Hawkins Surname Genealogy

root of Hawkins appears to be the Old English word hafoc meaning “hawk,” which was
said to be still in use in the 13th century. The surname might
be descriptive of a hawk-like person. More likely, it comes from
the place name Hawking (from hafocing
or “hawk place”) near Folkestone in Kent.

Resources on

Hawkins Ancestry

Kent is believed to be the starting point for the Hawkins name.
It then moved to the west country.

Kent The first
Hawkins on record in Kent was Osbert de Hawking who was said to have
the Hawking manor in the late 12th century for his services as warden
of Dover castle. By the 14th century, these Hawkins had acquired
through marriage the Nash Court estate near Faversham where
the family was to remain for the next five hundred years.

Cornwall It is
thought that branches of this family brought the Hawkins name to
the west country. The strongest connection was with the Hawkins
of Cornwall who established themselves at Trewinnard and later at Trewithen.
This line included Sir Christopher Hawkins, the Cornish mine-owner, and
his younger brother John Hawkins, a writer and geologist who
helped found the Royal Horticultural Society

Devon Some
considered that the Hawkins of Devon were also a branch of the
Kent family. But there is no direct evidence that this was
so. The first of the Devon line was John Hawkins of Tavistock,
who was born around 1475. His son William made his name as a sea

“Old master William Hawkins of
Plymouth, a man for his wisdom, valor, experience and skill at sea
causes much esteemed and beloved of King Henry VIII, and being one of
the principal sea captains in the west parts of England in his time,
not contented with the short voyages commonly then made only to the
known coasts of Europe, armed out a tall and goodly ship of his own of
the burden of 250 tons called the Paul
of Plymouth
, wherewith he made three long and famous voyages
unto the coast of Brazil, a thing in those days very rare especially to
our nation.”

His son Sir John Hawkins, patriarch of the “Sea Dogs” under
Queen Elizabeth, was even more famous. He is remembered for
having built the English fleet which defeated the Spanish Armada in
1588. He was also a pioneer of the English slave trade; while his
son Sir Richard, another “Sea Dog,” was best known for his acts of
piracy against the Spanish. Descendants of Sir John Hawkins the admiral are
said to be numerous.

Dorset One
Hawkins family in Dorset can trace their history back to
Elizabethan times:

“The story of the Hawkins at
Martinstown begins with William Hawkins, whom local and family
tradition remembers as ‘Hawkins from over the hill.’ A feature of
the family’s 500 year recorded history has been their extreme
reluctance to stray more than a few miles from their ancestral roots.”

The Hawkins, together with the Savages, were clockmakers in Exeter in
the 17th and early 18th centuries. The Hawkins of Kelston in Somerset
were distinguished surgeons, Sir Caesar Hawkins being surgeon to both
George II and George III. He built a new mansion for himself at
Kelston Park in the 1760’s.

Elsewhere From
Hertfordshire came that criminal judge of Victorian times, Sir
Henry Hawkins, and his cousin the writer Anthony Hawkins (who wrote
under the
pen name of Anthony Hope). One of Sir Henry’s famous cases, that
of the fraudster who claimed to be the missing heir Sir Roger
Tichborne, was the inspiration behind Anthony’s best-selling novel of
deception, The Prisoner of Zenda.

The late 19th century Hawkins surname distribution showed one
east around
London and Kent and another larger concentration west in a line running
Devon through Somerset to Gloucestershire.

Hawkins in Ireland can be either of English or of Irish origin.

The English Hawkins may be found in county Down. The McGuinness
castle at Rathfriland passed to William Hawkins of London in
1641. The Hawkins family stamped their authority on the town and
the Hawkins name still lives on there today. There were also
English Hawkins in Loughrea, Galway by 1649.

