Saturday, September 27, 2014

Who Was the Father of John Hawkins (d. 1799) of Abbeville District, SC?

Currently there are more than 700 entries in Ancestry Member Trees (on of the John Hawkins who was born in Maryland, lived in western North Carolina by the late 1760s and died before March 1799 in Abbeville, South Carolina.  It seems there are a notable number of family history researchers with an interest in this family.  But who was his father? 

Early land records in western North Carolina document land transactions in the late 1770s involving at least two men named “John Hawkins.”  One resided in an area successively defined as lying in Rowan, Burke and then Lincoln counties.  The other John Hawkins resided in Orange County where he entered public office as a Justice of the Peace in 1777, served in various official capacities and finally as Sheriff in 1786.[i]  Not surprisingly, family historians among the descendants of each have inquired for many years about their ancestry prior to these two men named John Hawkins. 

Thanks to the Hawkins Worldwide DNA Project, we now know that descendants these two early North Carolina residents named “John Hawkins” have a common male ancestor.  Two participants in the Hawkins Y-DNA project (#145870 and #339078) trace their ancestry to the John Hawkins who purchased 250 acres on Beaverdam Creek in Rowan County on August 28 1778, “including improvement on which he now liveth.”[ii]  This John Hawkins relocated his family to Abbeville District in South Carolina in the early 1790s where his will was recorded in March of 1799.[iii]  Participant #110938 in the Hawkins DNA project descends from the John Hawkins who settled in Orange County, NC where he died in 1786.  Taken alone, the public records left by these two residents of Revolutionary War era North Carolina provide no specific clues about the identity of their fathers or about their places of origin. 

The family mystery concerning the identity of the father of John Hawkins of Orange County, NC unlocks with the key provided by another Family Group 5 participant (#211935) who documents his paternal line directly to Augustine Hawkins (b. 1721, MD; d. 1808, TN), son of Joseph Hawkins (d.1725, MD), who was, in turn, a son of John Hawkins (d. 1676, MD).  The Y-DNA of participants #211935 and #110938 matches exactly at 37 markers. 

Robert N. Hawkins has succinctly summarized the implications of these close matches within Family Group 5 between the participants who descend from his ancestor, the John Hawkins (d. 1786) who lived in Orange County, NC, and the participant who descends from Augustine, a son of Joseph Hawkins (d. 1725 in Baltimore County, MD):

The reasoning is as follows:  Joseph's son Augustine was too young to be the father of Our John Hawkins d. 1786. Moreover, the genealogy paper trail for our John Hawkins shows no links to Augustine's descendants. Therefore, if Augustine's descendants and the descendants of John Hawkins, d. 1786 have the same Y-DNA, they must have a common ancestor before Augustine.  If this common ancestor is not Joseph, the next ancestor is John Hawkins of Ann Arundel County.  However, descendants of Joseph's b. 1665 brothers, Thomas b. 1670 and Matthew d. 1705 do not have the exact Y-DNA profile match with Our John's descendants and that of Joseph/Augustine's descendants.  That is, the common ancestor must be before Augustine and after John Hawkins of Ann Arundel County and cannot be any of Joseph's brothers.  Consequently, the common ancestor of both Our John and the descendants of Augustine must be Augustine's father Joseph.[iv]

The identical Y-DNA signatures carried by a descendant of Augustine Hawkins (b. 1721, MD; d. 1808, Jackson Co., TN) and a descendant of John Hawkins (d. 1786, Orange Co., NC) provide firm evidence of Joseph Hawkins as their most recent common ancestor.  Following this logic, John Hawkins (d. 1786) of Orange County, NC is most likely the son of John Hawkins (b. 1713 MD; d. 1790 MD) and Augustine Hawkins (1721 MD; d. 1808 TN) is his uncle.  Only two sons of Joseph Hawkins (d. by 1726) have been identified in Maryland records:  John Hawkins, b. 1713, and Augustine Hawkins, b. 1721. 

