William Lowndes Yancey (1814-1863)
Famous Orator and Secessionist of the South

Citation from: Sons of the South. By Clayton Rand. Page 135.

Initially the greater number of statesman and military leaders of the lost cause wanted neither secession nor war. They preferred to live in peace within the Union. Among the extreme secessionists, however, was William Lowndes Yancey of Alabama.

He was born in his grandfather's home. The Aviary, Warren County, Georgia on August 10 1814, the son of Benjamin Cudworth and Caroline (Bird) Yancey. His father was a midshipman in the colonial navy in the War for Independence and was later an associate of John C. Calhoun in the practice of law at Abbeville, South Carolina.

When William was three his father died, and his mother returned to her father's house. Later she went to live in Hancock County, Georgia, near Mount Zion Academy. There she married Nathan Sidney Smith Beman, head of the academy, who took her and her two children to Troy, New York.

Young Yancey attended the schools of Troy and Williams College but left college before graduating to enter the law office of an old friend of his father's Benjamin F. Perry at Greenville, South Carolina.

Yancey plunged into the nullification controversy as a public speaker and editor of the Greenville Mountaineer. On August 13 1835 he married Sarah Caroline Earle, the daughter of a wealthy planter. They lived for a time on a farm near Greenville but moved to Dallas County, Alabama in the winter of 1836-7. Two years later, while visiting in Greenville, Yancey killed his wife's uncle in self defense and was sentenced to a fine and a year's imprisonment, which was commuted. In Alabama he rented a plantation, and he and a brother bought the "Commercial Advertiser" and the Wetumpka Argus. He then bought a farm but was forced to resume the practice of law when his stock of slaves was almost wiped out by poison.

Yancey rose rapidly in the profession and soon regarded as the leading advocate and most eloquent orator in the state. He was elected to the lower house of the state legislature in 1841, to the upper house in 1843, to the Congress in 1844 and was reelected, serving until his resignation on September 1 1846.

His first debate in Congress with Thomas L. Clingman was so violent that a duel was fought in which neither was injured. He was relieved of all political disabilities arising from fighting the duel by a special act of the Alabama legislature, passed over the governor's veto.

Yancey became the recognized leader of the movement for southern independence. From the time he resigned from Congress until the inauguration of Lincoln, he wielded a powerful influence, he believed in secession, was for a southern republic, and even advocated reopening the African slave trade.

The Alabama Platform of principles written by him in 1848 in answer to the Wilmot proviso was his confession of faith, and he never deviated from it, even when the temptation of the vice-presidency was offered him on the Democratic ticket in 1860. Yancey spent twelve years arousing the South to the impending danger to their institutions. State's rights associations were formed, and a League of United Southerners was organized. By 1860 he dominated Alabama politically, as old-line Whigs and Democrats adhered to the principles expressed in Yancey's platform. The platform presented by Yancey stated that the Constitution is a compact between sovereign states , that citizens are entitled to enter into territories with their personal property intact, and without interference.

When Yancey went to the State Democratic Convention at Montgomery on January 11 1860 the legislature had already appropriated two hundred thousand dollars to arm the state against attack. The issue was not pressed to a conclusion in the Charleston national Democratic convention, and a majority of southern delegates walked out. At an adjourned convention at Baltimore, Douglas adherents completed the destruction begun at Charleston by refusing to seat the Yancey delegation from Alabama. So the Constitutional Democratic Party was organized under Yancey's guidance, and Breckinridge was nominated for the Presidency.

Following Lincoln's election, Yancey directed the proceedings of the Alabama convention and penned the ordinance of secession. In March 1861, he was sent by Provisional President Jefferson Davis as the Confederacy's first Commissioner to England and France, seeking recognition. It was a hopeless situation with which the outspoken, undiplomatic Yancey could not cope, and when Queen Victoria proclaimed English neutrality, his brilliant but futile career came to a climactic close.

He returned to Alabama in 1862, was elected to the Senate of the Confederacy, and served until his death on July 27 1863. When he died, at forty-nine, he was resisting centralized government in the Confederacy as he had fought it in the Union.

