An American Family History

Ann Collins

“Remember, remember always, that all of us, and you and I especially, are descended from immigrants and revolutionists."
― Franklin D. Roosevelt
Lynn, Essex County, Massachusetts was first settled by English Puritans in 1629 and was first incorporated in 1631 as Saugus.

Ann Collins was born in 1605 in St Albans, Herfordshire, England.  Her maiden name is not known for sure. It could have been Riall, Ryall, or Royal.

She married Henry Collins about 1627. Their childen and life together are described in detail in the section on Henry and Ann Collins.

Children of Anne and
Henry Collins, Sr.

  • Anne Collins
  • Henry Collins, Jr.
  • John Collins
  • Margery Collins Williams
  • Hannah Collins Ingersoll
  • Joseph Collins
  • Mary Collins Johnson
  • Benjamin Collins
  • She became a widow when Henry died in 1687. Since as a married woman she was not allowed to own property, he provided for her in his will. He gave

    my dear and loving wife, who hath ever been tender of me and industrious in her place in procuring what outward estate God hath bestowed upon us" to receive the benefit of all the housing and lands; "my movables, chattels, cattle, etc. at her disposal to either my own children or my grandchildren as she shall see cause at her decease;

    He also requested that his children be dutiful and tender to their aged mother.

    Ann's will was dated September 8, 1690 and was probated in November, 1691. She bequeathed to her sons and to various grandchildren. She died on September 29, 1691 in Lynn, Essex County, Massachusetts and was blind at the time of her death.

    During the 17th and 18th centuries an adult unmarried woman was considered to have the legal status of feme sole, while a married woman had the status of feme covert. A feme sole could own property and sign contracts. A feme covert was not recognized as having legal rights and obligations distinct from those of her husband and could not own any property. When a woman became a widow she became a feme sole again.

    A Puritan woman's clothing consisted of underpants, stockings, linen, shift, petticoat, chemise (underblouse), bolster (a padded roll tied around the hips under the skirt), bodice, skirt, apron, coif (cap), outer gown and shoes. A woman might wear a ruff or bow and an apron. Cloaks were worn instead of coats. Women carried a small cloth draw-string bag or reticule and perhaps wore a chatelaine.

    Old Style Calendar
    Before 1752 the year began on Lady Day, March 25th,. Dates between January 1st and March 24th were at the end of the year. Old Style (O.S.) and New Style (N.S.) are used to indicate whether the year has been adjusted. Often both dates are used.

    A Puritan was a member of the religious group in the 16th and 17th centuries that advocated "purity" of worship and doctrine who believed in personal and group piety. Puritans were persecuted in England and came to America so they would be free to practice their religion.
    Understand the Puritans better:


    Personal property can be called personalty (personality), goods, chattels, articles, or movable property. It includes both animate or inanimate property.
    Essex County, Massachusetts was created on May 10, 1643 by the General Court of the Massachusetts Bay Colony, when it ordered "that the whole plantation within this jurisdiction be divided into four sheires."

    Indian Corn (or flint corn) is the type of maize that Native Americans taught colonists to cultivate. The kernels come in a range of colors and are less prone to spoiling.

    ye is an archaic spelling of "the."

    Will of Ann Collins
    Lynn the 8 day of Sept 1690.
    In the name of our Lord god everlasting amen. I Ann Collns of Lynn in the County of Essex in New England widow and the relict of Henry Collins senr of Lynn aforesd deceased

    I the said Ann being very aged and my tyme of departure out of this world most uncertaine and may be very sudden as I have cause to think by reason of some late providences of god in visiting me with some touches of his hand upon my fraile body and hath taken away my naturall sight I thought meet to improve the present tyme the lord affords me and being through mercy free from my paines and distemper's and in my perfect memory. And cleare understanding Do make my last will & testat and dispose of what estate the lord hath afforded me of was left unto me by the last will of my husband above sd deceased.  

    first I therefore Commend and committ my spirit into the hands of my deare lord Jesus christ In whom I doe believe only for eternal life & salvation on whom alone I trust and Relye Renounceing wholly my own rightousness believing his to be alsufficient and y I shall be covered and so accepted of god my heavenly father through Jesus Christ my blessed mediator and redeemer In which faith I rest and trust, That after breath is spent and natural life is gone from me I shall ascend in my Spirit unto god And therefore quietly commit my body to the grave there to rest till the glorious resurrection of the dead by Jesus christ Committing my dearly beloved children and grand children all of ye to the grace of god in Jesus christ, humbly desyreing his peace and love may be bestowed on them so as it may keep them in his feare and in love & peace one w another continually Amen.  

