III. The First of Our Collinses:
The Collinses of Kingsale Swamp
All material copyright 2000, Michael Collins Dunn Next Chapter

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I believe that this is the earliest document relating to a Collins who is either a direct ancestor or at most the brother of one, and therefore our earliest known kin in America:

Collins 400

To all etc.(1) Whereas etc. Now Know Ye that I [tear]said Sr Wm Berkeley Royal Governor etc. give and grant unto James Collins foure hundred acres of Land Scituate Lying and being in ye upper parish of [tear]County of Nanzimond beginning at a marked white oake soe running fo[tear] Longth North and by west 320 pole to a marked red oake, and soe for broadth North East by North, soe 320 pole to a marked white oake, and soe againe for broadth South West by South 200 pole crofsing ye head of a small Run nere ye Land of Thomas Mayson to ye first mentioned marked tree, The said Land being of use [value?] of same James Collins by and for ye transportation of Eight persons etc. To have and to hold etc. To be held etc. yeilding and paying etc. provided etc. Dated ye 11th of March 1664.

Jno Bennett Danll Mackneall

Rich. Harris 3 persons more

one name Lost dyed after their

Nathall Gordon arrival in Virga(2)

The document illustrated is not the original grant, which was probably lost with the destruction of the Nansemond records (though presumably there may be a copy in London somewhere). This is an abridgement for the patent book (with "etc." in place of most of the legal boilerplate) in the Virginia colony's patent books, kept in Williamsburg and later at Richmond. They survived when the county records were destroyed.

It should be noted that this grant carries a date of March 11, 1664, but that this date probably refers to a date in March of 1665 by our reckoning. Until 1752 the British legal year began on March 25, and the dates from January 1 until March 25 were part of the previous year; but many people used the January 1 date we use today, and sometimes double dates such as "March 1664/1665" appear. Since this grant appears in the patent book after dates in late 1664 and shortly before the 1665 grants, it probably refers to March 1664/65, that is March 1665 by our reckoning today.

The location intended by the grant will be discussed in detail shortly. The Upper Parish was the southern half of Nansemond County. (Nansemond County itself was abolished in 1974, when it was merged into the City of Suffolk.) Other records within a few years, however, show that a William Collins and a James Collins -- who will be shown to be the same man as in the 1664/65 patent -- lived in the area of the Kingsale Swamp, and we can demonstrate that the land on which these Collinses were living in 1678 was sold by our ancestor James Collins in 1778, when he and his wife Esther had recently moved to North Carolina. We can also show that neighboring families mentioned in the early documents, such as the Hollands and the Carrs, were closely linked with our Collins family in North Carolina later. (The name "Holland", that of a prominent family of Kingsale Swamp, even became a family name used by the Collinses until the late 19th century at least.) The land described by this 1664/65 grant was also in the Kingsale area, though this requires some tedious documentation, which will be provided after setting the scene.

Each step of proving that these are our Collinses will be documented as we go along. What must be said at the beginning is that it is not certain how the James Collins of 1664/65 and the William Collins who appears by 1677/78 are related to us. And in the last chapter we have seen a William Collins, probably one of the two on the Plaine Joan, was claimed as a headright by a man receiving land somewhere in this area as early as 1640. Was James the son of the 1640 William and father of the 1677 William? Were James and the second William brothers? We still don't know, but the 1664/65 James certainly lived on land which remained in the family until sold by our known ancestor.

I will offer evidence to show that James Collins, the Revolutionary soldier, was the son of the James Collins and his wife Esther who moved from Kingsale to North Carolina, that the elder James was the son of William Collins who died in 1767 or 1768, and that that William's father was a James Collins as well, a man most likely born in the 1680s or 1690s and probably a son or grandson of these early Collinses. If the James Collins of 1664/65 is not our ancestor, it is because he is a brother of our ancestor. I will be returning to this because the documentation is difficult but not impossible. It may seem confusing to many readers, since the proof depends on the "weight of the evidence" and that means that the evidence must be presented in detail. Some readers may wish to skip over the more extensive discussions of landholdings.

We face several problems in dealing with these early Collinses. The area where they settled was, as the crow flies, perhaps 40 miles south of Jamestown and 50 or so from Williamsburg. But it was cut off from those capitals by the James River, and from Norfolk by the Great Dismal Swamp. Even today one has to take a ferry to get there from Jamestown, or drive many miles out of one's way. When the Collinses settled there, it was also the Indian frontier, and close to the North Carolina line, which was in dispute until the 1720s. It was a remote area.

Also, the Collins land, as will be seen in the following pages, lay along the line dividing Isle of Wight and Nansemond Counties. Often the same man shows up in the records of both counties (the rare times that Nansemond records survive). The county line changed several times during this period, and was merely a straight, ruler-edge line drawn across the swamps and creeks of the area, and thus had little to do with settlement.

The Isle of Wight records survive with some completeness, though it seems fairly clear that the Kingsale Swamp area -- where all the rivers flow towards North Carolina, not towards the James -- did not always bother to register marriages at the courthouse up near the James. The Isle of Wight area in which the Collinses lived was the extreme southern part of the county today, a thin wedge between Nansemond (now Suffolk) and the Blackwater River. The land west of the Blackwater was once also Isle of Wight but is now Southampton County. Our Collinses do not seem to have owned land west of the Blackwater.

As for Nansemond County, it has suffered more than most from that bane of the genealogist, the burned courthouse. During the American Revolution, the British burned the Courthouse on May 13, 1779. If anything survived that fire, it probably went up in a fire of June 3, 1837 that destroyed much of the county seat town of Suffolk, including the courthouse which had replaced the one burned by the British. During the Civil War, oddly enough, the courthouse was not burned, but it was occupied for years by Union troops, and some of the records which have been published were reportedly found in a Midwestern attic, presumably looted by a Union occupier. Though James Longstreet besieged Suffolk for a while, the siege did not lead to a battle there. Surviving the Civil War was not, however, as lucky as it seemed. The surviving older records which had been evacuated by the Confederates had been returned to the Courthouse, and on February 7, 1866, a very cold and rainy day, a carpenter who had been hired to build bookcases for the old records that had survived reportedly built a fire to keep warm. The courthouse burned again.(3)

As a result the Nansemond County records are sparse indeed for the early period. The land patents were granted by the Royal Governors and copies kept at Williamsburg; the document that begins this chapter is such a copy. The records of the individual parishes of the established Church of England include land processionings for the 18th century which are quite useful once one figures out how to use them. But there is little else before the Civil War, and nothing else before the Revolution, when our ancestors lived there.

As a result of this sparseness of sources, the key to identifying the ancestors of our Collinses lies mostly in land ownership, the Royal patents and later, the land "processionings" of the parish vestry. One will from Isle of Wight County and some of the surviving deeds there do flesh out the bleak Nansemond records, and allow us to draw a sketchy, but not very full, picture of our ancestors' lands.

Before we begin to look at the aftermath of the 1664/65 land grant to James Collins, it will help a bit to understand what the Kingsale Swamp area is like, and what the era in which the Collinses came there was like as well.

Introducing the Area

As noted in Chapter I, the Collinses of Kingsale may have sprung from one of the Collinses living in Isle of Wight or in Upper Norfolk County (which became Nansemond about 1642), most likely from one of the William Collinses who came on the Plaine Joan in 1635. But until they located on the land where they remained for over a century, the lack of wills or other evidence gives us nothing with which to prove relationships. Once we can identify them with a piece of land or a general area of property, however, we can be confident of kinship even if sometimes the exact relationship is uncertain.

The early colonial period, and for that matter, even the later period in the original 13 colonies, lacked the neat, easy to use rectangular survey system (sections, townships, and ranges) later introduced for the Northwest Territory and later US territories and new states. Instead, land ownership was generally described in terms of neighbors' properties, geographical features, or trees. The trees are long gone; some of the streams and swamps have changed names while others have not; and it is a laborious task to correlate all the mentions of neighboring land to piece together a picture of the exact location. But these early records generally contain enough information to show us roughly where the land lay.

