Mildred Winifred Kavanaugh: American Patriot

Winifred Kavanaugh’s father was Philemon Kavanaugh. Philemon came to America from the Province of Leinster in Ireland. He married Sarah Williams around 1711 and, together, he and Sarah had nine children. Winifred appears to be their first-born child. Records show that in 1724, Philemon was granted a patent for a large tract of land on the Great Fork of the Rappahannock River in Virginia. Winifred would have been about 12 years old when her father received this grant of land.

Winifred met and married Lewis Davis Yancey around 1730, when she was about 18.

During the 18th century, under the legal doctrine known as coverture, married women had almost no legal existence apart from their husband. A woman’s rights were subsumed under her husband’s and a married woman could not own property or enter into contracts.

As a result of coverture, the 800-acre grant of land given to the newly married couple by Philemon Kavanaugh was deeded to Winifred’s new husband, Lewis Davis Yancey in 1731.

Lewis and Winifred supplied beef to American soldiers during the Revolutionary War and, for this patriotic service, Lewis Davis Yancey is recognized as a Revolutionary War Patriot by both the Daughters of the American Revolution and the Sons of the American Revolution. His grave, on the land which was given to him by Winifred’s father, is marked by the SAR.

Winifred contributed to the Revolutionary War in another way. Two of her sons, Lewis Davis, Jr. and Philemon, served in the Revolution – as did two of Philemon’s sons. These men, Winifred’s son and grandsons, are also recognized as Revolutionary War Patriots.


“Arlington” – WPA of VA – Historical Inventory Margaret Jeffries, 1937

A house named “Arlington” was later built on the land that Philemon Kavanaugh originally gave to his daughter and her husband. The estate remained in the hands of the “Yancey” family until the mid-20th century.

An explanation of the principle of coverture is that, by marriage, husband and wife are one person in law. The sad reality of the doctrine is that women – such as Mildred Winifred Kavanaugh – are not recognized, to the same extent as their husbands, sons and grandsons, as America’s Patriots.


O’Conner, Lula Price,. The O’Conner-Conner-Simmons families. Southern Pines, N.C.: W.E. Cox, 1941, Page 42. Virginia, Land, Marriage, and Probate Records, 1639-1850 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Operations, Inc., 2004.

Daughters of the American Revolution. Genealogical Research System (GRS) [database on-line]. Yancey, Lewis Davis Sr., Ancestor #A129369. Retrieved from

Sons of the American Revolution. Patriot Research System (PRS) [database on-line]. Yancey, Lewis Davis, Patriot #P-325751. Retrieved from

Hatcher, Patricia Law. Abstract of Graves of Revolutionary PatriotsVol. 1-4. Dallas, TX, USA: Pioneer Heritage Press, 1987.

Revolutionary War Graves Register. Clovis H. Brakebill, compiler. Page 672. Sons of the American Revolution (SAR). 1993.

Sons of the American Revolution (SAR). Revolutionary War Graves Register CD. Progeny Publishing Co: Buffalo, NY. 1998

Jeffries, Margaret (1937). Arlington. Retrieved from

Photo:  Works Progress Administration of Virginia – Historical Inventory, Margaret Jeffries, 1937

File #nje Gen 9 Kavanaugh


Filed under Kavanaugh, Yancey

4 responses to “Mildred Winifred Kavanaugh: American Patriot

  1. sashadr817

    So I discovered her and Yancey are my 8x grandparents. I’m I thought. Did my DNA test and found like 35% of European blood and 30% Wales and northwestern European. Connected the family tree and yep..weird


  2. sashadr817

    So I just found out they’re my 8x great grandparents…weird


  3. Shelley Onate

    My DNA via shows that Philemon Kavanaugh is my 9th great grandfather on my mother’s side. Really neat!


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