Person:Stephen Hopkins (2)

  1. Susanna Hopkins
  2. Stephen Hopkins1581 - abt 1644
  • HStephen Hopkins1581 - abt 1644
  • WMary - 1613
m. bef 1604
  1. Elizabeth Hopkins1604 - BEF 1632
  2. Constance Hopkins1606 - 1677
  3. Giles Hopkins1607/8 - 1689
m. 19 Feb 1617/8
  1. Damaris HopkinsABT 1618 - AFT 1627
  2. Oceanus Hopkins1620 - abt 1621
  3. Caleb Hopkinsabt 1623 - 1644-1651
  4. Deborah Hopkinsabt 1626 - bet 1666-1674
  5. Damaris Hopkinsabt 1628 - 1665
  6. Ruth HopkinsAbt 1630 - 1644-1651
  7. Elizabeth Hopkinsabt 1632 - 1659
Facts and Events
Name Stephen Hopkins
Gender Male
Christening[1] 30 Apr 1581 Upper Clatford, Hampshire, England
Marriage bef 1604 Probably Hampshire, Englandto Mary
Marriage 19 Feb 1617/8 Whitechapel, Middlesex, EnglandSt. Mary Matfellon
to Elizabeth Fisher
Immigration? 11 Nov 1620 Plymouth aboard the Mayflower
Occupation[2] Tanner, leathermaker, merchant
Reference Number? Q7609519?
Death[5] abt Jul 1644 Plymouth, Plymouth, Massachusetts, United States
  Genealogy well done. Exemplary WeRelate page with excellent use of original sources.

Stephen Hopkins was one of the 102 passengers on the Mayflower; one of the 52 that survived the first winter (his family was one of only four that survived intact), and of the 24 families that left descendants. He was not a Pilgrim, but was recruited to help provide governance for the colony.



Caleb Johnson, who has written a biography of Hopkins, writes, "Stephen Hopkins was not from Wortley, Wotton-under-Edge, Gloucestershire, as has been previously published in numerous books and articles, and the claim he married a woman named Constance Dudley is complete fiction. This alleged origin was disproven in my article, "The True English Origins of Stephen Hopkins of the Mayflower", published in The American Genealogist 73:161-171. The Wotton-under-Edge claim was never factually sound to begin with, based simply on a few name coincidences and wild speculations."

Johnson found the baptisms of Stephen's children Giles and Constance, as well as the burial of his wife Mary, at Hursley, Hampshire, England. Giles, Constance, and additional daughter Elizabeth are named in Mary's estate papers dated 10 May 1613.

In 2002, Ernest Christienson published the results of his search of "some 137 parish records and other sources," concluding that Stephen was most likely the son of John Hopkins and Elizabeth Williams, baptized the 'last of April', 1581, at Upper Clatford, Hampshire. [7]

The Sea Venture

Stephen Hopkins had already been to America once before the trip on the Mayflower. He sailed from England to Jamestown, Va., as a 31-year-old in 1609 aboard the new flagship of the Virginia Company, the Sea Venture. The Sea Venture didn't make its destination. Instead it was ship wrecked on the Isle of Devils on the Bermudas during a hurricane with 150 other men aboard. Hopkins attempted to start a mutiny, and was sentenced to death when discovered. He was pardoned after complaining of the "ruin of his wife and children". The remaining survivors spent nine months building two ships from Bermuda cedar and the remains of the Sea Venture. The men sailed safely to Jamestown, which lay in ruins with few survivors. After catching a vessel back to England in the fall of 1610 he discovered that his wife had died of the plague. The story goes that the Sea Venture shipwreck and Hopkins' mutiny inspired William Shakespeare, who wrote his 1610 play "The Tempest" depicting Stephen Hopkins as the character Stephano.[8]

The Mayflower

Stephen was not a Pilgrim. He was recruited by the Merchant Adventurers to provide governance for the colony as well as assist with the colony's ventures. He was a member of a group of passengers known to the Pilgrims as "The Strangers" since they were not part of the Pilgrim's religious congregation.[9]

Stephen is recorded in Bradford's passenger list as "Mr. Stephen Hopkins and Elizabeth his wife, and two children called Giles and Constanta, a daughter, both by a former wife. And two more by this wife called Damaris and Oceanus; the last was born at sea. and two servants called Edward Doty and Edward Lester." [10]

After the Mayflower arrived off the shores of Cape Cod in November 1620, Stephen was one of the men who explored the area before they decided to settle at Plymouth. From Mourt's Relation:

