Covington History

So where did the infamous Covington name come from. There are a few different views!!



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Before we look at the actual historical transition of our name, it is interesting to first look at how names have evolved and why, indeed, we need surnames at all. In early times when the population was smaller and few people would ever travel far from their respective settlements, people would be known only by their given name and place of habitat e.g. Harold of London, Peter of Bedford etc. It was only when the population grew and the undoubted confusion of more than one William of York in one's midst took place, that individual surnames originated for the purpose of more specific identification.

The four primary sources for second names or surnames were;

      Occupation, for example, Baker, Butcher, Smith etc. In some cases though time has changed the shape of these words and such names as Baxter, a derivative of Baker, have emerged. As a simple rule of thumb, many names ending in -er, have derived from this source.

     Father's name plus relationship, for example, Johnson, Patterson, Jones etc. Again names have evolved from the original source and such names as Dawson are now quite common, but is in fact from the same origins as Davidson, with Daw being an olden days shortened version of David.

     Personal characteristics, for example, Longman, Short, Small etc. Some names were derived from a persons manner, for example Dukes and Abbots probably were given to somebody who acted in a "dukely or abbotly" manner. Many names derived from less complimentary distinguishing characteristics, such as Shufflebotham and Crookshanks. Names such as Goodfellow, Wisdom and Fairman are perhaps somewhat kinder to those who now carry the name. It does seem somewhat unfair that anybody should have to inherit a name with such obvious characteristic connotations as Boldass, particularly when one may grow up to be a 6 stone ballerina!

     Places or localities for example York, Bradford, and of course Covington, even Churchill which derived from those who lived near a church on a hill. By far the largest group of surnames is drawn from names of places, from whence a person came, or occasionally was going to, or from the geographical detail of his place of habitat.

This, one would consider, to be quite straightforward, but in many cases, as years have passed by, the spelling and pronunciation of a name may have changed dramatically. An interesting example of this is the surname Snooks, which it is said, has derived from the Kent town of Sevenoaks.

Much of these spelling changes were due to illiteracy rather than some wish to confuse latter day genealogists. In the early days even the most educated had their problems spelling words when pronounced by a rural speaker. More of this later when we look at the different derivatives of Covington.

Welsh variations, the same basic rules apply for Welsh names, except many more are derivatives from their father's name, eg Davies, Jones, Williams etc, all being translation as "son of". Another variation is the old Welsh prefix of "ap", again meaning "son of". This has spawned names such as Pritchard (ap Richard) and Pugh (ap Hugh) etc.

Somewhat surprising is the fact that there are more hyphenated names in Welsh families than anywhere else in the UK. This is because the Welsh have a great affinity to using both parents names in their surnames as a means of differentiating between all the Jones' and Williams' who live there.

Scottish variations. Like the Welsh, many Scots share the same few names, having taken their chosen name originally from the powerful clans with whom they sought protection, as a sign of allegiance. Even today the inhabitants of one Scottish island all have the same name, though they are not all related by blood. To rectify this confusion many added place-names to their surnames, and although this initially was started by the lairds and barons, it soon spread to farmers and the like.

Today Scottish names can be found throughout the world, thanks to the Scots great tradition of colonisation, however many 18th Scots fearful after the Jacobite Rising, travelled south and adopted less obtrusive English local names.

Irish variations. The surname prefix "Mac" is of both Irish and Scottish extraction and like "Ap" in Welsh and "Son" in English means "son of" and is placed before the father's name. An interesting additional note is that O' before a name is usually linked with, and placed in front of, the grandfathers name, and again, roughly translated means "of".

Royalty - According to the Marquis de Ruvigny in 1911, there were about 100,000 living descendants of Edward III. Today that figure must have grown substantially and would suggest that over 20 out of every 100 Englishmen born are a royal descendant. If you are fortunate enough to link in with a member of the royal family, much of your future genealogical research work will have been done for you. Sadly, it is unlikely to mean that you will be invited to Sunday tea with the Queen, but it does make interesting after dinner small talk at your next candle-lit supper.

My research has always been limited to those actually named Covington. No doubt anybody wanting to trace back descendants of each spouse of a Covington will find their way into the Royal circle. Please let know if you are successful in any legal claim for part of the Duchy of Cornwall.

One of the great challenges for any genealogist is to come up with the definitive answer to the question "Where did my name come from?" Not surprisingly there can sometimes be a difference of opinion between one genealogist and another. I'm pleased to say that the same applies to the Covingtons, be it that we don't seem to be too far apart in our version of the grassroots origin.

Within the rest of this page are 3 versions of the answer to the "Where are we from?" question. These have been penned by myself, a Zella H Nesbitt, grand-daughter of Berrill Covington and one Venda Covington. Because this is my website, I'll go first !!


COVINGTON IN ENGLAND by Martin H Covington

The location origins of the Covington name are believed to be associated with the English translated phrase "One who came from Covington", (The estate or settlement of the Cufa family), in Huntingdonshire. (Note; Cufa is a kind of wicker coracle used on the River Tigris in Mesopatamia, although how a tribe came to be named after a wicker basket is somewhat unclear).

Therefore breaking down the original Cufingatun name, piece by piece, we have:

Cufa           (Anglo Saxon tribe name)

- inga          (of the)

- tun  (estate) or ton (Anglo Saxon for a place surrounded by a hedge or palisade, a town or village).

Many Anglian names containing the -ingtun prefix were established in the Northumbria/Berwickshire area. It seems that the connective particle "-ing" is only found with "-tun" in both English and Scottish forms. Examples are given of Edington, Edrington, Mersington, Regington, Thirlington and Upsettlington as being first recorded around 1095 in Berwickshire and meaning " farm associated with ... ". This is a similar explanation to that as described for Covington, Huntingdonshire. There may also be links with Covenham & Coveney.

