnames and the surname of YANCEY/YANCY (with the exception of the surname of NANNEY - which according to strong family tradition was the original family name in the Old World). But even the Nanney-Yancey theory lacks evidence and has yet to be proven. As has been stated, the consistency of the spelling of the name among early American bearors is rather uncommon and would seem to indicate that if the name was changed (either purposely or through corruption upon immigration to America) that the name abruptly changed from one generation to the next and the spelling of Y-A-N-C-E-Y became the accepted spelling among the family in America.