Author Note (added sometime later than the writing of this entry): I have no actual proof, no DNA matches, no official records…no proof whatsoever that this guy is my actual ancestor. I’m all about the story of these people who braved hardships to come to this country and become what they became, but in the months since this was written it has been pointed out to me there are no “proofs” that this is my guy, so the story is as factual as I can write it from what I’ve found…but he may not be my “immigrant.” He is someone’s immigrant, though, and I honor that.
In genealogy, the first family descendant who left the home country to seek fortune in America is called “the immigrant.”
I’ve finally located the “immigrant” of my Collings branch of the family, the guy who left England and endured the 6 to 14-week ocean journey to make a place for him (and eventually, well…me) in the New World sometime around 1700. His name was Anthony Andrew Collings, and he brought with him his wife, Jane or Jaine.
Anthony was born in Cornwall, England in 1678. Jane has been a little more challenging to track down, and I’m still unsure of her maiden name. It might have been Lancelott, or it might have been Spence. Other reports claim that he was married twice, first to Jane Spence, then to Jane Lancelott. Either scenario leads me down different paths. Because of this uncertainty, I’m not sure what year or where he and Jane were married, but I believe Anthony’s son Zebulon (my ancestor) was born in 1706 in Frederick, Pennsylvania.
In 1712, there are some reports of a daughter Winifred being born in Westmoreland, Virginia. There is also some information about a daughter Elizabeth born in 1712 in Westmoreland, Virginia. That would seem to indicate that Anthony, a twin himself, had twin daughters.
Anthony and Jane at some point moved to Charles County, Maryland where they owned property and lived until their deaths, Anthony in 1754, at age 76.
I don’t know why Anthony came to America, but I have some thoughts and theories (of course I do). There were many reasons people took such a challenging journey, but I think there were probably three main reasons:
- The primary goal, of course, the one we all heard in history class in school, was freedom of religion. Major religious conflicts raged throughout the countries of Europe and the British Isles during the 16th, 17th and early 18th centuries. People were desperate to escape persecution and to be able to worship as they wished.
- Another reason was a desire to become landowners and create wealth and security for their family. There were complicated rules for the disbursement of English property upon the death of the owners and titles passed to first sons. Second, third, fourth sons and so on, made do with what they could when fathers died. In America, they could, by hard work and clever trading, become prosperous and successful.
- For many, though, the allure of the New World was the adventure. These are the immigrants who just could not be satisfied with the limitations they suffered in their homelands. These were the immigrants who traveled to the new world at any cost, then pushed the boundaries of the country westward.
No one can know for sure why any one particular immigrant came, but I’d like to think that I have figured out Anthony Andrew Collings. He was not the first son of Sir Roger and Elizabeth Collings; he was not the second or third son. He and his twin brother, Roger, were the fourth and fifth sons.
I think that young Anthony Collings, sensing there was little future for himself in England, decided to travel to America to build his own legacy.
Anthony started his American adventure in Westmoreland Co. in the Colony of Virginia, then for some reason moved to Charles Co., in the Colony of Maryland where he lived out his life.
Anthony Collings returned to England, probably around 1715 returning to America in 1716 when he is listed as a passenger on a ship arriving from England. It’s possible this trip had something to do with a disputed inheritance concerning his grandmother, which is an interesting side story, but I find no official records to support that.
I did find, however, that in 1717, one Anthony Collings purchased 100 acres of a 320-acre plantation called Partner’s Content, for the price of “2500# tobacco.” I can’t help but wonder if Anthony returned from his trip to England with enough money to buy this land and start his life as a plantation owner and man of some esteem in his community.
In those early days of our country, property was described on deeds and in legal paperwork by the names of the neighboring plantations and their owners. Several pieces of property in early Maryland records are listed as bordering on or bounded by the property of Anthony Collings. He was also listed in various wills as creditor, appraiser and “test.” which I took to mean that he attested to the signatures of the witnesses of those wills, possibly individuals who could only sign their name with a “mark” or X.