The earliest examples to be found of the Covington name, or spellings similar, are as follows; Covintune and Covesgraue  - 1086 Domesday Book, Kuvintone  - 1226 Episcopal Registers, Coutngton  - 1260 Assize Rolls for Hunts, 1331 Feet of Fines for Hunts by G.J.Turner, 1493 Calendar of Inquisitions Post Mortem, Covinton  - 1272 Feet of Fines for Hunts, 1279 Rotuli-Hundredorum 2 vols 1812-1818, 1285 Feudal Aids 6 vols 1899-1920, 1303 Feudal Aids 6 vols 1899-1920, 1303 Exchequer Subsidies for Hunts 1303, Coventon  -   1478 Feet of Fines for Hunts

Covesgraue (Domesday Book) may have developed into Cosgrave which is in Northamptonshire near Stony Stratford on A508, just outside Milton Keynes, where, there is said to have been a strong form of the Covington name in the past.

It is most interesting to note that the majority of examples found were recorded in the Huntingdonshire area. Covington, the village, is no more than a hamlet, although it does have a fine example of a Norman church, suggesting that it was once a relatively important settling place.

** Covington, Hunts

 (The Place Names of Bedfordshire & Huntingdonshire)(The Concise Oxford Dictionary of English Place Names by Eilert Ekwall)



There is also a small town in Lanarkshire, Scotland named Covington. It is believed that the place name could have originated from Scandinavia. It is also suggested that Covington, Colinton & Cobbinshaw could be linked, as all 3 have as their first elements the CO personal name Kolbeinn (Scandinavian), an adaptation of the Irish name Columban.

 ** Covington, Lanarkshire

Kolbeinn may have given rise to the Villa Colbani, circa 1190 (Colban's Estate) and the following extracts from Scottish History detail how the name has been developed to the present day.

·        Colbaynstoun, Colbayn, Colban & Colbanus  - 1120 (Kelso)

The earliest form found was Colbaynstoun, i.e. the vill or tun of Colbayn or Colbain, perhaps the Colbanus who was a witness to the charter by Earl David founding the Abbey of Selkirk (later Kelso), circa 1120.

·        Colbainestun - 1187-89

He is doubtless the ancestor of Thomas de Colbainestun who witnessed a charter by William the Lion confirming certain churches in Dumfrieshire to the see of Glasgow between 1187-89 (REG p65).

·        Villa Colbani - 1189-1196

·        Colbaynstoun - 1204 (Dryburgh)

Thomas de Colbaynstoun witnessed resignation of the lands of Ingilbristoun (later Inglisberrie) in 1204 (Dryburgh, 163) and as Thomas de Villa Colbain witnessed an undated charter by William the Lion to David de Haia, son of William de Haia of Herol (SCM 11 p305).

William de Colbaynstoun between 1202 and 1222 was witness to a charter by Brice, Bishop of Moray bestowing the church of Deveth (Daviot) on the cathedral of the Holy Trinity at Spyny (REM 53).

·        Colbanstone, Colbanston & Colbenstone - 1296

Margaret de Colbanstone and Isabele de Colbanston rendered homage for their possessions in 1296. The seal of Isabele bears the Virgin & Child & S'Isabelle de Colbanesto, and that of Margaret bears a device like a shuttle in pale between 3 stars and a legend S'Margar' d' Colbanst (Nain 2, p198,534,550)

Edmund de Colbenstone of Lanarkshire, probably a relative, also rendered homage in the same year (ibid p213).

·        Colbeynston - 1297

In 1297 a Royal Message from Edward 1st of England was directed to William de Colbeynston.

·       Colbaynston & Colbayneston - 1304

In 1304 Sir John de Colbaynston held the successful farm of barony of Colbayneston of the King (Bain 2, p232,428

·        Cowantoun - 1434, Covingtoun - 1480 & Colbinshaw - 1512

(Abbreviations; Bain - Calendar of documents relating to Scotland preserved in Public Record Office, edited by Joseph Bain, Edinburgh 1881-84, Kelso - Liber S.Marie de Calchou, registrum cartarum abbacie Tironensis de Kelso 1113-1567 Edinburgh 1846 (2 volumes), Dryburgh - as Kelso but "Premonstratensis de Dryburgh", Edinburgh 1847, REG - Registrum episcopatus Glasguensis, Edinburgh 1843 (2 vols), SCM - Miscellany of the Spalding Club, Aberdeen 1841-52 (5 vols))



So the Covington name has derived from one of two locational sources, one English and the other Scottish. From my research, I believe the English version to be the one that has spawned the majority of today's people named Covington, whereas, the Scottish name has remained purely as the place name of a little village in Lanarkshire. Few Covingtons live, or have lived, in, or close to, Scotland, so it is seems highly unlikely that the personal name developed from there.

The earliest person named Covington that I have been able to trace was the rector of Covington Church in Hunts, Edmund Nicol de Covington in 1381. As stated above, he was named as "of Covington", so can be considered as being from the pre-surname era, as can one Abbut of Covington, who I have recorded as born, circa. 1520. Both of these examples are actually more likely to be describing the job location, as The Rector or Abbot of Covington, so genealogically speaking are of little real interest as they would not have passed the name onto their children, if they had had any. The earliest Covington surname, that I have on file is John, born circa 1542, although I have records of a Robert who died in 1558, therefore it could be that he was born before John, although there are no details of his age at death.

But that is just my interpretation of the information that I have managed to uncover. The following item is somebody elses view. One Zella H Nesbitt, grand-daughter of Berrill Covington a 19th century Brit who became a Mormon and moved his family to Utah in the U.S.


ANOTHER COVINGTON STORY by Zella H Nesbitt, during 1984 (note: this is a direct extract from the original work and there are some obvious errors in interpretation of English History)

The name "Covington" can have two origins and it is now impossible to separate them

There are two Scottish places called Covington.  One of these was spelled Villa Colbani around 1100, Colbaynistun around 1212, Cowantoun in 1434 and Covington in~l480.  The meaning is Colban's Village.  The other place is of fairly recent origin and was probably named for a Covington.