And where the land lay is the Kingsale Swamp and Blackwater River area of southeastern Virginia, in the general area of the present town of Franklin, Virginia. A few miles east of Franklin near the upper waters of the Kingsale Swamp lies a town called Holland, Virginia. It takes its name from one of the early landowning families in the area, found in both Isle of Wight and Nansemond Counties, the Hollands. The Blackwater River is a more important landmark than the straight line dividing Isle of Wight from Nansemond County, and in fact throughout much of the 17th century the two counties fought over where the actual county line lay. The line was shifted at least three times, though different references seem to give different dates and descriptions. The area also included what is today Southampton County, but which was part of Isle of Wight until 1749. Fairly clearly, county lines meant little historically: the area is a geographical unit with the rivers more important than lines on a map. The fact that James Collins II was born in Isle of Wight County and later lived in Nansemond County does not mean he lived in two widely separated places: he probably lived on two different parcels of the ancestral land, if not the same one. As we will see, the county line itself was often used in descriptions of the land's location.

Nor is the move to North Carolina particularly surprising, or the fact that the Collinses for a time in the late 18th century may have moved back and forth between both places. As we will see in the chapter on the elder James Collins, many other families from Kingsale settled in the same Sandy Creek area of North Carolina. The North Carolina link is not so remote as it may sound, and the state line is only about 10 miles south of Kingsale Swamp. One must appreciate the history and geography of the area along the Blackwater River.

The area is low-lying Virginia tidewater -- the Virginia term for the land below the fall line of the rivers, where the tides rise -- but some miles away from the James River and the original settlement area. It lies in what Virginians still call "Southside", the area south of the James. Even today it is somewhat isolated. The land approaches are either from the metropolis of Norfolk/Newport News to the east or the Richmond /Petersburg area to the west, there being no bridges across the James in between. There is a ferry from Jamestown to Scotland in Surry County, which provides access to the southern shore.(4) Though today major highways link the area with Norfolk, in the past it was isolated from the coast as well by the Great Dismal Swamp which lies to the east of the area we are discussing and to the west of Norfolk.

Furthermore, the Blackwater River and its tributaries flow to the southward, eventually into Albemarle Sound in North Carolina, not eastward into Chesapeake Bay like the James and other rivers of Virginia to the northward.

This isolation from Virginia has also made the area more dependent on North Carolina, and until 1728 the boundary between the two was in dispute, with North Carolina in fact claiming the area up to just about where the Collins land lay.

Today the area is a peanut-growing region (there is a Peanut Museum in Suffolk, VA, the largest city in the immediate area), with some soybeans and corn; it is also known for hams (Smithfield, VA is in Isle of Wight County, though on the James). Franklin, the town closest to the area we are discussing, has a large paper mill (Union Camp) located just about where Beaver Dam Swamp flows into Kingsale just above where the Kingsale swamp runs into the Blackwater, very near the old Collins land, drawing its raw materials from the pine forests of the hinterland. (One local town in Surry County has a "Pine, Pork and Peanuts Festival", capturing the economy of the area pretty comprehensively.) In colonial times, however, the area was apparently intensively planted in tobacco. But tobacco exhausts the soil and little if any is grown there today.

The rivers (mainly the Nansemond, which flows into the James, and the Blackwater, which flows towards Albemarle Sound) and their tributaries are tidal, shallow, and because of the flat, low-lying nature of the area, much of the areas near them is swampy, consisting of what are locally called "Poquosins", or pocosins, an Indian word for swampy areas which flood at high tide.

Kingsale Swamp is a creek and its adjacent swampland which flows from east to west into the Blackwater River. It has numerous small, short tributaries, which will be discussed in our description of where the early Collins land lay.

When the Collinses arrived in 1664/65 or thereabouts, this was the frontier of settlement, and to understand the world into which they moved, we need to understand the era a bit.

Introducing the Era

Although 1664 was only 57 years after the very first tenuous settlement at Jamestown, much had changed in Virginia since then. In discussing early Collins traces, we mentioned the Indian uprising of 1622, which already found a Peter and Thomas Collins in what became Isle of Wight County. After that Indian uprising and massacre of the colonists, the Indians were reduced, supplanted, removed or simply allowed to die of disease; the local Indians were sharply reduced in numbers by late in the century. When the Collinses first appear, however, there were still Nansemond Indians along the Nansemond River, north and east of where they settled, and the Blackwater River, just to their west, was the frontier separating the colonists from the Nottoway Indians to its west. The Nansemonds were part of the Algonquian-speaking Powhatan Confederation, while the Nottoways were a small eastern group speaking a language related to the Iroquoian family farther north. The Nansemonds survived in the area at least past 1700, and Christianized, intermarried Nansemonds lasted much longer and a few descendants still survive.(5)

One reason the Indians were being pushed away was the expansion of the white settlements. Between 1640 and 1670 (or from five years after the Plaine Joan to five years after the first Collins reference at Kingsale), the European population of Virginia increased five-fold, from 8,000 to 40,000.(6) After the Indian revolts had been suppressed, immigration increased, aided and abetted very much by the Civil War in England in the 1640s and the flight of many supporters of the Stuart Monarchy during the period of Cromwell's Protectorate and Commonwealth. These men often found Virginia far more amenable to their tastes and beliefs than Puritan New England. Although Virginians have created a myth that they are all descended from these "distressed cavaliers", most Virginians were indentured servants, not great landlords, and there were Quakers and Puritans among them in the early days (Puritans in Isle of Wight and Quakers in Nansemond County, for example). Still, the established Anglican Church and the old aristocracy survived better in Virginia than in the other American colonies during the Cromwellian period.

The early settlements had hugged the river banks, because that was both the link with Mother England and the only way to export the main cash crop, tobacco. ("Cash crop" in a literal sense: prices, rents, and even fines in early Virginia were regularly denominated in so many barrels of tobacco, a more stable and available commodity than pounds sterling.) When the colonists began to move away from the original settlements around Jamestown, they moved up other rivers (the York, the Potomac), or up the James itself to the falls, where Richmond later grew up. At the fall line a whole string of later Virginia seaports arose: Richmond on the James, Petersburg on the Appomattox, Fredericksburg on the Rappahannock, Alexandria on the Potomac.

In the early days of Isle of Wight and Nansemond counties, the settlers all clustered along the James River, or on its tributaries like Pagan Creek and the Nansemond River. They did not venture farther south. Not only were the Indians there (though they were few and increasingly pliant), but the area was hard to reach: across the James, but cut off from Norfolk by the Great Dismal Swamp. And its river system did not flow into the James, but into North Carolina, where Virginian taxes, duties, and other controls might not apply on exports. So the area south of the James River watershed was slow to settle. Also, the boundary with North Carolina was in dispute until 1728, when William Byrd wrote a famous diary of the joint Virginia-North Carolina expedition to survey it.

Thus, though the northern shores of Isle of Wight and Nansemond Counties were settled as early almost as Jamestown itself, the Kingsale Swamp area seems not to have been settled before the 1660s. The earliest settlers we know of were families like the Hollands and Collinses who moved in during that decade.

In 1660, of course, King James II had been restored to the throne and the Stuart Dynasty replaced Cromwell's republic in England. Since the Stuarts had had much Irish support, and were at least quietly pro-Catholic in their policies, there seems to have been a small but hard to define migration of Irish to the New World.

