Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Yeamans, John

YEAMANS, Sir JOHN (1610?–1674), baronet, colonial governor, eldest son of John Yeamans (d. 1645), brewer, of Bristol, was born at Bristol and baptised at St. Mary Redclyffe on 28 Feb. 1611. He attained the rank of colonel in the royalist army, and about 1650 migrated to Barbados. In July 1660 he was on the council of that colony. In 1663 a number of planters in Barbados made arrangements with the proprietors of Carolina for establishing a colony at Cape Fear. The proprietors, by the exercise of their influence at court, secured a baronetcy for Yeamans, conferred on him 12 Jan. 1664–5, and on 11 Jan. 1665 they appointed him governor of their colony, with a jurisdiction extending from Cape Fear to San Mateo. The country was called Clarendon. Yeamans was also instructed to explore the coast south of Cape Fear. He sailed with three vessels from Barbados in January 1665, and reached Cape Fear, but sustained heavy loss by the way from rough weather. Accordingly he soon returned to Barbados, leaving the management of the new settlement to a deputy, Captain Robert Sandford. When in 1667 Locke drew up for Carolina a fantastic paper constitution entitled the ‘fundamental constitution,’ which was never exactly applied, Yeamans was created a landgrave. In 1669 Yeamans was again commissioned by the proprietors and attempted a settlement, but without success; and in the following year he, under authority given by the commissioners, nominated William Sayle [q. v.] to the governorship. Sayle died in March 1671. Before his death he nominated as his successor the deputy governor, Joseph West (Cal. State Papers, America and West Indies, 1669–74, p. 472), and this appointment was approved by the colonists. The proprietors, however, on 21 Aug. 1671, to the great dissatisfaction of the people, appointed Yeamans to the governorship. He was proclaimed at Charles Town on 19 April 1672. The colony during his governorship suffered from internal dissensions, and was threatened both by the Spaniards and the Indians. The proprietors found fault with Yeamans as extravagant and indifferent to their interests. The colonists objected to his profits as an exporter of food-stuffs from Barbados. In April 1674 the proprietors superseded Yeamans in favour of his predecessor West, and in the same year he returned to Barbados, where he died in August. His connection with the colony is still commemorated by the ancient mansion of Yeamans Hall, on Goose Creek, near Charles Town. Sir John's considerable wealth in Barbados passed to his son, Major Sir William Yeamans, second baronet, and great-grandfather of Sir John Yeamans of Barbados, whose son, Sir Robert (d. 19 Feb. 1788), was the last baronet.

[Burke's Extinct Baronetcies; Gloucestershire Notes and Queries, 1884, ii. 95, and 1894, v. 307, 431; Colonial State Papers, ed. Sainsbury; Carroll's Historical Collection of South Carolina; McCrady's Hist. of South Carolina under the Proprietary Government, 1897, pp. 8, 69, 75, 79, 81, 92, 122, 131, 139, 141, 150, 154–8, 160–5, 171, 345; Brown's Sketch of the Hist. of South Carolina; Hewat's Hist. of South Carolina, 1779; Winsor's Hist. of America; Appleton's Cyclop. of American Biography.]

J. A. D.