Scottsdale, AZ — (SBWIRE) — 02/02/2017 — Stephen Hopkins was from Hampshire, England. He married his first wife, Mary, and resided in the parish of Hursley, Hampshire. They had three (3) children: Elizabeth, Constance, and Giles; all baptized there. It has long been claimed that the Hopkins family was from Wortley, Gloucester, but this was disproven in 1998 with the discovery of his true origins in Hursley.
Stephen Hopkins went with the ship Sea Venture on a voyage to Jamestown, Virginia in 1609 as a minister’s clerk, but the ship wrecked in the “Isle of Devils” (Bermuda). Stranded on an island for ten months, the passengers and crew survived on turtles, birds, and wild pigs. Six months into the castaway, Stephen Hopkins and several others organized a mutiny against the current governor. The mutiny was discovered and Stephen was sentenced to death. However, he pleaded with sorrow and tears. “So penitent he was, and made so much moan, alleging the ruin of his wife and children in this his trespass, as it wrought in the hearts of all the better sorts of the company.” He managed to get his sentence commuted. Eventually the castaways built a small ship and sailed themselves to Jamestown. How long Stephen remained in Jamestown is not known. However, while he was gone, his wife Mary died. She was buried in Hursley on 9 May 1613, and left behind a probate estate which mentions her children Elizabeth, Constance and Giles.
Stephen was back in England by 1617, when he married Elizabeth Fisher, but apparently had every intention of bringing his family back to Virginia. Their first child, Damaris, was born about 1618. In 1620, Stephen Hopkins brought his wife and children Constance, Giles, and Damaris on the Mayflower (child Elizabeth apparently had died). Stephen was a fairly active member of the Pilgrim group shortly after arrival, perhaps a result of his being one of the few individuals who had been to Virginia previously. He was a part of all the early exploring missions, and was used as an “expert” on Native Americans for the first few contacts. While out exploring, Stephen recognized and identified an Indian deer trap. And when Samoset walked into Plymouth and welcomed the English, he was housed in Stephen Hopkins’ house for the night. Stephen was also sent on several of the ambassadorial missions to meet with the various Indian groups in the region.
Stephen was an assistant to the governor through 1636, and volunteered for the Pequot War of 1637 but was never called to serve. By the late 1630s, however, Stephen began to occasionally run afoul of the Plymouth authorities, as he apparently opened up a shop and served alcohol. In 1636 he got into a fight with John Tisdale and seriously wounded him. In 1637, he was fined for allowing drinking and shuffleboard playing on Sunday. Early the next year he was fined for allowing people to drink excessively in his house: guest William Reynolds was fined, but the others were acquitted. In 1638 he was twice fined for selling beer at twice the actual value, and in 1639 he was fined for selling a looking glass for twice what it would cost if bought in the Bay Colony. Also in 1638, Stephen Hopkins’ maidservant got pregnant from Arthur Peach, who was subsequently executed for murdering an Indian. The Plymouth Court ruled he was financially responsible for her and her child for the next two years (the amount remaining on her term of service). Stephen, in contempt of court, threw Dorothy out of his household and refused to provide for her, so the court committed him to custody. John Holmes stepped in and purchased Dorothy’s remaining two years of service from him: agreeing to support her and child.
Stephen died in 1644, and made out a will, asking to be buried near his wife, and naming his surviving children.
BAPTISM: 30 April 1581 at Upper Clatford, Hampshire, England, son of John and Elizabeth (Williams) Hopkins.
FIRST MARRIAGE: Mary, possibly the daughter of Robert and Joan (Machell) Kent of Hursley, co. Hampshire, prior to 1604.
SECOND MARRIAGE: Elizabeth Fisher on 19 February 1617/8 at St. Mary Matfellon, Whitechapel, co. Middlesex, England.
CHILDREN (by Mary): Elizabeth, Constance, and Giles.
CHILDREN (by Elizabeth): Damaris, Oceanus, Caleb, Deborah, Damaris, Ruth, and Elizabeth.
