Atkins


Select Atkins Surname Genealogy

Atkins is a pet-form of Adam, the -"kins" suffix denoting "the little one."  The early spelling was Adekyn, which then became Adkin and Adkins.  In England these names changed over time to Atkins, in some places to Atkin, and in Scotland to Aitken.  A William Atkyns was recorded in the subsidy rolls of Worcestershire in 1327. 

Atkins has been a less common surname in England than its cousin Atkinson.  But Atkins spread across the country; while Atkinson has been mainly a northern name.  Atkins, Atkin and Adkins are the most common spellings today.  Atkins is the most common in the UK, Adkins (by a small margin) in America.    

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Select Atkins Ancestry

England.  Spellings did not become fixed until the 17th century and the names Atkins/Atkyns, Adkins, and Atkin were readily to be found.  Adkins has now pretty much disappeared; while Atkin has only really cropped up in Yorkshire and Lincolnshire down the east coast of England.  

West of England  There were early Atkyns in the west country.  Richard Atkyns, who lived in Gloucestershire in the early 1400's, was the forebear of a long line of legal Atkyns that extended at one time into Wales and Carmarthenshire.  They culminated with Sir Robert Atkyns who was Chief Baron of the Exchequer at the time of Charles II.  He wrote:

"It is remarkable of this family that there has always been one of this name and family in some of the courts of judicature in this kingdom above three hundred years."

The family later lived at Ketteringham Hall in Norfolk.  Charlotte Atkyns mortgaged the house in a vain attempt to rescue Marie Antoinette from the French revolutionaries.  Charlotte herself died penniless in France in 1836.

Others from the west country were Richard Atkins from Ross in Herefordshire, a Catholic martyr burnt at the stake in 1581, and an Adkins family in Gloucestershire whose records go back to Thomas Adkins in 1642. They were for a long time tenant farmers for the Duke of Dorset at the Weston Sands Farm.

London  There were also Atkins from the home counties around London.  Henry Atkins held the office of physician to King James I.  He came from a gentry family in Berkhamsted, Hertfordshire.  His descendants were made baronets of Clapham and they later lived in Sparsholt, Berkshire.  Another Atkins family in Hertfordshire has been traced back to the early 1700's and farming roots in Abbots Langley. 

Kent  Meanwhile, the Atkins name in Kent dates back to the early 1500's when Thomas Atkins and his son William briefly held Thanington Manor near Canterbury.  These Atkins were later to be found in Sandwich, Kent.  The late 19th century distribution of the Atkins name showed relatively few Atkins in the west and many more in central England and the southeast.

The best known Atkins is probably Tommy Atkins, the generic name for a common British soldier popularized in World War One.

Scotland.  The first Scottish recording was that of a John of Akyne (in Lanarkshire) who in 1405 had his ships and goods seized by the English.  John Ackyne served as a bailey in Stirling in 1520 and James Atkine from Orkney was a 17th century Scottish bishop.  But the Scottish spelling, perhaps following pronunciation, has generally been Aitken since that time.

Ireland.  The Atkins name came to county Cork in the 1620's when Augustine Atkins, an English soldier from Somerset, was given lands there.  His descendants held the Waterpark estate and were prominent in the commercial life of Cork. 

America.
  There are Atkins and Adkins in America.  For both the early line invariably led through Virginia, such as:
  • John T. Atkins from Bedford in England to Henrico county, Virginia sometime in the 1680's.  His son is believed to be William V. Atkins who migrated westward in 1740 with his family to what is now Franklin county.
  • Robert Adkins from Cork in Ireland to Goochland county, Virginia also in the 1680's.  Here he started a small tobacco plantation.
  • and John Atkins from London to Lunenburg county, Virginia in the early 1700's.  These Atkins were also planters, first in Virginia and later in South Carolina and Alabama.   One line of this family went to Abraham Atkins, an early settler in Maysville, Georgia.
The Atkins name has remained strong in Virginia and Tennessee; while Adkins is to be found in particular in West Virginia and eastern Kentucky.  Some headed west, such as James and Lucy Adkins to Missouri in 1819 and Adam and Grace Adkins to Indiana in the 1850's.  The descendants of Lewis Adkins of Surry county, Virginia moved south to Pulaski, Arkansas where his grandson Ulysses was a merchant and his great grandson Homer Governor of Arkansas in 1940.

Australia.  Richard Atkins, the black sheep of the Clapham Atkins, had an eventful time in Australia.  He had arrived there in 1792, fleeing his creditors in London.  Using his connections he became a judge in the fledgling colony and received a grant of land near Liverpool, NSW.

"By 1802 Atkins and four convicts had cleared the land, grown wheat and maize, and were grazing sheep and pigs.  The farm was named Denham farm after Denham Court, his family home in Buckinghamshire."         

Six years later, however, Atkins was embroiled in a court case and was suspended for his "want of professional education and practice."  He became indebted, lost his lands, and returned to England a broken man.

Select Atkins Miscellany

If you would like to read more, click on the miscellany page for further stories and accounts:


Select Atkins Names


Henry Atkins was physician to King James I and president of the College of Physicians in England.
Tommy Atkins is a term for a common soldier in the British army.  The term gained widespread currency during the First World War.
Chet Atkins was the American guitarist and record producer who popularized the smooth Nashville sound of country music.
Robert Atkins was the American physician best known for popularizing the Atkins diet.
Adele Adkins is an English singer known as Adele who made the breakthrough to worldwide stardom in 2008.

Select Atkins Today
  • 30,000 in the UK (most numerous in Cambridgeshire)
  • 42,000 in America (most numerous in West Virginia)
  • 17,000 elsewhere (most numerous in Australia).



PS.  You might want to check out the surnames page on this website.  It covers surname genealogy in this and companion websites for more than 800 surnames.

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