Meanwhile, the Irish
Haughan from the Gaelic O’hEachaidhin,
a fairly common name in Antrim, has sometimes transposed to

America. Three early
immigrants to America claimed descent
from Sir John Hawkins, the admiral:

  • Robert Hawkins who arrived on the Elizabeth and Ann in 1635 with his
    wife Mary and settled in Charleston, Massachusetts. Some of these
    Hawkins were later in Derby, Connecticut. Descendants of Samuel
    Whitman Hawkins were pioneer settlers in Kankakee county, Illinois in
    the 1830’s.
  • William Hawkins who emigrated to York county, Virginia in 1637
    and began a plantation along the New Poquoson river. Joshua
    Hawkins of this family headed south to Greenville, South
    Carolina. There were other lines to Tennessee and Kentucky.
  • and John Hawkins who came to Essex county, Virginia with his
    sisters in 1705. John was a lawyer and his name cropped up often
    in Essex county records.

North Carolina.
Hawkins arrived there with his family from Devon around 1715 and ran a
plantation in what was
then Granville county. Benjamin Hawkins was a member of George
Washington’s staff during the
Revolutionary War and was later appointed as Indian
agent for all tribes south of the Ohio river. His family then
were prosperous North Carolina planters and they ran other businesses
as well, including sawmills, banks, and, after the Civil War, phosphate
manufacturing. They were also politically influential, with Ben’s
William becoming Governor of the state in 1811.

Texas. There was
Indian blood in the Hawkins that headed east to Texas – first
in Ben’s son Benjamin
Hawkins and his wife Rebecca
who got there as early as 1833
and then in a female line that went via Ben’s daughter Cherokee to
Georgia Lawshe Woods (the subject of Janice Woods Windle’s
family saga True Women).
Both Rebecca and Georgia ended up in charge of plantations at the time
of the Civil War.

Another Hawkins who made the trek from North Carolina to Texas was
James Boyd Hawkins. He came in 1846 with his wife Ella and a
retinue of slaves to lower Caney Creek in Matagorda county. There
he built himself a large colonial-style plantation house out of cypress
and embarked on large-scale sugar cultivation. These Hawkins survived
the Civil War and ran their plantation afterwards on convict labor.

Hawkins in the
African American vernacular
is a word for a cold malevolent

Canada. Hawkins in Canada
may be of American, English, or even of Irish origin. There were
Protestant Hawkins from Ireland who settled in the Irish community of
Lanark county, Ontario. Hawkins from Wexford came in 1819,
Hawkins from Wicklow some twenty-to-thirty years later. Samuel
Hawkins from Wicklow headed west in 1889 and opened up a harness-making
shop in Roundthwaite, Manitoba.

Thomas Hawkins had captained the Berwick during the Napoleonic Wars
but, after his ship was decommissioned, he sought a new start in
Australia. He arrived in 1822 and received a land grant and a
position in the interior in Bathurst, NSW. He and
his family were soon firmly established there as gentry settler

Another early Hawkins settler was William Hawkins
who arrived with his wife Ann from Sussex in 1848. They headed
out to farm at Wollombi in the Hunter valley.

Hawkins Miscellany

If you would like to read more, click on the miscellany page for
further stories and accounts:

Select Hawkins Names

Admiral Sir John Hawkins was a
buccaneering naval commander, privateer, and slaver trader of
the Elizabethan era.
Benjamin Hawkins was an Indian
agent from North Carolina and a delegate to the Continental Congress.
Sir Henry Hawkins was a
distinguished Victorian criminal judge.
Coleman Hawkins was a highly
acclaimed jazz tenor saxophonist. He was best known for his
rendition of Body and Soul in
the 1930’s.
Jack Hawkins was a well-known
English film actor of the 1950’s and 1960’s.
Jeffrey Hawkins was the
inventor of the Palm Pilot
and the founder of Palm Computing.

Select Hawkins

  • 40,000 in the UK (most numerous
    in Hampshire)
  • 49,000 in America (most numerous
    in Texas)
  • 26,000 elsewhere (most numerous in Canada).




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