    As for my temporal estate that god of his mercy hath vouchsafed to me to dispose of, I give and bequeath to be divided & disposed of after my decease as hereafter followeth. Renounceing all former wills

    It. I give to my eldest sone Henry Collins my horse.

    Item I give to my grandsone Nath. Collins [son of John] a Cow & a young mare and after my decease twenty shillings out of my estate then left if it will reach to doe [it] and so I leave that to my executor's.

    Item I give to my grandchildren viz. these children of my son John Collins deceased & not named in my will before viz.. Elizabeth mary Daniel Hannah Lois the sume of three pound to be pd to each one soe much out of my estate if it will reach yrunto. as a testimony of my love to them, who wer suddenly deprived of their father & of his estate.

    Item I give to my two grandsones. the sones of John Collins deceased viz. Samuel and Joseph Collinses, the sume of five shillings to each of ye after my decease. And so to abigail now townsend.

    Item I give to Sussannah Collins the daughter of Benj Collins, twenty shillings.

    I doe ordain & appoint my sone Henry Collins, and my sone Joseph Collins to be my two executor's of my estate and unto this my last will & testa And to make me a comely and Decent buriall. and to performe all my just and honest paym, and legacies, according to my will satisfyeing all their and my necessary charges And well considering what my estate will beare in honesty and honour.  

    Morover I give unto my grandchildren Johnsons viz Mary
    Richard Ruth, Samuel to each one the sume of twenty shillings after my decease that is as is expressed for all if my estate shall reach to performe all

    moreover I doe ordain & desyre my well respected and trusty friends Mr. Jeremy Shepherd pastor of the church of christ in Lynn and oliver purchass to be my overseers, to see this my last will and testa to be performed and fullfilled.

    And now that ye promisses y are contained & expressed in this sheet of paper is my last will & testat. for confirmation of the same that it is soe I the said Ann Collins, widow & relict of Henry Collins sen deceased affixed and set my own hand & seale hereunto,

    as also that I have pd unto Elizabeth Collins [daughter of John] now alias Basset, soe much of my legacie to her in Indian corn the sume of 2 p.  

    The signe of Ann Collins

    Signed sealed & delyvered in the presence of Henry Silsbey Oliver purchase Henry Collins Jun  
    Proved att a county court held at Salem the 24 of novr 1691

    Cattle were vital to a household and an important legacy.
    Unweaned cattle are calves.
    Female cattle are heifers and cows (had a calf).
    Male cattle are steers (castrated) and bulls.
    are trained draft animals and are often castrated adult male cattle.

    Mister ( Mr.) was derived from master and Mrs. and Miss were derived from mistress. They indicated people of superior social status in colonial America.
    In contracts and pleadings usually people and things mentioned before are designated by the term said (sd ) for clarity. Aforesaid (afd, afsd, aforesd ) means it was already mentioned.

    Horse Terms
    Foal: less than 1 year old
    Yearling: between 1 & 2
    Colt: male under 4
    Filly: female under 4
    Mare: female over 4
    Gelding: castrated male
    : non-castrated male over 4

    American colonists continued to use British monetary units, namely the pound, shilling and pence for which £1 (or li) equalled 20s and 1s equalled 12d. In 1792 the dollar was established as the basic unit of currency.

    Seals were used to authenticate documents and men were expected to have a personal die. Records in deed books are copies and signatures are usually in the clerk’s handwriting. The clerk drew a circle around the word “seal” to indicate that the original document was sealed.

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    ©Roberta Tuller 2023
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