I also found records of his paying for land and other goods with various amounts of tobacco, which was the main crop of those early plantations. The Maryland Tax Roll of 1733 lists him as owning 1 taxable property in “Durham Parish, Upper Part.”
I believe Durham Parish was in Maryland at that time, but one of the fun little tricks of genealogy that I have discovered is that our ancestors may not have moved around in America as often as we thought. It was actually the state, county, and other boundaries that were fluid.
The states of Pennsylvania, Virginia, Maryland and North Carolina all disputed boundaries and claimed land that was or was not theirs well into the late 1700s. The same town could one year be in one state, the next year in another. Sometimes these changes would be accompanied by a county name change, or the familiar county name might show up in a different state at a later date.
Interesting sidebar fact: these disputes continued until two men were sent to survey the disputed areas and established a line from which all future claims could be decided. The names of those men were Charles Mason and Jeremiah Dixon, and the property line they surveyed, known as the Mason-Dixon Line, played an essential part in the history of our country for many years.
I want to briefly return to the above three reasons immigrants chose to come to America. Strangely, while these immigrants were firm in their determination, second-generation Americans seemed to gravitate to the third category…adventurers.
The newly minted citizens who came seeking religious freedom did establish communities dedicated to their religious beliefs, but many of their children became dissatisfied with the rules and regulations…and began pushing the boundaries of our country westward.
Those men who came to America to obtain land or become merchants and shop owners, ambitions that were never available to them in the Old Country, were often successful and became influential citizens. Their children, though, were reluctant to be tied down by the responsibilities of those same plantations and shops…so they traveled westward to seek their own fortunes.
And the children of the adventurers who simply came to the New World to see what they could see? They kept looking and they, too, pushed west.
My family was no different. That second generation, the children of Anthony Andrew and Jane Collings moved west.
The story continues.
I’m happy to find your blog! I’m still new to ancestry research, and I caught myself in a pretty big mistake yesterday (which I corrected). The Anthony Collins story contains, I think, a handful of confusing details. First, who (I think) I am:
William Davis (me)
Laura Belle Collins (my grandmother, from Georgia)
Zachary Taylor Collins (great grandfather)
Edley Hamilton Collins (2ggf)
Nathaniel Collins (3ggf)
Roger Collins (4ggf)
Thomas Collings Sr. (5ggf 1720-1797) BUT the family trees I have studied show Thomases coming from both of Anthony’s wives at different times, so I’m not sure about this)
Sir Anthony Collins (6ggf).
Starting with Nathaniel and moving back, everything has to be joined with a “maybe.”
I’ve found two Nathaniels and a caution from someone that they are often confused as one person.
I’ve also noted that Anthony’s two wives, again according to some trees, were having children at the same time, as if he was going back and forth.
At any rate, one reason for Anthony not leaving money to Zebulon may be that some family trees show Zeb dying in the 1720s as a young man.
Anyway, hello. Perhaps we are very, very distant cousins. Bill
I’m just an amateur at this genealogy thing myself and I, too became thoroughly confused by Sir Anthony. Not really sure if he is actually our ancestor and haven’t been able to get that nailed down.
There is another path that has me confused and that is the Crist journal account that William Collings accompanied them on their journey to America, when I also see birth records for my William Collings being born here. However, the Crist name is very parallel to my Collings family, where I find one I often find the other, so there is clearly some relationship before all the intermarrying.
I guess this is what makes this all so fascinating.
Anyway, welcome to my blog. I just like to write, so sometimes I go off on other paths but having become interested in my family history, that is one of my primary subjects. If you have read it all and have done any study of the Collings clan, you will know that I am leading up to a huge and already well documented event. I do have some additional insight to that event, though, so keep reading!!
I am new to the Collins saga, so please share the huge and already well documented event with me! Is it somewhere in your blog?
Well that would kind of ruin the flow of my stories for my other readers, but if you’ve been looking up Collins or Collings, the event is quite obvious! Stay with me!