DNA HAPLOGROUP: R1b-M269
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The Mayflower was hired in London, and sailed from London to Southampton in July 1620 to begin loading food and supplies for the voyage–much of which was purchased at Southampton. The Pilgrims were mostly still living in the city of Leiden, in the Netherlands. They hired a ship called the Speedwell to take them from Delfshaven, the Netherlands, to Southampton, England, to meet up with the Mayflower. The two ships planned to sail together to Northern Virginia. The Speedwell departed Delfthaven on July 22, and arrived at Southampton, where they found the Mayflower waiting for them. The Speedwell had been leaking on her voyage from the Netherlands to England, though, so they spent the next week patching her up.
On August 5, the two ships finally set sail for America. But the Speedwell began leaking again, so they pulled into the town of Dartmouth for repairs, arriving there about August 12. The Speedwell was patched up again, and the two ships again set sail for America about August 21. After the two ships had sailed about 300 miles out to sea, the Speedwell again began to leak. Frustrated with the enormous amount of time lost, and their inability to fix the Speedwell so that it could be sea-worthy, they returned to Plymouth, England, and made the decision to leave the Speedwell behind. The Mayflower would go to America alone. The cargo on the Speedwell was transferred over to the Mayflower; some of the passengers were so tired and disappointed with all the problems that they quit and went home. Others crammed themselves onto the already very crowded Mayflower.
Finally, on September 6, the Mayflower departed from Plymouth, England, and headed for America. By the time the Pilgrims had left England, they had already been living onboard the ships for nearly a month and a half. The voyage itself across the Atlantic Ocean took 66 days, from their departure on September 6, until Cape Cod was sighted on 9 November 1620. The first half of the voyage went fairly smoothly, the only major problem was sea-sickness. But by October, they began encountering a number of Atlantic storms that made the voyage treacherous. Several times, the wind was so strong they had to just drift where the weather took them; it was not safe to use the ship’s sails. The Pilgrims intended to land in Northern Virginia, which at the time included the region as far north as the Hudson River in the modern State of New York. The Hudson River, in fact, was their originally intended destination. They had received good reports on this region while in the Netherlands. All things considered, the Mayflower was almost right on target, missing the Hudson River by just a few degrees.
As the Mayflower approached land, the crew spotted Cape Cod just as the sun rose on November 9. The Pilgrims decided to head south, to the mouth of the Hudson River in New York, where they intended to make their plantation. However, as the Mayflower headed south, it encountered some very rough seas, and nearly shipwrecked. The Pilgrims then decided, rather than risk another attempt to go south they would just stay and explore Cape Cod. They turned back north, rounded the tip, and anchored in what is now Provincetown Harbor. The Pilgrims would spend the next month and a half exploring Cape Cod, trying to decide where they would build their plantation. On December 25, 1620, they had finally decided upon Plymouth, and began construction of their first buildings.
Master Christopher Jones and several business partners purchased the ship Mayflower about 1607. Its origins prior to that remain uncertain. Its first documented voyage of record was to Trondheim, Norway, in 1609. Andrew Pawling hired the ship to take a cargo of London goods to Norway, sell them off, and buy Norway goods (lumber, tar, and fish) to return back to England. Unfortunately on the return voyage, the Mayflower encountered a severe North Sea storm and the master and crew were forced to toss most of Pawlings goods overboard to lighten the ship. The home of Master Christopher Jones: Harwich, co. Essex, England.
Following that, Christopher Jones seems to have stuck with safer trading routes. The Mayflower made numerous trips primarily to Bordeaux, France, returning to London with cargoes of French wine, Cognac, vinegar, and salt. The Mayflower could freight about 180 tons of cargo. The Mayflower also made occasional voyages to other ports, including once to Malaga, Spain, and twice to Hamburg, Germany.
Upon returning from a voyage to Bordeaux, France, in May 1620, the Mayflower and master Christopher Jones were hired to take the Pilgrims to Northern Virginia. This was the first recorded trans-Atlantic voyage for both ship and master, though Christopher Jones had several crewmembers, including pilot and master’s mates John Clarke and Robert Coppin, who had been to the New World before.