The name Kinsale, as already noted, referred both to an Irish town and a pro-Stuart uprising in the civil war; "Kingsale" for the swamp is probably an attempt to blend that name with the King's title. This is guesswork but seems reasonable. There are Kinsales elsewhere in America, dating from this period, including one in Westmoreland County in Virginia. It is hard to date the first reference to "Kinsale" or "Kingsale" Swamp, but it is certainly during the Stuart Restoration period. A grant of 26 September 1678 to Mathew Strickland mentions both King Sale Swamp and William Collins in a connection which shows it included land held by our ancestors, between King Sale Swamp and Beaver Dam Creek, until 1778.(7) (More on the location of Kingsale Swamp will follow shortly.) That is the first mention of King Sale or Kingsale in the land patents, or at least in the indexes to the first two volumes of the abstracts, Cavaliers and Pioneers. King Sale is also mentioned in a grant to William Collins in 1679, to William Oldis and William Gatlin in 1680, and to Richard Taylor and George Corpes in 1681. Though the Holland family history claims there is a tradition in the Holland family that the name "King Sale" was created by the Hollands because the grant came from the King, not only were all these grants royal (and none a sale), but those just mentioned occurred before the first grant mentioning King Sale to John Holland, on 16 April 1683, the same day another grant, to Robert Brewer, also mentions King Sale (and William Collins).(8) The name first appears in the Stuart period, and the Kinsale connection (plus the evidence of some Irish settlement cited in Chapter I) pretty much assure us that Kingsale received its name just about the time the Collinses arrived, sometime in the 1660s or at the latest, the 1670s. Both the Collinses and Hollands did receive land in the 1660s in what appears to have been the same area, but not yet referred to as Kingsale. We are, of course, trying to discern specific history from very flimsy sources here.

The Sir William Berkeley who signed the 1664/65 grant to James Collins had been Governor of Virginia before Cromwell's Revolution and was restored after it. His imperious ways would lead in 1676 to what was called "Bacon's Rebellion", which would devastate the James and have many echoes in the area we are discussing.(9)

James and William Collins: The Land Grant Evidence

In the 1600s, the only evidence we have of our Collinses is in the land grants. Since these rarely mention relationships, it is not possible to construct a genealogy as such, but it is clear that the Collinses we hear of -- James Collins, William Collins, and a "James Collins Senior" which implies a Junior of that name, are near, or directly on, the very same land that our own direct ancestors, also bearing the names William and James Collins, were living on in the middle of the following century. Some or all of them are direct ancestors, though the exact relationship can only be guessed at.

The land grant evidence is all we have for the 1600s, and it was not designed with the genealogist in mind. Nor did the land descriptions have the sort of precision or endurance of the much later township-and-range type of survey used in later areas of settlement; instead they refer to trees which are long gone and land boundaries which, in themselves, can only be located generally. On the other hand, if we are careful enough to follow every lead, it is possible to identify the land fairly precisely and therefore to make some judgment about relationships.

Not every reader of this family history may wish to follow this land evidence in all its detail, though much detail is necessary, since the proof of relationship is based on a minute investigation of the land evidence. Readers willing to trust my conclusions may prefer to skip ahead to Page 46, though anyone enjoying a good detective story may wish to read on. For those who skip ahead, or to simplify what follows for those who don't, the following are the principal conclusions:

1. The 1664/65 land grant cited above and several other land grants involving or mentioning James Collins, while describing the land as near the head of the Southern Branch of the Nansemond River, actually refer to the same general area as the land later attributed to William Collins: the grant evidence to be presented shows that James' land, too, lay near Kingsale Swamp and the Beaverdam Swamp, near the Isle of Wight/Nansemond County line, and near some of the same neighbors, including a John Holland who may be the origin of the family name Holland among our Collinses.

2. In the 1660s and 1670s there is a James Collins in this area. From 1678 we can place a William Collins in this area of Kingsale Swamp near the Beaverdam Swamp. And the land sold by our ancestor James Collins in 1778, after he moved to North Carolina, was in precisely this same area, between Kingsale Swamp and Beaverdam Swamp, and no doubt included some of the same land.

3. In 1680 we hear of a "James Collins, Senior", which implies the presence of a Junior, though the Junior may have been a nephew or grandson, not necessarily a son.

4. In 1704 there were both a James Collins and a William Collins in the area, with William holding the larger property.

5. By 1744 a James Collins had died, leaving his land to a William Collins his son, who is certainly (based on neighbors' names etc.) the William Collins who died in 1767/68 and was father of the James Collins who moved to North Carolina.

6. Based on all this evidence we can say that the Collins land lay in two distinct plots of land in the same general area of extreme southern Isle of Wight County and extreme southwestern Nansemond: between Kingsale Swamp and Beaverdam Creek, today east of Franklin, VA and in the general area of Carrsville, VA (a John Carr of Kingsale settled near Sandy Creek, North Carolina some years before the Collinses); and the other a bit to the east and south, on both sides of Kingsale Swamp, most likely in the immediate vicinity of Holland, VA. The presence of the Holland family also accounts for the use of the name "Holland" by the Collins family throughout the 18th and 19th centuries.

7. We can therefore with confidence say that James Collins who, with his wife Esther (whose name proves this is the same James Collins, as it appears in both Virginia and North Carolina records), moved to North Carolina (father of the Revolutionary soldier) was the son of William Collins of Kingsale, who in turn was the son of James Collins of that area. How this James relates to the earlier William and "James Senior" is not so certain, though the possibilities will be discussed, and they were clearly kin: both sets of land seem to end up in the same (Collins) hands eventually.

These conclusions are not based on guesswork. They are the result of a careful reconstruction based on the land patents and, for the 1700s, other records (mostly deeds and vestry "processionings"). The rest of this chapter is devoted to dealing with the evidence for the early Collins relationships and the locations of the land. The next chapter deals with William Collins (died 1767/1768), who is in some ways the first Collins ancestor about whom we can offer a little more detail than just his property location.

First it is necessary to lay out the evidence of the land grants and try to identify the land they refer to on a map. The first land grant record to mention a Collins in this part of Virginia -- other than those mentioned in the previous chapter -- is the grant cited at the beginning of this chapter, defining land in the Upper Parish of Nansemond. The "Upper Parish" of Nansemond was the southern part of the county, though next door in Isle of Wight County the southern part was the "Lower Parish".(10) While this earliest patent is not much more specific than that, later references allow us to be a little more confident about where the land was. This grant was made for the transportation of the eight persons referred to, three of whom had already died. In order to encourage the settlement of the Virginia colony, the Crown through the governor granted 50 acres for each person whose transportation to the New World was paid by the grantee under the "headrights" system discussed earlier. By paying to bring eight people over, James Collins managed to acquire not only 400 acres of land, but possibly also the indentured service of some or all of the people transported, though this was not always true and is not stated to be the case here. In fact, as already noted, there was considerable abuse of this system, with people claiming "headrights" more than once for the same person, or for themselves on subsequent journeys to England and back.(11)

The 1664/1665 grant gives us little else to go on as far as location, other than placing it in the Upper Parish: the marked trees are of course long gone, the "small run" is not named. It is said, however, to be near the land of "Thomas Mayson". This is probably the same man as Thomas Mason who, on 29 March 1666, received a grant for 1000 acres in the Upper Parish of Nansemond "Beginning nere the head of the Southern Branch" and running south and east from there. Admittedly this land was granted two years after the Collins grant, but it may have been a regranting of land already occupied.(12) At any rate it is a first clue. Others follow.

It is most probably no coincidence that the land grant immediately before that of James Collins in 1664 is to one John Mason, for 300 acres in "Nancimond" County, Upper Parish, beginning at he miles' end of his own land and abutting the land of Michael Gill.(13) John Mason and Thomas Mason were probably kinsmen; Michael Gill had received a grant of 400 acres in the Upper Parish on 18 April 1664, "beginning at miles end of Walter Bestyes land &c. to the head of a Durty branch".(14)

A grant on April 22, 1669 to Henry Gay of 400 acres in the area refers to the land as being adjacent to that of James Collins and Philip Dewell.(15)

On 14 April, 1670, Edward Thelwell received 250 acres near the head of the Southern Branch of the Nansemond River, adjoining Thomas Mason and Francis Wells.(16)

Our next mention of James Collins adds some further links. James Collins is again the subject of a grant for the transportation of four more persons. This patent was for 164 acres (the 50 acre rule does not seem to have been adhered to exactly) in the Upper Parish of "Nanzemond" County, "adjoining his land & land of Francis Wells" on 29 July 1671.(17) Now above we have seen Francis Wells and Thomas Mason both adjoined Edward Thelwell, while Thomas Mason, of course, had land "nere" that of Collins in 1664. As for Francis Wells, he had received a grant of 600 acres "nere the head of the South branch of the Nancimond River" on 20 October 1665 "beginning by the branch side" and running north.(18) One can extend the links further by citing other patents, but it seems clear enough that the land was somewhere near the "head" of the "Southern Branch" of the Nansemond River.

