Stephen Hopkins

1581 - 1644

"Sea Venture" - Bermuda - Jamestown - "Mayflower" - Plymouth

Tenth Great Grandfather of Merle G Ladd

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The parish church of Upper Clatford as it would have looked at the time Stephen Hopkins was baptized there in 1581.

BAPTISM: 30 April 1581 at Upper Clatford, Hampshire, England, son of John and Elizabeth (Williams) Hopkins.  Parish Church of All Saints, Upper Clatford.

FIRST MARRIAGE: Mary, possibly the daughter of Robert and Joan (Machell) Kent of Hursley, Hampshire, prior to 1604.

SECOND MARRIAGE: Elizabeth Fisher on 19 February 1617/8 at St. Mary Matfelon, Whitechapel, Middlesex, England.

CHILDREN (by Mary): Elizabeth, Constance, and Giles.

CHILDREN (by Elizabeth): Damaris (died young), Oceanus, Caleb, Deborah, Damaris, Ruth, and Elizabeth. [1]

DIED: between 6 June 1644, when his will was made, and 17 July 1644, when the inventory of his estate was taken.


Stephen Hopkins
Giles Hopkins
Stephen Hopkins
Stephen Hopkins
Phebe Hopkins
Allen Bangs
Phebe Bangs
Allen Crowell
Charles Francis Crowell
Freeman Crowell
Gracelend Crowell
Allan Douglas Ladd
Merle G Ladd


Queen Elizabeth I

Hursley Church Before reconstruction

Ruins of the 12th century Merdon

Pinnace - A ship rigged vessel popular in northern waters through the 17th-19th centuries, used as a tender to larger vessels

John Hopkins married Agnes Borrow. Agnes, John's wife of five years, died in 1578 probably from complications of childbirth. They had two children, William and Alice. John married Elizabeth Williams, at the Church of All Saints, on 28 July, 1579, not long after Agnes' death; baby Stephen was their first child together. [5]

The Hopkins' and Williams' families had been in Upper Clatford for a couple generations at least; They had been raising crops on a farm with three common fields, called Norman's Court Farm. Three years after Stephen's baptism, the Hopkins family was back at All Saints for another; newborn sister Susanna. Susanna would be Stephen's only full-blooded sibling, [5]

John and Elizabeth Hopkins and their family of four children did not remain in Upper Clatford much beyond the birth of Susanna. By the time Stephen was five or six, the family moved about ten miles south to the bustling city of Winchester. John Hopkins first shows up n the parish of St. Thomas, Winchester, in 1586, where he was assessed a lay subsidy - a tax that Queen Elizabeth I used primarily to subsidize the English navy. He paid additional lay subsidy taxes, usually about £4, in subsequent years as well. He also appears to have been an archer in the local militia. John Hopkins died unexpectedly around August of 1593. Exactly what happened to the family following John's death is unclear. [5]

Stephen Hopkins was born during the reign of Queen Elizabeth I and came of age as England was experiencing great economic growth, increased overseas exploration, and a renaissance in the arts. Stephen was among the new class of Englishmen who left the countryside for London to become merchants, seamen, or settlers in the New World, but his adventuresome nature would eventually put him in a class by himself. [3]

The parish of Hursley, Hampshire, is where Stephen Hopkins emerges as an adult, from the black hole that was his teenage years. Merdon Castle, built there in 1138 by Henry de Blois, Bishop of Winchester, had been abandoned and in ruins a few decades before Stephen arrived. [5]

Stephen's first appearance in the parish records of Hursley, occurs on 13 March 1605, when his first child, a daughter named Elizabeth, was baptized at the local parish church of All Saints. Stephen was married to a woman named Mary. With little circumstantial evidence there is hints that she might have been the daughter of Giles Machell of Hursley- but that identification is far from conclusive. Stephen and Mary's marriage would have likely occurred around 1602 or 1603. On 11 May 1606, Stephen and Mary baptized their second daughter, Constance. On 30 January 1698 Stephen and Mary baptized their first son, whom they named Giles. If suspicions are right about Mary's identity, then their son was named after Mary's father, Giles Machell. [5]

On 19 May 1608 Stephen Hopkins' lease at Hursley's Merdon Manor, where the family had apparently been residing for the past several years, was turned over to a "widow Kent". Stephen would not hang around Hursley for much longer. [5]

Stephen somehow managed to get himself associated with a group of investors and colonist headed for the newly-founded Jamestown Colony in Virginia. Stephen signed on as a minister's clerk for Rev. Richard Buck, an Oxford-educated minister described as an "able and painful preacher." [5]

