Select Hawkins Miscellany

Here are some Hawkins stories and accounts over the years:

The Hawkins of Nash Court

In the reign of Edward III Andrew Hawkins married an heiress, Joan de Nash, and the Hawkins came into possession of Nash Court near Faversham in Kent.  His line continued down to Thomas Hawkins of Nash who, dying in 1588, was buried with his wife in the north chancel of Boughton church.  On a tomb of Bethersden marble lay his figure in brass with the following inscription:

"He served King Henry VIII, which won him same, who was a geacious prince to him, and made well to spend his aged days; that he was high of stature, his body long and strong, excelling all that lived in his age."

The Hawkins family was and remained a Catholic family.  In 1715, during the ferment at the time of the rebellion in Scotland, Nash Court was plundered by the locals.

"Every part of the furniture, family pictures, writings of the estate and family, were burnt by them, with an excellent library of books; and the family plate was carried off and never heard of afterwards."

The Hawkins of Trewithen

John Hawkins was the first member of the Hawkins family to move to Cornwall.  Originally a courier to Henry VIII, he decided to leave Nash Court in 1554 to escape the turmoil of a rebellion against the Catholic Queen Mary.  He settled at Trewinnard near St. Erth, married and established a maritime trading business through Mevagissey which thrived for many years. 

It was Phillip Hawkins who established the Hawkins dynasty at Trewithen.  He was a wealthy attorney and landowner when he bought Trewithen in 1715.  He commissioned the London architect Thomas Edwards to rebuild the house and lay out the park.  When he died childless, the estate passed to his nephew Thomas Hawkins (whose parents lived at Trewinnard), thereby uniting the two branches of the Hawkins family in Cornwall. 

Thomas fell in love with Anne Heywood, the daughter of a wealthy cloth merchant and banker in London. She agreed that they could marry on the proviso that his architect, Sir Robert Taylor, was commissioned to re-design and embellish Trewithen House.  The work was carried out and, in addition, Thomas had plans drawn up for landscaping the gardens.  Unfortunately Thomas died after having innoculated himself against smallpox and the estate passed to his eldest son Christopher. 

Although Christopher never married, he did an enormous amount for both Trewithen and Cornwall during his lifetime.  He opened new tin and copper mines in the area, became involved in clay mining near St. Austell, and rebuilt the harbor at Pentewan and the breakwater at St. Ives.  Politically, he was Father of the House of Commons by virtue of the number of "rotten boroughs" that he controlled. 

Sir John Hawkins and His Descendants

It is a truth universally acknowledged that all Hawkins believe they are descended from the Admiral.  And this applies to Hawkins on both sides of the Atlantic.  One Hawkins wrote in as follows:

"I have a photocopy of Sir John Hawkins and one of my maternal great grandfather John P. Hawkins. The resemblance is amazing, down to moustache and beard.  I cannot - at present anyway - claim descendancy from the famous admiral, but contemplation is very interesting!"   

Mary Hawkins in her 1888 book Plymouth Armada Heroes provided the first published tree of Hawkins descendants.

More recent works on the Plymouth Hawkins have been:

  • James Williamson's 1949 book Hawkins of Plymouth, sub-titled "a new history of Sir John Hawkins and of the other members of his family prominent in Tudor England."
  • and Michael Lewis's 1969 book The Hawkins Dynasty: Three Generations of a Tudor Family.

In addition, Alexander Mitton published privately in 1960 Pedigree of the Family of Hawkins of County Devon.  Harvey Coney from Harlow in Essex also produced Hawkins lineages at about the same time.  And there are many Hawkins family trees on the internet.

Thomas Hawkins' Windmill at Bathurst

Thomas Hawkins, his wife and their large family had arrived in Australia in January 1822 and by April had received, as free settlers, a grant at Bathurst.  And for good measure Thomas was appointed Commissariat storekeeper. 

He immediately set off there.  He crossed the Blue Mountains to Bathurst with his wfe Elizabeth, his seventy year old mother-in-law, and their eight children.  The trek took eighteen days and they were the first family of settlers to make the crossing.  Elizabeth's account of the journey has been preserved.

As early settlers left the coastal plains and moved inland to settle the dry inland areas they quickly became aware of the lack of surface water and were dependent on water which collected in rock holes and soaks.