"Wednesday, the sixth of December [1620]. It was resolved our discoverers should set forth ... So ten of our men were appointed who were of themselves willing to undertake it, to wit, Captain Standish, Master Carver, William Bradford, Edward Winslow, John Tilley, Edward Tilley, John Howland, and three of London, Richard Warren, Stephen Hopkins, and Edward Doten, and two of our seamen, John Alderton, and Thomas English. Of the ship's company there went two of the master's mates, Master Clarke and Master Coppin, the master gunner, and three sailors ... [11]

Stephen also took part in what is known a the "First Encounter":

" ... the 6th of December [1620] they sent out their shallop again with ten of their principal men and some seamen, upon further discovery, intending to circulate that deep bay of Cape Cod. The weather was very cold and it froze so hard as the spray of the sea lighting on their coats, they were as if they had been glazed. Yet that night betimes they got down into the bottom of the bay, and as they drew near the shore they saw some ten or twelve Indians very busy about something. They landed about a league or two from them ... they made themselves a barricade with logs and boughs as well as they could in the time, and set out their sentinel and betook them to rest, and saw the smoke of the fire the savages made that night.

"When morning was come they divided their company, some to coast along the shore in the boat, and the rest marched through the woods to see the land, if any fit place might be for their dwelling. They came also to the place where they saw the Indians the night before, and found they had been cutting up a great fish like a grampus ... So they ranged up and down all that day, but found no people, nor any place they liked. When the sun grew low, they hasted out of the woods to meet with their shallop ... of which they were very glad, for they had not seen each other all that day since the morning. So they made them a barricade as usually they did every night, with logs, stakes and thick pine boughs, the height of a man, leaving it open to leeward, partly to shelter them from the cold and wind (making their fire in the middle and lying round about it) and partly to defend them from any sudden assaults of the savages, if they should surround them; so being very weary, they betook them to rest. But about midnight they heard a hideous and great cry, and their sentinel called "Arm! arm!" So they bestirred them and stood to their arms and shot off a couple of muskets, and then the noise ceased. They concluded it was a company of wolves or such like wild beasts, for one of the seamen told them he had often heard such noise in Newfoundland.

"So they rested till about five of the clock in the morning; for the tide, and their purpose to go from thence, made them be stirring betimes. So after prayer they prepared for breakfast, and it being day dawning it was thought best to be carrying things down to the boat ... But presently, all on the sudden, they heard a great and strange cry, which they knew to be the same voices they heard in the night, though they varied their notes; and one of their company being abroad came running in and cried, "Men, Indians! Indians!" And withal, their arrows came flying amongst them. Their men ran with all speed to recover their arms, as by the good providence of God they did. In the meantime, of those that were there ready, two muskets were discharged at them, and two more stood ready in the entrance of their rendezvous but were commanded not to shoot till they could take full aim at them. And the other two charged again with all speed, for there were only four had arms there, and defended the barricade, which was first assaulted. The cry of the Indians was dreadful, especially when they saw their men run out of the rendezvous toward the shallop to recover their arms, the Indians wheeling about upon them. But some running out with coats of mail on, and cutlasses in their hands, they soon got their arms and let fly amongst them and quickly stopped their violence ...

"Thus it pleased God to vanquish their enemies and give them deliverance; and by his special providence so to dispose that not any one of them were either hurt or hit, though their arrows came close by them and on every side [of] them; and sundry of their coats, which hung up in the barricado, were shot through and through. Afterwards they gave God solemn thanks and praise for their deliverance, and gathered up a bundle of their arrows and sent them into England afterward by the master of the ship, and called that place the FIRST ENCOUNTER."[12]

After surviving the winter, the settlers explored the area, visiting nearby Indian settlements. In July, they sent Edward Winslow and Stephen to visit their new friend Massasoit at his village 40 miles away.

12 July 1621 : "Having in some sort ordered their business at home, it was thought meet to send some abroad to see their new friend Massasoit, and to bestow upon him some gratuity to bind him the faster unto them; as also that hereby they might view and country and see in what manner he lived, what strength he had about him, and how the ways were to his place, if at any time they should have occasion. So the second of July they sent Mr. Edward Winslow and Mr. Hopkins, with the foresaid Squanto for their guide; who gave him a suit of clothes and a horseman's coat, with some other small things, which were kindly accepted; but they found but short commons and came both weary and hungry home. For the Indians used then to have nothing so much corn as they have since the English have stored them with their hoes, and seen their industry in breaking up new grounds therewith. "They found his place to be forty miles from hence, the soil good and the people not many, being dead and abundantly wasted in the late great mortality, which fell in all these parts about three years before the coming of the English, wherein thousands of them died. They not being able to bury one another, their skulls and bones were found in many places lying still above the ground where their houses and dwellings had been, a very sad spectacle to behold. But they brought word that the Narragansetts lived but on the other side of that great bay, and were a strong people and many in number, living compact together, and had not been at all touched with this wasting plague." [13]

