family Vance (33bc - 1957ad)


the name "Vance"

Establishing the history of an ancient family is often best accomplished by tracing the name. Vance has progressed through history from Baux, Vaux, de Vallibus, Vans, and finally to Vance.


the barbaric Goths

Historians of France and England are reasonably certain the Vances are descendants of the Baltic Goth tribes of northern Europe. The Goth people were known to have lived on the shores of the Baltic Sea before the birth of Christ.

The Goths lived somewhat peacefully in their northern homes, tending their crops with the help of slaves captured in war, until about 200 ad when they became war-like and began to migrate south into Europe. Their history as they marched across Europe was little else than a record of barbarian slaughter and pillage.

They started war with the Roman Empire in the early 300’s ad when they invaded Turkey and Greece. Alaric the Balthing became king of the Goths in 395 ad and in 410 ad led the Goths in a successful sacking of Rome which was a proximate cause of the fall of the Roman Empire in Italy. (It is reported by some that the Vance’s are directly descended from Alaric).

Alaric was a Christian who tried to be merciful to those who were conquered. When Rome was taken he ordered that any person who took refuge in the two churches of the great apostles, Saint Peter and Saint Paul, were to be spared but his orders were ignored by his troops. Streets were heaped with the dead, while others were brutally tortured, and many slaves taken.

Alaric and his army then marched to southern Italy in an attempt to cut off supplies coming to Rome from Africa. They were caught in a storm when they attempted to invade Sicily. Alaric became sick and died at age 35. The Goth’s momentum was then stopped and many of his followers settled in Italy.


family de Baux

The Vances descend from a Baltic Goth family who overtook an ancient fortress in southern France after they were expelled from Italy. The medieval castle, Les Baux, still exists as ruins perched atop a rocky mountain ledge near Arles, France. From their castle, they took the name de Baux (pronounced “dee bow”).

The first record of a de Baux is that of Gossallin who, in about 810, married Herriasbeuck, daughter and heiress of William, Sovereign of the Court of Orange, and niece of Bertha, wife of Emperor Charlemagne.

The de Bauxs were feudal overlords owning seventy-nine villages and towns, mostly located along the Rhone River from Marseille north to near Lyon. One author says of them “The Princes of Les Baux were a barbaric race, … with wild mountain blood in their veins. Their association with Christianity was certainly not of a very intimate kind. They were a blind, bloodstained race, believing in violence and retaliation as the one and only means of grace in this world and troubling themselves, till the moment of death, with very little about the next. They generally reaped as they had sown; feared, hated, and often dying deaths as terrible as those which they had inflicted on their victims.”

It was a powerful and influential family that married into a number of kingdoms and fiefdoms of Europe. They have been Dukes of Andrea; Princes of Joinville, Taranta, and Altamara; Sovereign Counts  of Orange and Provence; and Kings of Vienne and Arles.

 The de Bauxs also claim descendancy from the Magi King, Balthazar, one of the wise men following the star to Bethlehem upon the birth of Jesus. To make sure everyone understood their relationship to Balthazar and the birth of Jesus, the de Bauxs carried the symbol of the star of Bethlehem on the arms and armor they bore in tournaments as well as in battle. It was also on their coins and in wall hangings decorating their castle. Written on the tomb of Raymond de Baux (who many think is the direct ancestor of the Vances) is, “To the illustrious family of des Baux held to derive its origin from the ancient King of Armenia to whom under the guidance of a star, the Saviour of the world manifested himself”.

de Vaux to Vance

In 929 ad Bertrand de Baux went to Normandy, in the north of France, by invitation of the Duke of Normandy and established a branch of the family there where the name became de Vaux. Bertrand was the progenitor of the family de Vaux, which long held a distinguished rank among the nobles of Normandy.

It is near this point we can begin to follow each generation forward to the present, as follows:


Harold29 de Vaux: The first we can identify in the lineage is  Lord Harold de Vaux of Normandy. He had three sons, Hubert28, Rundolph, and Robert, all of whom accompanied William the Conqueror of Normandy in the invasion of the British Isles, 1066. All three sons remained in England and well established themselves by acquiring baronies.