The Mayflower was supposed to accompany another ship, the Speedwell, to America, but the Speedwell proved too leaky for the voyage so the Mayflower proceeded alone. Departing on 6 September 1620, the ship was at sea for 66 days, arriving November 9. The ship and crew overwintered with the Pilgrims and departed back for England on 5 April 1621, arriving back to England on May 6.
Christopher Jones took the ship out for a few more trading runs, but he died a couple of years later in March 1621/2. The ship was appraised for probate purposes in May 1624, and was referred to as being “in ruins.” It was only valued at 128 pounds sterling, and was almost certainly broken up and sold off as scrap.
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Women of Early Plymouth: Governor William Bradford reported that the Pilgrims were worried that the “weak bodies of women” would not be able to withstand the rigors of a trans-Atlantic voyage and the construction of a colony. Prior to the Mayflower, very few English women had made the voyage across the ocean.
Sir Walter Raleigh’s Roanoke colony arrived in Virginia in 1587, and amongst those 120 colonists there were 17 women: a baby girl, Virginia Dare, was born after arrival. When re-supply ships came from England, they could not relocate the people. The colony had mysteriously disappeared, and was never seen again. The Jamestown Colony was founded in 1607, but relatively few women had yet made the voyage and taken up residence there.
The Pilgrim husband, as head of the household, had an important and difficult decision to make. Building a colony would be hard on a woman’s “weaker body.” It might be safer and healthier to leave her behind, and have her come later once the houses were built, and the general safety and successfulness of the colony were better established. But that could be several years. Could he live several years without his wife? How strong was his wife anyway, could she really handle it? Was it right to put your wife’s life in danger in this manner?
As the Mayflower left England for America, there were 18 adult women on-board. Three of them, Elizabeth Hopkins, Susanna White, and Mary Allerton, were actually in their last trimester of a pregnancy. All the adult women on the Mayflower were married; there were no single women–although there were a few teenage girls nearing marriageable age.
While no women would die during the Mayflower’s voyage, life after arrival proved extremely difficult. In fact, 78% of the women would die the first winter, a far higher percentage than for men or children. Dorothy Bradford was the first woman to die, and the only woman who died in the month of December. While many of the men, including her husband, were out exploring on Cape Cod, she accidentally fell off the Mayflower into the bitter cold waters of Provincetown Harbor. Most of the women’s death dates were not recorded, but we do know that Rose Standish died on January 29, Mary Allerton died on February 25, and Elizabeth Winslow died on March 24. Most of the women died in February and March.
The extremely high mortality rate among women is probably explainable by the fact the men were out in the fresh air, felling trees, building structures and drinking fresh New England water; while the women were confined to the damp, filthy and crowded quarters offered by the Mayflower, where disease would have spread much more quickly. The two-month voyage was long enough; the women, however, remained living on the ship for an additional four months while the men built storehouses and living quarters on shore. Many of the sick were no doubt cared for on-board the ship by the women, increasing their exposure to colds and pneumonias. William Mullins died on February 21, apparently on-board the Mayflower since his will was witnessed by the ship’s captain and ship’s surgeon. His wife Alice and son Joseph had not yet died, but it wasn’t too long before they did, orphaning their teenage daughter Priscilla in the New World.
Only five women survived the first winter. One of the five survivors, Mrs. Katherine Carver, died in May of a “broken heart,” her husband John having died of sunstroke a month earlier. Weak bodies or not, by the time of the famous “Thanksgiving,” there were only four women left to care for the Colony’s fifty surviving men and children. The four women were Eleanor Billington, Elizabeth Hopkins, Mary Brewster, and Susanna (White) Winslow.
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MayflowerHistory.com, the Internet’s most complete and accurate website dealing with the Mayflower passengers and the history of the Pilgrims and early Plymouth Colony. The website was first created back in 1994 (when the web was still mostly text!) as a simple, but complete, passenger list of the Mayflower. It has grown over the past twenty years as the author, historian Caleb Johnson, has researched and compiled material.