Monday, November 21, 2016

One or Two Early Mentions of Irish Vances

Time for another reach into U,K. and Irish history for a look at our (possible) past ancestors!

As many of you are aware, the main goal of William Balbirnie's book in 1860 about Irish Vances was to connect all the Vances then living in Ireland to the Rev. John Vans of Kilmacrenan, whom Balbirnie believed was their common ancestor.  In clinging to that focus, Balbirnie ignored or discounted other Vans/Vance immigrants that he knew about like George Vance who came to Ireland around 1662 (see our post about George Vance).

But researchers since Balbirnie have also uncovered other early Vances (and variants of the name) mentioned in Irish records that William Balbirnie never knew about.  Two from even before the Rev. John Vans, for instance are mentioned in what is known as the Tudor Fiants.

The Fiants were writs issued in early modern Ireland by the chief governor to the Court of Chancery mandating the issue of letters patent - basically government commands regarding appointments, pardons, grants, and the like.  The most complete of these that were indexed date from the time of the Tudor royal dynasty - or basically from the very late 1400s into the first decade of the 1600s.

In these compiled records there are two mentions of very early men who may have been ancestors of today's Vances.  The first in 1576 is a grant of land to a John Vause in what is now Meelick village on the River Shannon in Co. Galway:

From "Reports 11-13 of the Deputy Keeper of the Public Records in Ireland / presented to both houses of the Parliament by command of Her Majesty" published in 1879 (

The second from 1586 concerns a Hasting Vanse, gentleman, being granted wardship and lands in Cork in the south of Ireland:

From "The Fourteeth Report of the Deputy Keeper of the Public Records in Ireland / presented to both houses of the Parliament by command of Her Majesty" published in 1879 (

The pity is that these men do not appear in any of the other fragmentary records from Ireland of that period, so if they DID settle permanently in Ireland and leave descendants it was not recorded for posterity (that we yet know of).   Were these men connected with the known Vans lines from Scotland?  We don't know.

What we DO know at least is that the Vaus/Vans/Vance name (or variants of it) were living in Ireland at least a generation or two before the Rev. John Vans.  Since we know he came over from Scotland to start his ministry (with no known or obvious immediate relations in Ireland), it is likely that these or some of the other known early Vance immigrants to Ireland were different families.  And while we don't know yet which ancestor(s) started which of the 4 or 5 known DNA lines of Irish Vances, we certainly know that there were enough separate immigrants to explain how they came about.


  1. Now I have to go back to Ireland to check out these two locations! We were there in June and spent a few fun days chasing down some of the old place names from the 1610 land grant, just to know that we were in locations where my ancestors may have lived. I am part of a line of DNA Group 1(b) Vances that doesn't have anyone identified earlier than David Vance, b. 1721 (some places say 1710) in Ireland (we think) and d. about 1768 in Frederick County, VA.

  2. Hmm, hello Vances. My name is Alice Vance and while I know that there are hundreds of thousands of Vances in this world, I would love to know more of my Vance history other than that which I've researched. I am a Vance through my father Ernest Vance. I also have a page on that dates back to the Vance research I've done. Please feel free to visit it. Most of my Vance side of the family stems from South Carolina. Again, our relation is on my dad's side and I was only able to go back as far as my great great-grandfather. I knew my grandfather, Erneast Vance very well. He was in my life until his death, but I never knew any of his family past him. Just from reading this blog, I never knew any of the Vances to be from these areas. I only know that we're so widespread. Look me up under Vance Family Tree.

    1. Hi Alice and welcome! Apologies there are dozens of Ancestry trees called "Vance Family Tree" (mine is as well :-)) so I'm having trouble finding yours. Do you have any birth/death dates for your grandfather, or a middle name? That would help narrow it down. Otherwise if I can help you can also find me at

  3. I have found another early Vans reference, albeit a far less signficant one.
    The will of Petir Clwgistoun (Clugston), 22 July 1596, states that Petir's son William was married to Helene Vauss. The beneficiaries of the will include Sir Patrick Vauss of Barnbarroch and his son and heir apparent Jon Vauss.
    The Clugstons were the neighbours to the northwest of Barnbarroch, and Petir's great grandson William Clugston married Patrick's great granddaughter Barbara Vans. The relationship between the Clugston and Vaus families may go back a long way; both families had roles as notaries, lawyers and record-keepers in the royal court in the 1400's.

    Who is Helene Vauss? As I am sure you know, Sir Patrick's older brother Sir Alexander Vauss (died 1567) had an only daughter Helene Vauss born 1557, who was the heir of the lands of Barnbarroch. She was kidnapped at the age of 11 and married to Alexander McKie. They had two sons, John and Walter McKie. Alexander McKie was killed by John McDowall of French, for which he was "delaitit" in 1619. It seems impossible that Helene could have remarried by 1594. (Though from the will, Petir's wife was Jaen McKie, so the relationships are definitely complicated).

    The "History of the Lands of Galloway and Their Owners" lists Sir Patrick's four sons and ten daughters, and states "There is another daughter unaccounted for". The other daughters were married between 1562 and 1594. Helene might be the missing daughter.

    Does this sound plausible to you? Or has Sir Patrick's missing daughter already been identified?

    1. Thank you for your post! I passed along your comments to Jamie Vans, the 23rd of Barnbarroch, who replied that it was certainly plausible that one of Sir Patrick's daughters was named Helene as well. I see that Jamie has commented on your website as well!

  4. Thank you so much for all the information you have published online. I'm not called Vance but looked up Vance because I noticed the name a few times in my gedmatches and other people with pieces of DNA matching mine. I have ancestors from the Scottish Borders called Little and Beatty so its very interesting how they fit in.

  5. My dad Larry Gene Vance, and twin brother Garry Dene Vance, born 2-27-36, had a father Vernon Clark Vance. I was told grandpa Vernon had several siblings in North Dakota. And their father had 16000 Acer's in Deadwood area. Anyway to check that story?

    1. Hi Bob - from census and marriage records there was a Vernon Clark Vance born in South Dakota about 1911-2 to George L. Vance and Florence O Vance - could that be your grandfather? Looks like they lived near Deadwood in South rather than North Dakota though. This Vernon married a woman named Carmen La Von Quin in 1932.

      George is here in the larger Vance database although Florence and his kids weren't listed: It looks like George had a brother Vernon Clark Vance also so your grandfather was probably named after his uncle.

      I didn't see an immediate record of this family's land holdings in South Dakota but they were certainly there for several generations. You might see if there is a local genealogy society that would know if land records still exist.

      But this line descends from what's known in the DNA testing as Vance Group 6, which is a line that probably came originally from Wales, although we don't know much about it yet or exactly where it was from before they emigrated to the US.