The older place was probably named for the Colbanus who witnessed a charter by Prince David around 1120. This Colbanus was probably the ancestor of Thomas de(of) Colbainestun who witnessed a charter by King William the Lion around 1180. He is probably the Thomas de Colbanyston who was a charter witness in 1204 and who witnessed a charter by King William the Lion a few years later. William de Colnanyston was a witness to a land charter granted by Brice, Bishop of Moray around 1210.

Margaret de Colbanstone and Isabele de Colbanston rendered homage for their property to the English Crown in 1296. The seal of Margaret bears a device like a shuttle between three stars and the legend “S’Margar'd'Colbanst”. The seal of Isabele depicts the Virgin and Child and the legend "Slsabele de Colbanesto”

Edmund de Colbenstone also rendered homage the same year. All of the foregoing lived in Lanarkshire and were probably related. A royal message to William de Colbeynston from King Edward I of England was delivered in 1297. Sir John de Colbaynston held the farm or the Barony of Colbayneston by direct grant from the King around 1327.

There is also a Covington in Huntingdonshire, England, which was spelled Covintune in the 1086 Domesday Book, Kuvintone in 1226 and Couyngton in 1260. The meaning is “homestead of Cufa's people". Cufa is probably of Scandinavian origin and the meaning is unknown.

The foregoing information was researched for me by a Mr.J.C. Downing. I am not sure if we are related to our Scottish Cousins but Huntingdonshire is very close to Bedfordshire and it is quite possible that we could claim a future connection to them.

However, the Covington's were in Bedfordshire very early also. The Parish Register of St.Pauls begins with 1565 and almost the first name in it was a Covington. I also found Coventon wills in the late l500's. At this time they seemed well established and it is my belief that they had been there for some time before that.

The first man by that name emerging from the shadows or unknown and unidentified ancestry is a John Coventon probably born around 1612-16. His wife was Ann and we find three children listed in St Pauls as belonging to them. Elizabeth - Christened 1633: William 1640 and Mary 1643. Then at this time all of the entries in St Pauls are missing as they are in many other parish registers of England at this tine. We have to turn to History to understand why, for a period of nearly 20 years there were no Baptisms, marriages or burials recorded.

History tells us that this was the period of the civil wars when Cromwell ousted the Kings and became Lord Protector of England. In order to understand why this affected the church records we need to go back to about 1330 when King Henry VIII separated from the Roman Catholic Church in order to be able to divorce Catherine of Aragon to marry Anne Boleyn. The Pope & the Catholic Church did not allow divorce. At least this was more logical than simply beheading her, which of course became the fate of poor Anne Boleyn and then latterly Catherine Howard. He confiscated church properties and made such changes as suited his purposes.  They then became known as Church of England or Protestants.  When his daughter Mary Tudor came to the throne after his death she reinstated the Catholic Religion and executed so many protestants that the Catholic Church fell into disfavour and in 1558 when Henry's other daughter Elizabeth came to the throne she appointed an Archbishop of Canterbury and began to unify the two extremes of religion and this brought about what is termed the golden age of English History.

About this time it became a law for all the Parish Ministers of all the churches to begin keeping a written record of all the Christenings (Baptisms), Marriages and Burials which took place in their jurisdiction and these became known as the Parish Registers. Some began right away and others took a little longer and we find that the five churches in Bedford, England began about 1565. This began the period when those trying to locate their ancestors in England began their golden age, so to speak. Many of these old registers are a gold mine of information. This continued until about 1642 when the rebellion of the Civil Wars began

By 1649 the Roundheads as the rebels called themselves finally succeeded in having King Charles I beheaded and Cromwell, their leader, became Lord Protector of what is known as the Commonwealth period.

The churches came under attack as did anyone else who remained loyal to the King. The churches were searched and anything that would burn was burned, which included many of the Parish Registers. Many of the Ministers fled into hiding and took their records with them. Some of the records were buried and in some cases were never found again, and so this next 20 years are a very difficult time for genealogists.

From 1653-1660 the records were kept by a registrar who was appointed by the government and while some of them did a fairly good job, others were careless as is the case in St. Pauls. In 1660, Charles II was crowned and many of the ministers returned to their Parishes. In St Pauls, Bedford the entries begin again in November 1660.

What this means to our Covington Family is that John and Ann were having their family right in the middle of this terrible time.  We will probably never know exactly how many children they had, but this John seemed to be the only one at that time and so as, we pick up the later period about 20 years later we find what must surely be their children in the marriages. We find an Elizabeth who married a William Gardner 1672: Mary married Richard James 1671 and we find a John Coventon who married a Mary Fobach 1667 and then the exciting find was our No.1 Simon who married Mary Menard (Maynard) l2 Oct 1671.

Simon and Mary had four children born in St Pauls: Mary, Simon II, Elizabeth, and William, and little William died a year later. Then we have nothing more on this family in St Pauls.

They moved to St Peters and we find the reason for this in the will of a George Maynard of St Peter Martyn dated 2 Nov 1680 in which he says: I bequeath to my daughter Mary Coventen the house and lands whereon John Kemp now lives in St Peters, … along with bequests to his other children. So then we go to St Peters Register where we find three more children born to Simon and Mary, namely, another William, Jane and George. For nearly one hundred years we find our Covingtons living in St Peters. It was here that Simon II married his wife Elizabeth Upton.

Elizabeth brought an interesting line into the family and we were able to trace her mother's ancestors back into the l400s through wills on the Tillye ancestors.  It is not my purpose to give all dates and information on these families which are contained on the Family Group sheets and also only those allied families which had some direct bearing on the history of our Covington Family and so I will not elaborate on these lines.

Simon and Elizabeth had eight children all born in St Peters. The second of which was Simon III; who was born January l704. Simon III married a girl named Sarah, but we have never been able to find the marriage, and so we are unable to find her maiden name or anything about her. But we know they had nine children, and again it was the second son who was named Simon, our Simon IV. Simon III lived to be nearly 80 years of age and he took on the job of raising Simon IV’s three small children as we shall talk of later.

