The Rawlins Line by Bert Rawlins
Let's see. Where to start. You will recall that when we visited about this line before we concluded that research could take place on three fronts in regard to James Rawlins, the Tory. The first, was finding out as much as possible about his wife and each of his children. We ought to create a family group sheet that reflects accurate information on not only James and Priscilla but each of their children as well. There is much that can be done here.
The second area was to continue in our effort to find out more about James Rawlins, the Tory. The earliest known and proven information we have on him is that which has been found in Martin County, North Carolina. Where was he before this? Martin County was formed in 1774 from Halifax and Tyrrell Counties. From what we know about James and Priscilla, by the time they show up in Martin County, they have already had most of their children. I would suspect that Charles was at least 10 by this time if not older. Roderick, apparently the youngest son, was not even born yet. In fact, he was born only a year before his father was captured and confined to prison. So, there is still a lot of work that must be done on this front, and the family can help if they are so inclined to do so. I believe that James Rawlins is in this northeast corner of North Carolina before 1774. He may have shown up right in this year when Martin County was formed, but I do not think this was the case. I have some suggestions as to how the family could help on this front, and I will discuss this with you when I see you. I did not spend any time on this aspect of the research this period.
The third area I felt that needed to be pursued, and the one where I concentrated my efforts this time, was finding James Rawlins and his father. When you consider that all we knew about his father was that he resided in the United States and that he lived somewhere north of Halifax County, North Carolina, you realize that there is a lot of work to do. James Rawlins and John Llewelling were on their way to see General Howe, who was in New Jersey and New York (One history I read indicates that he was in Pennsylvania in August of 1777). I had concluded to look for his father in the states of Virginia, Maryland, and Delaware, which covers the area between James Rawlins and General Howe. I was basing this search not just on where they each were, but also migration patterns into northeast North Carolina. Probably 90% or more of those who settled this region came out of the tidewater area, which encompasses the three states included in my search. So, was James Rawlins one of the 90%? The assumption that he was works out to be better odds than to consider he was one of the 10% that did not. And when you consider the search I was about to undertake, the odds sounded even better.
I used a number of indexes, including to the 1790 census returns, tax returns for Virginia, and the Virginia Historical Index to compile a list of Rawlins' living in the states of Virginia, Maryland and Delaware. This took quite a bit of time, especially looking up the references from the Virginia Historical Index, but by the time I was through, a pattern of settlement was beginning to emerge that was identifiable. I used both the Rawlins (and variants like Rawlings Ralin, Rawlen, etc.) and Rollins (and variants) surnames to make this survey. I found some interesting things when I did this. I found that in one index the Rawlins/Rollins would nearly all appear under one spelling like Rawlins, and in another index, they would nearly all appear under the other spelling like Rollins. There seems to be little consistency in how it is used.
In any case, I have enclosed a map showing the areas in these three states where the Rawlins' settled. As you can see the largest settlement of them occurred in the counties that surround Washington D.C. There were other places like southeast Virginia and southern Delaware, but by and large the counties around Washington D.C. held the largest concentration of the name. Spotsylvania and Caroline counties had a number of Rawlins families residing within their boundaries, and there were James Rawlins' that came out of these two counties. I am now in the process of trying to track each one of them down, but so tar I nave not been able to trace any of them to North Carolina. I guess all I can do is try and trace each one of them individually, and see if I can trace any of them into North Carolina. I have identified a couple of James Rawlins coming out of this area who remained in Virginia where they settled and eventually died, thus eliminating them from the list of possibilities.
The most interesting one I found was not in Virginia at all, but in Delaware-Sussex County at the extreme southern end of this state. Now, this Charles in mentioned in the book we are familiar with called The Rawlins/Rollins Family in America. Nothing would indicate from this history that he belonged to our Rawlins line, but still the name Charles holds a very important part in our family. The Charles in Delaware would have been a contemporary with our James Rawlins, age wise that is, so he could not have been James' father. The best he could be would be a brother. The thing I found interesting was that Charles married about 1758, about the same time as our James would have been married.
There was a James living in Sussex County at the same time Charles was married. In fact, I found Charles and James Rawlins witnessing a marriage in 1760. James appears in a couple of other places as a witness, but this is all. He does not stay in Sussex County. Looking at a map he could have gone into the surrounding counties or he could have dropped down into North Carolina. The point I am stressing is. Here is a Charles Rawlins and a James Rawlins living in the same county, and James disappears from this county. Where did he go? I have not been able to establish that as yet. It is another possibility to add to the numerous ones we already have to consider.
This exercise consumed a lot of time, and I have not gotten far enough into it to draw any conclusions about what I found. And in one of my more sane moments, when I sat back to wonder about all of this, I thought why am I limiting myself to just Virginia, Maryland, and Delaware. After all, James Rawlins said he wanted to stop and see his father and friends. What's to say that he didn't have in mind Boston. Is there any reason to believe that his father was on the south side of where General Howe was headquartered. Family tradition still points us towards New England for the birth of some of his children. Perhaps, I am setting too many limits on my research. Maybe I need to survey all the states between North Carolina and New England for Rawlins families. Remember a John Rawlings of Boston was granted land in Beaufort County North Carolina in 1749. Maybe one of his children settled on this property. Remember that a Charles Rollins was living in Pitt County, which was formed from Beauf ort in 1760. Maybe the land John received became part of Pitt County and Charles is a descendant of John's. Taking this one step further, it was said that James had a brother named Charles who fought in the Revolutionary War on the American side. The Charles in Pitt County collected a pension for such service. There has been speculation that this Charles was James' brother.
It is discouraging sometimes to work on this problem because every time you do, you come up with more possibilities, all of which needs to be researched further. I can see that we are going to need all the help we can get in order to solve this problem. I think I am now organized enough to follow through and coordinate a research effort where a number of family members are willing to put in the time to search out the numerous leads we have. I need to discuss this with you because I can keep several people busy following up on the leads we now have. To have me do it all would take too long and would be too expensive. I think we ought to coordinate our efforts with our cousins in other parts of the country. I can do this with your help. All I can say is that \we have found out a lot about James Rawlins over the past ten years, and I suspect it could take another ten to finally solve the problem (I hope not). But I think we are in a position to go looking for him on a grander scale. We have the man power to do it so let's try and get geared up to do it.