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In 1843 James Bennett wrote a ‘Memorandum’ for his American relations, descendants of his older brother Daniel who had emigrated to America in 1802, which describes his relation to the Collins family: “My mother’s name was Ann Collins. Her grandfather was William Collins, who lived at Falfield Green in the parish of Thornbury, and her father was John Collins who was born in the same farm, lived there his whole life and died there ... Ann, my mother, ... like her father was born, lived the whole of her life and died at Falfield Green”. James’ great-grandfather William was the son of the William featured in the next section of these notes.
WILLIAM COLLINS (c. 1653 - 1724)
William was born in about 1653. Details of his parents are not known, but it seems probable that he had a sister Elizabeth, who married Joseph Cullimore and was therefore the mother of William’s son-in-law John Cullimore. William married Mary (?), by whom he had at least five children: John born in about 1683, William in 1688, Thomas in 1689, another Thomas in 1691 and Sarah. William senior died on 20 September 1724, having made his will on 4 July: in it he is described as a “yeoman of Eastwood, Thornbury”.
THE CHILDREN OF WILLIAM (c. 1653 - 1724)
William’s first child, John, was born in about 1683. Like his father he is described in his will as a “yeoman of Eastwood”. He married Mary (surname unknown), by whom he had five children: William, born before 1731, John, Thomas, Mary and Jane, all born after 1731. All four were alive when John wrote his will in 1752, the younger four being still under twenty-one, but nothing further is known of them yet. John died on 1 June the following year, aged sixty-nine, and was buried three days later.
William’s second child, another William, was born in 1689, and (probably) baptized at Cromhall on 24 September. He married Sarah Gazard at Thornbury on 24 February 1717, and they had at least three children: John, born in 1717/8, Betty (date unknown) and Mary, probably baptized in 1732 (details below). According to his will, William was “of Falfield & Berkeley” and owned lands at Cromhall & Berkeley. His wife had died before he wrote his will in 1741. William’s date of death is unknown, however, because his will was not proved until 1787.
William’s third child, Thomas, was baptized at Cromhall on 1 Jan 1690. He evidently died soon afterwards, for on 26 February the following year another Thomas was baptized there.
William’s fifth child, Sarah, married John Cullimore in 1715 at Thornbury. It seems likely that he was her first cousin, his mother being her father’s sister Elizabeth.
THE CHILDREN OF WILLIAM (c. 1689 - 1760)
William’s son John was born in 1717/8 and baptized at Tortworth on 17 February 1718. He married Hester Burrows of Rockhampton at Thornbury on 6 April 1743. They had a son and six daughters; the son died aged fifteen, and so the ‘Collins’ name died out in this branch, and the farm tenancy went to their daughter Ann’s husband, John Bennett. The children were: Mabel born in 1745, Ann in 1748, William in 1751, Betty and Mary (birth-dates unknown), Hannah in 1759 and Eunice (details below). John Bennett writes that John was born, lived and died at Falfield. He died intestate (and so presumably unexpectedly) on 4 August 1762 and was buried at Thornbury. Letters of Administration were granted to his widow, Hester, on 20 October. Hester was still alive in 1776, when she gave consent to Mary’s marriage, but had died by October 1783.
William had a daughter Betty. She was under twenty-one and unmarried in 1741 when her father made his will, and had died before 1787 when the will was finally proved. From the efforts to get the will proved it is apparent that either she or her sister Mary had married and had a surviving daughter, Betty, who was now the next-of-kin and was married to Thomas (or Edward) Pick.
William’s daughter Mary was apparently baptized at Tortworth on 8 May 1732. Like her sister she was under twenty-one and unmarried in 1741 when her father made his will, and had died before 1787 when the will was finally proved.
THE CHILDREN OF JOHN (1717 - 1762)
John’s first child, Mabel, was born in 1745 and baptized at Tortworth. She married William Limbrick of Wickwar on 4 April 1763 at Thornbury. James Bennett, who is usually accurate on matters of property, recorded that she “took with her a small family estate at Sunday’s Hill in the parish of Thornbury”. Children identified so far are William baptized in 1768, Thomas in 1770, Isaac (date unknown), James and Joseph in 1785 and Anne in 1787. Mabel died in 1822.
John’s second child, Ann, was born in 1748, and baptized at Tortworth on 28 November. On 9 April 1770 she married John Bennett at Thornbury, and they had thirteen children: Ashfield born in 1770, Mary in 1773, William in 1775, Daniel in 1777, Ann in 1779, Hannah in 1780, John in 1783, James in 1785, Isaac in 1787, Joseph in 1789, Leonard in 1790, George in 1792 and Hester in 1794. After their marriage the couple lived in Ann’s parental home at Falfield. Ann & John’s son James records that “my worthy and respected father died almost suddenly on l0th August 1804 and my dear, good and affectionate mother died on 23rd May 1824.” They were buried at Tortworth, where their grave is still to be seen.
John’s third child, William, was born in 1751 and baptized at Tortworth. He died on 28th August 1767, aged fifteen, and was buried at Thornbury.
John’s fourth child was Elizabeth, known as ‘Betty’. She married Edward Pierce on 5 May 1781 at Berkeley. She apparently “left a family”, but nothing is yet known of them.
John’s fifth child, Mary, married William Bennett, the brother of her sister Ann’s husband, John, on 6 March 1776. She was still alive in when James Bennett wrote his ‘Memorandum’ in 1843 – in which he records that his father had left William freehold property at Falfield, but that he farmed at Redland, near Bristol, and had a large family who at the time of writing were living in Bristol and the neighbourhood.
John’s sixth child, Hannah, was born in 1759 and baptized at Tortworth. She married Thomas Taylor of Cribbs Causeway, Henbury at Thornbury on 29 September 1783 in the presence of her sister Eunice Collins and John Bennett (presumably Ann’s husband). According to James Bennett they had “a large family”.
John’s seventh child was Eunice, referred to in her mother’s will as ‘Unisy’ (indicating the way that it was pronounced). She married William Parslow of Berkeley and “left several sons of whom William the eldest went to New York a few years ago, but has since returned”, according to James Bennett in 1843.
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