Name: Richard (Sr.) Bodkin
Birth: ABT 1710 in Va. 1
_MILI: REV War, DAR Patroit 1780
Reference Number: *
The following article was extracted from the book,
"Descendants of John Bodkin (1781-1855)" compiled by
G.N. Botkin, M.A. Botkin, B.A. Botkin. (Orignal copy on file.)
This un-Irish sounding name is intimately
connected with Galway, the Bodkins being one of
the fourteen tribes of that city. They are, in
fact, an offspring of the Fitzgeralds, being
descendants from Maurice Fitzgerald, the ancestor
of the earls of Desmond and Kildare.
Richard, Maurice's grandson, acquired lands
in East Galway in 1242.
The name Bodkin is said to have originated
from an incident in the career of Richard's son,
The tradition being that in the course of a
famous single combat he gained a victory by means
of using a short spear, called a baudekin, whence
came the expression "buaidh baudekin" from which
the surname was formed. Be that as it may, there
is no doubt as to the authenticity of their
descent from the Fitzgeralds.
It was in the fourteenth century that the
Bodkins, then called Boudakyn and later Bodekin,
established themselves in the city of Galway, and
from that time until the Cromwellian upheaval and
the submergence of prominent Catholic families,
they were one of the more important of the tribes.
There were several mediaeval bishops of the
name and a number of officers in King James II's
army in Ireland.
Walter and Dominick Bodkin were members of
the Supreme Council of the Confederation of
Kilkenny in 1547. One of them, at the siege of
Galway in 1652, refused to sign the articles of
Fourty years later, Col. John Bodkin was a
prominent Jacobite leader.
Francis Bodkin was a notorious pirate
captain. In 1673 his crew was captured, but he
Copied by Amanda Wanegar while at Dublin
Castle in 1963 from "Irish Names & Surnames"
The Bodkins appear to have first settled at
Athenry in County Galway and taken an active part
in the affairs of that town. Later on, apparently
towards the end of the fourteenth century, they
moved to Galway, where they acquired a
considerable amount of property and became one of
the "tribes" of that city, of which many of them
were mayors and sheriffs down to the time when
Galway surrendered to Sir Charles Coote in 1652.
Bodkin family in Ireland
Copied from "History of Galway" by Hardiman.
Maurice Fitzgerald, progenitor of the earls of Desmond
and Kildare, was one of the first invaders of Ireland under
Richard de Clare, second earl of Pembroke and Strigul.
Richard, better known as Strongbow, died in 1176.
Maurice had a son Thomas, who had a son,
Richard, who had a son Thomas, the ancestor of the
Bodkins. This would put the origin of the name
Bodkin in the 1200's.
Botkin Family in America
First Bodkins to America
The prime causes for our european forefathers
settling in America were religious intolerance and
economic oppression. In Europe, any sect that
found itself in power proceeded to persecute other
sects with a bigotry and cruelty which we of this
century find it very hard to comprehend. Each sect
wished to be left alone, but would not let others
alone. However, here in America was a wilderness
where men who could not agree might still live
within elbow touch of one another. The other prime
cause for the peopling of America was economic
oppression. The long rule of the Roman Empire made
Europe thoroughly acquainted with despotism. When
that empire went to pieces, the lawlessness of
western Europe became intolerable. The masses of
the people saw no other recourse than to put
themselves under the protection of military
chieftains. They had to toil for the support of
their leader and follow him to war. Thus they
became known as serfs and lived virtually in
slavery. In America, there was a seemingly
boundless amount of wild land. Wild land meant
free land, free land meant ownership, and
ownership meant relief from unjust rents. The
desire for economic freedom lured men to America
even more than the desire for religious freedom.
In 1639, all protestants of Ulster, Ireland
were required to take an oath binding them to an
explicit obedience to all royal commands. The
penalties were so severe that multitudes fled to
Scotland or hid themselves in the woods, leaving
their homes to go to ruin. In consequence of
rebellion and famine at the close of the sixteenth
century, the north of Ireland had become almost
depopulated. In 1641, the few native inhabitants
rose in rebellion and the war which followed was
one of dreadful ferocity.
During the civil war in England and the rule
of Cromwell, there was a respite from persecution.
after enduring oppression almost a century, the
Scotch-Irish began flocking to America.
