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The History of James Watkins, Sr. (1744? - 1799)
and his wife, Anne White Watkins (1754 - ?)

The following narrative is Section I of the document "Watkins, Early Quakers of Sussex County, Virginia, written by Sarah E. Eppard about 1987 and referenced as Indiana DAR report s1 v963.

Sarah Eppard based her information about James and Anne from the report in "History of Logan County and Ohio," published by Baskins in 1880. Some errors have been found in her source material. Moreover, she omitted information about James and Anne's birth.


SECTION I
WATKINS
Early Quakers of Sussex County, Virginia

Written by: Sarah E. Eppard

Chapter 1 JAMES WATKINS, SR. Died 1799

Date and place of birth and names of parents are unknown,

Married - 1770-11th month 10th day ANNE WHITE at Black Water Friends Meeting House Sussex County,Virginia

Died – 1799-10th month 11th day
Reported at the Virginia Yearly Meeting-of Friends.

My first positive record of our Watkins Family is the marriage of James Watkins to Anne White, Baskins' 1880 History of Logan County and Ohio states that James Watkins was an Englishman who came to America about the middle of the 18th Century and settled in Sussex County, Virginia. I have found no record to prove or disprove that statement.

James lived and died in Sussex County, Virginia and was married to Anne White at the Blackwater Meeting House there. Her parents were probably Benjamin White and Lucy Hancock about whom I know nothing else. James and Anne were active in the Society of Friends; both serving for a time as Overseers of Seacock Particular Meeting, (which was a part of Blackwater Monthly Meeting). At the time of his death in 1799, James was an elder of Seacock Particular Meeting.

The early Quakers were slave-owners, but they soon decided that the institution of slavery was irreligious. And members who refused to emancipate their slaves were disowned.

Blackwater Monthly Meeting records show that James Watkins freed a slave, Kinchin, age 20 - 1776-12th month-21st day. Whether he owned more slaves is not known. I have been unable to locate James Watkins in the early census records of Sussex County, Virginia.

James Watkins, Sr., died 1799–10th month-11th day, and his death was recorded in the minutes of the Virginia Yearly Meeting.

We learn from his will that James Watkins was a land-owner and farmer and also a pewter maker, He left many pieces of pewter to each of his children and his pewter molds to his son, James Watkins, Jr.

One of the Watkins descendants Carol (Watkins) Lungren of Kennewick, Washington, did some research on the records of apprentices in England and Wales, searching for a record of James Watkins, apprentice pewter maker. All apprentices in England were taxed and records kept of this. Those records were indexed. Carol sent for a copy of the index, but found no James Watkins, pewter apprentice, in, all of England or Wales, during the years-he would have been there. The only Watkins, pewterer was a William Watkins back in the 1720's.

This leads one to speculate- could James have been brought to America by his parents — and did he, perhaps, learn the pewter trade from his father rather than as an apprentice to someone not related to him?


Anne was listed in the 1810 Census continuing to live in Sussex County, Virginia near her sons, James Jr., John, and Reuben. What became of her after that is unknown. Some have suggested that she may have moved into North Carolina where others of her White family had migrated earlier. She was released from her duties as overseer of the Seacock Particular Meeting on 18 September, 1813. Previously James had been released from this position about a year before he died. This suggests that Anne's health may have caused her to give up this responsibility and that sometime not long after she died in Sussex County, Virginia.


WILL OF JAMES WATKINS
Will Book F— page 165
Sussex County, Virginia

I, James Watkins of Sussex County do make and ordain this to be my last will and testament in manner and form as followeth to wit:

First: My will and my desire is that the East end of my Land and Plantation whereon I now live which is taken by a dividing line beginning at a popler on Josiah Bailey line in Naptins (?) Branch through the rim of said branch to the head thereof from thence along a line of mark trees to Benjamin Russell's line should be equally divided between my wife Ann Watkins and my son James Watkins the use of one half thereof I lend to my aforesaid wife also the use of the two south rooms of my dwelling House the common use of the cook room and Dary one feather bed and furniture and one third part of my personal estate which shall remain when the legacies hereafter mentioned are taken therefrom during her natural life and at her death I give and bequeath to my son James Watkins the aforesaid tract of land as bounded above to him and to his heirs forever.