I add one caution to the analysis of the haplotypes of the descendants of the 17th century Quaker Hawkins family of Maryland assigned to Family Group 5.  While descents have now been documented from brothers John Hawkins, Matthew Hawkins and Joseph Hawkins, no participant has yet been identified who traces his paternal line through documents to their brother Thomas.  West River Quaker Meeting records from Ann Arundel County, MD include entries for the births of his sons Aaron and Joseph, along with daughter Ruth, but I have found no documentation of descendants for these children.[v]  Until clear evidence of the deaths of each without progeny has been located, or confirmation that their lines daughtered out early, some uncertainty remains when considering possible ancestors of Group 5 members who continue to search for evidence of the connection through their paternal ancestry.

This DNA evidence runs contrary to assertions long made by some researchers.  But, the haplotypes of the two participants (#145870 and #339078) who descend from John Hawkins of Rowan/Burke/Lincoln County, NC and Abbeville District, SC (d. 1799) each differ at three markers (of 37) from those of the descendants of Joseph Hawkins.  Many descendants of this John Hawkins have assumed he was the son of John and Mary (Simkins) Hawkins, that John being a son of Joseph Hawkins.  Excluding this possibility helps to resolve any uncertainty as to the correct father of John Hawkins of Abbeville, SC. 
The DNA results from the Hawkins Project have also eliminated any consideration of paternal linkage with the family of Robert and Ann (Preble) Hawkins of Baltimore Co. (later Harford Co.), MD.  Several descendants of the couple have tested and are grouped as Family Group 8, revealing no relationship to the Hawkins of Family Group 5.

How do these DNA-based conclusions mesh with the available historical evidence?

While no evidence from public historical sources has emerged that states directly his place of birth and the names of his parents, we do have clues from private sources regarding the ancestry of John Hawkins of Abbeville, SC (d. 1799).

One reconstructed version of the family of John and Elizabeth (Jones?) Hawkins has been available for many years.  Mary Pruitt Thompson (1851-1902), whose maternal grandmother was a granddaughter of John Hawkins of Abbeville, SC, compiled a book about her family history which was privately published in 1896.  A number of pages from this volume have been reproduced in the 1973 publication Moses and William Pruitt, Indiana pioneers.  Ruth Pruitt, one of the authors, explained in the introduction that Mary Pruitt Thompson “did considerable traveling going to the Carolinas, Virginia, England and other places in search of authentic data.”[vi]  Mary Pruitt Thompson recorded the information she gathered in careful handwriting on pre-printed forms designed to present information about “Ancestors and Their Families” and then bound these as part of her 1896 publication.  Assembling information solely from Mary Pruitt Thompson (as reprinted on pages 34-42 of Moses and William Pruitt, Indiana pioneers), we have the following family details:

John Hawkins was born in Maryland in about 1730, was a Planter by occupation and died in Abbeville Co., SC in 1799.  His father, also named John Hawkins, was “of England” and lived in Maryland.  In 1750, he married Elizabeth Jones, a daughter of Joseph Jones “of Wales.”  Their children include:

John – Drowned in Susquehanna River
Millie (Rebecca) m. Richard Berry
Patience m. William Osborne
Elizabeth m. Reuben Simpson
Nancy m. Benjamin West
Mary m. Archibald Hamilton
Joseph m. Elizabeth Perkins
James m. Rachel Little, 2nd Rachel Hughes
Matthew m. Ester Little
Benjamin m. Sarah Baldwin

These details included from Mary Pruitt Thompson’s book offer very important clues.  Unfortunately, she offered no explanation of the source of these potentially significant details.   Did she interview living relatives who might have recalled hearing of these ancestors who were born 100-200 years before?   Did she correspond with other descendants who held their own versions of the family history, such as a family Bible?  Did she correspond with anyone who had knowledge of Hawkins families in early Maryland (possibly related -- or perhaps not)?  If only were could learn more about her sources for this information, we could possibly gauge the reliability of her sources.  Fellow Hawkins descendants can only be extremely grateful that Mary Pruitt Thompson endeavored to collect and preserve so much family information, providing many clues to pursue in the quest for evidence.  I count myself among them.

