Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Notes From My Grandmother | Potwin Lineage and Genealogy, Part 1

Somehow, much of my grandmother's hand written and (badly) typed notes and research wound up in my possession. Traveling from Chicago to Los Angeles and back to Chicago again. It sat, in the dark of my mother's closet, until my dad passed and my mom decided to begin her great purge. Knowing I had picked up the torch, the next generation to pursue the Greatest Hobby on Earth, the papers came to live with me. Unsure for many years on just what to do with them, I have decided to bring them out and share them with you - transcribed, of course - no one can read my grandmother's handwriting! But in her own words; mistakes, rambling sentences, and all. I think she will be pleased her work and her writing are once again out in the light.


This name of French derivation, coming from POITEVINE meaning inhabitant of Poitou or Poitier, a province in southwestern France - Anjou or Aquitaine, had figured in history over the centuries and been prominent all over the world.

The descendants have established families and pioneered and developed the continent of North America from coast to coast. The story, known in greater detail by me, who, fascinated by the courage and faith of my forefathers, forced my eagerness to if not fulfillment, certainly enjoyment of discovery and research.

No doubt it was a cold, blustery day (it might have been night, which would have compounded the fear and discomforts) when the courageous, weary and many ill voyageurs disembarked on the shores of America. No ocean liner, no greeting welcomers; it had been a long arduous crossing to Cape Cod so with prayers and thankfulness to God they proceeded to pick a plot where they might establish a 'home' and make a life for themselves and loved ones. This was IT! The beginning of the rest of their life!

Our man was JOHN. He may have been of the same lineage as the John mentioned in the records of the court of Charles II (15th century France) for John was a Huguenot. The Huguenots fled from France at the time of the persecution. They went to England, changed the name, the spelling that is, (Potevin to Potyn), and our man came came to America from England (some records say possibly Wales). In late 1600's (1685 or 1695) John Potyn (reference a letter from G.M. Potwin) also a Reverend Potyn sailed to America in 168(5) and he settled in Connecticut, changed the spelling of the name again. He took a second wife, after the death of his first one, "our branch of the family descend from this union." (ref. G.M. Potwin)

John Potwine, physician and "chirurgeon", OUR MAN of whom there is sketchy but genealogical, historically provable information, did come to Boston from England in 1695. He brought his wife from England and possibly a son. It is documented that he married Sarah Hill in Boston (presumed to be the second marriage). Sarah the daughter of Edward Hill, a prominent citizen of the province. John died early - in the early 1700's, leaving his widow and one son John.

So ends the first Generation in America.


John Potwine of French Huguenot descent came to Boston from England 1695. The name (in Boston records) is spelled various ways: Potwine, Pottwin, Potwin, Potwaine. The name comes from Poitevin(e) - meaning an inhabitant of Poitou or Poitier, a province in France, an area known as Aquitaine (Anjou) in southwestern France.

John Potwine was a "physician and chirurgeon" - - -. He may be of the same lineage as the John Potwine, physician, mentioned in records of the court of Charles II - 15th century France - but no real proof. In Boston he married Sarah, daughter of Edward Hill. So line in America begins:

John Potwine, physician, said to have been born in England, from whence the family came after fleeing France. Said to have died early - July or August 1700. He left a widow and one son John.

END of Part 1

©2016 Anne Faulkner -, All Rights Reserved
©1980 Elizabeth Twining Potwin Thomas - private collection


  1. Oh Wow! I just came across this website looking for information on John Potwine and where he came from in England. My name is Cathy Potwin Jones and I am working on my family tree. Thank you so much for sharing this!

    1. Hi Cathy! I'm glad it was useful, my grandmother would be so pleased! She was a Potwin too - it was her passion to trace the lineage of her family name. Of course I have discovered much more since she wrote this piece in the late 1970's - please let me know if you want to collaborate :)