William Lowndes Yancey was an independent, dedicated spirit. He paid no homage to power or position, scorned condescending acclaim, and obeyed only the dictates of his own conscience and judgment. He spoke the truth as he saw it.


Citation from: William Lowndes Yancey: From Unionist to Secessionist 1814-1852. [A Thesis] By Ralph B. Draughon. 1968.

Though born in Georgia, William Yancey could claim to be a third generation South Carolinian. As he himself told the story, his paternal grandfather, James Yancey, had been Virginian by birth, but:

. . . He married Abigail Cudworth (then styled the 'Boston Beauty') whose mother was an Otis & near relative of the celebrated Boston revolutionary Orator of that name . . . It is supposed that our grand-father was in the army, which occupied Boston, early in the revolution & there made acquaintances with Miss Cudworth whose charms induced him to remove to Boston immediately after the revolution.

After the marriage, the couple migrated to South Carolina, and live din Beaufort for a time, then moved to the South Carolina upcountry. In 1786, James became the first man to qualify for the state bar from Laurens District. The second man to qualify was Robert Goodloe Harper, who became a friend of James and kept up his friendship with the Yancey family throughout a career of prominence in national politics.

Both James Yancey and his wife died about 1790, and their three sons were dispatched to kinsmen for support. One of the boys, Charles Yancey, was cared for by his uncle, Benjamin Cudworth, a Charleston merchant. This Charles Yancey lived a long life as an itinerant and often inebriated schoolmaster and eventually ended up on the doorstep of William L. Yancey, who made earnest efforts to reform his aged uncle. Reforming Uncle Charles proved too difficult a task, however, and William Yancey reluctantly decided: "He will die I fear a sot & cannot maintain any degree of respectability."

The other two orphaned sons of James Yancey were sent to more distant kinsmen. Treated harshly by their guardians, both Nathaniel Barnwell Yancey and Benjamin Cudworth Yancey ran away. Nathaniel died when fifteen years old. Benjamin was more fortunate. With the help of Congressman Robert Goodloe Harper, he got a commission as a midshipman on the U.S.S. Constellation, participated in a great sea battle with the French ship La Vengeance, but resigned his commission in May 1801.

After leaving the navy, Benjamin Yancey read law with Robert Goodloe Harper, who had retired from Congress and removed to Baltimore. A year later Yancey returned to South Carolina, studied law with Benjamin Saxon of Abbeville, and became Saxon's law partner.

. . . In 1815, when William was still a baby, the Yanceys left Abbeville District. After losing the Abbeville election, Benjamin Yancey was invited to be the law partner of his friend Daniel Elliott Huger, in the low country. Yancey accepted the offer and took his family to Charleston, where he and Huger organized a partnership with James Louis Petigru, of Beaufort, as an associate of their firm.

. . . In 1817, a few months after the birth of Benjamin Cudworth Yancey Jr., yellow fever swept through the Carolina low country, and the Yanceys planned a trip to escape the epidemic. The family carriage, however, was held up by the high waters of the Edisto river, and the elder Benjamin contracted the disease. As his fever grew steadily worse, the Yanceys proceeded to Mount Vintage, The Abbeville plantation of Christian Breithaupt, a family friend. Breithaupt took the family in, cared for them in Benjamin's last days of distress and suffering, and witnessed the deathbed will which Benjamin dictated. When Benjamin died on October 26 1817, [3 Oct 1817] Breithaupt insisted that his friend should be buried at Mount Vintage in the Breithaupt family vault.

A Standard History of Georgia & Georgians

By Lucian L Knight, 1917 Page 2643-2644

 It was in 1642 that four Yancey brothers, Charles, William, Joel and Robert emigrated from Wales to Virginia.  Lewis Davis Yancey a son of one of these pioneers settled a landed estate in Culpeper County, Virginia about 1710.