Settling Plymouth

The 1623 Division of Land marked the end of the Pilgrims' earliest system of land held in common by all. Parcels of land were alloted to each family. [14] Plymouth Colony Records, Deeds, &c, Vol. I 1627-1651 is the oldest record book of the Plymouth settlement. It begins with the 1623 Division of Land, recorded in the handwriting of Governor William Bradford. The lands of Stephen Hopkins were among those designated as "their grounds which came first over in the May Floure, according as thier lotes were case" and described as, "these lye on the South side of the brook to the woodward opposite to the former Steuen Hopkins." The name of "Steuen Hopkins" is followed by the names of 2 Edwards, no last name given, possibly representing Edward Dotey and Edward Lester.

In 1627, the colony divided the cows and goats among all the settlers, in groups of 13. "The seauenth lott fell to Stephen Hopkins & his company Joyned to him (2) his wife Elizabeth Hopkins (3) Gyles Hopkins (4) Caleb Hopkins (5) Debora Hopkins (6) Nickolas Snow (7) Constance Snow (8) William Pallmer (9) ffrances Pallmer (10) Willm Pallmer Jnor (11) John Billington Senor (12) Hellen Billington (13) ffrancis Billington. To this lott fell A black weining Calfe to wch was aded the Calfe of this yeare to come of the black Cow, wch pueing a bull they were to keepe it vngelt 5 yeares for common vse & after to make there best of it. Nothing belongeth of thes too, for ye companye of ye first stock: but only half ye Increase. To this lott ther fell two shee goats: which goats they posses on the like terms which others doe their cattell."[15]

Stephen was chosen for the Plymouth Council in 1632 and assistant to the Governor in 1633-1637. In that capacity, he and several others (at times, Thomas Prince, Edward Winslow, John Alden, Miles Standish, William Collier and John Howland, among others) resolved controversies and issued various orders in the Colony.[16]

In 1636, Stephen appeared on the other side of the law. An entry from 7 June 1636 notes, "John Tisdale, yeoman, entreth an accon[t] of battery against Steven Hopkins, Assistant to the govmt, by whom the said John was dangerously wounded, as he affirmeth....At the same Court an accon[t] of battery was tried between John Tisdale, yeoman, plaintiffe, & Stephen Hopkins, Assistant to the government, deft, wherein the deft, Stephen Hopkins, was cast in fiue pownd starling to our sov. lord the King, whose peace he had broken, wch he ought after a speciall manner to haue kept, and also in forty shilling to the plaintiffe, both which he was adjudged to pay." [17]

By 1637, Stephen was apparently running a public house, and ran afoul of authorities again. On 2 January 1637, "Presentment by the Grand Jury. "1. William Reynolds is p[re]sented for being drunck at Mr Hopkins his house, that he lay under the table, vomitting in a beastly manner, and was taken vp betweene two. The witness hereof is Abraham Warr, als Hoop, als Pottle, and sayth that there was in company Francis Sprague, Samuell Nash, & Georg Partrich. 2. Mr Hopkins is p[re]sented for sufferinge excessiue drinking in his house, as old Palmer, James Coale, & William Renolds, John Winslow, Widdow Palmers man, Widdow Palmer, Thomas Little, witnesss & Stepheen Travy." [18] He appeared in a similar action for Grand Inquest in October 1637. "Mr Stephen Hopkins, first psentment, (for suffering men to drink in his house vpon the Lords day, before the meeting be ended, and also vpon the Lords day, both before 7 after the meeting, servants & others to drink more then for ordinary refreshing) is respited vntill the next Court, that the testimony of John Barnes be had therein. "Mr Steephen Hopkins, psented for suffering servants and others to sit drinkeing in his house, (contrary to the orders of this Court,) and to play at shouell board, & such like misdemeanors, is therefore fined fourty shillings." [19] In June 1638, he was presented to the Grand Jury for "selling wine at such excessiue rates, to the opressing & impouishing of the colony."[20] He was fined again for the same offense in Sept. 1638 and Dec. 1639.[21]

On Feb. 5, 1637, Stephen requested a grant of lands "towards the Six Mile Brooke," and he was granted liberty to erect a house at Mattacheese in August 1638, but he remained an assistant to the governor from Plymouth. [22]

