The name of COLVIN is said by some historians to be of ancient Anglo-Saxon origin and derived from one Colvin or Colvinus, who was a "tenant-in-chief", of Devonshire, England, in 1085. It was first used as a personal or baptismal name and taken as a patronymic by the sons of one so called. Others assert that the name is of Scottish origin.

In the ancient British and early American records the name is found in the various forms of Colven, Colvine, Colvyne, Colvyn, Colwyne, Colwyn, Colwin, Colvan, Colvin, and others, of which the last-mentioned spelling is that most generally used in America today.

Families of this name were resident at early dates, not only in Scotland and in the English Counties of London and Devon, but also in the Counties of Donegal and Monaghan and other parts of Ireland.

One family bearing the name of Colvin was established at Dublin, Ireland, in the seventeenth century. Of this line, a "Mr." Colvin (Christian name unknown) was married about the beginning of the eighteenth century to Mary, daughter of Patrick Mór Duffy, of Attyduffy, County Monaghan, and his wife Mary, daughter of John Dawson, a Cromwellian officer, who settled at Dummany, County Monaghan. The issue of this marriage is not recorded, but the line undoubtedly continued at Dublin.

In England, the Colvins resided chiefly in Devon, but were settled at London before the beginning of the eighteenth century. Of this line, one Jane Colvin was married at St. James, Clerkenwell, in 1733 to Thomas Brewer.

Probably the first of the name in America was John Colvin (1), who came from England to Dartmouth, Mass., about 1675. By his first wife, Dorothy Allen, who he married sometime before the year 1679, he was father of twelve children: Anna, John, Stephen, Abigail, Samuel, Ann/Amey, Deborah, James, Josiah, Thomas, Charity and Jonathon. The immigrant John was married in 1726 to a second wife, Mary Keach, by whom he had no further issue.

John (2), (born 4/9/1681 Dartmouth, MA) eldest son of the immigrant John, was a Baptist minister. He married 3/18/1703 Dartmouth, MA, Experience (last name unknown) 3/18/1703 Dartmouth, MA and had two children: Jonathan and Lydia.

Samuel (2), (born 12/10/1688 Dartmouth, MA) third son of the immigrant John Colvin, resided in Coventry, R.I. By his wife, Phebe Barton, he was the father of twelve children: Thomas, Daniel, Abigail, Joseph, Elizabeth, Sarah, Mary, Susannah, Richard, Phebe, Rufus, and Samuel.

James (2), (born 11/24/1695 Dartmouth, MA) fourth son of the immigrant John, was a Baptist minister. He married ist Mary Lippett and had children: Benjamin and Caleb. He married 2nd (unknown) Barton with no issue. He married 3rd Anne Lippett and had: Moses, Josiah, Stephen, John, David, Henry and Anna.

Josiah (2), (born 6/6/1700 Dartmouth, MA) fifth son of the immigrant John married Mary Briggs. They had one daughter, Freelove.

Thomas (2), last child born to the immigrant John, was a minister. It is not known who he married or if he had any children.

Another possible descendant of the early Rhode Island line of the family was Luther Colvin, (born about 1739) who removed from Rhode Island to Danby, VT in 1765. He was a member of the Quaker Church and was a hunter and trapper. He married 9/16/1762 Scituate, RI, Lydia (4) Colvin, (daughter of Caleb (3), James (2), immigrant John (1) ) and had eight children: (all born in VT) Stephen, Caleb, John, Catherine, Lydia, Esther, Anna, and Freelove.

Stephen (5) Colvin, eldest son of the first Luther of Vermont, married Mary Merrithew and had ten children: Benoni, Benajah, Luther, Moses, Jeremiah, Anthony, Alfred, Anna, Lydia, and Phebe. Benoni and Luther removed to New York, while Alfred settled in Ohio.

Caleb (5) Colvin, second son of the first Luther of Vermont, married Anna Abbot, by whom he had three children: Caleb, Anna, and Phila R. The son Caleb removed to Hartford, NY and was deaf and dumb.

John (5) Colvin, third and youngest son of the first Luther of Vermont, married Lucy Frink and had five children: Anna, John, James, Luther, and Caleb.

Caleb (6) Colvin, (of Caleb 5, Lydia 4, James 2, John 1) (born 4/20/1801 Scituate, RI) lived in Scituate, RI, Mendon, MA, Franklin, MA and Hartford, NY. He married Mary Paine 8/10/1825 in Mendon, MA and had five children: Georganna M., Zachary T., Alva Paine, Andrew LaPrelate and Henry Jackson.

Alexander Colvin, born 1718 Island of Islay, Scotland, died 1798 Cumberland Co. NC , married Margaret Robinson (presumably in Scotland) had children: Jane/Jean born 1740 at sea (crossing to NC from Scotland); Mary ; John ; and 2 other children, names unknown .

John Colvin (son of Alexander and Margaret) , married Anne De Rosset and had children: Jane; Mary ; and (Major) John, who was born December 30, 1763, died June 26, 1839 , married 1st Flora McAllister 11/ 27/1792 and had children: Alexander, John, Charles, James, Mary J., Henry De Rosset, William Benjamin and Timothy. He married 2nd Elizabeth Jones and had children: Robert Beattie, Eliza M., Hanson M., Annie Jane, John Morgan, Margaret, Flora and Samuel J. He married 3rd Catharine Rutledge 5/13/1824 and had children: Eliza R., Thomas R., Aaron M., Catharine G., Pearsall C., and Laura H.