James Yancey, the sixth son of Lewis D and the great-grandfather of Hamilton Yancey, was an officer in a Virginia regiment in the army of General Greene in the South Carolina campaign. About the close of the Revolution he located at Charleston, South Carolina, and in October 1782 married Miss Cudworth of Charleston, South Carolina, a descendant of the Massachusetts family of Cudworths.  General Gates of the Revolutionary army was a guest at this wedding.  There is an old record of the court of Laurens County, South Carolina, which shows that James Yancey was regularly admitted to practice as an attorney at the June term of 1786.  A year later there was admitted to practice in the same court Robert Goodloe Harper, and mention is made of his name, not only because he was associated with James Yancey in practice, but also because later he befriended as a patron a son of James Yancey.  Harper subsequently moved to Baltimore and married the daughter of Charles Carroll of Carrollton.   James Yancey and his wife died leaving three young sons:  Benjamin C, Charles, who died a bachelor, and Nathaniel Barnwell who died in 1799 at Camden, South Carolina at the age of fifteen.

 Benjamin Cudworth Yancey, a son of the Revolutionary soldier, was left an orphan at an early age, and on March 13 1799, partly due to the influence of his kind patron Robert G Harper, was appointed a midshipman in the United States Navy, and served from June 7th of that year until discharged under the peace establishment act on May 10 1801.   The government records show that he was one of the officers of the Constellation in the action between vessel and the French ship of war LaVengeance February 1 1800.  It should also be noted that his younger brother Charles also served as a midshipman at a later date.

[DJY:  The 1642 date and the four Yancey brothers reference - is in all probability - erroneous information that has been passed down over the years -


Early Life of William Lowndes Yancey (1814-1863)

Extracts from "The Young Manhood of William L. Yancey" by Ralph B. Draughon - in The Alabama Review, January 1996, Vol XIX NO 1, Page 28.

. . . William Yancey's father was Benjamin Cudworth Yancey, a South Carolina politician whose bright career was cut short by death in 1817. Benjamin's widow, Caroline Yancey, then took William, who was three years old, and William's infant brother from South Carolina to Georgia, where the little family made its home at the Shoals of Ogeechee, Mrs. Yancey's childhood home.

. . . Caroline Yancey sent her son for his first formal instruction to a nearby school taught by Presbyterian ministers, Mount Zion Academy, where William came under the supervision of that school's remarkable founder and headmaster, Nathan Sydney Smith Beman. A Northerner who had come to Georgia in 1812, Beman was a superior academician who exacted a stern discipline, neither sparing the rod nor spoiling the child. He was a preacher of emotional and intellectual eloquence, but because he was also a man who sometimes interrupted his piety with displays of personal arrogance, it is easy to speculate that he was not greatly loved by his students.

A widower with several grown children, Beman became charmed by Mrs. Yancey soon after her son came to Mount Zion and in 1821 when William was seven years old, she and the schoolmaster were married.

. . . The year he married Mrs. Yancey, Beman asked to leave the Georgia Presbytery.

. . . Beman accepted a pastorate at the First Presbyterian Church in Troy, New York and brought his wife and stepchildren North in June 1823. William was almost nine years old when he left his Georgia home. The change was great from the mild winters of Georgia to the months of ice and snow in Troy.

. . . By 1820, when Yancey was about to enter college, the New School preaching had spread throughout the country and the American people were caught up in the greatness of the modern religious awakenings, The Great Revival of 1830.

The Beman household was of course hotly involved in the fervor. William Yancey's life now became an unhappy mixture of family feud and religious crusade. Growing up in the emotionally charged atmosphere, he developed a temper that perhaps more than equalled his mother's, but he also acquired a great deal of his stepfather's crusading zeal. Unfortunately, the mixture of temper and crusading zeal in Yancey was as volatile as the mixture of bitter argument and religious evangelism in his boyhood environment.

Nevertheless, Yancey was not all temper. He was a curious mixture, and the other part of the mixture, the crusading zeal which Nathan Beman had inspired, was still below the surface. Later in Yancey's career his fervor for crusading reappeared, causing him to resemble his stepfather in many ways. But in marked contrast with Beman, Yancey's crusading fervor was always mixed with a hot temper, producing results unlike any that Nathan Beman intended.

. . . After leaving college Yancey returned to the South, and he and Nathan Beman, went their separate ways. Beman went on to become one of the most vehement opponents of slavery, and Yancey one of its most adament defenders.