Two of the above mentioned spouses of children of John and Elizabeth (Jones?) Hawkins are named differently in other records.   Among the earliest records found in colonial North Carolina of the John Hawkins of Abbeville (d. 1799) in Rowan County, North Carolina, are two marriages.  “Rebina” [Rebecca] Hawkins married Richard Berry in 1767, with William Simpson serving as bondsman.[vii]  John Hawkins, “father of Rebina Hawkins,” gave consent.  In 1768, Rebecca’s sister, “Eliz. Hocking” [Elizabeth Hawkins], married Will Simpson with Moses Sherrill serving as bondsman.[viii]  “John and Elizabeth Hocking” [Hawkins], gave consent.  So, William Simpson was Elizabeth’s spouse, not Reuben Simpson.  Similarly, Benjamin Hawkins, youngest known child of John and Elizabeth (Jones?) Hawkins, actually married Sarah Mauldin, not “Baldwin.”[ix]  But for these exceptions, Mrs. Thompson appears to have gathered an accurate listing of her great-grandfather’s siblings and their spouses.

I mention these discrepancies in order to consider another item Mrs. Thompson included on the form for the father of John Hawkins, born in Maryland ca. 1730.  She recorded a list of his father’s children, including John Hawkins and his brothers (no sisters mentioned).  In addition to son “John, Jr.” [who was the John Hawkins of Abbeville] the list includes:  Moses, Benjamin, Matthew, [and] Joseph.  The list of male offspring of John and Mary (Simpkin) Hawkins identified by Robert Barnes in Baltimore County Families includes John (b. 1736), Joseph, Moses, Rezin, Thomas, William, and Nicholas. [x]   Two additional sons, Caleb and Charles, were mentioned in John Hawkins’ 1790 Will.[xi]  So, the many sons of John and Mary (Simpkin) Hawkins included John, Joseph and Moses, but no Benjamin or Matthew.  Singly or in combinations, these names also repeat in other lines in Mrs. Thompson’s ancestry.  There is little more to be accomplished by way of comparison, since we have no manner of evaluating Mrs. Thompson’s sources. 

That said, with the task in mind of connecting John Hawkins, father of the family delineated above, to his origins in Maryland, the locational detail Mary Pruitt Thompson provided about the parents’ loss of their first child is a significant clue.  The Susquehanna River formed part of the northeastern boundary of what was Baltimore County, Maryland in the 1750s, separating it from Cecil County to the east.  While is it possible that an accidental drowning might occur while in transit along or across that river from elsewhere, it is reasonable to canvas the area near the Susquehanna in search of a resident named John Hawkins who had a son named John.   

Indeed, land records place two men named John Hawkins in the vicinity of the Susquehanna River in northeastern Baltimore County.  One was a member of the Hawkins of Margaret’s Mount, as identified by Robert Barnes in his Baltimore County Families, 1659-1759.[xii]  Given that we now know his male descendants are not matches to the members of Family Group 5 in the Hawkins Worldwide DNA Project, John Hawkins of Abbeville could not have belonged to the family of Robert and Ann (Preble) Hawkins.  