Hubert28 de Vaux: Hubert, the oldest of the three brothers, became the first Lord of Parliament for the Barony of Gilliesland. He married into family Gracia and had two sons, Robert and Rundolph27.


Rundolph27 de Vaux: Rundolph had a son, Phillip26.


Phillip26 de Vaux: Phillip settled in Galloway, Scotland in the mid-1150’s, the first of the Scottish Vances. He married an heiress, Elizabeth26 Comyn, and obtained significant land holdings in the southernmost part of Scotland. Philip and Elizabeth’s son was Johannes25.


Johannes25 de Vallibus: Johannes possessed the Barony of Dirleton. He was appointed by Alexander of Scotland as Counsellor at Roxburgh, 1255; and he was with Comyn, Baliol, Bruce, and others in 1264 at the siege of Northampton. Johannes’ son was Alexander24.


Alexander24 de Vallibus: Alexander’s oldest son, Thomas Vaux, died without issue. Another son, Johannis23 de Vaux succeeded his father.


Johannis23 de Vaux, Dominus de Dirleton: Johannis was at one time Sheriff of Edinburgh. Johannis’s first son, Thomas Vaux, was one of the earls and lords who led the Scottish army at the Battle of Halidon Hill, 1333. He fell at the Battle of Durham, 1346, and died without issue. Johannis’ second son, William22, succeeded to Dirleton.


William22 de Vans: William was one of the Scottish prisoners taken at the Battle of Durham. After being held in England as a prisoner, he returned to Scotland and was prominent in affairs there. He was a party to the ransom of King David II and was a principal in other negotiations and treaties between Scotland and England. William married Catherine Douglas22. Their first son, Thomas, was killed at the siege of Berwick, 1355. Their second son, Johannis21 carried on the line of descent.


Johannis21 de Vans: Johannis went to Galloway where he married an heiress about 1384, and obtained the lands of Barnbarroch, in Wigtonshire. He was sent to England as Scotland’s ambassador to the Court of King Henry VI.

Johannis had three sons, Robert20, Thomas, and Patrick. Thomas was exceptionally prominent in the affairs of Scotland. He was Ambassador to England, Dean of Glasgow, Secretary to the King, Keeper of the Privy Seal, Dean of the Chapel Royal of Stirling, and a Conservator of the Peace with England.

Johannis was succeeded by his eldest son, Robert20.


Robert20 Vaux: Robert  married Lady Euphemia20 Graham of the Menteith family. In addition to Barnbarroch, he also acquired the lands of Barnglass in 1453. Robert and Euphemia’s successor was their eldest son, Blanse19.


Blanse19 Vans: Blanse married Elizabeth19 Shaw of Haillie. Blanse and Elizabeth’s successor was Patrick18.


Sir Patrick18 Vans ( - 1528): Patrick married Lady Margaret18 Kennedy, daughter of Lord John19 Kennedy, and descendent of King Robert22 the Third of Scotland . Patrick and Margaret’s son was Alexander17.


Alexander17 Vans: Alexander was succeeded by his son, John16.


Sir John16 Vans of Barnbarroch: John married Janet16 Kenedy, daughter of the Earl of Cassilis17. They had two sons, Alexander and Patrick15

The first son, Alexander, succeeded to the estate, but died without issue so the lands and title passed to his brother, Patrick15.


Sir Patrick15 Vans ( - 1642): Patrick was on the  Privy Council and Exchequer, he was one of the Senators of the College of Justice, and he served as Ambassador to the Court of Denmark.

Patrick married twice, His second wife was Lady Catherine15 Kennedy. Patrick and Catherine had a son, John14.


Sir John14 Vans: John succeeded his father as Ambassador to Denmark and became a gentleman of the Privy Chamber. He was in great favor of King James VI and because of that he received grant to the estates of Longcastle, in County Donegal, Ireland; and had bestowed upon him the title Sir John Vans of Longcastle, Knight. He married Margaret14 McDowell of Gartland.

John and Margaret had a son, John13, from whom the America Vance descendants depart from the Scottish Vances, although they did so via Ireland.


Reverend John13 Vance (1617 - ): England systematically removed the Irish Catholics from the north of Ireland and re-colonized it. Many of the new colonists were Scotchmen. 