Now the Nansemond River has several branches. One which enters it from the west shortly before the Nansemond enters the James has apparently always been called the Western Branch. In the south, the Nansemond is formed by two main tidal creeks, which today are called Cohoon Creek and Speight's Creek. We are, however, fortunate in that surviving maps from the very period we are dealing with show both of these creeks and clearly label the more northerly of the two the "Southern Branch" of the Nansemond River: what is today called Cohoon Creek.(19) (See the map on Page 45. Thus the land we are dealing with is to be sought somewhere in the vicinity of the headwaters of Cohoon Creek, though since some of these were very large grants, it could be as much as several miles from the actual "head". Before trying to identify it more closely, let us look at further land grant evidence. That points to another Collins, whose land is described somewhat differently but, as will be shown, was not far away.

The next Collins to turn up, some 13 years after the 1664/65 grant, has another familiar name: William Collins. That name will be almost as common in our family over the next few generations as James, though it seems to have died out before the move to Tennessee. The earliest reference to William Collins seems to be in a grant of 941 acres to "Hodges Counceill", or Hodges Council as it was usually spelled, dated 20 March 1677/1678 (that is, March of 1678 by our counting), for land adjoining his own land and the land of "Wm. Collins".(20) The land is described as "on head branches of the Beavor Dams" in Isle of Wight County. We will return to this place name in a moment: it is quite important both in locating the land and in proving that we are dealing with our ancestors.

On 26 September 1678 (in other words about six months after the previous grant, for March 1677/1678 is 1678 by our modern reckoning), a grant appears for 902 acres to Mathew Strickland, in Isle of Wight County, "between maine Swamp of King Sale & the Beavor dams Branch . . . Beginning by the maine swamp at Wm. Collins".(21)

In short, William Collins was living in the area of King Sale and Beaver Dam swamps by March of 1678, though a grant to him is first recorded for 1313 acres, on 22 November 1679. This patent to "Wm. Collins" for transporting no fewer than 27 persons, three of them "Negroes", was located in "Isle of Wight Co. on the maine branch of King Sale".(22) The following year, on 10 July 1680, William Oldis and William Gatlin received 650 acres "at a place called Adderbury, in Nanzemond Co." -- I cannot identify the place name on later maps -- "neare the side of King sale Swamp; a branch dividing this & land of William Collins".(23)

Now, nothing we have seen so far suggests that James Collins of 1664/65 and later mentions is related to William Collins of these grants. For one thing, the first set of grants were in Nansemond County; these are in Isle of Wight. The others spoke of the headwaters of the South Branch of the Nansemond River, which flows northward into the James; these speak of Kingsale and Beaver Dam Swamps, which flow into the southward-flowing Blackwater. In fact, as will be seen later, the land may well have been in almost exactly the same spot, or very near it.

If so, was this William Collins the son of the James Collins we met earlier? Perhaps, though that James Collins must have still been alive. For also in 1680 we find a grant from Thomas, Lord Culpeper, the governor (officially Lieutenant Governor) of Virginia, to "James Collins, Senior" for 450 acres in the Upper Parish of "Nanzemond", for the transportation of nine persons, dated 10 July 1680.(24)

At this point we encounter for the first and only time the designation of James Collins "Senior", which implies a "Junior" was present, though that title is not actually used. But in the 17th century, as in the 18th, these terms might be used to distinguish an uncle and nephew of the same name, not just father and son. In the absence of other evidence we can only guess at the relationship between William Collins and James Collins. If they were brothers, then James Junior was probably the son of James Senior but might have been the son of William. Or of course one could have been the father of the other: William the father of James or James the father of William and James Junior. We lack other clues. If this William is the man mentioned in the last chapter who married Ann Wilds in 1675, then his only son was named John, but those Collinses do not show any links with Kingsale.

William Gattlin or Gatlin, already mentioned for the 1680 grant, acquired more land in 1681, described as beginning in his "Adderberry" patent already mentioned, "to a corner tree of William Collins"; "neare Meadow branch; through a pocosin ...", a pocosin being a tidal swamp, an old Indian term used in tidewater Virginia and North Carolina.(25) On April 16, 1683, a grant to Robert Brewer, in the Upper Parish of "Nanzemund, att King-Sale", begins at the "County line, to William Collings".(26) This shows the proximity of the land to the county line, and remember that the first grant to William Collins above (the 1313 acres) was described as Isle of Wight County, while Brewer's land is in Nansemond. We also find a grant to Capt. Henery Applewhaite of 902 acres on 20 November 1683; this is in fact the same 902 acres previously granted to Mathew Strickland but "deserted", presumably not built upon. It is described as being in Isle of Wight County "between main Swamp of Kingsale & the Beaver Dammes Branch . . . Beg. by the main Swamp, William Collins' corner . . ."(27)

This same Captain Henry or Henery Applewaite or Applewhaite, on the same day of 20 November 1683, also received the 1313 acres granted to William Collins in 1679 on the grounds that the land was deserted and now granted to Applewhaite.(28) Since the other grant on the same day to Applewhaite mentioned William Collins' land, this second grant raises some questions. Did William Collins never settle his 1313 acres? Did he still hold land in the area, but had never claimed his earlier grant? Actually these early grants sometimes were granted more than once, rescinded, then granted again; another instance will be mentioned later.

It would appear that William Collins did still hold some of his land in this area. In 1688 we find reference to a grant to Peter, James, and John Butler for 678 acres in Isle of Wight County adjoining "Wm. Collins".(29) In 1691 Thomas Davis received 500 acres in the Upper Parish of "Nansamond" described as being "at Kingsayle" and on the South side of Kingsale Swamp, "opposite William Collings", and in October of 1691 William Collins received 100 acres "at Kingsayle" in the Upper Parish of "Nansamond", adjoining the aforementioned Davis (from West side of Capt. John's Branch to run of Kingsayle Swamp".(30) This sounds like land which, like Davis', was south of the swamp, while William Collins' other land was north of it. He also received 443 acres for importing nine persons on 20 April 1694; this land was on the West side of the Queen's Grave Swamp. (See the discussion of locations to follow).(31) Also among a large number of grants issued 20 April 1694 was one to Charles Rhodes or Rodes, for 267 acres in Kingsale on the west side of Captain John's Swamp, adjoining James Howard, Davies' line, William Collins, and Rhodes' own land.(32)

Though William Collins owned quite a bit of land and is mentioned often, James Collins has not disappeared from the record. It was in this same general period that the James Collins who had been granted 450 acres in 1680 sold that land by deed, on August 5, 1693, to Jeremiah Exum. That land is described, when sold again in 1740, as having been "bounded by the north side of Early's run at the Second branch of the said land contained in the patent, at the mouth of the meadow branch, John Robarts, Parker, Earlys Swamp" in an abstract of Isle of Wight deeds.(33) I cannot locate Early's swamp, nor is Early a name common in the area, but Eley is, and this may be a misreading for Eley's swamp. As for Parker, we will meet him in a moment.