William Bradford wrote in 1650 : "And seeing it hath pleased Him to give me [William Bradford] to see thirty years completed since these beginnings, and that the great works of His providence are to be observed, I have thought it not unworthy my pains to take a view of the decreasings and increasings of these persons and such changes as hath passed over them and theirs in this thirty years. "Mr Hopkins and his wife are now both dead, but they lived above twenty years in this place and had one son and four daughters born here. Their son became a seaman and died at Barbadoes, one daughter died here and two are married; one of them hath two children, and one is yet to marry. So their increase which still survive are five. But his son Giles is married nad hath four children. "His daughter Constanta is also married and hath twelve children, all of them living and one of them married." [23]

Will of Stephen Hopkins

Captain Miles Standish and William Bradford deposed Stephen's will on 20 August 1644.[24]

Stephen had died between 6 June 1644, when his will was made, and 17 July 1644, when the inventory of his estate was taken.

The sixt of June 1644 I Stephen Hopkins of Plymouth in New England being weake yet in good and prfect memory blessed be God yet considering the fraile estate of all men I do ordaine and make this to be my last will and testament in manner and forme following and first I do committ my body to the earth from whence it was taken, and my soule to the Lord who gave it, my body to be buryed as neare as convenyently may be to my wyfe Deceased

And first my will is that out of my whole estate my funerall expences be discharged secondly that out of the remayneing part of my said estate that all my lawfull Debts be payd thirdly I do bequeath by this my will to my sonn Giles Hopkins my great Bull wch is now in the hands of Mris Warren.

Also I do give to Stephen Hopkins my sonn Giles his sonne twenty shillings in Mris Warrens hands for the hire of the said Bull

Also I give and bequeath to my daughter Constanc Snow the wyfe of Nicholas Snow my mare

also I give unto my daughter Deborah Hopkins the brodhorned black cowe and her calf and half the Cowe called Motley

Also I doe give and bequeath unto my daughter Damaris Hopkins the Cowe called Damaris heiffer and the white faced calf and half the cowe called Mottley

Also I give to my daughter Ruth the Cowe called Red Cole and her calfe and a Bull at Yarmouth wch is in the keepeing of Giles Hopkins wch is an yeare and advantage old and half the curld Cowe

Also I give and bequeath to my daughter Elizabeth the Cowe called Smykins and her calf and thother half of the Curld Cowe wth Ruth and an yearelinge heiffer wth out a tayle in the keeping of Gyles Hopkins at Yarmouth

Also I do give and bequeath unto my foure daughters that is to say Deborah Hopkins Damaris Hopkins Ruth Hopkins and Elizabeth Hopkins all the mooveable goods the wch do belong to my house as linnen wollen beds bedcloathes pott kettles pewter or whatsoevr are moveable belonging to my said house of what kynd soever and not named by their prticular names all wch said mooveables to be equally devided amongst my said daughters foure silver spoones that is to say to eich of them one, And in case any of my said daughters should be taken away by death before they be marryed that then the part of their division to be equally devided amongst the Survivors.

I do also by this my will make Caleb Hopkins my sonn and heire apparent giveing and bequeathing unto my said sonn aforesaid all my Right title and interrest to my house and lands at Plymouth wth all the Right title and interrest wch doth might or of Right doth or may hereafter belong unto mee, as also I give unto my saide heire all such land wch of Right is Rightly due unto me and not at prsent in my reall possession wch belongs unto me by right of my first comeing into this land or by any other due Right, as by such freedome or otherwise giveing unto my said heire my full & whole and entire Right in all divisions allottments appoyntments or distributions whatsoever to all or any pt of the said lande at any tyme or tymes so to be disposed Also I do give moreover unto my foresaid heire one paire or yooke of oxen and the hyer of them wch are in the hands of Richard Church as may appeare by bill under his hand Also I do give unto my said heire Caleb Hopkins all my debts wch are now oweing unto me, or at the day of my death may be oweing unto mee either by booke bill or bills or any other way rightfully due unto mee ffurthermore my will is that my daughters aforesaid shall have free recourse to my house in Plymouth upon any occation there to abide and remayne for such tyme as any of them shall thinke meete and convenyent & they single persons

And for the faythfull prformance of this my will I do make and ordayne my aforesaid sonn and heire Caleb Hopkins my true and lawfull Executor ffurther I do by this my will appoynt and make my said sonn and Captaine Miles Standish joyntly supervisors of this my will according to the true meaneing of the same that is to say that my Executor & supervisor shall make the severall divisions parts or porcons legacies or whatsoever doth appertaine to the fullfilling of this my will It is also my will that my Executr & Supervisor shall advise devise and dispose by the best wayes & meanes they cann for the disposeing in marriage or other wise for the best advancnt of the estate of the forenamed Deborah Damaris Ruth and Elizabeth Hopkins Thus trusting in the Lord my will shalbe truly prformed according to the true meaneing of the same I committ the whole Disposeing hereof to the Lord that hee may direct you herein


