Collins

The British Isles and Beyond
  • 368 members

About us

See the Overview or FAQ before clicking JOIN.

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Prospective members who have any questions ABOUT THE PROJECT after reading the materials here should email Susan at collinsdna @ pobox.com. If you expect your email to be seen and you want a reply, copy and paste the exact phrase COLLINS PROJECT into the subject line of your email. Current project members need to add their FTDNA account number on the subject line. Emails must be BRIEF (300 words or less). Do NOT send attachments. Otherwise your email will be regarded as spam and you will not get a reply.

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Notes on Project History

The Collins project was hosted at World Families without active management. In 2014 an active project administrator signed on. Hosting and management were shifted from World Families to FTDNA. An external website for the project was launched in 2015. A co-administrator also signed on.

The project now utilizes some haplogroup analysis along with STR markers to help better identify genuine Collins lineages.

We made the decision in May 2018 to take all results private so as to eliminate any then and future issues with privacy laws. Any detailed STR analysis on our external website is present there because certain project members who are ACTIVE participants have given us permission to publish and further analyze their anonymized data.

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Background on the Collins Surname

The Collins name is ubiquitous throughout the British Isles and its diaspora. Our goal is to carve out the major family groups and identify their genetic haplogroups.

COLLINS in Great Britain

The project website shows spread of the Collins surname through England and Wales by county from the 1841 census. After Middle sex (which includes London), the county with the greatest concentration of the surname was Lancashire. Since it contains the major port of Liverpool, this is not surprising.

Some sources on English surnames suggest that Collins is a double diminutive of Nicholas. The progression modifying the surname is roughly: Nicholas, Nichol, Nicholls, Nicholson, Nickson, Nixon, Cole, Colet, Colson, Collins*, Collison, Glascock, Glasson. 1 So far, we have not observed any genetic evidence of this.

The French name Colline ("hill") may also be a source of the name in Great Britain.2

Other sources cite St. Nicholas as the source of the surname but also suggest that 'Colin' came to us through the Normans, with '-on' or '-in' being the diminutive suffix. From that we get Collins, Collinson, Coleson.3

It may be a stretch, but Collen ("hazelgrove") in Welsh could be another source of the surname.

The source of the Collins surname in Scotland is not yet clear, but could be from Ulster in Northern Ireland (below).

Collins has been well represented in the midlands and southwest. Collings is seen more in the southwest, and has been linked to Collins.4

The old Great Britain Surnames Public Profile website no longer works. From 1881 census data, it used to indicate the areas with the greatest surname density as Truro (Cornwall); Worcester, Salisbury, Guildford, Hempstead, Rochester, Southall, and Tonbridge (parts of Greater London). Collings was concentrated in Plymouth and Torquay. Collen was concentrated in Cambridge (East Anglia). Collens was concentrated in Bromley (part of Greater London).

We hope to eventually find the earliest origins of Collins in England and Wales and identify the English haplotypes and haplogroups.

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COLLINS in Ireland

There aren't many Irish surnames with such an emotional connection to them as Collins, which stirs up memories of Cork-born Michael Collins, the I.R.A. leader and finance minister of the new Irish government in the second and third decades of the 20th century.

The project website shows the distribution of the Collins surname by county throughout Ireland as well as breakdown by civil parish of the counties with the greatest proportion of tenants named Collins. The data was extracted from Griffith's Valuation, a mid-19th century Ireland land survey. Counties Cork, Limerick, and Galway together contain nearly 50% of Collinses listed in the valuation.

Biographies suggest that his line came from the Ó Coileáin, who were among the people driven from Limerick down into Cork due to pressures exerted by the Normans. This migration of Limerick people occurred around 1200 A.D. The people from Limerick (likely the Uí Fidgenti) constitute the majority of the Collinses of County Cork.

The Collins surname in Cork could in part be accounted for by the Ó Cuileán (often anglicized as Cullen), a family in the tuath of Ui Aenghusa (O'Hennessy) of the ancient Corca Laidhe tribe.5 The Ui Aenghusa were situated approximately around Drinagh and Kilmacabea civil parishes in west Cork. Such surname absorption would not be unusual, and could be a hypothetical possibility for other Cork surnames such as Donovan and (Mc)Carthy. In each case, a group migrated into Cork and mingled with the existing Corca Laidhe people. Also of note is Clann Chuilean ("race of Cuilean"), a branch of the Dal Cais of Thomond in North Munster.6 This territory is primarily associated with O'Connell, but some surnames theoretically could also have been absorbed into Cullen or Collins. Y-DNA testing is an extremely powerful tool that could help distinguish these different groups and lend support to (or refute) these theories.

Edward MacLysaght notes Collis as a diminutive of Nicholas present in Ireland first attested in 1638. It is associated with Co. Kerry.7

Mac Coileáin was a sept in Ulster. Northern Ireland septs could account for the presence of the name in Scotland.

Some of the project Collinses with Irish ancestry exhibit what was once called the South Irish (R-CTS4466) haplotype. A bit of a surprise for us is the emergence of Alpine Celtic (R-U152) Collinses in Cork. The haplogroup R-U152 is not thought to have had a major presence in Ireland.

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COLLINS in the British Isles Diaspora

Collins emigrants from the British Isles obviously made their way to North America. Many Collins project members can trace their lineage within the United States or Canada but have not made the leap across the water back to the British Isles. Australia and New Zealand were other major targets, but British Isles emigrants ended up in South Africa, South America, Hong Kong, India, and other places.

A group of people known as Melungeons (the label often having been used in a derogatory way), living in or bordering Hancock and Hawkins counties in Tennessee and in neighboring Virginia, were so named because of their darker complexions. Collins is one of the surnames acquired by this group. They appear to be associated with the surname GOINS. There is a DNA project devoted to the Melungeons.

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Footnotes

1. Lower, Mark Antony. English Surnames. An Essay on Family Nomenclature, Historical, Etymological, and Humorous, with several illustrative appendices. Third Edition, Enlarged. In Two Volumes. Vol. I. p. 169

2. Ibid.

3. Bardsley, Charles Wareing Endell. English Surnames: Their Sources and Significations. Seventh Edition, 1901. p. 96

4. Lynch, Sheila and Seary, E. Family Names of the Island of Newfoundland. p. 104

5. O' Murchadha, Diarmuid. Family Names of County Cork. 2000. p. 82-83.

6. Wolfe, Patrick. Irish Names and Surnames. 1923.

7. MacLysaght, Edward. The Surnames of Ireland. 1991. p. 51

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Prospective members who have any questions ABOUT THE PROJECT after reading the materials here should email Susan at collinsdna @ pobox.com. If you expect your email to be seen and you want a reply, copy and paste the exact phrase COLLINS PROJECT into the subject line of your email. Current project members need to add their FTDNA account number on the subject line. Emails must be BRIEF (300 words or less). Do NOT send attachments. Otherwise your email will be regarded as spam and you will not get a reply.

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