The Collinses do not appear to show up in any of the documentation surrounding Bacon's Rebellion in 1676 (on which see footnote 34, Page 31), though Nansemond County and Isle of Wight were both involved in that conflict, sometimes seen as a foreshadowing of the American Revolution. There is one mention of a James Collins which might have something to do with us, though more likely it does not. The Virginia Council, the governor's executive body, on October 21, 1687, ordered a James Collins to be "Imprisoned and put in Irons for speaking treasonable Words and to be prosecuted by the Attorney General".(34) This record as published does not indicate the county of residence of this James Collins, and there were certainly men of that name in other counties of Virginia. The incident may be related to the growing political and religious tensions which led to the "Glorious Revolution" displacing James II and installing William and Mary on the English throne in 1688. That the James we have been following in the Kingsale area continued to own land in the area suggests he was not the man accused of treason, or at any rate was not convicted if he was.

In 1698 we find a grant of 198 acres in the Lower Parish of Isle of Wight County (which is south of the Upper Parish of Isle of Wight, even though the Upper Parish of Nansemond was south of the Lower Parish of Nansemond) to James Doubtey or Doubtee for land in "King Sale" adjoining James Collings, which a transcriber has glossed as Collins.(35) This man seems to be the progenitor of a family still widely found in the area who today spell the name Doughtrey or Daughtrey. Note that this James Collins' land appears to be on the Isle of Wight side of the line, though still along Kingsale Swamp. It is also one of the few mentions to clearly put James Collins' land in the Kingsale area, as well as William Collins' land, which is regularly described as being there. As we shall see, we can also prove that the original James Collins land grant was also in this same area.

On May 2, 1705 we find a grant to James Collins (or Collings) for 164 acres in the Upper Parish of Nansemond County adjoining Francis Wells. This land had previously been granted in 1603 to William Yardley and was now deserted.(36) This appears to be another of those cases of land being granted, re-granted, and so on. In fact, it seems to be the same 164 acres granted to James Collins adjoining Francis Wells back in 1671. In fact, that land granted to James Collins in 1671 (as adjoining his own land at the time) was re-granted to William Yardley on April 29, 1693, on the grounds that it was deserted (not built upon) by Collins. Then, in the 1705 grant, it was re-granted to James Collins on the grounds that it was "deserted" by Yardley!(37) Remember that an earlier Collins grant adjoined Francis Wells as well. The land is still described as adjoining Francis Wells, though in fact the original Francis Wells had long since died; his 600 acres had passed to Simon Irons, who married Wells' daughter Dorothy, his sole heir. Irons later sold the land to Thomas Parker in 1679, presumably the same Parker mentioned above in the 1693 sale by James Collins to Jeremiah Exum. (38)

Clearly a James Collins was in this area over a long period. Clearly too, the "James Collins Senior" of 1680, who in 1693 lived near Parker, who had Francis Wells' land, must be the same man or a son of the James Collins of the earlier grants, who lived next to Francis Wells; the Parker/Wells connection is the evidence.

The only Collins names appearing in this period in the southern parts of either Nansemond or Isle of Wight are James Collins and William Collins, though the "James Senior" makes it clear there probably were at least two men named James.

When we do get other forms of evidence, they confirm what we already know. In 1704 we have the first real "snapshot" of landholders' names surviving for most of Virginia, in the rent roll of that year. Since these land patents were granted in the name of the Crown, grantees, though owning the land virtually as their own and were legally freeholders, technically they held it from the King (or some aristocrat) and paid a "quitrent" on it, essentially a tax. The 1704 Rent Roll is the first real "census" we have for Virginia after the very earliest years. In the Nansemond County section, we find two Collinses listed (none in Isle of Wight): not surprisingly, they are named James and William. William Collins holds 1220 acres, and appears with nearby landowners named Holland, Bryan, Rhodes (Roads), Daughtrie, Copeland, Butler, and Carr, among others, all names we have either already met or will meet soon. And we find James "Collings", with 300 acres. There are 29 names appearing between William and James. James "Collings" appears with neighbors named Holland, Mason, Sanders, and Parker.(39) We have met, or will meet, them too. Clearly this James Collins is either the same man as in 1664/65 and/or 1680, or a son or grandson, for they have the same neighbors.

Before we tie all this together in identifying the land, we may as well lay out the remaining land evidence down to a point where we can actually begin to link these Collinses beyond doubt with our own ancestors.

In 1712, in the Isle of Wight County records we find a William Collins signing (with a mark) as a witness to a deed of James Bryan to James Tullagh, both of Lower Parish, Isle of Wight. This land was bounded by "Blackwater, Richard Vick and Cullams Landing".(40) This sounds like it could be another area entirely, but in fact we find this same James Bryan receiving a grant for 315 acres in 1683 for land "between Kinsale Swamp and the maine Blackwater" adjoining, among others, Hodges Council;(41) we find the grant of land from which the 1712 parcel was sold being made in 1689 and listed as being on the Blackwater;(42) while the land sold in 1712 was probably to the west of the Kingsale area, Bryan's land on the Kingsale is probably why William Collins served as a witness.

A bit later again, this time in 1717, we find a grant to Thomas Daughtry and Bryan Daughtry (again, the family who today spell the name Daughtrey) for 374 acres of "New Land" (not previously granted to anyone) in the Upper Parish of Nansemond County, beginning in Mary Baker's line, crossing he head of Wickham Swamp, to William Collins' line. This grant was dated 15 July 1717.(43) Two years later, in 1719, Anne Ballard received a grant "near Wickham" in the Upper Parish of Nansemond County, adjoining "Bryan Daughtry" and William Collins.(44) And in 1722 we find a grant of 207 acres of New Lands to "Bryant Daughtrey" "near head of the Grave Swamp" and adjoining William Collins.(45)

Before trying to understand what we can derive from these land grants and deeds, we need to quote one more, a 1744 deed from Joshua Lee and his wife "Elender" Lee to James Roberson, all of Newport Parish in Isle of Wight County for

300 acres on the west side of Kingsale Swamp adjoining Hobgood and the land formerlly belonging to James Collins and now in the possession of his son, William Collins, (being two plantations whereon live said Joshua Lee and his son, John Lee) . . .(46)

This last is the first reference to a relationship we have seen, clearly showing that this William Collins was the son of a James Collins. The following year, in 1745, a sale by William Wooten to John "Daughtry" of Isle of Wight County for 200 acres on "the branch of Kingsale Swamp" says the land adjoins "John Daughtery, Council, James Bryan and Collins"(47), without naming the Collins involved.

At this point, we can pause briefly to try to see what we have learned. Where was this land, what was the relationship between these James(es) and William(s)?

Where the Land Lay

From the land grant evidence just presented, and the few deeds which also confirm it, we can draw certain conclusions about the land where these early Collinses lived.

Of course it is clear enough that several separate parcels of land were involved; only occasionally is it clearly stated that one of the boundaries of the new grant is the person's own original land. It is also clear that James Collins and William Collins, while living in the same general area, did not necessarily live as neighbors to each other; there are 29 names between them in the 1704 rent roll, though the James of that year may not be the original one. And it is clear that some of the land was sold off: the James Collins grant of 1680 was sold in 1693, and the William Collins grant of 1313 acres in 1679 was apparently left deserted and re-granted to someone else. Nevertheless there are enough references to make it clear that these men did occupy some of the lands mentioned at various times.

Most of these grants refer in one way or another to Kingsale Swamp, or just to "Kingsale" as a place, variously spelled. Kingsale Swamp is a known quantity: it is a swampy watercourse which runs westerly into the Blackwater River. Other place names such as Atterbury and Wickham do not seem to survive, nor have I been able to locate with certainty Wickham Swamp, Early's Swamp (though it may be Eley's, and people named Eley lived near the Collinses), or the curiously named Queen's Grave Swamp. There are several Meadow Branches in the general areabut none shown in the immediate area of Kingsale. Many of the place names have clearly changed through the years.