On 2 June 1609, Hopkins boarded the Sea Venture in Plymouth, England, the flagship of a fleet of seven ships and two pinnaces headed for Virginia, to start his new life. Wife Mary, two daughters Elizabeth and Constance, and young son Giles - then barely a year old - were left behind in Hursley to fend for themselves until he would return, or send for them to come; seven years later by contract. It must have been a difficult time for Mary. Life without a husband present in 17th century England was tough indeed, especially with three young children. [5]

In his contract with the Virginia Company, Stephen would serve three years as an indentured servant, his labors profiting those who had financed the venture. In exchange, he would receive free transportation, food, lodging, and 10 shillings every three months for his family back home. At the end of three years, he would be freed from his indenture and given 30 acres in the colony. [2]


Sea Venture leaving England with the Blessing, Lion, Falcon, Unitie, Diamond, Swallow, Virginia, and Catch.

Wreck of the Sea Venture off the Coast of Bermuda

Demi-Culverin       Saker     

Falcon           Arquebuse 

Sir Thomas Gates

Admiral Sir George Somers

Captain Christopher Newport

Sir William Strachey

Caulking a ship's hull

Bermuda Map 1676

In response to the inadequacy of its vessels, the Virginia Company built, probably in Aldeburgh ,Sea Venture as England's first purpose-designed emigrant ship. She measured "300 tunnes", cost £1,500, and differed from her contemporaries primarily in her internal arrangements. Her guns were placed on her main deck, rather than below decks as was then the norm. This meant the ship did not need double-timbering, and she may have been the first single-timbered, armed merchant ship built in England. The hold was sheathed and furnished for passengers. She was armed with eight 9-pounder (4.1 kg) demi-culverins, eight 5- pounder (2.3 kg) sakers, four 3-pounder (1.4 kg) falcons, and four arquebuses. The ship was launched in 1609, and her uncompleted journey to Jamestown appears to have been her maiden voyage. [7]

On May 15, 1609, the Sea Venture, sailed down the Thames followed by the rest of the Virginia Company's fleet – The Sea Venture with Captain Christopher Newport; The Blessing with Captain Gabriel Archer and Captain Adams; The Lion with Captain Webb; The Falcon with Captain John Martin and Master Francis Nelson; The Unitie with Captain Wood and Master Pett; The Diamond with Captain John Ratcliffe and Captain King; The Swallow with Captain Moone and Master Somers; The Virginia of the North Colony with Captain Davis and Master Davis; The Catch with Master Matthew Fitch. On the Sea Venture, were the "sturdy soldier" Sir Thomas Gates, Deputy Governor of the Virginia Colony, and "the old sea rover" Sir George Somers, Admiral of the Seas. The Captain was the famous Christopher Newport who had made many trips, including the first, between England and Virginia. Hodges writes, "For seven weeks the ships stayed within sight of each other, often within earshot, and captains called to one another by way of trumpets. On the Sea Venture all was peaceful. Morning and evening, Chaplain Buck and Clerk Hopkins gathered the passengers and crew on deck for prayers and the singing of a psalm." [3] [12]

The ships were only eight days from the coast of Virginia, when they were suddenly caught in a hurricane, and the Sea Venture became separated from the rest of the fleet. William Strachey chronicled the Sea Venture's final days.

"On St. James Day, being Monday, the clouds gathering thick upon us and the wind singing and whistling most unusually, a dreadful storm and hideous began to blow from out the northeast, which, swelling and roaring as it were by fits, at length did beat all night from Heaven; which like a hell of darkness, turned black upon us . . . For four-and- twenty hours the storm in a restless tumult had blown so exceedingly as we could not apprehend in our imaginations any possibility of greater violence; yet did we still find it not only more terrible but more constant, fury added to fury, and one storm urging a second more outrageous than the former . . ." [7]

The next day was worse. "It could not be said to rain," wrote Strachey."The waters like whole rivers did flood in the air. Winds and seas were as mad as fury and rage could make them. Howbeit this was not all. It pleased God to bring greater affliction yet upon us; for in the beginning of the storm we had received likewise a mighty leak." [7]

Comparably sized ships had survived such weather, but Sea Venture had a critical flaw in her newness: her timbers had not set. The caulking was forced from between them, and the ship began to leak rapidly. The ship had begun to take on water and every man who could be spared went below to plug the leaks and work the pumps. The men worked in waist-deep water for four days and nights, but by Friday morning they were exhausted and gave up. [7]