According to the text "Irish Pedigree" by
O'Hart, in 1653-54, a number of immigrants were
transported to America in what was called
"Cromwell's Army". Among these immigrants we find
fourteen Bodkin names. These were: Alexander,
Christian, Dominic, James, James Fitz-Edmond,
Marcus, Mariana, Nicholas, Patrick, Richard,
Edmond, Oge, Lawrence, and Ambrose. These are the
first of our forefathers to come to America. The
next mention of our family immigrating to America
came in 1679, when Martin and Nick Bodkin arrived
in August on the ship "Young William" for
Virginia. Currently, no other immigrations have
been found prior to 1754, when Charles and George
Botkin arrived from Ireland as members of the
Hessian troops to fight in the French and Indian
Present day family groups insist that the
Bodkin and Botkin families are not related. This
assumption is false. All texts indicate that all
Irish records contain Bodkin entries. In America,
most records prior to 1800 also spelled our name
with a "d", however, between 1800 and 1850 there
were both versions listed for the same persons.
according to Oren F. Morton in his book "History
of Highland County Virginia" published in 1911,
there was formerly no recognized standard spelling
of English. Each person was a law to himself. The
same name would be spelled different ways, partly
because of personal whims and partly because of
individual peculiarities of pronunciation.
As an example he states that Bodkin has become
Botkin apparently through the strong influence of
the German settlement in America and their mode of
pronunciation. Thus Botkin became the American
version of Bodkin, which today substantially
outnumbers its Irish original.
George Washington Botkin had always told his
son (John Browder Botkin) we were of Irish
descendant. Uncle Johnny told me this in one of
the many conversations we had, he was a great help
in getting this history together
Outline of Descendants of Richard Bodkin Sr.
Richard Bodkin, Sr. was born approximately
1710 in Virginia. There is a possibility that he
was born in Ireland, however, I am under the
opinion that he was a descendant of this line's
actual immigrant. Venturing a guess, I would
say he was a son or grandson of one
of the men who came to America in either 1653 or
The first actual mention of him was in 1743,
when he was patented 339 acres on Clover Creek,
Augusta County, Virginia. This became the family
homestead for 19 years, until may 17, 1762 when
either he or his son, Richard, sold the homestead
and moved higher up the valley.
Richard was married to Elizabeth, last name
unknown. Morton's history of Highland County
Virginia states that Richard moved to Highland
County with sons nearly full grown. Most of the
following information was obtained from three
sources: Morton's "History of Highland County
Virginia" and also his "History of Pendleton
County West Virginia" and Lyman Chalkey's
"Chronicals of Scotch-Irish settlement 1745-1800".
Richard was a constable on the Cowpasture River in
Augusta County, which indicates that he could both
read and write. His name was found on several
petitions for roads in Augusta County. He was
also listed as a private on the August 11, 1756
muster roll of Captain George Wilson's company of
the Virginia militia.
Richard was found listed in the 1756 and 1765
parrish vestry books of Augusta County. After he
sold the family homestead in 1762, there were
three land conveyances to Richard in 1763, 1765
and 1768, however one can not be for sure whether
this was Richard, Sr. or Richard, Jr.
Richard had at least five sons. Their names
were: Hugh, Charles, John, James, and Richard Jr.
Early Unites States Ancestors
Family legend has it that Richard Bodkin
migrated from his home in County Galway, Ireland
to England and from there to Jamestown, Virginia.
supposedly Richard changed the spelling of his
name to Botkin, which is how the American spelling
was derived. This theory is very hard to prove
Most records show they were listed as Bodkin,
however, Botkin kept cropping up more and more
often as the years went by.
One point that must be remembered is that prior
to 1880, most persons did not know how to read and
write. Therefore whenever a person got married,
bought land or was questioned by a census taker,
he had to accept (probably should say couldn't
care less) how the other party recorded his name.
I have found the name spelled both as Bodkin and
Botkin on census records, birth records, marriage
records and other records.
- Hugh Bodkin b: ABT 1736 in Va.
- Charles Bodkin b: ABT 1738 in Va
- John Bodkin b: ABT 1740 in Va
- James Bodkin b: ABT 1742 in Va
- Richard (Likely, Not Proven) Bodkin b: ABT 1744 in Va
- Abbrev: "Descendants of John Bodkin (1781-1855) and Esthma Haile"
"Descendants of John Bodkin (1781-1855) and Esthma Haile" compiled by G.N. Botkin, M.J. Botkin, B.A. Botkin Original copy on file.