John Colvin, who was born near Douglas Castle, Scotland, in 1752, came to America in 1770 and settled at Nine Partners, in Dutchess County, N.Y. In 1774 he married Sarh Fuller and removed to Albany County, NY. He and Sarah had at least one son, named James. This James married Catharine Verplanck and was the father of, among others, a son named Andrew James Colvin.

James Colvin, born in Dublin, Ireland , died 1780-1790, married Fanny Sallsbury and had one known child: Thomas

Thomas, son of James, died February 21, 1841 in Pike Cty., IL and married Hanna Ashcraft. Their children: Rachel ; Polly ; Samuel M. ; Fannie ; Anne ; Amos born Highland Cty., Ohio ,died 1871 in Jeffersonville, Wayne Cty., IL , and married Elizabeth Holden; Andrew ; Thomas ; Isaac ; Hannah ; Jane ; Sallie ; and John A.

John Colvin, born possibly in South Carolina; d. 1793 Chester County, South Carolina; he married Hannah Price. Their children: Charlotte m. Dempsey Simpson; Edward m. Sarah Pratt; John m. Jemima Hardwick; John m. Bluett Jackson; Levicy m. William Cornwall; Peggy m. Jessie Simpson; Nicholas ; Sarah m. Benjamin Trustle; Talton (d. 1814; Died New Orleans LA while in the Marines); Thomas (d. Eutaw, AL) m. Savilla Mobley; William ; Rhoda ( b 1771; d 18 March 1843) m. Eli Cornwall (d 5 March 1848 SC); Daniel.

Waterman Colvin lived in Pomfret, CT prior to 1805 and settled in Attleboro, MA in 1806. He married Pamela Freeman and had 5 children: Eunice, Amanda Fitzclan, Draper, Elphonso and George Leonard.

Reubin Colvin of Coventry, RI removed to Danby, VT in 1790. He married Abigail Northrup and had three children: Benjamin, Amasa and Mary. The son Benjamin removed to Dorset, VT, married Marsena Fisk and had 4 children: Barbary, Reubin, Stephen and William.

John and Jane Colvin (husband and wife), came from Londonderry, Ireland on the ship 'Harmony' to Philadelphia, PA. The ship sailed October 31, 1811.

John Robert Colvin, (born about 1841) removed to Queens, NY by 1880. He married first Catherine Bradley and had 3 children: John Robert Jr, Peter and Annie. He married second (name unknown) Hunt and had five more children: Lawrence, Artie, Thomas, Elley and Mamie.

Merrill Colvin, (born about 1846) removed to Hartford, NY by 1866. He had two sons: Amby Brayton and George.


Among the Colvins who fought in the War of the Revolution were James of New York; Daniel, Henry, George, Benjamin, Mason, James, Jeremiah, Elkin, and Lowther of Virginia; Daniel, Thomas, and James of Massachusetts; Timothy of Connecticut; Hugh, Jacob, James, John, Robert Jr., and Robert of Pennsylvania; Amos, Daniel, Isaac, Joshua, Levi, Luther, Reuben, Richard, Stephen, and Titus of Vermont; and many more as well.

Among the Colvins who fought in the Civil War from Massachusetts were: Adin A. of Northbridge; Barton A. of Franklin; Benoni H. and Frederick of West Boylston; and Caleb W., Edward O., George W., Henry J., and James M. of Blackstone.


  • John B. Colvin (latter eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries), of Maryland, politician and author.
  • Sir Auckland Colvin (1838-1908), of England, historian.
  • Verplanck Colvin (1847-1920), of Rhode Island, geologist, explored the Adirondack wilderness in 1865, Railway President of New York Canadian Pacific Railway in 1902 and Superintendent of the New York State Land Survey in 1905.
  • Sir Sidney Colvin (1845-1927), of England, critic and authority on art and literature.
  • Sir Richard Beale Colvin (b. 1856), of England, military officer and author
  • Addison Beecher Colvin (b.1858), of New York, journalist and public official
  • Fred Herbert Colvin (b.1867), of New York, aeronautical engineer and author.
  • Stephen Sheldon Colvin (1869-1923), of Rhode Island and Illinois, educator and author.
  • Ian Duncan Colvin (b.1877), of England, historian and novelist.
  • David Leigh Colvin (b. 1880, of New York, politician and writer.
  • Carl Colvin (b. 1889), of New York and Illinois, educator and agriculturist.
  • Esther Marie Colvin (b. 1894), of Washington, D.C., agriculturist, compiler, and author.


    English and Welsh Surnames. 1901
    Irish Pedigrees Vol. 1. 1915
    Rhode Island Genealogical Dictionary. 1887
    History of Rutland County, VT 1882
    History of Danby, VT 1869
    American Ancestry Vol. 1. 1887
    Massachusetts Soldiers and Sailors of the Revolutionary War
    Massachusetts Soldiers, Sailors & Marines in the Civil War

    This page last updated December 14, 1999

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