. . . Unfortunately, slavery became a point of debate in the conflict between Caroline and Nathan Beman. had the couple confined their quarrel to personalities, the effect on Beman's stepchildren might have been less damaging. But the Beman's changed the ground of their debate from personalities to an issue on which every adult had to take a stand. Furthermore, the family's general sentiments on slavery intensified the Beman's personal quarrel, and the Bemans' personal quarrel intensified the family's general sentiments on slavery. A general dislike for all Abolitionists added to Yancey's personal dislike for Beman, and a personal dislike for Beman added to Yancey's general resentment of all Abolitionists. The family quarrel and the conflict over slavery were mutually divisive, and conflict in one area encouraged conflict in the other.

To William Yancey, Beman personified the Abolitionist: a hypocrite who preached against slavery after selling slaves himself, who probably misused his stepchildren inheritance, who abused and rejected his wife, denied her access to her own children, and refused to provide adequately for her support. And most irritating of all was the preacher's great self-righteousness. The South reacted strongly to the Abolitionist attack, but William Yancey reacted a great deal more strongly than most Southerners because he was spurred by his intense resentment of his stepfather.

Like the Beman household the Union was becoming a house divided. While Nathan Beman was putting on the whole armor of righteousness to attack slavery and the South, William Lowndes Yancey girded himself to wage a long crusade against Abolitionism and the North. The fury of this family quarrel was one small sign that there was a terrible civil war in the making.


Extracts from the
"Speech of the Hon. Wm. Lowndes Yancey, of Alabama, on the
Annexation of Texas to the United States"
- The Question of Slavery -
- In the year 1845 -

. . . The gentleman from Massachusetts, (Mr. Winthrop), who has addressed the House on this subject, tells us gravely, "It would be well for us to have some remembrance of what were the opinions of our ancestors on this question of slavery". Aye, sir, I agree it would be well, Our ancestors were as hardy, as clear headed, and as pure minded a set of men as ever breathed. They had no difficulty in settling the question of slavery upon a permanent footing. And yet some of their descendants are heard, at this day, prating of their consciences and their enlarged views of liberty. And men of today, as it were, gravely urge, as an excuse for their traitorous designs, that the Declaration of Independence declared back, as well as white, to be free, and that our ancestors so understood it. Sir, neither our ancestors as a body, nor the ancestors of those who particularly urge this, so understood it; neither did he who urges it so understand it. Many of the signers - it is more than probable the most of them - were slave owners. Slaves were held, in 1776, in every one of the 13 colonies. Aye, sir, and could I trace back the title to what few I own to him who imported their progenitors from Africa, nine chances out of ten would be that I derive title from some old New England merchant. They were the slave traders of that day; and do you think that those who signed that declaration designed thus to liberate their slave property! No Sir.

. . . I trust this remembrance and review of some of the "opinions of our ancestors" will be cherished and reflected upon, and have some effect in restraining the tongue of the puritan of today, lest, in slandering the living slave-holder, he traduce the character of the puritan of 1776, from whom we derive title.

I said, too, that the immediate ancestors of some of those who urge as an excuse the Declaration of Independence, did not think that instrument operative upon the servile portion of the community of that day. In proof, I refer to the treaty of peace between the United States and Great Britain, made on the 3d Sept 1783. The 7th art. stipulates that "his Britannic majesty, shall with all convenient speed and without causing any destruction, or carrying away, any negroes or other property of the American inhabitant, withdraw all his armies".

Here is an express acknowledgment of the right to hold negroes in slavery. And who signed it, and thus sanctioned all it contained -- in fact who negotiated it? Old John Adams?

And have we any evidence of the opinions of him who has uttered the sentiment I am now combatting? I have a similar proof, to be found in the 1st art. of the Treaty of Ghent, negotiated in part by John Quincy Adams and signed by him. The 10th art. contains this stipulation -- "without carrying away any slaves or other property".

Again the laws of Massachusetts of 1776 forbid the intermarriage of black and white persons, and declared any such marriage a nullity. That was one of "the opinions of our ancestors on this question of slavery".

The act of 1843, of a Massachusetts Legislature, repealed this law, and permits the intermarriage of the two races. This is an opinion of the Massachusetts man of today.

