In 1681, King Charles II issued a portion of his land holdings in America to William Penn–the William Penn–to pay the debts he owed to Penn’s father, including present-day Pennsylvania and Delaware. William Penn immediately set sail aboard the Welcome with a group English Quakers, arriving at the mouth of the Delaware River on October 27, 1682 and anchoring at Chester, Pennsylvania the following day. The new colonists pledged allegiance to Penn as their new proprietor, and the first general assembly was held in the colony later that month; then, the real work began–establishing a “Framework for Government” and exploring the new colony.
My ancestors have all arrived in America in very different ways: my great-great-grandmother, Mary (Witkowski) Marczynski, left Poland to marry a man she had never met; my 8th great-grandfather, John Nation, traveled to America as a part of his indenture to the Beakes family; and I also descend from three passengers on the Mayflower. (An aside–my ancestors’ experiences, however different, fail to capture the variety of immigrant experiences in the United States, as well as the injustice and persecution tied to many of those experiences. My ancestors were privileged to arrive in America in the ways that they did.) The Hawkins family, though, traveled to America aboard the Welcome–yes, with William Penn in 1682.
Jeffrey and Dorothy (Mattock) Hawkins were married in Wiltshire in 1662, and they boarded the Welcome on the east coast of Kent after the ship’s first stop in London. It is thought that Jeffrey and Dorothy’s six children–Roger, James, Daniel, Jeffrey, Susanna and Elizabeth–boarded the ship with them, but some historians hypothesize that James, Elizabeth and Susanna were actually Jeffrey’s nieces and nephews. (If I had to guess, my vote is with the skeptics.) Whatever the case, the family arrived with William Penn in the newly-gifted Pennsylvania colony, and they received a land grant from Penn in Bucks County, an area near Philadelphia.
My ancestors were present at the first general assembly in Pennsylvania; likewise, Jeffrey Hawkins and his sons worked to establish the city of Philadelphia under William Penn. The Hawkins family were planters and laborers in the colony, and they remained well-regarded members of their local meeting house. Incredibly, the family was among the members of a new colony that guaranteed free and fair trials by jury, freedom of religion, free elections and freedom from unjust imprisonment–rights that many of their descendants, including myself, are fortunate to have without worry of infringement today. What a grand Welcome to America–and a great colony to call home.
If you’re a descendant of Jeffrey and Dorothy (Mattock) Hawkins, or Roger and Sarah Hawkins, consider joining the Hawkins Worldwide DNA Project. My connection to the Hawkins family is a number of generations back, but if you descend on your paternal line, they could really use your help.