Columbia, SC -- (SBWIRE) -- 03/21/2017 -- 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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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.