In the last few posts I’ve been exploring the lives of Richard Collins (died 1770) and his wife Ann Champain. Richard was the older brother of John Collins of Epping, the first husband of my 5 x great grandmother Elizabeth Gibson (1733 – 1809). I’ve come to believe that Elizabeth might have met her second husband, Joseph Holdsworth of South Weald, through her brother-in-law Richard, who lived in the same part of Essex towards the end of his life.
In this post, I’ll be summarising what I’ve managed to discover about the two children of Richard and Ann Collins: their son Champain and daughter Ann.
Our knowledge of Champain Collins is mostly derived from four records held at the Essex Record Office, the first three dating from 1778, eight years after his father’s death.
There is a document headed ‘Exemplification of common recovery’ dated 8th July 1778, relating to the manor of Passmores in Great Parndon, involving ‘Robert Bunyan v. John Windus’, with Champain Collins and Thomas Francis Martin as ‘vouchees’. Windus was one of the attorneys who witnessed the will of Champain’s father Richard in 1763, and I suspect that Thomas Martin was a relative of the senior attorney, Philip Martin, who was another witness.
The next two documents are both dated 10th July and relate to a mortgage for the ‘Manor of Passmores and capital messuage called Passmores and land (42 acres; field names) in Great Parndon’. The first is headed ‘Mortgage for £1500’ and involves ‘Champain Collins of Passmores in Great Parndon, gent. to Francis Bayley of Great Parndon, gent.’ The second is entitled ‘Assignment of a mortgage for a term of 1,000 years’ and its content is summarised as follows:
(i) Philip Martin of Theydon Garnon, gent.; (ii) William Lake of Epping, yeoman and wife Ann, formerly Ann Collins, daughter of Richard Collins and wife Ann; (iii) Champain Collins of Passmores in Great Parndon, son and heir of Richard Collins; (iv) Francis Bayley of Great Parndon, gent.; (v) John Gentery of Netteswell, tanner
As noted above, Philip Martin was a lawyer who witnessed the will of Champain’s father Richard; he was also one of the executors of the will of Richard Collins senior, Champain’s grandfather. These documents all relate to the purchase of Passmores by Francis Bayley whose family, we learn from another source, was still living there in the middle of the nineteenth century. The same source confirms that the manor of Passmores was owned from 1775 by ‘Mr Collins’: presumably this was Champain, and it suggests that this was the year in which he came of age and thus into his inheritance, which would mean that he was born in about 1754. In the next sentence we read that ‘Mrs Collins of Epping held the manor c. 1771’. This must be Champain’s widowed mother Ann, and it confirms both that she moved back to Epping from Shenfield after her husband Richard’s death in 1770, and that Passmores was part of her inheritance, held in trust for her son when he came of age.
A fourth document, dated 1812-14, is a useful source of information about Champain Collins’ later years. Headed ‘Feoffment and conveyance with related papers’, its scope and contents are summarised as follows:
1.Thomas Coxhead Marsh, esq of Wapping, Middlesex
2.Champain Collins, of North Weald Bassett, schoolmaster
Consideration: £1 1s
Property: piece of ground late part of the waste of the manor of Gaines Park Hall, Theydon Garnon
Rent: 9s p.a. to the lord of the manor
with related correspondence 1812-1814 including licence to Champain Collins to enclose the waste, 1812, a draft feoffment and conveyance between Thomas Coxhead Marsh of Wapping esq and William Lake, farmer, parish not given, for the same piece of ground but now with 2 tenements erected on it, for the same consideration of £1 1s and rent of 9s, 1814
The transaction described is of no great interest in itself, except in demonstrating that Champain Collins continued to have an interest in property in the Epping area. It greater usefulness is in confirming, firstly, that Champain was still alive in 1812-1814, when he would have been about sixty years old; that by this time he was living in North Weald Bassett; and that he was employed as a schoolmaster. We know that Elizabeth Collins, the maiden aunt of Champain’s father Richard, who died in 1761, had left property in this village, which was about three miles from Epping, to Richard’s younger brother William Collins. Perhaps this was inherited in turn by Champain?
The sources quoted above are also our main source for information about the marriage of Champain Collins’ sister Ann. From one of the mortgage documents for Passmores we learn that, by 1778, she was married to William Lake, a yeoman of Epping.
On 10th November 1777 William Lake and Ann Collins, both said to be of the parish, were married at the church of St Benet Paul’s Wharf in the City of London. Ann’s cousin, Sarah Small, had married John Franklin at the same church in 1734. The witnesses were John Lake and George Markham. Apart from the two references in the documents quoted above, this is the only information I’ve been able to find concerning William and Ann Lake. If the William Lake, farmer, mentioned in the 1814 document about Champain Collins is the person who married Ann Collins, then we know that he too was still alive at this date.
So far, I’ve been unable to discover whether Champain or Ann Collins had any children, nor have I yet found a will for either of them, or for Ann’s husband William Lake.