back Stephen Hopkins next

According to an unsourced account,

Stephen [Hopkins] probably served as a Minister’s clerk on the vessel ‘Sea|Venture’ which sailed from London 6/2/1609, bound for Virginia. The ship was severely damaged in a hurricane and the company was washed|ashore on the Bermudan ‘Ile of Divels’ on July 28th. The 150 survivors were marooned on the island for nine months, building two vessels which ultimately took them to Virginia. During the sojourn Stephen Hopkins encouraged an uprising by his fellows upon grounds that the Governor’s authority pertained only to the voyage and the regime in Virginia, not to the forced existance [sic] in Bermuda. For his remarks, he was placed under guard, brought before the company in manacles [sic] and sentanced [sic] to death by court-martial. ‘But so penitent hee was and made so much moane, alleadging the ruine of his wife and Children in thie his trespasse’, according to William Strachey’s record of the voyage, that friends among his cohorts procured a pardon from the Governor. The two newly built vessels, the ‘Patience’ and the ‘Deliverence’ arrived at Jamestown on 5/24/1610, but no evidence has been found of Hopkin’s [sic] residence there and it is presumed he soon returned to his family in England…

“Stephen, his wife Elizabeth, and children Giles, Constance and Damaris came on the Mayflower with two servants: Edward Doty and Edward Leister. Son Oceanus was born during the voyage…

“Stephen signed the Mayflower Compact. He was one of three men designated to provide counsel and advice to Captain Myles Standish on the first land expedition of the Pilgrims in the new world. During the third day out, the company chanced upon an Indian deer trap, and stephen [sic] was able to explain its function and danger to his fellows.

“In february [sic] 1620/21, when the Indians appeared on a neighboring hilltop, Captain Standish took Stephen Hopkins with him to negotiate with the “savages”. Therafter, Stephen was invariably deputized to meet the Indians and act as an interpreter. In July of 1621, he served as envoy to friendly Chief Massasoit, and he made a friend for the solonists [sic] of Samoset, another Indian whom Stephen entertained at his home.”

We owe to Caleb Johnson (not, curiously, a Hopkins cousin, he says) the latest and some of the most careful scholarship about Grandpa Stephen and his family. If you want it in fascinating depth, do check out his recent article* in The American Genealogist. Johnson confirms and sources much of the account I’ve filched above, adding the wonderful detail that Shakespeare based The Tempest partly on the tale of the shipwreck of the Sea Venture, including, in “…a side plot … a drunken and mutinous butler whom Shakespeare named Stephano…”

*Johnson, Caleb. The True Origin of Stephen Hopkins of the Mayflower, With Evidence of His Earlier Presence in Virginia. The American Genealogist 73: No. 3 (July 1998), pp. 161-171.

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