And what has been the result of this repeal? Why, sir, the statistics of the various prisons and alms-houses in the free state show that the black son of Africa, with flat nose, thick lips, protruding shin, and skin rodelent of rare odors, though free to rise to the high estate of the white man -- though the parlors of the proud Puritan are thrown open to him - though free to ally himself with, aye, and even invited to the arms of the fair skinned, cherry lipped, and graceful daughter of that famed race, still retains his nature - rejects with scorn the tendered connection, and prefers to revel in the brothel, until imprisoned in the jail or penitentiary.

And when morality and love of liberty which is said to be peculiar to the old Bay State, I can but involuntarily reflect upon another one of the striking evidences of the opinions of our ancestors on this question of slavery. An eloquent and gifted citizen of that old State - a man who does honor to the Union on account of his noble elevation of thought and erudite learning, thus feelingly, and in glowing language, relates the event to which I allude. "So perished the princes of the Pokanokets. Sad to them had been their acquaintance with civilization. The first ship that came on their coast kidnapped men of their kindred, and now the harmless boy, that had been cherished as an only child, and the future ?? of their tribes, the last of the family of Massasoit, was sold into bondage, to toil as a slave, under the burning suns of Bermuda -- See Bancrofts History of the United States.

Yes, sir, history tells the tale, that those ancestors, whose opinions the gentleman thinks worthy of "some remembrance", not only sold to the souther planter African slaves, but actually sold for gold, the children of that famous Indian warrior who gave full employment to all their valor! Despoiled of their lands, and their children sold into slavery! And "remembrance" of these things invoked here, to give us just ideas of the blessings of liberty!.

. . . Recently a Miss Webster has been convicted of the offense of stealing, and running to a free state, slaves. A Reverend Mr. Torrey has likewise been convicted. In the name of humanity and religion these men steal our property, induce others to do so, and would aid England in her attempts to abolish the institution altogether, and teach us "slave breeders" lessons of morality! Sir, this great majority of our slaves would blush at such a morality as exhibits such a callous disregard of the rights of another. If these things are to continue - If, as we have been given to understand, the very citadel of the Union is to be made the theatre of exhibitions of hatred toward us as men, and of an eager desire to rob our property, as well as of the products of our labor, the denouncement cannot be afar off.

William Lowndes Yancey
Slavery in the South - 1860

Citation from The Life and Times of William Lowndes Yancey" By John W. DuBose.

. . . A man has a heap of rights, but he would be a big fool to undertake to exercise them, under all circumstances"

"No matter what might be the views of individuals on the theory of slavery, a citizen of the United States was bound to respect and obey the constitutional guarantees of rights to slaveholders. Any other policy would end in civil war. Instead of the Constitution, securing the rights of both prosperous and powerful sections, the "higher law" alone would prevail, while the sections devoted themselevs to strife. As a matter of humanity, of self interest and law, the South treated the black servants well. The master disposed to be oppresive was restrained by public opinion and the statute. . . . You are allowed to whip your children; we are allowed to whip our negroes. Their is no cruelty in the practice. There may be no Solomons, but there are good parents, here. Our negroes are but children. The bird that can singand will not is made to sing. The negro that will not work is made to work. Society tolerates no drones. Society gains by our discipline of our negroes. . .

The law admits the master's right of property in the labor of his black servant, but the law compels the master to feed and clothe his black servants and to inflict no cruelty upon them. . . . My negroes are well clothed, and bathed at least once a week. I walk out among their cabins, sometimes, as late as midnight. I hear them clustered about a fiddler, singing and dancing, and they keep it up until near daylight. No laboring people on the face of the earth are so happy, so uniformly well fed and clothed and provided for, in sickness and in health, as the slaves of the South. Your policy is not likely to free the slaves, but it does tend to drive the master to measures of discipline more severe as you encroach on his lawful authority.


Citation from The Life and Times of William Lowndes Yancey" By John W. DuBose. Pages 558-559.

