Colonial Family of the Week: The Watkins Family of Henrico County, Virginia
It is no surprise that after the establishment of Jamestown, Virginia, descendants of the original settlers, and new pioneers would eventually settler further inland. With its economy growing stronger, and as new plots of land were surveyed, new opportunities arose. For Henry Watkins Sr. of Henrico County, Virginia and his descendants, little did they know they would participate in this westward migration, particularly when it concerned his son Thomas Watkins.
When Henry Watkins sr. purchased 60 acres of land “on the north side of the James River” in 1690,1 this was only the beginning of the Watkins’ migration history. By his death in 1691,2 he had acquired a modest amount of land and gives 200 acres of land to Thomas Watkins in Henrico and land to his John, one of his other sons.3 Also mentioned are the remaining sons Henry, William, Joseph, and Edward.4 While Henry Watkins Jr. chose to live in Henrico County, Virginia where he passed away in 1714,5 Thomas, on the other hand, eventually settled in Essex County, Virginia.
Just as the colony was expanding ever westward, new areas were being explored and settled in the North around Essex County and Stafford County, Virginia. Recorded as passing away in 1704 in Stafford County, Virginia where he owned additional land,6 Thomas names his three sons, Lewis, Benjamin, and John Watkins.7 Although he died shortly after the death of his father, Thomas mentions giving 803 acres of land in Stafford County, Virginia to be divided amongst his children. Ironically, his son, John, also decided to relocate, and settled in southside Virginia in Amelia County in 1745.8 Twenty years later, John purchased an additional 6200 acres of land in Halifax County.9
This expansion was only the beginning for the Watkins family, and like similar pioneer families, each generation generally followed this same migration pattern. While it is true that many descendants stayed in Virginia, the example set down by men like Henry Watkins sr. and Thomas Watkins proved to be of importance for the settling of another American colonies.
Documentation and Suggested Readings:
1. Online Catalog: Images & indexes,” database with images, The Library of Virginia (http://lva1.hosted.exlibrisgroup.com : accessed 30 January 2020), Henry Watkins, 1690, 60 acres, Henrico County, Virginia, Colonial Land Office, Patents, 1623-1774; Library of Virginia.
2. Henrico County Virginia,” Henrico County, Will Book No. 1, 1688-1697,” p. 268, Henry Watkins entry, 1691; Library of Virginia microfilm 5
5. Henrico County Virginia,” Henrico County, Deeds, Wills, Etc., 1714 - 1718,”Henry Watkins entry, 1714; Library of Virginia microfilm 7.
6. Stafford County, Virginia ,” Virginia Will Book Z (1699-1709”, p. 247, Thomas Watkins, 6 November 1704, Library of Virginia, microfilm 6.
8. Online Catalog: Images & indexes,” database with images, The Library of Virginia (http://lva1.hosted.exlibrisgroup.com : accessed 30 January 2020), John Watkins, 1745, 400 acres, Amelia County, Virginia, Colonial Land Office, Patents, 1623-1774; Library of Virginia.