There was another John Hawkins residing in early 18th Century northeastern Baltimore County.  The list of their known children matches Mary Pruitt Thompson’s unsourced list of John of Abbeville and his male siblings on only two names:  John, Jr. and Joseph.[xiii]   But we now know he was a grandson of the Quaker immigrant John Hawkins (d. by 1676)[xiv] [see my August 16, 2014 post].  This John Hawkins had taken up land in the northeastern region of Baltimore County with his wife, the former Rebecca Emson, after their marriage in 1718.  Following his father’s death in 1733[xv] he conveyed “Intent”, the tract he had purchased from his uncle, Joseph Hawkins (d. 1725).[xvi]  The grantee of that transaction was Joseph Baseman, who may have been the husband of his paternal aunt, Elizabeth.[xvii]  In 1743, this John Hawkins and his wife sold a 100 acre property Rebecca had inherited from her father, part of the tract “Elburton”[xviii] and a 100 acre tract called “Hawkins Change,”[xix] both located on the west side of the Susquehanna River.  The deed for the second tract includes the provision:  “reserving sixteen feet of square ground being the place where the father of said John Hawkins is buried.”   There is no entry in Baltimore County land records for a subsequent purchase of land by this John Hawkins, grandson of the immigrant Quaker John Hawkins (d. by 1676).  Only a few years later, in 1746, John Hawkins sold three slaves he had inherited following the death of his father, John Hawkins, in 1733.  This succession of property sales without subsequent purchases may signal economic problems, or perhaps that John Hawkins was preparing to migrate from the county.  If so, his plans were interrupted. 

On March 19, 1752, an inventory for the estate of John Hawkins was filed by William Cox (“Quaker”), administrator.[xx]  The inventory was dated July 22, 1751.  The widow Rebecca Hawkins and son John Hawkins each signed with their mark as next of kin.  No further land records or church records have yet been found in Baltimore County, MD concerning the late John Hawkins, his widow Rebecca, their son John, or any of their other children.  According to his inventory, John Hawkins’ assets totaled less than 25% of the estate his father held at his death 18 years before.  The family might have suffered a reversal of fortune, though it is also possible that some assets had been distributed to the children.  If all survived, his children would have ranged in age from 27 to 14.  Personal matters to which we are not privy may have contributed to their financial woes, but Maryland’s tobacco-based economy had been severely challenged for several decades.  Fluctuating tobacco prices caused periods of depression in the first half of the 18th century.   Planters were increasingly cultivating grains rather than relying solely upon tobacco.  Some successfully adjusted to the changing times.  Many others from Maryland chose instead to set their gaze down the Old Wagon Road.  It appears that the fourth John Hawkins in this paternal line, son of the John Hawkins who died before July 22, 1751, was among them.

In February of 2010, Edith (Hawkins) Griffin laid out the most direct evidence connecting John Hawkins of Abbeville, SC (d. 1799) to his family of origin in Maryland in a message posted on the Hawkins Family Forum on[xxi]  My discussion here includes the same elements.  The crux of the documentary evidence is straightforward: 

John Hawkins of Baltimore County, Maryland made his personally distinctive mark -- “IH”[a replication in typed font] -- on his father’s estate inventory July 22, 1751. The then recently deceased John Hawkins is now established as a grandson of John Hawkins (d. 1676).

John Hawkins made the same personally distinctive mark -- “IH” -- on a deed dated July 13, 1790 when “John Hawkins of Abbeville District, SC,” conveyed land in Lincoln County, North Carolina to his son, James Hawkins.  [Thanks to Jeanne Bornefeld for providing a photocopy of the recorded deed bearing this identifying mark in her book, Once a Hoosier.[xxii]]

Finally, John Hawkins of Abbeville District, SC validated his will on 1797 with a spidery version of the same distinctive mark (“IH”).[xxiii]

Historians assume that those who were able to sign their name in full would have done so on official documents.  Those entirely unschooled in penmanship traditionally made their mark with an “X”.  Others, who might have mastered a degree of literacy, though perhaps quite limited in scope, styled marks for themselves which they used consistently as their identification on legal instruments.  

Several members of the extended Hawkins family of Quakers living first in Ann Arundel County, Province of Maryland, followed this same practice.  The progenitor, John Hawkins (d. 1676) signed his name as “Jno. Hawkins” on a 1661 deed.[xxiv]   On his 1670 Will he signed “John Hawkin.”[xxv]  However, his sons each signed deeds and, finally, their wills consistently using their own distinctive versions of their initials.   Their father had died when the children were quite young, so he was not available to provide tutoring.  The demands of life on a Chesapeake tobacco plantation likely afforded his sons little time for formal education.