But we do have some clues besides Kingsale. We have seen that several of the early references are to Beaver Dam or Beaverdam Swamp or Creek, and Beaverdam Swamp still exists with that name: it runs southwesterly just west of the town of Carrsville, Virginia, joining the Kingsale Swamp to the east of where Kingsale runs into the Blackwater River at near the town of Franklin. The pond known as Lee's Millpond on modern maps is formed by the Kingsale and Beaverdam swamps.(48) It will also be recalled that land belonging to both Collinses is sometimes described as being in Nansemond and sometimes in Isle of Wight, and that one reference specifies the County Line as a boundary for land adjoining the Collins land (in the 1683 Brewer grant which uses both the County Line and William Collins' land as successive points). The earliest reference to William's land, quoted earlier, put it near the "head branches" of Beaver Dam Swamp and "touching Kingsale". The only area where this could apply is the area around Carrsville, Virginia, and as will be seen, the Carrs have close links to the Collinses not only in Virginia but in North Carolina as well. It is also clear from a land grant referring to land south of Kingsale as across from William Collins, plus the references already mentioned, that William Collins' land lay north of the Kingsale swamp, though he later seems to have had some south of it as well.

But what about James Collins in the 1664/1665 and subsequent grants? As noted, those were generally listed in Nansemond County, while William's was sometimes listed as Nansemond but as often or more often as Isle of Wight. And the original description discussed above seemed to point to the upper waters of Cohoon Creek.

Well, the first thing one must note on a map is that the upper waters of Cohoon Creek come very close to the upper waters of Kingsale Swamp and of Beaverdam Swamp, and that the towns of Carrsville and Holland, Virginia, lie on the watershed between these drainage systems. And the county line runs between them. We have seen plenty of Carrs and Hollands in the material already mentioned, and our ancestor James Collins who moved to North Carolina sold his land to one Carr, lived near other Carrs in North Carolina, and his son James Collins lived next to a John Carr who can be shown to have moved there from Kingsale! And his descendants used the name Holland as a family name! There is no doubt that these were part of an extended family, though what marriage links existed are not known.

But there is more. Let us look more closely at those early James Collins grants. Remember in our earlier discussion we noted that the land of Francis Wells, adjacent to Collins' land, passed to Thomas Parker later; that other nearby landowners were Thomas Mason (mentioned in the very first 1664 grant), Edward Thelwell, and Michael Gill. If we look more closely at the land history of these men's holdings, we are able to learn where this land was.

For example, Gill's original 400 acre land grant was adjacent to "Walter Bestyes land" and the "head of a Durty branch".(49) a patent of 1681 to Thomas Parker for 700 acres shows that his land was 1) "neare head of the Southerne branch", 2) part of Francis Wells' original grant, and 3) by the County Line, a piece of information not mentioned in the Collins grants.(50) John Holland received a grant in 1682 which refers to Walter Bazely, possibly the same as "Bestye" in the earlier reference, Michael Gill's land, a Poquoson (pocosin) near the head of "Dirty Branch", and also lands of John Carr and Francis Sanders.(51) This is the same John Holland who also owned land at Kingsale, adjoining William Gatling, who is the same William Gatlin seen previously to have adjoined William Collins.(52) But here he is close to James Collins' land. He could of course have owned land in several places, but did he?

And now the clincher: a patent to Edward Thelwell, already mentioned as one of the neighbors of the James Collins/Thomas Mason/Francis Wells/Michael Gill land, and dated 24 February 1675/76 (1676 by our reckoning), mentions the land of Walter Bazeley's orphants . . . adjoining Thomas Mason and his own land, uppon the Beaver Dam Swamp!(53) And then, in 1690, we find a patent to Thomas Parker, Junior, for land adjoining James Collins and Edward Thelwell and Thomas Parker Senior, and others, at a place called Kingsale.(54) Then, as noted earlier, a 1698 grant mentions land in the Kingsale area and James "Collings" in the same document.

We have come full circle. James Collins' land lay at Kingsale, near the Beaver Dam Branch, and near the county line. William Collins' land was described in just these ways, while James' land was usually described in terms of the Southern Branch of the Nansemond, so they seemed, in the patents, to be far apart. They are not: they are in the same general area, between Kingsale and the Beaver Dam, close to the county line. This of course also makes it even more certain that William Collins, who first appears in 1677/78, and James Collins, who is mentioned by 1664/65, are related. Were they father and son or brothers? We don't know but will examine the possibilities in a moment. What we can say with certainty is that when, in 1778, James and Esther Collins -- the parents of James Collins of the Revolution -- sold their land in Isle of Wight County after moving to North Carolina, they described it as land between Kingsale and Beaverdam! In other words, they sold this same land which, in part at least, seems to have been in the Collins family since about 1664/65.

Unfortunately, it is not yet possible for me to be completely precise about the location of the land. (And remember that in 1704 William Collins had 1220 acres, almost two square miles of land, so the area was not small. Remember that one grant of 1313 acres -- even more than the one shown -- was lost because it had not been built upon.)

One problem is shifting boundaries: not all grants were built upon, and those which were not (were "Deserted"), were re-granted to others. The Collinses sold some land, probably bought other parcels. I have not yet succeeded in identifying which swamps were meant by the "Queen's Grave Swamp", "Wickham Swamp" (though both of these flowed into Kingsale from, apparently, the south, and are no doubt among the major unnamed swamps here today), or some of the other names ("Dirty" Branch probably became something more pleasant; there are "Meadow" Branches all over the place). But Kingsale, Beaverdam, and the adjacent family names leave little doubt about the general location, within a mile or two.

As noted earlier, this all points to an area to the east of the town of Franklin, Virginia, west of the town of Holland and south of the town of Carrsville, along the Kingsale swamp, at or not far from the point where the Isle of Wight/Nansemond county line ran. (Nansemond County having been merged into Suffolk City, the line is shown on the map as that between Isle of Wight County and Suffolk City. But this is rural area, not urban.) Modern US 58's business route through Holland, Carrsville and Franklin probably crosses the Collins land at some point, as does the Seaboard (old Norfolk and Western) railway line. Certainly within a few square miles of the area mentioned we could locate most of the sites described in the land grants. As will be seen in what follows, by the mid-1700s the Collinses were not only living near the Daughtreys, as we have already seen, but also the Hollands, Carrs and others. And Holland and Carrsville, Virginia are still in this area, while the Daughtrey family is still found around there. (More on this in a few pages.) Many other names match as well, as will be shown.

This is the heart of the area I already described. It is low-lying, swampy, flat. Peanuts are the main crop today, though tobacco was once grown there, in the colonial period. There are pine forests in some areas, which provide the wood for the Union Camp paper mill at Franklin. The map on the next page shows the area today.

What Can We Say About the Collins Relationships So Far?

While we can identify the general area of the land owned by these Collinses, establishing their relationships with each other is more difficult. Of all the grants cited above, there is precisely one direct statement of relationship: that the land of James Collins is now (1744) owned by his son William Collins. There is one other implicit but uncertain suggestion of relationship in the mention of James Collins "Senior", which implies there was a Junior. Otherwise, there are few clues.

The first James Collins, the one who received a land grant in 1664/65, appears in the records 13 years before the first mention of William Collins in the same area, in 1677/78. Was he William's father? And was he the same man called James Collins, "Senior" because he had a son named James Collins? This is a logical conclusion but not a certain one: the first James and William could have been brothers. Is this William the man who married Ann Wilds in 1675? That William had a son named John, as Ann's will showed: but none of the related names, witnesses to wills etc. appear in the parts of the county the William and James we are discussing appear in. I believe the other William, who married Ann Wilds, lived close to the James and the Isle of Wight/ Surry County lines. The Kingsale William could have been related, but could have been from a totally different family. (As for proving that the Kingsale Collinses are ours, that is the next step in this argument.) Or could he be the William mentioned in the 1640 grant to John Geary, or that in a 1638 grant to Oliver Sprye, each of whom transported a William Collins over and for that received land on the Nansemond River? Probably not: there's a difference of 37 years. More likely a generation or two later, if related at all, but there is reason to think that James and/or William might descend from one of those Williams: In the case of the William claimed as a headright by Geary, the land claimed was on the Southern Branch! (See the previous chapter.) It is tempting to assume that one of the William Collinses on the Plaine Joan came as an indentured servant, worked his time, made money on his own, and that the James Collins of 1664/65 might be his son. Men often named their first son after their father, and thus the William of 1677 could be the son of James of 1664/65. Tempting, but with no direct evidence. The evidence is just not there yet. And of course, James "Junior" might have been the son of William and the grandson of James "Senior", another tempting possibility given the tendency of names to alternate generations.

