Select Atkins Miscellany

Here are some Atkins stories and accounts over the years:

Atkins and Other "-kins" Names

The suffix "-kins" is generally attached to a personal name as a pet name, usually denoting "the little one."  The suffix was apparently a Flemish import which for some reason became popular in England. 

Some "-kins" surnames also became popular in Wales.  The table below shows the main "kins" names and their degree of penetration into Wales (the numbers here are taken from the 1891 census):

Pet form of:
Numbers (000's)
Share in Wales (%)
Found in England
  West Midlands          
Hobb (from Robert)
  West Midlands
  West Midlands

Atkins, unlike say Jenkins or Watkins, is not really a Welsh name.  These "-kins" surnames added a "-son" suffix in the north.  Thus Atkins became Atkinson.

Atkins, Atkin, and Adkins

The table below shows the approximate number of Atkins, Atkin, and Adkins in the UK and America today.

Numbers (000's)

The Atkin name is mainly to be found in Yorkshire and Lincolnshire and down the east coast of England; the Adkins name in America mainly in West Virginia.

Edward and Robert Atkyns

In the south transept of Westminster Abbey there is a monument of red and white marble, erected in 1746, to the memory of Sir Edward Atkyns and members of his family (none of whom are buried in the Abbey).  The inscription tablet reads as follows:

"To the memory of Sir Edward Atkyns, one of the Barons of the Exchequer in the reigns of King Charles the first and second.  He was a person of such integrity that he resisted the many advantages and honours offered him by the chiefs of the grand Rebellion.  He departed this life in 1669 aged 82 years.

Of Sir Robert Atkyns, his eldest son, created a Knight of the Bath at the coronation of King Charles the 2nd. Afterwards Lord Chief Baron of the Exchequer under King William and Speaker of the House of Lords in several parliaments; which places he filled with distinguished abilities and dignity as his learned writings abundantly prove. He died 1709 aged 88 years.

Of Sir Edward Atkyns, his youngest son, Lord Chief Baron of the Exchequer; which office he discharged with great honour and integrity, but retired upon the Revolution from public business to his seat in Norfolk, where he was revered for his piety to God and humanity to men.  He employed himself in reconciling differences among his neighbours, in which he obtained so great a character that few would refuse the most difficult cause to his decision; and the most litigious would not appeal from it. He died 1698 aged 68 years.

And of Sir Robert Atkyns, eldest son of Sir Robert abovementioned, a gentleman versed in polite literature and in the antiquities of this country, of which his History of Gloucestershire is a proof.  He died 1711 aged 65 years.”

Abraham Atkins, Benefactor to Sparsholt

In 1788 Abraham Atkins of Kingston Lisle gave the Buckinghamshire village of Sparsholt a schoolhouse and endowed it with a moiety of the rents arising from a certain estate.  The resulting annual income was about £63, for which the master should instruct all the children who apply.  Eight others were taught for £2.

Tommy Atkins

Tommy Atkins has been used as a generic name for a common British soldier for many years.  The precise origin is a subject of debate, but it is known to have been used as early as 1743.  A letter at that time sent from Jamaica about a mutiny amongst the troops said the following:

"Except for those from North America (mostly Irish Papists) ye Marines and Tommy Atkins behaved splendidly."

The surname Atkins means "little son of red earth," a possible reference to the soldiers in their red tunics.

A common belief is that the name was chosen by the Duke of Wellington, having been inspired by the bravery of a soldier at the Battle of Boxtel in 1794 during the Flanders Campaign.  After a fierce engagement, the Duke, in command of the 33rd Regiment of Foot, spotted the best man-at-arms in the regiment, Private Thomas Atkins, terribly wounded.  The private said: "It's all right, sir.  It's all in a day's work," and died shortly afterwards.

A further suggestion was given in 1900 by an army chaplain named Rev. E. J. Hardy.  He wrote of an incident during the Sepoy Rebellion in 1857.  When most of the Europeans in Lucknow were fleeing to the British Residency for protection, a private of the 32nd Regiment of Foot remained on duty at an outpost.  Despite the pleas of his comrades he insisted that he must remain at his post.  He was killed there and the the Rev. Hardy later wrote:

"His name happened to be Tommy Atkins and so, throughout the Mutiny Campaign when a daring deed was done, the doer was said to be 'a regular Tommy Atkins.'"

It was also said that the name "Tommy Atkins" was the example name on conscription sheets during the First World War and that teenagers who were underage often signed up as "Tommy Atkins."

Robert Adkins - from Ireland to America

Robert Adkins, born in Ireland around 1650, was the son of Augustine Adkins, an English soldier from Somerset in Ireland who had been given lands taken from Irish Catholics.  Robert was probably his second or third son who, with no inheritance, sought his fortune abroad.  There was also the story that Robert had hung a prying priest on a tree in his dooryard and found it desirable to disappear.

It is not clear when he relocated to the Virginia colonies.  By the age of thirty, however, he had established himself well enough to marry an English woman, Helena Parker.  Speculation is that perhaps both William and Joseph Adkins of Virginia were his sons or grandsons.

Robert moved to Goochland county, Virginia where he established a small plantation on the James river to grow tobacco with slave labor.  The beginning process for most non-aristocratic origin slave owners was to work as an overseer or hired man for a man who owned slaves and land (most immigrants did not start with capital but gained money by service to those who had it).  This was probably the route that Robert took.

Abraham Atkins of Maysville, Georgia

Maysville's first known merchant was Abraham Atkins, affectionately called ‘Uncle Abe.'   In the early 1850's Abe Atkins erected two brick buildings - probably the first north of Athens - one a store, the other a residence.   The former afterwards became well known from Athens to the mountains of North Carolina as "the Brick Store of North Georgia."

Mountaineer B.H. Green, a correspondent for the Banks County Gazette, wrote on September 25, 1899:

"I am now 66 years of age.  When in my 18th year (1851) I went to our nearest market, Maysville, there was only one store and a blacksmith shop.  Old Uncle Abe Atkins was the merchant, a negro slave the blacksmith. 

My loading consisted of 4 dead hogs nicely dressed and salted whole, four sacks of dried peaches, a small kraut stand full of honey in the comb, a few bushels of long red potatoes, two 12 gallon kegs peach brandy, six bushels chestnuts, and some pop corn, and to my surprise and glory I found out that Uncle Abe Atkins was able and willing to buy me out, lock, stock, and barrel, which he did do.  I swapped off the pale sorrel to a Simmons later and I hope that I may never see him again."

Uncle Abe died in 1891 at the age of ninety four and was buried in a family cemetery on part of his former estate in Maysville.  His son Hugh followed in his footsteps in commercial operations, once owning the Atkins merchantile and later the Atkins National Bank in Maysville. 

According to a manuscript entitled Genealogical Record and History of the Descendants of Francis Atkins written by Mrs. George Buchanan, Abram (Abraham) was the son of Thomas Atkins of Virginia and Elizabeth Creed Atkins and grandson of Francis and Jane Yeldel Atkins.  

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