John was the first of the Vances to settle in Ireland. He was a Presbyterian minister and traveled to Ireland about 1660 to escape religious persecution and likely to search for new opportunities. He was also the first to use the name Vance. Under the Act of Settlement, John obtained the lease of a tract of land in the County of Tyon and there founded the village of Coagh. He married Sarah13 Williams, daughter of Ashe14 Reinty, Esq. of the County of Derry and had six children.

Their first son, Dr. Lancelot Francis Vance, died of fatigue at the siege of Londonderrry leaving one other son as heir, Patrick12.


Bart and Andrew Jackson

Before we continue following the Vance ancestry through Patrick12, let us briefly follow that of Lancelot, his older brother. Before his death, Lancelot married Euphemia Murray and they had five children, one of whom was John of Coagh. From John descended two persons notable in America history. One was Andrew Jackson. Because Andrew Jackson and Bart have a common ancestor, they are related. The common ancestor is Reverend John13 Vance,  Andrew Jackson’s third great-grandfather and Bart’s tenth great-grandfather. This makes President Andrew Jackson the fourth cousin, seven times removed, of Bart.

Bart is also related to Zebulon Vance, the great war-time governor of North Carolina. Zeb Vance is Bart’s sixth cousin, five times removed. Their common ancestor is also Reverend John13 Vance, Zeb’s fifth great-grandfather and Bart’s tenth great-grandfather.


Patrick12 Vans: Patrick had a son, George11.


George11 Vance of Raneel: George had a son, Thomas10.


Thomas10 Vance: Thomas had a son, Hugh9.


Hugh9 Vance: Hugh had a son, Hugh8, Jr.


Hugh8 Vance, Jr.: Hugh, Jr. had a son, Patrick7.


Patrick7 Vance: Patrick had a several known sons, one of whom was also named Patrick6.


Patrick6 H. Vance ( - 1803): Patrick was born in Donegal, Ireland. He came to America in the mid-1700’s (some say 1754) and settled in Cumberland County, Pennsylvania (later to become Franklin County). He married Sarah6  Elizabeth Taylor in 1767. Per the 1768 tax list Patrick had a three hundred acre farm and had two servants, and owned four horses, six cows, twelve sheep.

Patrick and Sarah had six children. The third was David5, discussed below. Sarah died soon after the birth of their sixth child in 1777 and one year after that Patrick married Elizabeth Houston. With her he had nine additional children.

Patrick was called to serve in the First Battalion of the Cumberland County Militia in 1780 in actions against the British and the Indians, but it is unclear whether he served or paid a fine in lieu of serving.

Patrick’s home in Chambersburg, Pennsylvania, a large and impressive two-story structure, still exists and presently serves as the corporate headquarters for a quarry company.

In the mid-1790’s Patrick and his family moved south to Knox County in the sparsely settled area of North Carolina west of the Blue Ridge Mountains (now Jefferson County, Tennessee). There he purchased 640 acres, established a farm, and lived there until he died in 1803.


David5 Vance (1771 - ): David was born in Pennsylvania in 1771. His mother died when he was six. He later moved with his father and step-mother to Tennessee. He inherited family land on the Holston River in Jefferson County, Tennessee upon his father’s death in 1803. In 1804, at age 32, he married Rhue5 Taylor and together they had seven children, one of whom was John4, discussed below. In 1845 he sold his lands and moved to Kentucky.


John4 W. Vance (1806 - ): John was born in Tennessee in 1806 and lived there his entire life.

As a young man of twenty-one he married Rebecca4 Branson, also twenty-one. Together they had ten children, as shown below.


Family Group Sheet of John4 W. VANCE & Rebecca4 BRANSON


John4 W. VANCE

Birth:      20 Oct 1806, TN.

Father:     David5 VANCE (1771-    )

Mother:     Margaret5 Rhue TAYLOR


Rebecca4 BRANSON

Birth:      05 Apr 1806

Marriage:   04 Mar 1827, Jefferson Co., TN.

Ten Children



Birth:      09 Jul 1830, Strawberry Plains, Jefferson Co., TN.


