Meet the Virginians

William Darwin (1707-86) and his Children

The vast majority of American Darwins appear to be descended from one William Darwin of Virginia. He was a farmer born in 1707 and lived, at least for the latter 43 of his 79 years, in St. Martin's parish, Louisa County. Neither his place of birth, nor where he lived for the first 36 years of his life, is currently known

The date of his birth, as well as the birth dates of his wife Jane and 6 of their children, is established by the Darwin/Bland “Bible” Record; two further children and a granddaughter are named in his 1785 Will. It is chiefly from these sources we can portray William Darwin’s family as follows:

Agnes DARWIN Jane DARWIN Keziah DARWIN William DARWIN, Jr. James DARWIN Bartlett DARWIN Jesse DARWIN John DARWIN William DARWIN Jane William WARD Mary COWAN Ann WATKINS Jane BLAND

Of William's 8 children, 4 are known to have founded families of their own, 2 appear to have died young, and 2 have not yet been further traced. In birth order:

(2.01): Eldest daughter Agnes (1735-ca.1818) remained in Virginia, founding her own family by her husband, William Ward. Among their descendants in subsequent generations are Virginian families of Wards, Tates, Fosters, and Butlers.

(2.02) and (2.03): Nothing further is definitely known about William's next two daughters, Jane (1737-?) and Keziah (1739/40-?), although there is some circumstantial evidence one of them may have migrated to South Carolina as the wife of one Thomas Henderson

(2.04): The only life document which appears to name William's first son, William Jr. is probably a life-estate land indenture of 1746. It would seem likely William Jr. died not long after this date as no further records are known for him.

(2.05): Second son James (1744-ca.1825) migrated in his early 20's to South Carolina, where he begins to appear on records from 1767; his marriage the previous year to Mary Cowan was almost certainly in South Carolina as well. All 10 of James' and Mary's children would subsequently marry, but only one (youngest daughter Mary) would remain in South Carolina: 5 migrated to Tennessee, 2 to Alabama, 1 to Missouri and 1 to Texas. James appears to have remained in South Carolina, where he fought with the local patriot militia during the American Revolution. The majority of American Darwins can trace their ancestry back to one of James' 4 sons.

(2.06): Absent any other evidence beyond the Bible record giving his date of birth, William's son Bartlett (1746/7-?) is currently presumed to have died young.

(2.07): Son Jesse (1750-ca.1805) remained in Virginia, marrying one Ann Watkins; within a generation local pronunciation rendered the surname of their family as Durvin.

(2.08): Youngest son John (1755-1837) enlisted in the 3rd Virginia Regiment, Continental Line, shortly before the Declaration of Independence in 1776. Wounded at the battle of Harlem Heights and contracting smallpox during his convalesence in Philadelphia, he nonetheless recovered and returned to active duty at Brandywine and Germantown. When his two-year enlistment was completed, in 1778 at Valley Forge, he joined James Darwin in South Carolina, where both brothers served in the local militia for the remainder of the War of Independence. John married Jane Bland, and 10 of their 12 children subsequently founded families of their own: 8 in South Carolina, 1 in Tennessee and 1 in Alabama.