  1. Johnson, Caleb.,

    Citing Ernest M. Christiensen, "The Probable Parentage of Stephen Hopkins of the Mayflower," The American Genealogist, 79 (October 2004):241-249

  2. Hopkins, Timothy. " 'Stephen Hopkins of the Mayflower and Some of His Descendants," NEHGR, Vol. 102 (Jan 1948), p. 46; Wikipedia on Stephen Hopkins [1].
  3.   Stephen Hopkins (settler), in Wikipedia: The Free Encyclopedia.

    the text in this section is copied from an article in Wikipedia

    Stephen Hopkins (1581 – June or July 1644) He was a passenger on the Mayflower in 1620, one of forty-one signatories of the Mayflower Compact, and an assistant to the governor of Plymouth Colony through 1636. He worked as a tanner and merchant and was recruited by the Merchant Adventurers to provide the governance for the colony and assist with the colony's ventures. He is known as the only Mayflower passenger with prior New World experience being shipwrecked in Bermuda in 1609 and after rescue served for several years under Capt. John Smith at Jamestowne Colony.

  4.   Johnson, Caleb. "The True Origins of Stephen1 Hopkins of the Mayflower", in The American Genealogist (TAG). (Donald Lines Jacobus,, 73:161.
  5. Stephen Hopkins, in Anderson, Robert Charles. The Great Migration Begins: Immigrants to New England, 1620-1633. (Boston: New England Historic Genealogical Society, 1995).

    DEATH: Plymouth between 6 June 1644 (writing of will) and 17 July 1644 (proving of will)

  6.   Savage, James. A Genealogical Dictionary of the First Settlers of New England: Showing Three Generations of Those Who Came Before May, 1692, on the Basis of Farmer's Register. (Boston: Little, Brown, and Co, 1860-1862), 2:462.

    "STEPHEN, Plymouth, came in the Mayflower, 1620, with w. Elizabeth s. Giles, and d. Constance, both by former w. and by this had Damaris, as also a s. b. on the voyage, call. therefore, Oceanus,..."

  7. Ernest M. Christiensen, "The Probable Parentage of Stephen Hopkins of the Mayflower," The American Genealogist, 79(October 2004):241-249.
  8. []; Wikipedia, Stephen Hopkins
  9. Wikipedia, Stephen Hopkins
  10. William Bradford, Of Plymouth Plantation 1620-1647, ed. Samuel Eliot Morison (New York : Knopf, 1991), p. 441-3.
  11. Mourt's Relation, ed. Jordan D. Fiore (Plymouth, Mass. : Plymouth Rock Foundation, 1985), p. 27-28.
  12. William Bradford, Of Plymouth Plantation, p. 68-72.
  13. William Bradford, Of Plymouth Plantation, p. 87.
  14. William Bradford, Of Plymouth Plantation, p. 120.
  15. Plymouth Colony Records, Vol. I
  16. Records referring to Hopkins are more fully listed at the Pilgrim Hall Museum website.
  17. Plymouth Colony Records, Vol. 1, p. 41-42.
  18. Plymouth Colony Records, Vol. 1, p. 75.
  19. Plymouth Colony Records, Vol. 1, p. 68.
  20. Plymouth Colony records, Vol. 1, p. 86-87.
  21. Plymouth Colony Records, Vol. 1, p. 97, 137
  22. Plymouth Colony Records, Vol. 1, p. 76, 93.
  23. William Bradford, Of Plymouth Plantation, p. 443-445
  24. Plymouth Colony Records, Vol. 2, p. 75.

See also

  • Caleb Johnson, The American Genealogist 73:161-171, “The True English Origins of Stephen Hopkins of the Mayflower”, July 1998. (Showing that Stephen's first wife was not Constance Dudley, though this erroneous name is given by older references.) See also, Caleb Johnson's web page regarding Stephen Hopkins.
  • Ernest M. Christiensen, "The Probable Parentage of Stephen Hopkins of the Mayflower," The American Genealogist, 79 (October 2004):241-249.
  • John D. Austin, Mayflower Families Through Five Generations, Volume Six, Third Edition, Stephen Hopkins
  • Condon, Scott. "Mayflower child Diane Hopkins Ash traces her genealogy back to Plymouth Rock", Aspen Times, November 23, 2006