The Collins family of Epping

A  few days ago I wrote about the family of John Champain (d. 1756), a wine cooper in eighteenth-century London. Like my Gibson ancestors, who were also from London, the Champains married into the landowning Collins family of Epping, Essex. In this post, I want to summarise what we now know about the Collins family. First, a reminder of my connection to them: my 5 x great grandmother Elizabeth Gibson (1733 – 1809) married John Collins of Epping in 1753. Although I haven’t found a record of John’s death, he must have died before 1763, when Elizabeth married her second husband, my 5 x great grandfather Joseph Holdsworth.

The Collins family tended to use the same Christian names in succeeding generations. For the sake of clarity, I’ll add numbers to their names, in order to differentiate them.

The ancient parish church of All Saints, Epping Upland (via geograph)

First generation

We know that the first Richard Collins (1) married a woman named Sarah. Given the family tradition of marrying in London, it’s possible she was the Sarah Cowdlie who married a Richard Collins at St Botolph, Aldgate, on the last day of 1683. The couple had a child, also named Sarah, in the following year: she was christened in Epping on 8 December 1684, though she must have died in infancy, as four years later they had another daughter of the same name. Between these dates, their son John (1) was born: he was christened on 27 June 1686. A second son, Richard (2), was born in 1693 and a daughter Elizabeth (1) in 1697.

Richard Collins (1) died in Epping in 1722.

Second generation

Sarah Collins (1), daughter of Richard Collins (1), married Henry Small at St James, Duke’s Place, London, on 12 May 1708. This time, the parish register is clear that both parties were from Epping. The Smalls had a number of children, of whom we can be sure about Richard (born 1711), Sarah (1713), Joshua (1722) and Mary (date unknown). The 1750 will of Henry Small, yeoman of Theydon Mount, is in the Essex County Archive.

John Collins (1) of Epping, son of Richard Collins (1), married Mary Archer of Theydon Garnon on 5 November 1722 at St Andrew Undershaft, London. Mary was the daughter of William Archer (1677 – 1739), who had been born William Eyre and inherited the substantial estate of Coopersale from John Archer on the condition that he marry Eleanor Wrottesley, John Archer’s niece, and take the Archer name. When Eleanor died without issue, William married Susanna, daughter of Sir John Newton, baronet, and I assume Mary was their daughter. According to one source William Archer ‘entered Parliament as a Tory at a by-election in 1734 and was returned unopposed later in that year, voting against the Government on the Spanish convention in 1739.’ We also learn that, as a result of his marriages, William and his family ‘were of considerable wealth; his daughter Susanna was said to have a fortune of £50,000 on her marriage in 1751 to Edward Harley, 4th Earl of Oxford.’

Coopersale House, once home of the Archer family, in about 1958

John and Mary Collins would have a son Richard (3), the only child mentioned in his will. John Collins died in 1742. His will describes him as a ‘yeoman’ of Epping and leaves money and property to his wife Mary, son Richard, sister Sarah Small, and to his nephews, the sons of his brother Richard (2) (see below).

Elizabeth Collins (1), daughter of Richard Collins (1), remained a spinster and died in 1761. I discussed her will in an earlier post. In it she too left money and property (in Epping and North Weald Bassett) to her brother Richard’s children, and also to her cousin Susanna, wife of William Clarke, whose precise relationship to her I’ve yet to discern.

Richard Collins (2), son of Richard Collins (1), married Jane Stoker of Waltham Holy Cross at St Michael Paternoster Royal, London, on 6 April 1727. They had seven children, though not all of them survived into adulthood. They were: Richard (4) (born 1730), John (2) (1733, who would marry Elizabeth Gibson), Sarah (2) (1735), Elizabeth (2) (1737), William (1739), David (1740) and Jane (date unknown). Richard Collins (2) died in 1748. His will, which describes him as a ‘gentleman’, divides his considerable property between his three older sons, Richard, John and William, while also making provision for his younger children.

Third generation

As I noted in the previous post, Richard Collins (3), son of Richard Collins (2) and his wife Jane, married Ann Champain, daughter of John Champain, at St Peter, Cornhill, London, on 15 September 1747. They lived at Passmores House, Great Parndon and had at least two children: Ann, born in 1756, and Champain, date of birth unknown. Ann Collins married farmer William Lake. In 1778, Champain Collins was living at Passmores and could be found later living in North Weald Bassett, where he worked as a schoolmaster. Richard Collins died at Shenfield in 1770.

Sarah Collins (2), daughter of Richard Collins (2) and Jane, married a Mr Dillworth, about whom I’ve been unable to discover any further details. I’m not sure what became of William and his sister Elizabeth (2), except that both were major beneficiaries of the 1761 will of their aunt Elizabeth (1). Since David is not mentioned in that will, I presume he was no longer alive by this time.

St George's Chapel, Mayfair in the 18th century

John Collins (2) was married on 21 February 1753 at St George’s Chapel, Mayfair, to Elizabeth Gibson – my 5 x great grandmother, and the daughter of John and Mary Gibson of Tower Hill, London, and also of Woodredon House, Waltham Abbey. They had at least one child, a daughter Frances, born in Aldgate in 1759, so John must have died some time between that date and Elizabeth’s second marriage in 1763.

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