COLLINS FAMILY HISTORY - General Information

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Surname History

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The surname Collins comes from England, and is patronymic in origin, being derived from the personal name of the father or other ancestor of the original bearer.

In this case, the source of the name can be traced to Colin, a pet form of Nicholas, and the name simply means "Son of Colin"

The earliest documented evidence of the name in England dates back as far as the twelfth and thirteenth centuries where several instances have been recorded.

One Colinus de Andresia appears in the pipe rolls of Berkshire in 1191, while a Colinus is mentioned in H.Hartopp's "Register of the Freeman of Leicester" recorded in 1196.

More recent references include the application for a marriage license to the Bishop of London by Mr. William Inman and Katherine Collyn in 1585, while the marriage of Jacob Marsh and Mabella Collins took place at St. Michael's Church, Cornhill in 1682.

Of 29 Collins biographies in the Dictionary of National Biography 27 are of Englishmen.

In Ireland Collins may be regarded as a genuinely indigenous Irish name: in fact it is one the most numerous surnames, being number 30 in the relevant statistical list with an estimated Collins population of 14,000 persons. The great majority of these come from Counties Cork and Limerick. This is as might be expected because the sept of O'Coileain (possibly derived from the word coilean, a whelp or young dog) originated in North Desmond which extended into the modern Co. Limerick, where they were lords of the baronies of Connello, until in the thirteenth century they were driven southwards by the Geraldines and settled in West Cork near the country possessed by their kinsmen the O'Donovans.
It should be observed that in the very territory to which they migrated was a sept called O'Cuilleain also subsequently anglicised Collins: these were of the Corca Laoidhe. Unfortunately, the O Coileains seem to have left no visible landmarks: no castles or towns are stamped with their name.

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Page last updated : 05 March 2004