Thomas Hawkins planned a windmill.  Construction on this mill, probably utilizing convict labor, started in mid-1823, when it was reported that:

"Mr. Hawkins of Bathurst is about erecting a wind-mill, upon quite new principles to any heretofore in this colony, in the newly-discovered country of Bathurst.  The machinery of this expensive undertaking is several tons in weight and will afford no small difficulty in being conveyed over the mountain."

By 1824 the brick tower windmill, the first on the western side of the Great Dividing Range, had been completed.

Benjamin and Rebecca Hawkins

Benjamin Hawkins was the half-Indian son of a Creek woman and the Indian agent Colonel Benjamin Hawkins.  In 1831 he married Rebecca McIntosh, the daughter of the half-Scottish chief of the Creeks. Benjamin then became acquainted with Sam Houston and, two years later, he and Rebecca migrated to East Texas where Hawkins engaged in a number of land transactions and other dealings with Houston.  Hawkins was reportedly involved in an attempt to purchase land for the settlement of "a large body in Indians from the United States," the rumor of which raised fear and anger in the Anglo-American citizenry.

Hawkins may have been present with Houston at the Battle of San Jacinto, but did not live to see the new Republic of Texas flourish.  Sometime in 1836 he was murdered, perhaps as a result of the ongoing conflict between the Indians and the other settlers.  Rebecca and their two daughters inherited his property.

Rebecca married Spire Hagerty soon after but the marriage was not successful.  From the date of her final separation from Hagerty, probably in 1848, Rebecca managed two plantations, Refuge in Marion county and Phoenix in Harrison county, as well as her own household.  The principal cash crop was cotton.  Shipped down the Red river to the Mississippi, the cotton and cattle hides were sold in New Orleans.  Sometimes Rebecca herself would make the trip.  She was the only woman in Texas owning more than 100 slaves in 1860.

True Women by Janice Woods Windle

Author Windle started out with the intention of compiling family recipes as a wedding gift for her son and bride-to-be in 1985.  But as she pored over piles of recipes, letters, and diaries, she pieced together a fascinating story.  Not long after presenting her son with the recipe book, she borrowed it from him so that she could use it while writing True Women, her novel chronicling the lives of three generations of her family in Texas.

The novel tells the story of two dynastic families in Texas, the Kings and the Woodses.  Georgia Lawshe Woods was in fact the grand-daughter of Benjamin Hawkins, the Indian agent of George Washington and after whom Fort Hawkins in Macon, Georgia is named.  His daughter Cherokee Hawkins had married the well-known Indian fighter Lewis Lawshe.

Georgia Lawshe, a victim of prejudice because she was rumored to be part Creek Indian, married the physician Peter Woods.  She it was who risked her plantation by running the Yankee cotton blockade during the Civil War.  She had to defend herself and kill a vicious Yankee soldier who had entered her home.

True Women was made into a TV mini-series in 1997 starring Angelica Jolie.  One critic described the offering as Gone With The Wind, Texas-style.

Hawkins is Coming

Chicago is called "The Windy City" and its wind is often called "Hawkins" or "The Hawk."  This term has long been popular in African American vernacular English.  Its earliest recorded written citation was in the Chicago Defender of October 20, 1936: "And these cold mornings are on us - in other words 'Hawkins' has got us."

The Baltimore Sun sought to found out the origin of the term.

This was one reader's comment:

"I have a very faint gleam of light to throw on the darkness of the saying "Hawkins is outside" when the wind is biting cold.  My young colored cook says that her old father always used the expression when he was alive and that her mother thinks he meant that there was a mean old man going by."

Another elaborated more:

"I remember as a small child hearing adult members of my family - of Virginia stock for many generations - say on a day when the wind was particularly high and cold, "Hawkins is certainly out today."  I have heard similar expressions from Negroes, but I have never had the impression that Hawkins was of African origin.  It was my idea that the blacks had borrowed him from the whites.

This idea is strengthened by what my wife tells me.  She is English and spent her early years in Devon and South Wales and she says that Hawkins was frequently mentioned when the wind was particularly nippy."

The next contributor also gave an English explanation:

"In the long, long ago when I was an apprentice to an East Indiaman in the 1880's, I used to hear great yarns about a famous Pirate Hawkins, a native of Cornwall, from our old sailmaker who also said that Hawkins was an ancestor of his.  Hawkins always chose the worst of weather to make his raids in the English Channel and about the Cornish coast."
The Baltimore Sun concluded: "The origin of the name is a mystery, but one thing is certain: it didn't originate in Chicago."

Return to Top of Page
Return to Hawkins Main Page