For a man who lived such a long life, he sure seems to have left few records behind. Even his place of birth is something of a mystery. It is listed as "Exon, Glouer, Devon, England" on several genealogy sites. I think this comes from a passenger ship listing, and the "Glouer" should actually be read "glover", as his occupation, when he left England for New England in 1634. If this is true, then perhaps the birth year came from that same list, and may be off by a year or two. I've also seen one mention that he was of Exmouth, England, which is a very different place than the only Exon I've been able to find. So, he may have been born near the castle of Exon, or in the village of Exmouth, but I've not found real documentation for either location Perhaps someone with knowledge of this will be able to enlighten me on this subject!
We do know that he and his future wife, Margaret Harwood, were on the same ship as they sailed from England to St Christophe in the Caribbean and then north to -where? Most sites give Providence, Rhode Island but they must have been somewhere else first because Providence wasn't founded until 1635-36, when Roger Williams was expelled from the Massachusetts Bay Colony. So they would have gone either to Connecticut or to Boston, most likely. I'd sure like to know what they were doing for those three or four years before they showed up in Providence in 1638! How did they meet or hear of Roger Williams? Why did they choose to join his settlement/colony? Oh, the questions!
William married Margaret Harwood, probably not long after their arrival in Providence, and he was granted land in December of 1638. This appears to be in what later became Smithfield. His name is on the list of those who signed a compact in 1640, agreeing on the basic rules of government, and he purchased more land in 1645. Ten years later, he was made a freeman. He was granted more land on the condition that he cut the meadow and build a house and live there within three years, which he did . When the troubles came with King Philip's War, he was one of the few men who stayed in Rhode Island, not leaving for a safer place, although we are not told what his family did. (Family included at least five children, born between 1641 and 1649). Since that was the end of the child bearing, did Margaret die about this time? I find no mention of her death.
He apparently wrote his will in 1699, at that time granting freedom to his slave Jack, but not for another 25 years. Still, it was better treatment than most slaves received! Some think a reference in 1702/03 to William Hawkins Sr. refers to this William. It could just as well be his son William, who might now be a "Senior" as there were likely grandchildren of our William who were named after him. In 1698, his rateable estate included 2 oxen, 4 steers, 6 cows, 3 heifers, a horse, 2 mares, 6 acres Indian corn, 3 acres rye, 10 acres meadow and 10 acres pasture, without mentioning his dwelling.
I found no reference to his religion, to his occupation (glover? in the wilds of Rhode Island?), or to any role he might have played in government. Those are questions I would like to answer, one way or another. But I did find enough to show that he is another in a long line of extraordinary and normal folks, probably not far up the economic ladder, who came to America and made it what it is today.
Our line of descent is:
William Hawkins-Margaret Harwood
John Hawkins-Sarah Daniels
Mary Hawkins-Hosanna Brown
Othniel Brown-Deborah Brown
Sarah Brown-Enos Eddy
Enos Eddy-Deborah Paine
Joseph Brown Eddy-Susan Lamphire
Susan Eddy-Hiram Stanard
Louis Stanard-Mary Alice Hetrick
Etta Stanard-Loren Holbrook
Gladys Holbrook-Richard Allen