William Adams, of Trent & Somerton

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William Adams, of Trent & Somerton

Birthplace: Trent, Somerset , England
Death: Died in Somerton, Somersetshire, England
Immediate Family:

Son of Richard Adams, of Barton St. David and Margaret Esper
Husband of Elizabeth Adams and Elizabeth Adams
Father of Ambrose Adams; George Adams, I and Edward Adams
Half brother of Thomas Esper Adams, I; Roger Esper Adams; Ernest Adams; Archibald Adams; Alfred Adams and 11 others

Managed by: Private User
Last Updated:
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Immediate Family

About William Adams, of Trent & Somerton

William Adams

  • Born 1555 in Trent, Somerset, England
  • Son of Richard Adams
  • Brother of Mary (Adams) Salmon, Margarett (Adams) Hollis, Thomasine Adams, Joannah Adams, John Adams, Robert Adams
  • Husband of Elizabeth A. (Borrington) Adams — married [date unknown] [location unknown]
  • Father of Robert Adams, Samuel Adams, Ambrose Adams, George Adams, Margaret Adams, Mary Adams, John Adams, Thomas Adams and Edward Adams
  • Died after 1624 in Ireland, UK (????)


The surname of ADAM was a baptismal name 'the son of Adam', almost the prime favourite as a font name in the 13th Century. It was also a popular name in Scotland, and there is a legend that a Duncan Adam, who lived in the reign of Robert the Bruce, had four sons, Robert, John, Reginald, and Duncan, and that from them all the Adams, Adam, MacAdams and Adies in Scotland are descended. Early records of the name mention John Filius Adam was recorded in County Oxford, 1273. Johannes Adam of Yorkshire, was listed in the Yorkshire Poll Tax of 1379. Thomas Williams and Anne Addams were married in London in 1619, and Thomas Adams and Elizabeth Emerson, were married at St. George's, Hanover Square, London in the year 1640. John Adams (1735-1826) 2nd President of the United States; member of committee formed to draft the Declaration of Independence. John Adams (1760-1829), one of the Bounty's mutineers; founded settlement on Pitcairn Island. John Couch Adams (1819-1892), astronomer, discoverer of the planet Neptune. At first the coat of arms was a practical matter which served a function on the battlefield and in tournaments. With his helmet covering his face, and armour encasing the knight from head to foot, the only means of identification for his followers, was the insignia painted on his shield and embroidered on his surcoat, the flowing and draped garment worn over the armour. The burghs of Scotland owe much of their prosperity to the large immigration of foreigners which went on during the 12th and 13th centuries. The original founders of the towns, were in many cases wanderers from Flanders, who brought with them their habits of industry and knowledge of trade and manufacturer. Settlers of this description came in great numbers to England in the reign of Henry I (1100-1135) and when Henry II (1154-1189) drove all foreigners out of his dominions they flocked into Scotland, where a more enlightened policy made them welcome. The associated coat of arms is recorded in Sir Bernard Burkes General Armory. Ulster King of Arms in 1884.

Meaning of Adams

The meaning of the ancient name “Adams” (from Webster’s Dictionary) Welsh, Engl. – man; son of Adam; man of the red earth; red. Also (from Strong’s Concordance of the Bible) Heb. “Adamah” – red earth, brown earth, earth; also, “brown (or red) stranger” because he was made from clay.

This meaning is not new. It is as old as mankind. Moses, said to have been the author of the Pentateuch (Gen. 1:26, 2:7, 2:19), wrote, “And the Lord formed man of the dust of the ground.”

"Adam" means man of the earth. “Adams” means son of man. He is common, yet a stranger, not fully known.

“Adams is a baptismal surname,” said S. A. Perry, author and historian. Variant spellings have included Addams, Adamson, Addison, Aden, Aiken, MacAdams.

Perry noted that in the 13th century, Adam was “almost a prime favorite as a front-name” in Europe. In addition to being a highly popular first (given, or “Christian” name), it was also often tacked onto the front of various other surnames (last names, or “family” names). The “ad” part of “Adams” was used as an attachment to the front of a name, and took such forms as Addis, Adcock, Atkins, Atkinson, Addyman, etc.

The name “Adam” was more common in Scotland than in Ireland. However, it was also used in England, Wales, Germany, Prussia, and Holland, among other nations.