At this point we need to go back in time to pick up another ancestor out at the mists of the unknown. This was a John Dove born about 1634 who lived and had something to do with food or drinks in St Pauls. In his will dated l680 he leaves to his son William some leather and shoemaking materials along with the bench and etc. This is important because we believe that he was then living in, if he did not own it, the little shop known as the Robin Hoode Inn.

This little bit or history concerning the Robin Hoode Inn was important to me because in our Family Traditions we had the story of some property which was left in England and which the family was unable to sell before they left and which was probably worth quite a sum of money at this time. My great Uncle Edward Covington was always going back to England to claim the said property and he had deeds with which to do it. Unfortunately he never ever was able to make the trip.

So I was eager to find more on this Robin Hoode Inn. On the 25 November 1718 a John Cooch married Dorothy Hensman in Kempston, Bedfordshire and at this time a marriage settlement mentioned two cottages and the Robin Hoode Inn, now in the occupation of William Dove. Next we find the Will of William Dove who was the son of John Dove and who is called a cordwinder (shoemaker) at this time, and in this will he leaves to his daughter Elizabeth Berriel the "house she now liveth in, known by the name of the Robin Hoode, to her and her heirs forever."  He also leaves to his son William Dove jr my house in Mill Lane the house I now live in. This Mill Lane is in St Cuthberts and this is important also and may be one of the two cottages mentioned in the marriage settlement.

Now, to go back to our Simon IV. He was born 21 Sep l735 and married in St Cuthberts to Jane Berrill who was the daughter of William Berrill and Elizabeth Dove (she is the one in William Dove's will who was given the Robin Hoode Inn). We have so far been unable to prove the parentage of William Berrill, but believe he may have came from Northamptonshire which records we have not as yet obtained for our library. Although much research has been done there already.

This Simon IV was a thatcher which means he applied the straw to the roofs of the houses.

Simon and Jane seem to be living in St Cuthberts at this time and their four children are listed in that Parish register and yet the Robin Hoode seems to have been on the main street in the center of Bedford which would have been in St Pauls.  Perhaps they were living in one of the two cottages given in the marriage settlement.  Simons brother William had by this time married a sister to Jane Berril by the name of Elizabeth. We find later that they are living in the Robin Hoode and it may be because our Simon did not become a shoemaker but chose to become a thatcher instead.

At any rate tragedy seems to stalk this little family; They had two sons: Edward born 1760 and again the second son was our Simon V born 1763, John the third son born l765 only lived one day. Then in 1766 and I believe that it may have been at the birth of another son whom they named John, the young mother died on the 4th Sep and one month later on 2 Oct the father also passed away, at the age of thirty-one years leaving three small children under six.

This Simon, the thatcher left a will and in it he bequeaths his share or one half of the house in which my brother William now liveth and which is commonly called or known as the Robin Hoode in the said town of Bedford and also all his monies and whatever he has in trust to his Father Simon Covington and his brother William to be used to care for his three young children. The will was signed the 30 September which was shortly after his wife's death.

One more will throws light onto the property deeds which Uncle Edward said he had in his possession. Our Simon V who became an orphan at his parent's death had the older brother Edward (brother to his father Simon IV) who seems to be looking out for him. We have the will of Edward Covington of St Peters dated 1812, in which he leaves to his nephew Simon, son of Simon, of Wells St. the cottage with all rights belonging thereto which is situate in the Parish of St Peters which I lately purchased of Martha Butter and now in the occupation of John Belden, shoemaker.  This was the Simon V who married Elizabeth Brown and we know he was a shoemaker and the father of your Simon VI and my Berril.

I had a researcher in England who knew I was interested to find out more of The Robin Hoode. He made inquiries and came up with the opinion that it had now become known as the "Crossed Keys". In those days they had the shop on the ground floor and lived upstairs. And so one can imagine that back in 1650 John Dove had an eating and drinking place in the downstairs part and it may have continued or it may have been partly used as a shoemaking shop by those who were shoemakers like William Dove and our Simon Covington.

I know Mother always wondered if the story was true and if the property was all that was described and I can't help wishing that we could have found these facts and stories for her to enjoy.

About 1794, Simon V, the shoemaker moved his family to Wellingborough, Northamptonshire.  I believe it had something to do with the fact that it was here that the first effort was made to put shoemaking into a factory. Up until this time you went to your nearest shoemaker who might have a small shop or even a room in his home and ordered your shoes and he made them to fit that particular feet according to your specifications. Wellingborough became famous for the first large scale attempt at assembly line shoemaking. At any rate we know they were there in 1797 when one of their daughters was buried there.  My grandfather claimed to have been born there in 1794, but when we found a record of the family it listed St Pauls as the birthplace for all of the children.

We find also at this time that Simon and Elizabeth’s children are not listed in any of the five Parish registers in Bedford.  We finally found out that they had separated themselves from the Church of England and joined a congregation which called themselves Independents and here we found the record of the births of some of Simon's children and also of Berril's family. They met in what was called the Old Meeting House on Mill Lane or sometimes referred to as Independents Mill Street Chapel.

I feel that this story would not be complete without a little history and description of Bedford since it is near and dear to the hearts of all of us who had our beginnings in that famous City.

Bedford is one of the largest cities of Bedfordshire. It is the county seat and is situated about forty-eight miles from London. The great river Ouse winds its way from the northeast border through all the north central portion and exits into Buckinghamshire on the west. It cuts right through the City of Bedford and from the pictures its banks are beautified and it forms a large part of the recreation of the city such as boating picnicking etc.

Bedfordshire is an inland county and contains about 1:63 square miles. It is generally level with its highest hills not more than five hundred feet high. It's fertile soil make it suitable for farming which along with stockraising arid dairying are its main industries. Years ago hat making and lacemaking were important, but now on a limited scale.

One description I found said that much of it is not so different or so much changed from the days when our ancestors walked its streets, attended its churches and struggled for their existence within it's boundaries. It was here in Bedford City Jail that John Bunyan the great puritan preacher and writer was a prisoner from 1660-72.  He was imprisoned because he refused to give up his beliefs after the restoration of the Catholic Church, and it was while he was a prisoner that he began to write and in 1675 while serving another six months term that he wrote most of his greatest book "Pilgrims Progress"

It was through him and others like him that religious intolerance was finally broken down and by the time our Covington Family  carne along they were free to join any one of half a dozen churches, but even so they were still labeled as dissenters it they had their children baptized in one of the Parish churches of that time.

