Collins Family of Southwest Virginia

Collins in the British Isles is attested as early as the 1000’s in Hodnet, Shropshire as Collung of Steel. Shropshire was in the western part of the Kingdom of Mercia along the Wales border. (The kingdoms of England were unified by King Cnut around 1015, a few decades before the Norman conquest.) A Collins resided in Hodnet. Some suggest this was a Saxon individual and others suggest an Old Norse source for the name.

Another citation is Ceawlin, a Saxon king (d. 592 AD), as the source of the personal name Colin and the surname.

The Domesday book, a survey by order of William the Conqueror in 1086, also cites Colne, father of Edric in Derbyshire; Colwin the Reeve in Devon; and Culling the Burgess in Suffolk, Essex.

The Collins name emerged from England via multiple paths. It was introduced through the Saxons, perhaps from the Vikings, and perhaps from the Normans. Over time, similar names may have blended and merged into a few forms.


Earliest ancestor for some Collins families in the southwest Virginia area 

John Collins
BIRTH 1569
Maidstone, Maidstone Borough, Kent, England
DEATH 1644
Maidstone, Maidstone Borough, Kent, England

married:(some trees have “unknown’)

Margaret Weeks
BIRTH 1571
Christ Church, Surrey, England
28 OCT 1635 Maidstone, Kent, England


John Collins life events:
Events in history and additional information:
1600: Charles Stuart was born on November 19, 1600.
1625: He became King Charles I in March.
1631: King Charles granted John Collins the title Keeper of the Gaol of Maidstone. This was a titled position and could be passed to heirs.
1635: The “Plain Joan” departed London on May 15, 1635 bound for Virginia. Richard Buckham was the ship’s master. John’s son William,age 35 and grandson also named  William, age 20, were aboard.
1637: A civil war began in Scotland and lasted until 1640.
1642: The English civil war began. Supporters of King Charles were known as Cavaliers. Supporters of Parliament were called Roundheads.
1644: John Collins died and his son John (born 1590) inherited his title.
1646: Charles placed himself in the hands of the Scottish Army in May.
1647: The Scottish Army turned him over to Parliament in February.
1647: Charles escaped to Carisbrooke Castle on the Isle of Wight in November.
1648: The Battle of Maidstone was fought.
1649: King Charles I was executed on January 30, 1649.
The rest of the Collins family came to America after Charles I was beheaded on 01/30/1649

John Collins of Maidstone was granted life rights as keeper of the Gaol of Maidstone, which he passed on to his son John Jr. in his will. “The right was granted by King Charles 1st”. It was a position of power and influence. John Collins Jr. came to Virginia Colony in 1655, twenty years after his son William. He came after King Charles 1st. had been executed by supporters of Parliament. As an adherent of the King, John jr. sought safety in Virginia, and was known as one of the group called Cavaliers. The family held positions of importance and were prosperous land owners in Virginia.John Collins Jr. came to Surry Co. VA, and soon after his arrival he married Elizabeth Caufield. so his first wife, mother of William, must have died before he left England. Elizabeth was the daughter of William and Dorcas Caulfield, and William Caulfield had sponsored John’s Passage from England. Elizabeth had one brother, Captain Robert Caulfield, who is listed as the only heir in her parent’s will. When John Jr. died, his will recorded in Surry County listed only one child, William who had come to Virginia in 1635.


DNA studies and results are inconclusive at this time. Many families from at least 3 different haplotypes y-dna group R-M269 (that do not match any known Collins’)have laid claim on this family as well as other haplogroups.



History of Kent County England Vol. 2, p. 110;

History of the Collins Family of Caroline County Virginia by Herbert Ridgeway Collins, 1954;

The Collins and Travis Families and Their Allies by Mary Collins Landon, 1982;

World Family Tree Vol. 11, tree 0778; and 5) various references from the LDS.

Anderson, John Corbet. Shropshire: its early history and antiquities. 1864. p. 377 lists the Domesday Hundred of Odenet. Under the place of Steel are the names Algar, Collinc, Brictric, and Turgar.

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