--Adams Family Records by S. A. Perry

Origins of the Name "Adams"

From Great Britain comes the notion that the name Adams is from ancient and royal pedigree. The name has come down through the millenia to modern times. In relatively recent centuries it has included princes, knights, Scottish royalty (Sir Adam) and American Presidents (John Adams, and his son John Quincy Adams), among many others. Supposedly, the first "Adams" to appear on the scene in Great Britain was Sir Adam du Gordon of Scotland. The first Adam recorded in Scotland was Sir Adam, a knight with a castle who pre-dated England's King Arthur (who lived cir 1137). Perhaps this was the same as “du Gordon.” From this lineage came Sir Adam de Ireys, the "earliest known ancestor" of the Irish, and from whom the name of Ireland was derived. He was a knight, born cir 1070, son of Joan Stutville and Hugh d'Iryshe. He went on the first Crusade in 1099. Another "ancestor" we can acknowledge of this name was Sir Adam of Glendonwyn, a baron in Scotland who was ambassador to England in 1376. He was the son of Margaret Wauchope and Adam fitz Hugh. The Scots first came to north Ireland as colonists at the behest of the English government. They lived mainly in Ulster, or Northern Ireland.

History of "Adams"

In a much more recent history, Author L. H. Adams Jr. gives us an interesting portrayal of his version of the origins of the Adams family. In a rare book now out of print, he outlines a genealogical “family tree” which he says shows how the modern “Adams family” descended from the “Early Milesian (Celtic) Kings of Ireland.” In trying to trace his own branch of the Adams tree from Ulster to Alabama, he states that the Ulster Scots (or Scots-Irish) descended from the ancient Celts, down through the Vikings, who invaded Scotland and Ireland. However, it is to be noted that the Scotsmen who subsequently were planted as colonists in Ulster by the English in the 17th Century , known as “The Plantation,” were the more immediate progenitors of those who migrated to American colonies in the 18th and 19th centuries. L. H. Adams takes his more ancient lineage from the book, Baronage of Scotland by Douglas, and includes Sir Adam du Gordon.

Adams “Coat of Arms”


Heraldry is both an art and a science unto itself. Therefore, no effort is made here to verify that our Adams clan has a “coat of arms,” or to authenticate such an emblem if it exists at all. Normally, a coat of arms was bestowed upon a knight for chivalry and courage in battle, and belonged to him alone. The coat came to the knight from the baron or king under whose banner he had fought. The knight’s son, usually the firstborn, could inherit the coat if he were deemed worthy. But it was never intended to be for other heirs, or for the family at large.

Nevertheless, many modern families in America often claim a “coat of arms” as a matter of prestige, and there are business and membership organizations that cater to their desire for such insignia with a willingness to produce an emblem, for a fee. In doing so, these organizations also provide a so-called “genealogy,” portending to trace the family surname back to the knight on whom the honor was first bestowed. Such genealogies are for the most part stereotypical, and should not necessarily be considered genuine or reliable.

Nevertheless, for the sake of interest in the subject, there is said to be an “Adams Coat of Arms” with Scottish and Irish roots. It consists of a silver shield signifying sincerity, with a red cross (strength) and a gold star (generosity). On the crest is a silver martlet, a bird that represents perpetual movement, as of one dispossessed of land. The motto is “Certior in Coleo Domus.” “The Adams family can trace their ancestors back to the ancient territories of the Scottish-English Border Ridings between the 11th and 12th centuries….and (in England) back to Strathclyde Briton, and first appeared in medieval records in Aunandale…. “In Ireland, ’Adams’ is of immigrant origin, brought to Ulster by (Scottish) settlers in the 17th century. It is a synonym for ‘Aidy’ and ‘Eadie’ in County Down. Many descendants with that name are still found in Ulster.”

--(from Coat of Arms Shop on the internet:www.coatofarmsshop.com.) --Adams Coat of Arms Artwork by Vickie Brooks Adams

Of Common Clay

The Adams name is not only ancient and noble--but also a common name of the simple soil. The Adamses in our family line were certainly, as they say,“down to earth.” According to our own oral tradition, we are Scots-Irish, and hence originally came from Scotland through Ireland.

Just when the Adamses of our line, originally from Scotland, left Ireland to come to America is not clear. There were two major upheavals in Ireland when such emigration from there to America could have logically occurred: one was the major economic decline of the late 1600s which caused many Roman Catholics to leave for Spain, and many Protestants to come to America. Again, the Irish Potato Famine in the mid 1800s caused a massive emigration. My speculation is that our ancestors came to this country after the first crisis, possibly in the early 1700s. They were already here when the Potato Famine occurred.

Adamses in America

Drawing on the work of Ed Adams, a genealogical researcher who has published his findings on the internet on a web page named “Adams Family Genealogy,” we can briefly summarize his report.

According to him, there were two main lines of early Adams migrations into America in the Eighteenth Century--one was English, with most of them settling in Massachusetts; and the other was “Scotch-Irish,” mainly settling in Pennsylvania and Virginia, later branching out to Kentucky, Indiana, Tennessee and beyond. The “Scotch-Irish,” as they were often called in America, had a colorful and troubled background, and they took a troubled and colorful part in the settlement of the American frontier.