Then too, in 1704 we find James and William Collins, with one holding 300 acres and the other 1220. Is this the same James as in 1664/65, or is it James "Junior", and if so, is he a son of James "Senior" or of William?

We can be pretty confident that James "Senior" of 1680 is the same as James Collins of 1664/65, since the land is the same.

Now, William Collins mentioned in 1744 as having inherited his land from his father James Collins, is almost certainly identical with the William Collins who died in 1767/68, based on neighbors' names and the fact that only one William Collins seems to have lived in this period. His land seems to have been in both Nansemond and Isle of Wight Counties, like the two main parcels of early Collins land. Which James was his father, "Senior" or "Junior"? Senior is clearly too early: but then again, "Junior" may be too, and there may be another James Collins generation lurking here.

The evidence is just not there: these land grants weren't meant to draw family trees. We can say, however, that the later Collinses seem to have inherited land owned by both these early Collinses. But of course, without the 1744 mention that William (of that time) was the son of James, we could not be certain that just because land passes from one Collins to another, they were father and son. If the elder had no heirs, a nephew, brother or cousin could inherit.

Another problem is that we don't know how many generations we are dealing with. A generation of 20 years may be more appropriate than one of 25 at this period, if we are dealing with eldest sons. If James of 1664/65 was already an adult, William of 1677 may well have been his son; the original James may be "Senior" in 1680 because a grandson is of age. And if James of 1664/65 was related to William of John Geary's 1640 headright, the question is was he a son or a grandson? If that William was the man who was 34 in 1635 on the Plaine Joan, and thus born in 1601, the James of 1664/65, if related at all, may have been not a son but a grandson.

Though we cannot be sure, we can at least allow ourselves some room to speculate. For example, it is quite possible that each of these men represents a generation: that the first James was the father of the first William, who was the father of the second James, who we know was the father of the second William. That would give us a tree like this:

James (1664, "Senior")

William (1677)

James "Junior" (d. before 1744)

William (died 1768), our ancestor

James "I" (moved to NC, d. 1815-18)

This is perhaps the most tempting formulation since it has enough generations to account for the fairly large span of time. But we can't be confident that it is correct.

Another possibility is that James of 1664/65 was indeed the father of the first William, but that that William was a brother, rather than father, of the second James, and that thus the two Collinses appearing in the 1704 rent roll are brothers, not father and son.

This would give us a tree like this:

James (1664; "Senior")

William (1679) James ("Junior" by 1680)

William (d. 1767/8)


 or, just as possibly, like this:

James (1664; "Senior")

William (1679) James ("Junior" by 1680)

James (III?)

William (d. 1767/8)

or even:

James (1664; "Senior")

William (1679) James ("Junior" by 1680)


William (d. 1767/8)

And, of course, William of 1679 could have been a brother of James of 1664 instead of his son.

This is all hypothetical. We might note, too, that Virginians tended to name their eldest sons for their own father: that is, names of eldest sons tended to alternate. James and William may have done so here, but such statistical facts don't prove a specific case.

What is clear is that there is a clear continuity among these Collinses. The two parcels of land involved were both described as being in the Kingsale area, and near Beaverdam Swamp, though one was usually said to be in Isle of Wight and the other in Nansemond. Yet both are referred to as near the county line,(and both landholders appear in Nansemond for the 1704 rent rolls.

Connections Elsewhere?

I should note, as well, that we are not the only line to claim descent from these Collinses. There is a descent shown in an online site,  which identifies the James Collins of the 1664/65 land grant with a James Collins who died in Perquimans County, North Carolina, in 1730. Nothing in this site, nor that I have learned from correspondence with the owner of the site, suggests that this is the case, but the Collins who died in 1730 certainly may have been a descendant of the Collinses of Kingsale. This same website claims that John Collins, who died in Bertie County, North Carolina, in 1752 was a grandson of the original James Collins, through William Collins said to have died in Chowan County, NC in 1735.(55) Now, as it happens, this John Collins did have kinsmen named Keen, and his son Michael Collins would end up living in the Franklin County, North Carolina area very near our Collinses, arriving before they did. That John Collins of Bertie County is related in some way I suspect is the case, and will argue that below (see below, p. 72). But how he relates to the Collinses of Kingsale is not clear, and whether the Collinses of Perquimans are in any way related is not clear to me from the scanty sources. In any event, I believe the website mentioned collapses several generations. It assumes that the first James Collins was born about 1640 and died in 1730, at the age of 90, leaving behind a wife and, I believe,some junior children. A couple of generations seem to have dropped out here somewhere.

Whatever other connections may exist between the Kingsale Collinses and those elsewhere in the region, I think it is clear that our own line, which remained in Kingsale until just before the Revolution, derived from them. Now it is time to meet our known line.

I have, in this chapter, tended to simply note that the William Collins mentioned in 1744 as the son of James Collins is William Collins, father of the James Collins who moved to North Carolina. But I have not yet provided the evidence, and some readers may be wondering why I am so confident of this identification. Let us meet William Collins.

Next Chapter

Previous Chapter


1. . All the "etc."s are in the original document, which is itself a summary of the originals. Each "etc." represents extensive legal jargon we would today call "boilerplate". For a full example of a grant (the omitted words would be the same or nearly so), see Robinson, Mother Earth, pp. 24-25 (this example matches almost word for word and the "etceteras" can clearly be glossed), or Cavaliers and Pioneers Page one, which is perhaps not quite as clear a case.

2. . Virginia Land Patent Book 5, Page 195. An abstract appears in Cavaliers and Pioneers, p. 457. An abstract of this same patent in Mrs. Evelyn Hurff Cross, Nansemond Chronicles 1606-1800: Virginia Colony, typescript copyright 1973 in DAR Library, p. 156, has "John Collins". The patent book clearly says James Collins as the reader may clearly see in the illustration.

3. . For the overall history of the courthouses, see the introductory material in the publication of one of the very few early records which does survive: Nansemond County, Virginia Index, Clerks' Fee Books, 1774 & 1789-1800, compiled by the Hugh S. Watson, Jr. Genealogical Society, Hampton, Virginia, 1978, especially the first few, unnumbered pages.

4. . The Jamestown-Scotland Ferry makes it possible to reach the area conveniently from the tourist sites in the Williamsburg-Jamestown-Yorktown area of the Virginia Peninsula, however, for those Collins descendants wishing to see the land themselves while sightseeing in the region.

5. . In 1648 the main body of Nansemond Indians lived along the Nansemond River. By 1660 or so, about the time the Collinses first appear, the Christianized, intermarried part of them still lived in Nansemond County, while the rest had moved across the Blackwater into Surry County, where they were called Pochicks or Pohay-icks. The Christianized Nansemonds lived in Nansemond County until "either the late seventeenth or early eighteenth century, probably the latter", when they moved toward the Great Dismal Swamp. Helen C. Rountree, Pocahontas's People: The Powhatan Indians of Virginia through Four Centuries, pp. 105-106, 160-62.

6. . Wilcomb E. Washburn, The Governor and the Rebel: A History of Bacon's Rebellion in Virginia, New York: 1957, p. 19.

7. . Cavaliers and Pioneers, Volume II, Abstracted by Nell Marion Nugent and Indexed by Claudia B. Grundman, Reprint, Virginia State Library, 1977, p. 187, citing Patent Book No. 6, p. 653.