Of the third and fourth generations of this Hawkins family, we may not have examples of the signatures or signatures marks of every male born in Maryland.  Some apparently migrated prior to conducting a land transaction or witnessing an event for which a signature or signature mark was required.  In addition to the John Hawkins who made his mark on his father’s 1751 Inventory, his 2nd cousin James Hawkins signed the inventory of his own father’s estate in 1790 with a full signature.[xxvi]  James’ father, John Hawkins (son of Joseph Hawkins (d. 1725), son of John Hawkins (d. by 1676)), signed his 1790 will as well as several earlier deeds as “Joh. Hawkins.”  John Hawkins of Orange County, NC, another son of John Hawkins (d. 1790 MD), must also have been a fully literate man, else he would not likely have served in various public offices with bureaucratic responsibilities prior to his death in 1786.  Hopefully this can be confirmed in Orange County, NC records.

And so we have identified two John Hawkins great-grandsons of the John Hawkins whose Maryland estate was proved in 1676.  Nothing in the historical evidence yet found contradicts the DNA determination that John Hawkins of Orange County, NC was the son of the John Hawkins who died in Anne Arundel County, MD in 1790 and the John Hawkins of Abbeville, SC who signed his Will in 1787 with “IH” was the same John Hawkins who used to “IH” sign his father’s 1751 Inventory in Baltimore County, MD.