On Thursday, January 10, the fourth day of the Alabama Convention, the Committee on Ordinance , through it's chairman, Mr. Yancey, reported:

"An Ordinance to dissolve the Union between the State of Alabama and other states united under the compact styled "The Constitution for the United States of America"

"Whereas, the election of Abraham Lincoln and Hannibal Hamlin to the offices of President and Vice-President of the United States of America by a sectional party avowedly hostile to the domestic institutions, and to the peace and security of the people of the State of Alabama, preceded by many and dangerous infractions of the Constitution of the United States by many of the States and people of the Northern section, is a political wrong of so insulting and menacing a character as to justify the people of the State of Alabama in the adoption of prompt and decided measures for their future peace and security; Therefore

Section 1. Be it declared and ordained by the people of the state of Alabama in convention assembled, that the State of Alabama now withdraws and is hereby withdrawn from the Union known as the United States of America and henceforth ceases to be one of the said United States, and is not of a right ought to be a Sovereign and Independent State.

Section 2. Be it further declared and ordained by the people of the State of Alabama in convention assembled, that all powers over the Territory of said state and over the people thereof heretofore delegated to the Government of the United States of America be and they are hereby withdrawn from said government, and are hereby resumed and vested in the State of Alabama.

Section 3. Be it resolved by the people of Alabama in convention assembled, that the people of the states of Delaware, Maryland, Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, Florida, Mississippi, Louisiana, Texas, Arkansas, Missouri, Tennessee and Kentucky be and are hereby invited to meet the people of the State of Alabama by their Delegates in Convention on the Fourth Day of February A.D. 1861, at the city of Montgomery in the state of Alabama, for the purpose of consulting with each other as to the most effectual mode of securing concerted and harmonious action in whatever measures may be deemed most desirable for our common peace and security.

And it be further resolved, that the President of this Convention be and is hereby instructed to transmit forthwith a copy of the foregoing Preamble and Ordinances and Resolutions to the Governors of the several states named in said Resolutions:

Done by the People of the State of Alabama in convention assembled at Montgomery, on this eleventh day of January A.D. 1861.

Cup awarded to William Lowndes Yancey for marksmanship in May 1856.

The Death of William Lowndes Yancey - 1862

Citation from The Life and Times of William Lowndes Yancey" By John W. DuBose. Pages 558-559.

A tomb over his grave, erected by the family, bears the following inscription:

Called to public life in the most critical hour of his country's fortunes, he was a man whose love of truth, devotion to right, simple integrity and reverence for manly honor made him a leader among men. Virtue gave him strength, courage upheld his convictions, heroism inspired him with fearlessness, his sense of responsibility never consulted popularity nor did his high position claim homage save on the ground of worth. Justified in all his deeds, for his country's sake he loved the South; for the sake of the South, he loved his country.

The First Presbyterian Church - Montgomery, Alabama

Letter concerning Yancey Family Origins written by William Lowndes Yancey

The letter below - written by William Lowndes Yancey may be of interest to those researching the origins of the Yancey family.  One must take the letters contents, however,  with much caution. To give a little background – William Lowndes Yancey – the famed seccecionist – was only about 3 years old when his Father died in 1817.  His father – Benjamin C Yancey was also orphaned under the age of 10 – by the death of his father James Yancey – who also <James> at a young age had run away from the Yancey home in Culpeper, Virginia and seeming lost contact with his parents. This resulted in William Lowndes Yancey and his brothers having virtually no close relatives  and growing up knowing virtually nothing in detail about their ancestry. In the mid 1850’s William and his brother  Ben – contacted members of the Yancey family in Virginia – and re-established contact with very distant cousins.  One of these cousins was Major Charles Yancey of Buckingham County Virginia – a very affluent and respected member of the family – who one would surely think would have been a good source for information on the family. HOWEVER, Major Charles Yancey – happened to be in his mid 80’s at the time and from reading some letters he wrote about the early Yanceys at this age and comparing with other known and clearly established facts it seems his mind and memory were totally  unreliable  and he seems to have been the source of many twisted or outright false statements about the early Yanceys.

