James Yeo of Kilkhampton and Prince Edward Island

James Yeo was baptised at Kilkhampton in 1790. He worked as a carrier and had three children with his first wife Mary Francis. After Mary’s death he married Damaris Sargent; they emigrated to Prince Edward Island in 1826 and had seven children together. James died there in 1868.

James developed a talent for business and, ably aided by Damaris, recognised and developed the potential for the use of the timber resources on the island for shipbuilding. He bought a small shipyard and expanded it. Many of the ships built at this yard were sailed in an unfinished state across the Atlantic to Appledore, where they were completed at a shipyard established by James’s eldest son William Yeo.

James later represented Prince Edward Island in the Canadian Senate. He died in 1868 and was buried at the St James Anglican Cemetery at Port Hill.

A correspondent has recently asked why James Yeo’s parentage is uncertain. Many of his descendants have tried to establish this information, though without any convincing success. Sheila too failed to identify his parents. It might be that they were James Yeo and Ann Osborn – but there is no firm evidence.

James Yeo appears to have been a shoemaker in Kikhampton before working as a carrier. There were Yeo shoemakers in nearby Stratton for many years, which might also be a clue to James’s line of descent.

James Yeo married twice. After his second marriage he emigrated to Prince Edward Island and settled at Port Hill, He was a successful merchant and shipbuilder, later a JP and a politician. From his marriage to Mary Francis had had three children:
– William Yeo (1812–1872, who married Elizabeth Allen Williams and remained in Devon to run part of his father’s shipbuilding business; William and Elizabeth had a son who died as a child and six daughters)
– James Yeo (1815–1817)
– Nancy Yeo (1817–1868).

From his marriage to Damaris Sargent he had a further seven children, including:
– James Yeo (see John Edwin Yeo and Mary Jane Mackay)
– Caroline Alice Yeo (1838–1897).

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See also Yeos in Prince Edward Island.


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