The city of Bedford is divided into five areas each taking the name of the church within its boundaries and known as Parishes. The five are: St Pauls, which is the largest and situated in the center of the city near the river: St Peters: St Cuthberts: St Marys and St Johns.

The Berril Covington family moved from Bedford to Liverpool some few years before 1852 where they got work making shoes for the army to get money to go to America. This followed their conversion to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints or Mormons. But their family was large so three of them came first. The oldest daughter Mary Ann and Berril Jr emigrated in 1842. Later the brother Simon (Simeon) came out but got as far as California and never did rejoin his family in Utah. Josiah another brother never made it to America but his wife and family along with Berril’s family sailed from Liverpool in 1852. They joined a wagon train and crossed the plains to Utah with most of them walking most of the distance.

I did not know too many of my Covington relatives personally as most of the older ones were long gone before I was old enough to care much about those things. Also because my Grandfather Berril and most of his family moved to Ogden, Utah which was about sixty-five miles from where we lived and where he had first settled. In those early days we had no car and those kind of trips were always just a dream away. And so my memories are mainly from the stories which came to me through my mother from her mother Priscilla Covington who was the youngest child in the family of Berrill Covington.  I do remember my grandmother Priscilla even though I was only about seven years old when she died. My Mother always seemed to have a particular fondness for her Covington relatives and I always thought the stories were romantic and fascinating.

Of course there was the one of the valuable property left behind which we could dream of selling and making us all rich. Then there was the stories of Priscilla as a little girl of eight years who was brave enough to be baptized in January in the frozen over river Ouse in the middle of the night. This had to be done after a hole was made in the ice and at night because of the bad feelings against the Mormon church at this time.  And then the stories she told of their long walk to Utah which I thought sounded so romantic at the time.

I remember one of our Covington cousins who had a trained animal act which included horses that could count and a dog that walked a tight rope. I was young at the time and don't remember his first name or how he fits into the family but I have thought that he was maybe a son of Alonzo Covington who ran a livery stable in Salt Lake City for many years.

Simeon Covington, one of Berril's sons who remained in California drove one of the big mule teams which were used to haul Borax out or the desert and I having seen these things portrayed in movies always thought this must have taken a lot of practice and know-how to handle three or four of these teams at once with their heavy loads.

I have always thought they must have had their share of the spirit of adventure to leave their homes, friends, and families, and a lot of courage to brave the perils of a new country.  And this brings to mind another of our ancestors who was among the passengers of the Mayflower which brought to the American shores the brave men and women who were to establish the first permanent colony in the New World.

This was on the Tillie Line which I mentioned before. Mary Tillie was the grandmother of Elizabeth Upton who married Simon II. Mary's grandfather was a John Tillie who with his wife Joan and his youngest daughter, along with his brother Edward Tillie and Edward’s wife made up five of the passengers who sailed on that famous ship in 1620.  We know that due to the fact that the Captain set them ashore in Massachussetts instead of Virginia and in December which in Mass. is bitterly cold. And due to the fact that the Mayflower was overcrowded and that they had to remain on board for the rest of that cold winter that about a third of the little colony died of malnutrition and disease that first year. John and Edward and both of their wives were among that number.  They were about fifty years of age at the time and had left the rest of their family in England among which was Robert Tillie the father of Mary. The daughter Elizabeth survived and married one of the men of the colony and they have a large family of eleven children many descendants in New England.

During the month of February in this year 1984 something very thrilling and remarkable happened and we have become reunited with one of our lost families who also answered the call of adventure and settled in Australia in about 1839. The ancestor of this branch of our family was Simon the brother of Berril and about whom we knew nothing until a letter arrived from one of his great great grandsons a Mr. Darren Foster who through his efforts has managed to establish contact.

This branch of the family adds a new and exciting chapter to our Covington story.

This Simon Covington who was known throughout his life as Syms, left home perhaps soon after the death of his father which event happened Mar 1831. His Mother had passed away about ten years earlier. At any event we find him in Plymouth which is a southern seaport in December of that year.  Why Plymouth? Perhaps the call to adventure which is strong in young men and he was about twenty-two years old at the time.

Here he signed on as a "Fiddler" and cabin boy on the H.M.S. Beagle a small Naval Brig about ninety feet in length, and carrying 74 men. It was to be a scientific gathering voyage. Also signed on board as an expert “Naturalist” was a young man about the same age as Syms by the name of Charles Darwin.

The Beagle sailed from Plymouth 27 December 1831 and little did they know that before they next touched English soil they would have circumnavigated the globe and five years would have passed. They arrived in England 1 Oct 1836.

It was not long before Syms was made an assistant to Charles Darwin and the two then gathered specimens of every living thing which Charles then used to prove his Theory of Evolution and which then became his most famous writing "The Origin of the Species”

One might think that young Syms would have had enough of foreign lands and sailing, but in 1839, he was off to Australia where he married his wife and raised a large family of nine children. He worked here as an Inn Keeper and postmaster. Perhaps he had some experience in Inn Keeping in his early days.

Since those early days back in l500’s our Covingtons have had many and varied occupations: Inn Keeper, shoemaker, fanner, shepherd, laborer, thatcher, post­master, Livery-stable-keeper, trainer of animals, mining, railroading and many more that I don't remember or know about. But no matter what I have a great love and respect for the part they have played in my life.

I read these words in a little history of Bedford: "Bedford on the River Ouse is a charming town full of character and steeped in History." I would like to paraphrase this to read: The Covingtons of Bedford were charming people full of character and ever striving to make that history."  