Second: I give to my two sons Reuben Watkins and Benjamin Watkins the west and remaining part of my above mentioned tract of land to be equally divided between them by my executors hereafter mentioned to them and their heirs forever but if either of my above named sons Reuben Watkins, James Watkins or Benjamin Watkins should die without lawful issue then the above mentioned land to be equally divided between the survivors of them.

Third: I give to my three sons John Watkins, Amos Watkins and Robert Watkins the two tracts of land which I purchased of James Williford (?) and Hary Harris to be equally divided between them by my hereafter mentioned executors to them & their heirs forever but if either of them die without lawful issue then the two tracts of land mentioned to be equally divided between the survivors of them.

Fourth: I give to my daughter Susannah Watkins one feather bed and furniture, one side saddle, one pewter dish, two pewter basins, six pewter plates, one dozen spoons 'and eight pounds cash.

Fifth: I give to my daughter Winney Watkins one feather bed and furniture one pewter dish two pewter basons, six pewter plates, one dozen spoons and ten pounds cash.

Sixth: I give to my son Reuben Watkins one feather bed and furniture, one saddle & bridle, one cow and calf, one sow and pigs, one pewter dish, two pewter basons, six pewter plates, one dozen spoons and five pounds cash to receive at the age of twenty one years.

Seventh: I give to my son John Watkins one feather bed and furniture, one pewter dish, two pewter basons, six pewter plates, one dozen spoons, one cow and calf, one sow and pigs and one saddle and bridle to receive at the age of twenty one years.

Eighth: I give to my son James Watkins one cow and calf, one sow and pigs and all the pewter, molds, one pewter dish, two pewter basons, six pewter plates and one dozen spoons and fourteen pounds cash to receive at the age of twenty one years.

Ninth: I give to my son Benjamin Watkins one cow and calf, one sow and pigs, one pewter dish, two pewter basons, six pewter plates, one dozen spoons and fourteen pounds cash to receive when he arrives at the age of twenty one years.

Item: I give to my son Amos Watkins one cow and calf, one sow and pigs, one pewter dish, two pewter basons, six pewter plates, one dozen spoons and nine pounds cash to receive when he arrives at the age of twenty years.

Item: I give to my son Robert Watkins one cow and calf, one sow and pigs, one pewter dish, two pewter basons, six pewter plates, one dozen spoons and nine pounds cash to receive when he arrives at the age of twenty one years.

Item: I give to my grandson James Hunnicutt two pounds cash.

Item: It is my will and desire that the remaining part of my estate after the legacies therein mentioned are paid off, be equally divided amongst my children namely Sarah Butler, Susannah Watkins, Reuben Watkins, John Watkins, Winny Watkins, James Watkins, Benjamin Watkins, Amos Watkins and Robert Watkins or the survivors of them.
I constitute and appoint James Brock, Joseph Bailey Jun. and my son Reuben Watkins, executors to this my last will and testament in witness whereof I have hereunto set my hand and seal this thirtieth day of the seventh month in the year one thousand seven hundred and ninety nine.

Signed & acknowledged in presents [sic] of

Edmund Bailey
William Bailey
Rebekah Bailey
Peter Layne

James Watkins (his mark)


References:
1880 History of Logan County, Ohio
Encyclopedia of American Quaker Genealogy-Vol. V1-Virginia By William Wade Hinshaw
Will Book F - Sussex County, Virginia,
* * * * *
NOTE: I give my sincere thanks to Carol Lundgren for the copy of James Watkins' will. (S. E.)

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Douglas Edwin Watkins
Falmouth, Maine
12 February, 2010



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