 Below is a classic  example of one of many instances of how and why  misinformation on the Yancey origins was initiated – and then once it was placed in print (in the biography of William Lowndes Yancey as an example – and placed in the general public) –  was then passed on by  most of the Yancey researchers  that followed – the biography of William Lowndes Yancey being a source for most all early Yancey genealogists.  In this case Major Charles Yancey was simply trying to answer a letter  from his  new found cousin William Yancey  – but he replied based on his faulty and flawed memory.  I’m sure Major Charles Yancey had no idea that such statements in a quickly written letter based solely on memory or word of mouth -  would be written down and stated as if fact in publications of a later date concerning the origins of the family.  On the other hand I’m sure William Lowndes Yancey had no real reason to have any doubts about Major Charle’s comments about the early  Yanceys – and such information ended up in his family papers and later his biography.  

      Note imbedded numbers - corresponding to comments below

Montgomery 20 Feb 1853

Dear Ben,   <1>

From what facts we had gleaned from Uncle Charles <2>  and James Gray and old aunts Harrison and ----- -----, and a letter just received from old Major Charles Yancey<3>, it is clear that he and our father were own cousins. This is it----three brothers, Lewis Davis - Henry and Richard Yancey emigrated from England. <4>

Lewis Davis Yancey settled on Little River, Louisa Co., Virginia <5>- where he had sons - Archelaus, John, James, Tyre, Robert.

James (our grandfather) in 1784 <6> removed to Boston where he married Abigail Cudworth (then styled "the Boston Beauty") whose mother was an Otis, and near relative of the celebrated Boston revolutionary Orator of that name. The Cudworth, her father was a near relative of the well known Dr. Ralph L. C. author of "That Intellective System" in England.

It is supposed that our grandfather was in the army, which occupied Boston, early in the revolution and there made acquaintance with Miss C. whose charms induced him to remove to Boston immediately after the Revolution.

Robert, the brother <7> of our grandfather was father Major Charles Yancey who inherited the place where Lewis Davis Yancey lived and died.

Another of the three brothers, Henry, <8> settled in Culpepper Co. and had 2 sons, Robert and Layton - who were Captains in Lee's celebrated Legion during the---- wars. Robert removed to Hawkins Co., Ky. The third brother Richard <9> settled in No. Caro.

This accounts for the origin of the whole race in Virginia, NC, SC, KY, TN, and MS.

By the by have you written to Mr. Dessan - sure - or any one else, to aid O'Veoli --- preparing a history and view of father's character as a lawyer? <10>

It is necessary to "urge the Judge" a little. I fear ---- has too much business to do it well --- Dessansure would have abstracted it better. Love to all.

W.L. Yancey


1 – This would have been Benjamin Cudworth Yancey – 1817-1891

2 – This would have been Charles Cudworth Yancey <alias Charles Cudworth> - (1791-1850+)

3 – This was Major Charles Yancey of Buckingham County, Virginia – a very affluent and respected member of the family.

4 – The common family tradition, though not proven is that the family descends from the Welsh family of Nanney, though there may be reasons to believe this is not correct and that the family is indeed English and not Welsh.  Lewis, Henry & Richard – early Yanceys were closely related – but NOT brothers – see comments on other notes.

5 – Lewis Davis Yancey – one of the very earliest documents Yanceys – established himself in Culpeper County, Virginia – NOT Louisa County.  It was Charles Yancey who settled in Louisa County and had, among other sons: Robert, James, Archelaus (Tyree was a grandson).

6 – James Yancey had spent time in Boston during the war (late 1770’s) and married there in 1777. About 1784 he traveled from Boston to live in South Carolina with his new wife and children.  Much has been written about the Cudworths – including the book:

7 – The father of Major Charles Yancey of Buckingham was the Reverend Robert Yancey who was the son of a prior Robert Yancey.  Major Charles and William Lowndes Yancey were probably about 4th or 5th cousins.

8 – It was Lewis Davis Yancey who settled in Culpeper County – and it was his son Robert and his grandson (William) Layton Yancey who were prominent in military affairs.

9 – This is probably in reference to Richard Yancey of Mecklenburg County Virginia – (right across the border from Granville County, NC) – or his brother James Yancey who did reside in Granville County, NC.

10 - Note biography of Benjamin Cudworth Yancey at: http://yanceyfamilygenealogy.org/bcypic.htm


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