AND YET... ANOTHER VERSION by Vaden Covington

Brief Covington Story- From 831 A.D. to the 1976 Bicentennial

The name Covington originates from "Kolbin" which the Norseman, Turgesin brought with him when he invaded Northern Ireland in 831 A.D. It was translated by the Irish as "Covan." In the migration to Scotland the name became "Cova." In the further migration to England the name became "Cov" the name: "Ing" meaning people and "Ton" meaning town. Thus town of Cov's people or Covington.

Covington appears in Baiamund's Roll as "Covingtoune" - in the 1086 A.D. Domesday Book as "Covintune" - in the 1126 A.D. Episcopal Register as "Cuvintone" and in the 1260 A.D. Assize Rolls of Huntingdonshire as "Couyngton."

The town of Covington is located 65 miles north of London, England and 3 miles from the famed Kambolton Castle where Catherine of Arragon was in exile, while King Henry VIII formed the Church of England, so he could divorce her.

The Covington Church was built in Covington in 1171 A.D. and is still used and in good repair. My wife and I were there in 1971 to help celebrate the 800th year since the Church was dedicated. (Covington Church which has served the parish of Covington, England for over 800 years. Its fine Norman doorway and ancient heraldic glass gives a direct link with the Norman Conquest of England. One of its early ministers was Nicol de Covington.)

Nehemiah de Covington, my ancestor was born 1628 A.D. in Covington, Huntingdonshire, England. Left Covington, and arrived in Northampton, Virginia, in 1646. He was a grist mill stone cutter, blacksmith and tobacco planter. He registered this Owl's Head Trade Mark in 1663.

Thomas Covington, son of Nehemiah registered the "Quarter Circle above the C" brand shown here in 1691. He was a stone cutter as were many Covington's in our line. He was the Great Grandfather of General Leonard Covington shown later.

Many Covingtons were prominent in United States History: here are a few that we have in our Bicentennial display at the County Museum here in Redlands:

Benjamin Covington, General under General George Washington in the Continental Army. Elected to Continental Convention in 1788. Later he was granted "Plantation Acreage" and a pension by Congress.

William Covington, served as Captain in the Virginia Colonial Army under General George Washington. He served as Adjutant General to George Washington in the Continental Army and wrote the terms of surrender at Yorktown. Congress granted him 2500 acres of land for his outstanding service.

Matthew Poythress Covington, was the Colonial Surveyor for King George III. He joined the Continental Army and was captured by the British. He made his escape and was later appointed to set up the North Carolina Military Academy.

Captain Henry Covington, served under General George Washington and married Winifred Stone, whose father was a signer of the Declaration of Independence. He was District Judge for many years and had a large farm on the side.

General Leonard Covington, entered the Army in 1792, was commissioned lieutenant of Dragons in 1793. Joined Wayne's Legion in 1794, and greatly distinguished himself in the battles of the Maumee, Fort Recovery and the battle of Miami. Subsequently, returning to Maryland, he was elected to Congress. He later moved to Natchez, Mississippi, where he took command of Fort Dearborn. He later, with 600 soldiers, took possession of West Florida, (which consisted of the now pan-handle of Florida, part of Georgia, Alabama and Mississippi) for the United States from the English and French who claimed it. He then retired and built a mansion at Washington, Mississippi, 6 miles from Natches, which still stands in good repair.

At the outbreak of the 1812 War with England, General Covington re-enlisted, built and took command of Fort Covington across the St. Laurence River from Montreal, Canada. He was killed in the Battle of Chrysler's Field in Canada, November 11, 1813. He was buried at Fort Covington and in 1820, was removed to Mount Covington, Sackets Harbor, New York. Most of the places, counties and forts named Covington in the Untied States were named in the General's honor.

James Wall Covington, my grandfather, moved from North Carolina in 1840 to Mississippi, where he started our present business of making grinding equipment. He made hand and foot grinders for grinding farm tools, gem coral and sea shells for trinkets in the Indian Fur trade. In 1848, he registered the Covington Trade Mark as shown on the front of our catalog. During the Civil War, at the end he was broke because the Confederate money was worthless. Things were so bad in the south that he decided to move to California by ox teams. The Indians were on the warpath, along the Santa Fe Trail, so he decided to take the long Mormon Trail by way of Salt Lake City.

He loaded the bottom of the wagons with Covington Grinders for trading stock and started out on this two year journey (which can be made in 2 hours by air now). My father, Wm. Vaden Covington, was one year old when they left and three years old when they arrived where Redlands is now.

Part of each day was used to herd the oxen for feed and hunting for food, so travel was very slow. My grandfather had a brother in Salt Lake. He helped to make trades of Covington Grinders for supplies and get a guide to take them through the desert to Redlands, California. Feed for the oxen would be poor and very little hunting. Mormon guides always insisted on feeding the Indians along the way to keep on good terms with them, so it took extra food. My folks arrived where Redlands is now in 1868.

In 1873 James Wall Covington registered this "M T" mark in San Bernardino County which he used on his grinding arbors and livestock. We still use this trademark and brand.

You will notice in our catalog that we are members of the Exclusive California State 100 Year Club. That we have been making grinding equipment in the Redlands area for over 100 years, to serve you.

Covington's and Dr. Gerald Smith, Director of our San Bernardino County Museum here in Redlands invite you to visit our display, "The Covington Story 831 A.D. to 1976"...



I received the following e-mail in July 2007 from Victoria Chulkova (

Dear Madam / Sir,

My name is Victoria Chulkova.

On your web site I have known some information concerning the name Covington - Kolbin.
My mother's name was Tamara Kolbin. Her father was Victor Kolbin and her grandfather was  Vasiliy Kolbin. The family was living in Kotelnichi near Viatka, Russia. The name Kolbin is very rare in Russia, as it is not Russian one. I don't have any information when Kolbins came to Russia, and I don't have any information about Kolbins before Mr. Vaisily Kolbin. He left Russia in the beginning of XX century to UK and was leaving in Hornsea (York) till his death in
earlier 60's.

Do you have any information how Kolbins got to Russia.

Thank you in advance,

Kind regards,

Victoria Chulkova (Mrs.)


