Samuel Bridger Collins

I WAS LOOKING through William Murfree’s Tax Receipt Book for Hertford County in 1768-1770 to see if the early Russells were there and they were, both Charles and George Russell. Were they brothers? George, I believe, is my direct ancestor, and Charles would have been his brother. At that time, between 1759 and 1779, the western half of Gates County was part of Hertford County. Unfortunately, this is a so-called “burned” county because the records went up in smoke during multiple domestic conflicts. The tax book, therefore, gives us a good idea of who was living in the western half of Gates prior to the establishment of the latter county in 1779.

I noticed again that Samuel Bridger Collins is the only Collins in Hertford at this time in 1768. Based on his appearance, he must have been born in the mid-1740s at least. That’s a generation older than the Thomas, William, and Lamuel Collins who first appear in the 1780s. Samuel Bridger Collins was still in Hertford in 1782, where he was listed as owning 50 acres and not being able to read or write. From then on, he seems to have drifted into Southampton County, Virginia, where he and his wife, Jemima, were the subject to various legal proceedings given the fact that Jemima had apparently been living apart from Samuel with another man.

Samuel’s retention of his middle name, Bridger, interests me. In my experience, most people retained a middle name if it was an alias or if it was the maiden name of the mother. In some other cases, people might have started out using the name of the father, only to revert to the mother’s surname later in life. So that Samuel Bridger Collins may have started out as Samuel Bridger and then added the Collins, perhaps his mother’s name, later. The Bridgers were a wealthy, land-owning family going back to Isle of Wight County in Virginia. There is no obvious way to connect that family with this poor, illiterate man.

There is a man named Samuel Bridgers who appears on the Tuscarora Indian Woods deeds, but he is there in 1766 and in 1777. Is this the same man, or a relative of Samuel Bridger Collins?

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