8. . Many of these will be cited again later in the Collins discussion. All are from Cavaliers and Pioneers, Volume  II (though I also have the patent book copy of the William Collins grant): Mathew Strickland, 26 Sept. 1678, citing Patent Book 6, p. 653; William Collins, 22 November 1679, p. 204, citing Book 7, p. 14; William Oldis & William Gatlin, 10 July 1680, Book 7, p. 40; Richard Taylor and "Georg" Corpes, 23 April, 1681, Book 7, p. 94; Robert Brewer, 16 April 1683, citing Book 7, p. 256; and John Holland, same date and page. For the Holland version, see Holland: To Those Who Care: A History of the Virginia Holland Families from 1620 to 1963, by Kirk Davis Holland, Salado Texas (1963?), p. 28.

9. . One of my favorite books, David Hackett Fischer's Albion's Seed: Four British Folkways in America, (Oxford Univ. Press, 1989) devotes considerable space to Berkeley's personality and background throughout its chapter on Virginia. On Bacon's rebellion, Wilcomb E. Washburn, The Governor and the Rebel A History of Bacon's Rebellion in Virginia, New York: 1957, is a "revisionist" view of Bacon which discounts his revolutionary credentials somewhat, while Stephen Saunders Webb, 1676: The End of American Independence, new ed., Syracuse, 1995, devotes a considerable amount of space to a modern interpretation.

10. . There are numerous references to this fact. A map appears in Charles Francis Cocke, Parish Lines, Diocese of Southern Virginia, Virginia State Library, 1964, Nansemond map on p. 265. See also Wilmer L. Hall, The Vestry Book of the Upper Parish, Nansemond County, Virginia, 1743-1793, Virginia State Library, 1969, for an introduction to the history of the parish. We will cite the Vestry Book for later Collinses as well.

11. . See the references in Footnote 12, Page 16.

12. . Cited in Cavaliers and Pioneers, p. 568, citing Patent Book #5, p. 542 (665).

13. . Patent Book 5, p. 195, immediately above the James Collins grant. Abstracted in Cavaliers and Pioneers, p. 457.

14. . As "Michaell Gill", in Cavaliers and Pioneers, p. 450, citing Patent Book No. 5, p. 172 (56).

15. . Cavaliers and Pioneers II, p. 61, citing Patent Book 6, p. 242.

16. . Cavaliers and Pioneers II, p. 96, citing Patent Book No. 6, p. 368.

17. . Cavaliers and Pioneers II, p. 95, citing Patent Book 6, p. 364.

18. . Cavaliers and Pioneers p. 543, citing Patent Book, 5, p. 463 (562).

19. . "A Mapp of Virginia, Mary-land, New-Jarsey, New-York & New England" by John Thornton, reproduced in Stephen Saunders Webb, 1676: The End of American Independence (Syracuse Univ. Press 1995), p. 22. The map dates from 1676. I have since discovered that other early maps repeat this usage, showing Cohoon Creek as the "Southern Branch" of the Nansemond. The August Herrmann Map of Virginia and Maryland (1670,1673) shows the same usage.

20. . Cavaliers and Pioneers II, pp. 183-184, citing Patent Book No. 6, p. 641.

21. . Cavaliers and Pioneers II, p. 187, citing Patent Book 6, p. 653.

22. . Cavaliers and Pioneers, Abstracts of Virginia Land Patents and Grants. Volume II: 1666-1695. Abstracted by Nell Marion Nugent, Indexed by Claudia B. Grundman. Virginia State Library, Richmond, 1977, p. 204, citing patent Book 7, p. 14. Hereafter cited as Cavaliers and Pioneers II.

23. . Cavaliers and Pioneers II, p. 210, citing Patent Book 7, p. 40.

24. . Cavaliers and Pioneers II, p. 209, citing Patent Book 7, p. 36.

25. . Corner tree reference from a copy of the original patent, Book 7, p. 90; for an abstract which merely says "adjoining" Collins, see Cavaliers and Pioneers II, p. 221, citing Patent Book 7, p. 90.

26. . Cavaliers and Pioneers II, p. 257, citing Patent Book 7, p. 256.

27. . Cavaliers and Pioneers II, p. 269, citing Patent Book 7, p. 329.

28. . Cavaliers and Pioneers II, p. 270, citing Patent Book 7, p. 334.

29. . Cavaliers and Pioneers II, p. 327, citing Patent Book 7, p. 674.

30. . Cavaliers and Pioneers II, p. 366, citing Patent Book 8, p. 177, for both entries.

31. . Cavaliers and Pioneers II, p. 387, citing Patent Book 8, p. 325.

32. . Cavaliers and Pioneers II, p. 389, citing Patent Book 8, p. 342.

33. . Isle of Wight County, Virginia, Deeds 1736-1741, copyright 1992 by T.L.C. Genealogy, Miami Beach, Fl, p.71.

34. . Executive Journals of the Council of Colonial Virginia, Vol. I, June 11, 1680-June 22, 1699, published by the Virginia State Library 1925, p. 520.

35. . Cavaliers and Pioneers; Abstracts of Virginia Land Patents and Grants, Volume Three: 1695-1732; Nell Marion Nugent, Richmond, 1979, p. 21, citing Patent Book 9, p. 150. Hereafter cited as Cavaliers and Pioneers III.

36. . Cavaliers and Pioneers III, p. 95. Citing Patent Book 9, p. 664.

37. . See the grant to Yardley of 164 acres dated 29 April 1693 (Collins is here spelled "Collings"), Cavaliers and Pioneers II, p. 383, citing Patent Book No. 8, p. 273.

38. . The relationships are spelled out in the grant to Parker, Cavaliers and Pioneers II, p. 197, citing Patent Book No. 6, p. 681.

39. . The quitrent rolls for 1704 have been published many times, and are even available for download on some genealogy online sites. One accessible location is the collection Virginia Tax Records taken from various Virginia historical and genealogical publications and reissued currently by the Genealogical Publishing Co. of Baltimore (1983); in that edition the Nansemond roll begins on p. 433, William Collins appears on p. 438 and James "Collings" on p. 439.

40. . Deed of 23 February 1712, Isle of Wight Deed Book 2 1704-1715 in William Lindsay Hopkins, Isle of Wight County, Virginia Deeds 1647-1719, Court Orders 1693-1695 and Guardian Accounts 1740-1767.

41. . Cavaliers and Pioneers II, p. 256-257, citing Patent Book 7, p. 252.

42. . Cavaliers and Pioneers II, p. 336, citing Patent Book 8, p. 8.

43. . Cavaliers and Pioneers III, p. 193. Citing Patent Book 10, p. 330.

44. . Cavaliers and Pioneers III, p. 215, citing Patent Book 10, p. 442.

45. . Dated 22 June 1722. Cavaliers and Pioneers III, p. 233, citing Patent Book 11, p. 98.

46. . Isle of Wight County, Virginia Deeds, p. 79, citing Deed Book 6, 1741-44.

47. . Isle of Wight County, Virginia Deeds, p. 90, citing Deed Book 7, 1744-47.

48. . US Geological Survey Maps, Franklin and Holland Quadrangles, Virginia, 7.5 minute series topographic.

49. . Cavaliers and Pioneers, p. 450; the 1664 grant.

50. . Cavaliers and Pioneers II, p. 221.

51. . Cavalier and Pioneers II, pp. 238-239.

52. `See the 200 acre grant in Cavaliers and Pioneers II, p. 257.

53. . Patent to Edward Thelwell for 150 acres, Cavaliers and Pioneers II, p. 172; citing Patent Book No. 6, p. 595.

54. . Patent of 23 October 1690 to Thomas Parker Jr., Cavaliers and Pioneers II, p. 352, citing Patent Book No. 8, p. 92.

55. . http://www.familytreemaker.com/users/h/a/r/Kathy--A-Harris/GENE5-0001.html