Emily K. VANCE

Birth:      14 Nov 1833, Strawberry Plains, Jefferson Co., TN.



Birth:      09 Jul 1835


Sarah A. VANCE

Birth:      09 Aug 1837, Strawberry Plains, Jefferson Co., TN.

Marriage:   12 Jul 1855, Daniel Buryman NELSON (1832-    )

Death:      03 Dec 1901, Hendersonville, NC.


David3 VANCE

Birth:      27 Mar 1839, Strawberry Plains, Jefferson Co., TN.

Marriage:   27 Oct 1868, Martha3 Ann (Mattie) CATHEY (1844-1891); N.C.



Birth:      10 Oct 1840, Strawberry Plains, Jefferson Co., TN.


Rue Hanna VANCE

Birth:      26 Sep 1842, Strawberry Plains, Jefferson Co., TN.


Katharine A. VANCE

Birth:      27 Sep 1846, Strawberry Plains, Jefferson Co., TN.

Marriage:   Henry Clay VANCE


William Hugh VANCE

Birth:      22 Jul 1850, Strawberry Plains, Jefferson Co., TN.

Marriage:   Margaret Jane KENNEDY


Harriet VANCE

Birth:      1828, Strawberry Plains, Jefferson Co., TN



David3 Vance (1839 - ): David was born in Strawberry Plains, Jefferson County, Tennessee in 1839.

As a young man he moved to Haywood County, N.C., and at twenty-nine years of age took as his bride twenty-six year old Martha3 (Mattie) Ann Cathey of Pigeon River Valley. 

Martha3 Ann Cathey was the seventh child of Colonel Joseph4 Cathey and Nancy4 Hyatt. Together they had seven children.


Leila2 Vance (1870 – 1957): Leila married Julius2 Marion Welch.



Family Group Sheet of David3 VANCE & Martha3 Ann (Mattie) CATHEY  

David3 VANCE

Birth:      27 Mar 1839, Strawberry Plains, Jefferson Co., TN.

Father:     John4 W. VANCE (1806-    )

Mother:     Rebecca4 BRANSON (1806-    )


Martha3 Ann (Mattie) CATHEY

Birth:      13 Mar 1844, Pigeon River Valley, Haywood Co., N.C.

Death:      25 Feb 1891, Haywood Co., N.C.

Father:     Col. Joseph4 CATHEY (1803-1874)

Mother:     Nancy4 HYATT (1807-1874)

Marriage:   27 Oct 1868, Haywood Co., N.C.

Seven children  

Mary Emma VANCE

Birth:      30 Jul 1869

Marriage:   01 Jun 1893, J.F. ABLE  

Leila2 VANCE

Birth:     27 Dec 1870, N.C.

Marriage:   23 Jun 1889, Julius2 Marion (Jule) WELCH (1864-1944)

Death:      19 Apr 1957  

John Thomas VANCE

Birth:     09 Oct 1873, N.C.

Marriage:   31 Dec 1903, Lillie HENSON (1881-    )


Nettie Cathey VANCE

Birth:     27 Mar 1876

Marriage:   01 Feb 1898, Robert PENLAND  

Joseph Branson VANCE

Birth:     01 Jul 1879, N.C.

Marriage:   28 Dec 1902, Delena COOK  

Sally French VANCE

Birth:      13 Mar 1885

Marriage:   05 Sep 1906, William Pinckney (Willie) WELCH (1878-1925);  N.C.

Death:      12 Aug 1964  

Nannie Ellen VANCE

Birth:      15 Apr 1887



The Family of, and The descendants of Robert McGovney Vance; Dean F. Vance; 1983.

Vances in Scotland and Ireland; William Balbirnie.

Vance Family Data; W.D. Hoff.

The Vance Family of Piedmont, NC; Vance Voss Smith; 1981.

The Vance Family of Burke and Buncombe Co., NC; Elizabeth Williamson Dixon.

Europe, a History; Norman Davies; 1996.

Bible, Matthew 2:1 to 12.

Patrick Vance ‘to Tennessee’; Margaret Vance Webb; 1997.

Research and FGR data; Bryant Rogers.

Family history, lore, & undocumented notes; Eula Rigdon & Dolly Marshall Welch.


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