K.R.L. Brauer
White Hat Descendant


[accessed 18 Sept. 2014].
[ii] Edith Warren Huggins, Burke County, North Carolina Land Records, 1778:  Volume 1 (Southern Historical Press, Inc., 1985), p. 64.
[iii] "South Carolina Probate Records, Bound Volumes, 1671-1977," images, FamilySearch, South Carolina, Abbeville > Wills, 1787-1815, Vol. 01 > images 145-146 of 257 (accessed 12 Jul 2014).  Pages in original volume 229-230, citing Department of Archives and History, Columbia, SC. Will signed July 18, 1797; recorded by Benjamin Hawkins, executor, on March 25, 1799.
[accessed 17 Sept. 2014].
[v] Harry C. Peden, Jr.  Quaker Records of Southern Maryland:  Births, Deaths, Marriages and Abstracts from the Minutes, 1658-1800 (Westminster, MD:  Family Line Publications, 1992), p. 5.
[vi] Moses and William Pruitt, Indiana Pioneers, Reba Gephart, Ruth Pruitt, Chelsea Dinn (1973), p. 3; Digital images of original pages, FamilySearch (
[vii] Marriages of Rowan County, North Carolina 1753-1868, Brent H. Holcomb (2001), original page 31; online version image 39 of 516 [accessed 2014 09 08]. "Berry, Richard & Rebina Hawkins, 22 Sept. 1767; William Simpson, bondsman; Thom. Frohock, wit. ()."; [database online], (
[viii] Marriages of Rowan County, North Carolina 1753-1868, Brent H. Holcomb (2001), original page 364; image 373 of 516 [accessed 2014 09 08]. "Simpson, Will & Eliz. Hocking (Hawkins), 28 Jan 1768;  Moses Sherrell, bondsman; John Frohock, C. C. wit.  Consent from John and Elizabeth Hocking, wit by Moses Sherill."; [database online], (
[ix] [ix] JoAnn Powers and Edith Hawkins Griffin, Randolph-Hawkins and related families, (Decorah, Iowa: Anundsen, 1997), p. 168.
[x] Robert W. Barnes, Baltimore County Families, 1659-1759, (Baltimore, MD:  Genealogical Publishing Co., 1988), p. 311.
[xi] Jeanne M. Bornefeld, Once a Hoosier, Volume II:  The Hawkins Book (Utica, KY:  McDowell Publications, 2007), p. 266, reproduction of photocopy of original document, citing Anne Arundel County (Wills) Box H fld 53, all 4 pgs John Hawkins, 15 Oct. 1790.
[xii] Robert W. Barnes, Baltimore County Families, 1659-1759, (Baltimore, MD:  Genealogical Publishing Co., 1988), p. 312.
[xiii] Robert W. Barnes, Baltimore County Families, 1659-1759, (Baltimore, MD:  Genealogical Publishing Co., 1988), p. 312.
[xiv] See my previous blog post, “A John Hawkins Hiding in the Records of Colonial Maryland,” August 16, 2014.
[xv] Bill Reamy, Martha Reamy, St. George's Parish Registers, 1689-1793 (Silver Spring, MD:  Family Line Publications, 1988), p. 39. "John Hawkins d. 22d July 1733.”
[xvi] BALTIMORE COUNTY COURT, Maryland, 1672-1718 Liber TR RA, p. 0465-0467; MSA CE 66-5 (accessed 19 July 2014); digital images, Archives of Maryland, MDLANDREC.NET (
[xvii] Robert W. Barnes, Baltimore County Families, 1659-1759, (Baltimore, MD:  Genealogical Publishing Co., 1988), p. 311.
[xviii] BALTIMORE COUNTY COURT, Maryland, Liber TB C, p. 0396-0398; MSA CE 66-5 (accessed 19 July 2014); digital images, Archives of Maryland, MDLANDREC.NET (
[xix] BALTIMORE COUNTY COURT, Maryland, Liber TB C, p. 0399-0400; MSA CE 66-5 (accessed 19 July 2014); digital images, Archives of Maryland, MDLANDREC.NET (  “Hawkins Change” was a portion of the early tract “Phillips’ Purchase.”
[xx] Maryland, PREROGATIVE COURT (Inventories) 1718-1777, SM11, Liber 48, 1751-1752, SR 4348-1 (Scanned), pp. 280-281.  Inventory of John Hawkins, dated 22 July 1751.  Appraisers:  Charles Worthington & Joseph Hopkins.  Creditors:  Jacob Giles & Garrett Garrettson.  Next of kin:  Rebeccah Hawkins (widow) & John Hawkins (son).  Administrator:  William Cox (Quaker); Maryland State Archives.
[xxi] JOHN HAWKINS OF ABBEVILLE. SC, Posted By: Edith Griffin, Post Date: February 27, 2010 at 12:52:03, Message URL:, [accessed 2014 09 24], Hawkins Family Genealogy Forum, discussion list ( Edith Griffin was the first researcher I encountered who proposed John Hawkins (d. by 1751) and Rebecca Emson of Baltimore County, MD as the parents of the John Hawkins who died 1799 in Abbeville District, SC.
[xxii] Jeanne M. Bornefeld, Once a Hoosier, Volume II:  The Hawkins Book (Utica, KY:  McDowell Publications, 2007), p. 290-291.
[xxiii] "South Carolina Probate Records, Bound Volumes, 1671-1977," images, FamilySearch, South Carolina, Abbeville > Wills, 1787-1815, Vol. 01 > images 145-146 of 257 (accessed 12 Jul 2014).  Pages in original volume 229-230, citing Department of Archives and History, Columbia, SC. Will signed July 18, 1797; recorded by Benjamin Hawkins, executor, on March 25, 1799.
[xxiv] ANNE ARUNDEL COUNTY COURT (Land Records), Maryland, Liber WH 4. p. 0044, MSA CE 76-4 (accessed 19 July 2014); digital images, Maryland State Archives, MDLANDREC.NET (
[xxv] Jeanne M. Bornefeld, Once a Hoosier, Volume II:  The Hawkins Book (Utica, KY:  McDowell Publications, 2007), p. 269, reproduction of photocopy of original document, citing Maryland Hall of Records Photoduplication Service.  The original is filed in Box H, Folder 53 of Original Wills in Colonial Probate Records held in the Maryland State Archives.                                   
[xxvi] Jeanne M. Bornefeld, Once a Hoosier, Volume II:  The Hawkins Book (Utica, KY:  McDowell Publications, 2007), p. 269, reproduction of photocopy of original document, citing Anne Arundel County (Testamentary Papers) Box 19 fld 69 Inventory – John Hawkins, 11/4/1790.