W.D. Bostick of Oak Ridge, TN offers the following opinion, Rev: August, 2001

 COVINGTON - A Richmond County, NC lineage

Early Lineages: England  Maryland  North Carolina

It is still quite debatable who may be the English progenitor for this line.  Most accounts of the early Covingtons, both in England and in America, include much speculation.  This author (WDB) does not consider the decent defensibly ‘proved” until generation (7) below: William Wall  ("Uncle Billy") Covington (1777-1852).

DaCosta E. Covington in a note to this author (Oct-2000) then favored the following lineage: (1) George Covington in Bedfordshire England, through (2) George, (3) William, (4) Peter (of Bedfordshire), (5) Henry (died MD 1744), then (6) John who came to North Carolina. The following brief details are taken from D.E. Covington’s book “Covingtons Remembered” (1991):

(1)   George Covington was christened 10-May-1568. This may be the George Covington that married Elizabeth Wilbrow 13-Mar-1576. His will, dated 1613 in the Bedfordshire parish of Turvey in England, lists 7 children, including William;

(2)   William Covington (d. abt 1662), a blacksmith, married Ann, and had 8 children, including Peter;

(3)   Peter Covington married Elizabeth, and had 5 children, including Henry;

(4)   Henry Covington (ch. 14-Nov-1681 in Turvey, Eng.), came to Maryland and died 1744 in Queen Anne’s County.  George Calvert (Lord Baltimore) had established the Maryland colony.  Henry Covington was living there by 1712 on his land called “Providence.” He died in Jul-1744, having collected a large estate. He had seven children, including John;

(5)   John Covington, Sr., was born abt 1710, married Mary Airey at St. Luke Church, Church Hill, MD on 31-Jul-1731.  He died abt May-1767 (Will 36ff 2-3 Queen Anne’s Co., MD). 

The LDS FamilySearch files favor an alternate descent (used in this database):

(1)   John COVINGTON (AFN:19ZX-S4G)

(2) Nehemiah COVINGTON (AFN:L8V8-60)  

Born:  1628  Place:  Coventry, Huntingdonshire, England
Died:  1681  Place:  Great Monie Crk, Somerset, Md
Buried:    Place:  Covington's V., Somerset, Maryland
Married:  Jul 1667  Place:  Covington's V., Great Monie Cr., Somerset, Maryland

Wife’s name:

Anne INGRAM (AFN:L8V8-75)  

Born:  1628  Place:  Of, Covington's V., Somerset, Maryland
Died:  1678  Place:  Of, Covington's V., Somerset, Maryland
Married:  Jul 1667  Place:  Covington's V., Great Monie Cr., Somerset, Maryland

(3) Thomas COVINGTON (AFN:L8V8-9H)  

Born:  10 May 1670  Place:  Great Monie Crk, Somerset, Md
Died:  30 May 1670  Place:  , Kent, Md
Buried:  1715  Place:  St Paul's Church, Kent, Md
Married:  Abt 1690  Place:  , Kent, Md

 Wife's Name:

 Rachel INGRAM (AFN:L8V8-3G)  

Born:  1672  Place:  Of, , Kent, Maryland
Buried:    Place:  St. Pauls Church, Kent, Md
Married:  Abt 1690  Place:  , Kent, Md

(4)  Henry COVINGTON (AFN:L8V7-ZS)  

Born:  1693  Place:  , Kent, Md
Died:  31 Jul 1744  Place:  Providence, Queen Annes, Md
Buried:  31 Jul 1744  Place:  , Queen Annes, Maryland
Married:  1712  Place:  , Queen Annes, Md

Wife's Name


Born:  1700  Place:  Of, Church Hill, Queen Annes, Md
Died:  Aft 31 1744 Jul  Place:  , Queen Ann, Maryland
Buried:    Place:  St. Pauls Church, Queen

Yet another source ( gives the emigrant ancestors as: (1) William Covington b. abt 1585 in England, and d. 22-May-1674 in Essex Co., VA. This source states that William came to America with Lord Baltimore in 1634.  This source gives a further descent as (2) John, Sr., then (3) John, Jr., with John, Jr., being the father of (4) Henry Covington (abt 1674-1744) of Queen Anne’s County, MD.

Researcher Mildred Covington Sossaman in her memoir traces her William Covington (ca 1753-1816) line back to Henry Covington (1744 will, Queen Anne’s Co, MD), through his son William born ca 1720 (Queen Anne’s Co, MD), and died after 1789 (will, Richmond Co., NC). She notes that there were multiple Covington lines, which had often intermarried.  Sorting out the early generations of Covington is probably impossible, and often is based more on “legends and lore.”


Covingtons of Richmond County, NC 

Reference: J.E. & I.C. Huneycutt (1976), “A History of Richmond County”

p.56: Early families of Richmond County: “The Covington, Everett, Cole, Dockery, Webb and McDonald families were among the earliest settlers; and the Covington’s probably have the best claim to aristocracy, having been members of Lord Baltimore’s settlement in Maryland.”

p. 63ff: The Covington families (by Elizabeth Williams Covington)

Records indicate a William Covington who may have come to the Richmond County area in 1743. “They are directly descended from Henry Covington who came to Queen Anne’s Co., Maryland, in 1760.  Two of his children came to Richmond County with their families – William, who married Sarah Newman and then after her death Rachel Thomas, and a daughter Sarah who married a Richardson.

“Another son of Henry was John who married Mary Airy in Maryland.  While they did not come to Richmond County, their ten children did.  From these ten came many other family names in Richmond County.

“From these fine families came many substantial citizens in the Ellerbe-Norman Section, the Zion community where Uncle Billy or William Wall Covington was the leader, .. (etc.).  The Covington descendants are the Walls, Everetts, Hunters, Capels, Baldwins, Gibsons, Terrys, Throwers, Ingrams, ledbetters, Coles, Littles, Dunns, Thomases, Masons, Usserys, Ropers, Crawfords, Kellys, Leaks, Thompsons, Steeles, Entwistles, Baltons, Smiths, Ellerbes, Nichols, Haywoods, Webbs, Watsons, Bosticks, Parsons, and Hudsons and probably others.  