Okay. Sounds like a plan. Bill
According to research provided to me:
In his will dated 18 Feb 1754 and proved in September 1754 in Charles Co., MD, Anthony Collings left his “dwelling plantation” and his personal estate to his wife Jaine (maiden name unknown), and, upon her death, to his son THOMAS COLLINGS (1724–1791). Other children mentioned in the will are Winifred (now Mrs. Moses Gray) and Elizabeth Collings. Thomas Collings was living in Albermarle Co., VA, in 1773 when he sold the 100-acre plantation willed to him by his father. He later settled on Elk Creek near the Virginia-North Caroline state line.
I descend from Thomas. If Anthony’s will was transcribed correctly, why was Zebulon (your ancestor) not listed?
That’s a very good question. It would appear that Zebulon was older than Thomas, so old English rules said that he should inherit. That just didn’t always happen in the “new country.” What I’ve wondered about after seeing the will (yes, I was aware of it) is why Anthony Collings seemed to be a well respected, plantation owning citizen and somewhere about Zebulon or his son William Edward the ancestors became rough and tumble pioneers, expert hunters who never stayed in one place for long and fought for the rebels in the Revolution. Maybe there was some disagreement in which side the family should support? I would welcome any input from anyone who could answer your question…which may indicate I have the lineage all wrong! And I’m fine with that! I’ve always wondered about the Lord and Lady titles I see associated with Anthony and his wife. Do you know what that’s all about?
Thanks, Donna. Most of my information on the early Collingses was provided by William L. “Butch” Johnson of Mayodan, NC. His research traces the line as follows:
Thomas Collyng (c1520–?)
md/1 Alice Evelegh
(Rev.) John Collings (c1555–1610s)
md. Elizabeth Doyley (D’Oyly)
Roger Collings (c1580–1620s)
md. Dorothy Merrick
Thomas Collings (1618–1672)
md. Dorothy [—] (d. 1710)
Roger Collings (c1639–1708)
md/2 Elizabeth [Furlong] Bidlake (d. 1682)
Anthony Collings (1678–1754)
md. Jane [—]
Thomas Collings (1724–1791)
William Collings (c1750–1829)
Elisha “Lish” Collings (c1773–1863)
md. Hannah Uptegrove (c1770–1854)
Jesse1 Collings (c1798–1870s)
md. Jane J. [—] (c1805–c1859)
The patriarch, THOMAS COLLYNG, lived in the parish of Awtrie (Ottery) St. Mary in East Devonshire (aka Devon County), located at the southwestern tip of England. His son John was an Anglican minister of Huish Parish in the Stanborough Hundred of Devonshire, some 30 miles southwest of Ottery St. Mary.
JOHN COLLINGS applied for and was granted a royal coat-of-arms, probably owing to his clergyman status. Under English law, a coat-of-arms was the property of the individual to whom it was granted and descended only in the male line to the firstborn son in each successive generation. To safeguard the integrity of this process, officers of the arms (known as Heralds) conducted “visitations” (censuses) throughout the Kingdom at various times to record the pedigrees of those men bearing coats-of-arms.
The pedigree found in the Visitation of Devon in 1620 lists ROGER COLLINGS as the only child of John Collings. Roger and his wife resided at “Barnshill” (Barons Hill), Roger’s estate in Devon’s Ugborough Parish. The couple (both still living) had three children in 1620: John, “sone & heyre” (age 19); Elizabeth (age 8); and THOMAS COLLINGS, “sone” (age 2).
I am not familiar with how the title of “Lord” was bestowed in early England. Roger may have been a Lord, but it seems unlikely to me that his great-grandson Anthony would have retained the title.
This is really interesting. I can see how I’m going to spend my time tomorrow! I need to go back and see what I can find out about Zebulon and see if there is another line I should look at. Thanks so much for reaching out. I’m happy to know somebody’s reading my blog…I write it for me hoping others are seeing and hopefully enjoying it. Even as a distant relative, keep watching, there are some pretty dramatic stories coming up! The stories are what I really love. Thanks again.