One of the first of the line seems to have been a William I. Adams, born in Antrim County, Ireland circa 1717-1723. He came to America, landing at Norfolk, Virginia, in 1742. He married Mary Walker in 1744. She, too, had been born in Ireland. They later settled on the Catawba River in Bedford County, Virginia. After that they moved to Augusta County, which was divided in 1770, and the part they lived on was part of Botetourt County, and that is where all their children were born. William died in Mercer County in 1795. Mary is presumed to have died prior to 1789.

Their son, Samuel Clark Adams, born March 27, 1752, was an adventurer and explorer by the time he was eighteen. He was part of a group of ten men known as the McAfee Company that surveyed Kentucky in 1773.

This same Samuel Clark Adams fought beside Virginia militiamen at the Battle of Point Pleasant in 1774, at which the Shawnee Indians were defeated. He married Anne Curry circa 1776, and moved with other Adamses, McAfees and Nevins to what is now Vigo and Parke Counties, Indiana, between 1811 and 1814.

Another early Adams settler was also named Samuel Adams. He was born in Ireland circa 1745. He settled and married, also in Botetourt County, Virginia. Later, however, he moved to Mercer County, Kentucky, circa 1779.

All of these early movements were made, as we moderns would say, “with difficulty.” They had to travel through dense forests in rain, shine, and fog; cross roaring rivers with the help of no bridge or barge, and most of the time not knowing where the best crossing or fjord could be found; and negotiate with Indians, who may or may not be friendly, and who did not know their language. There were mountains, gorges, ravines in their path. While they were doing these things they were also hunting and fishing for food, each day in a new location; driving oxen, and riding horses, which also needed to be fed, watered, and cared for; pulling or pushing one or more heavy wagons, through mud and bog and sand; mending the wagon, as well as shoes, clothing, harnesses, and weapons; and caring for one another, especially their children, who might get injured or become ill.

Other "David" Adamses

The earliest known ancestor of this present line of Adamses was David.

David Heb. - Dawidh - shepherd

We have dubbed him “David the Elder” to distinguish him from his son, David M. Adams, and his grandson, David Anderson Adams.

There were several Adams boys and men on the American frontier named David.

The plenitude of such names has made it difficult to find the David who is our ancestor, the “needle” in the proverbial “haystack” of ancestral names.

Several of these David Adamses lived in Alabama and Arkansas, with descendants coming to Texas, much like the David of our lineage. There was, for example, David Adams of Craighead County, Arkansas, one of whose sons lived virtually in the same place as one of David the Elder’s sons. There was David Adams of St. Louis, a trapper and trader who wrote a “Journal,” and who corresponded with his father who lived in Marshall County, Alabama, next door to our David the Elder. Then there was General David Adams of Georgia, who had migrated from South Carolina shortly after the American Revolution. And there was David Adams of Davidson County, Tennessee, son of Thomas Adams of Virginia, who was so close to being David the Elder, that he actually might have been—but he is claimed by another genealogy that is not our line.

Our research down to the present day includes the discovery of a James Adams in New Jersey who is linked to our family by DNA evidence. His father was Jacob Adams, his grandfather was William Adams, and his great-grandfather was Jonathan Adams. One of William's brothers was named David, but it is not yet known if the two Davids are identical.

William Adams

  • Birth: 1555 in Of Trent, Somersetshire, England
  • Death: 1624 in Somerton, Somersetshire, England
  • Burial: 1624 Barton St. David, Somersetshire, England
  • Father: Richard Adams b: 1530 in Barton, Somersetshire, England
  • Mother: Alice b: ABT 1535 in Of Barton, St. David, Somersetshire, England


  1. Borrington b: ABT 1557 in <Devonshire, England> Married: ABT 1570 in Towstall, Dartmouth, Deonshire, England


  1. John Adams b: 1575 in Ditchet, Somersetshire, England
  2. Ambrose Adams b: ABT 1578 in Ditchet, Somersetshire, England
  3. George Adams b: ABT 1585 in Queen Camel, Somersetshire, England

Note: Ref; AFN: 8WT2-8C- "Caution" Incorrect data. Not parents of Henry Adams husband of Edith Rosamund Squire.

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William Adams, of Trent & Somerton's Timeline

Trent, Somerset , England
Age 23
Ditchet, Somersetshire, England
Age 30
Queen Camel, Somersetshire, England
Age 64
Somerset, England
Age 70
Somerton, Somersetshire, England
Barford St. Martin, Wiltshire, England