Most compiled genealogies for the Covington’s of Anson and Richmond County, NC, are based upon the biographical sketches of Captain William Everett, which were published in the Rockingham Post Dispatch, Richmond Co., Volume 10, No. 35, July 21, 1927.  Some other Covington researchers have criticized some of the speculative assignments in these sketches, and some errors have been found (as would be true for all extensive compiled genealogies).  Capt. Everett begins with the traditional “three brothers” fable: “Tradition has it that there were three brothers bearing the above name (Covington) who came to Maryland from England with Lord Baltimore in 1632.”


Further opinion as to the true root of the Covington name appears in a file contributed for use in USGenWeb Archives

by: Joy Fisher February 4, 2008, 3:39 pm

Author: B. F. Johnson with references to Charles Manley Covington (ref 11477 in Covington History database files)

"The Covington family goes back to a very ancient period in both Scotland and England. The Scottish founder of the family was said to have been Colban, who nourished about the year 1120. From him came the local name of the parish which in 1190 was called Colbani. In 1212 it appears on the record as Colbaynistun. In 1396 it is called Colbanstoun. In 1480 it appears as Covington. This evolution in names and variations in spelling are very common in all of our English and Scotch names. The original meaning of the name was Col, black, ban, bone or leg. Colban, therefore, was "the blacklegged." In those days in Scotland the men wore
kilts, and were bare as to the greater part of the leg. It is therefore clear that Colban was of dark skin, and as the majority of those around him had fair skin it was very natural for them to seize upon this personal peculiarity by which to designate him, tthis being a custom in all primitive nations. This is the Scotch derivation. The English family originated in Huntingtonshire of that country. The early name was Coventon, afterwards changed into Covington. Coven or Covan was derived from the Latin conventus, a convent, and Coventon or Coventon thus means a convent town, the family evidently taking its name from some convent town. The old form of Coventon survived down to the seventeenth century, and Covent Garden, London, is a relic of this old spelling. In England
while the family name was spelled Coventon, a coat-of-arms was granted which is described as follows: "Az. fretty argules a saltier parted of the last between four estoiles or." Crest. "An heraldic tiger rampant gu. semee of estoiles armed and tufted or, supporting a tilting spearppre."    Motto, "Invidere Sperno."

The family history in America is rather obscure. One Thomas Coventon (who later spelled his name Covington) came from England and settled at Plymouth, about 1740. He was a master mariner, and retiring from the sea purchased large property in Old Plymouth. A younger brother, Jacob Covington, inherited his property. This family appears to have died out entirely in New England. Another
branch settled in Franklin county, New York State, and changed the name of old Fort Springs Mills to Fort Covington. The Maryland family appears to be the oldest in this country, and is beyond all reasonable doubt the parent stock of all the southern Covingtons. These Maryland Covingtons came over at the first settling of that colony by Lord Baltimore. The family tradition has it that
there were three brothers. The North Carolina and Virginia families are both believed to have been descended from these, and it is a tradition in the North Carolina family that two brothers, descended from one of the original Maryland settlers, came to Rockingham prior to 1776. These two brothers were John and William. A third brother settled in Covington, Ky., and gave his name to the town. Terrell Covington, father of the three brothers in Florida, was a descendant of John. A favorite name in the Maryland family was Leonard. Rebecca Covington, daughter of Leonard, married in 1750 Lieutenant Benjamin Mack-all, who was one of the earlist Maryland patriots and suffered much from Tory persecutions. John R. Covington, a member of the Maryland family, became a gunner in the navy, and died in 1840. Erasmus F., of the Kentucky family, was a lieutenant in the regular United States Army, and died in 1833. General Leonard Covington, of Maryland, born the thirtieth of October, 1768, entered the regular army as a Lieutenant under Anthony Wayne in 1792, was a captain in 1795, resigned late in that year, served in the Maryland Legislature in 1805-1807,
re-entered the army in 1809 as a Lieutenant-Colonel, was a Brigadier-General in the War of 1812, and fell mortally wounded at the battle of Chrysler's Field, on November n, 1813, leaving behind a record which entitled him to be classed not only as a gallant, but as a most capable soldier. Another prominent member, Judge Alexander Covington, of Mississippi, who died October 16, 1848, aged seventy-one, went from Virginia to Mississippi where he lived for forty years, was a Christian gentleman, charitable, hospitable, and of rare colloquial powers. It will thus be seen that the family is of ancient origin, has been long settled in our country, and has made an honorable record."

Extracted from: FLORIDA EDITION, MAKERS OF AMERICA, AN HISTORICAL AND BIOGRAPHICAL WORK BY AN ABLE CORPS OF WRITERS VOL. III. Published under the patronage of The Florida Historical Society, Jacksonville, Florida


"OUR KIN" by W.H.Manning Jr & Edna Anderson Manning

Published in 1958, this book contains a significantly detailed section on the Covington tree. Some of it is definitely inaccurate but nevertheless worthy of a read. This pdf format copy was sent to me by Duncan Covington in May 2012 and can be accessed by clicking on this link OUR KIN PDF



Recent correspondence has put me in touch with one Dr Dan Wharton from the Thomas Covington(1605 line) - he writes

" Offering to coordinate a Covington DNA project, employing "molecular genealogy" to explore the connections between the various Covington lineages.  The Y chromosome is inherited biologically from father to son in the way that surnames are "inherited" from father to son culturally.  By analyzing a set of genes on the Y chromosome, it is possible to see which same-surname lines are connected by common paternal line descent vs. those that only represent a coincidence of surname use.  This can be a tremendous help for Covington genealogists at a records impasse.The DNA test requires the sampling of male Covingtons only but female Covingtons and maternal line descendants can also employ the technique by getting cooperation from brothers, uncles or cousins.  Sampling is handled easily and conveniently through the mail.  Five or more participants allow for substantial discounts on the analysis. For more information, please contact Dan Wharton by e-mail at:  "


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