Another chronicler, Silvester Jourdain, wrote that those who have a private stock of alcoholic beverages; "having some good and comfortable waters [gin and brandy] in the ship, fetched them and drunk one to the other, taking their last leave one of the other until their more joyful and happy meeting in a more blessed world." Then there was a crash and the Sea Venture began to split seam by seam as the water rushed in. Jourdain continues:

“… we were taken with a most sharp and cruel storm …which did not only separate us from the residue of our fleet … but with the violent working of the seas our ship became so shaken, torn, and leaked that she received so much water as covered two tier of hogsheads above the ballast; that our men stood up to the middles with buckets … and kettles to bail out the water and continually pumped for three days and three nights together without any intermission; and yet the water seemed rather to increase than to diminish. Insomuch that all our men, being utterly spent … were even resolved, without any hope of their lives … to have committed themselves to the mercy of the sea … seeing no help nor hope … that [they] would escape … present sinking.”

"And there neither did our ship sink but, more fortunately in so great a misfortune, fell in between two rocks, where she was fast lodged and locked for further budging; whereby we gained not only sufficient time, with the present help of our boat and skiff, safely to set and convey our men ashore . . . " [3]

The Sea Venture had been thrown upon a reef off Gate's Bay about a mile from Bermuda, then known as the "Isle of the Devils." Those who could swim lowered themselves into the waves and grasped wooden boxes, debris, or anything that would keep their heads above water. Stephen made it to shore clutching a barrel of wine. The entire crew, including the ship's dog, survived. It was stripped of all useful parts and materials, not only by her crew and passengers, but by subsequent settlers; what was left of her eventually disappeared beneath the waves. Two of her guns were salvaged in 1612 and used in the initial fortification of Bermuda (one was placed on Governor's Island, opposite Paget's Fort, the other on Castle Island. After the wreck's submergence, her precise location was unknown until rediscovered by sport divers Downing and Heird in October 1958. Despite the lack of artifacts to be found, she was positively identified in 1959, in time for the 350th anniversary of the wrecking. [7]

As it turned out, on July 23, 1609, the Sea Venture did not break apart and the men were able to retrieve the tools, food, clothing, muskets, and everything that meant their survival. Most of the ship's structure also remained, so using the wreckage and native cedar trees, the 150 castaways immediately set about building two new boats so that they could complete their voyage to Jamestown. [2]

The ships had run into a massive forty-four hour 'tempest' on July 25, and became separated. Thirty two people from two ships were thrown overboard with yellow fever, and the London plague broke out on the Diamond. After the storm, The Blessing, the Lion, the Falcon and the Unitie (all on board were sick) came together and headed for Virginia, "falling into the James River." The Diamond appeared a few days later, and the Swallow a few days after that. The Catch was lost at sea, and nothing has been found as to when the ship Virginia arrived. The Diamond, Falcon, Blessing, and Unitie would return to England leaving October 14, 1609, with John Smith and thirty unruly youths sent from England but rejected by the colony. [12]

About 150 persons were cast ashore There is no complete list of the shipwrecked party

    Governor of Virginia
    Admiral of the Fleet
    Chaplin to the Expedition
    Wife,Died on the island
    Daughter of Rev Richard
    Daughter of Rev Richard
    Born and died in Bermuda
    Secretary Virginia Company
    Master Mate, lost at Sea
    when he sailed for help.
    Deserted, Stayed on the island
    Deserted, Stayed on the island
    Shot to death for mutiny
    Capt of the Sea Venture, former privateer
    of Lyme Regis, Dorset
  • Mistress EASON
    Son born in Bermuda
  • Mistress HORTON
    Maid to Mistress Horton
    Married Thomas Powell in Bermuda
    Veteran of Dutch Wars
    Died in Bermuda
    Died in Bermuda
    Murdered by Robert Waters
    Died in Bermuda
    Lost at sea with Ravens (above)
    Stayed behind on the island
    Nephew and heir of Sir George
    Brother of Sir Nathaniel Rich, a shareholder, was a soldier, returned to Bermuda 1617, died there 1630
    Aged 36
    Young man in his 20s
  • Mistress ROLFE
    First wife of John Rolfe
    Baby girl born in Bermuda, Christened 11 Feb 1610, died and buried there
    Servant, aged 30
    Aged 40


Sea Venture Beach

Bermuda cedar, fully grown can be 50' tall and have a 4 ft wide trunk

Spanish feral hogs, a choice source of food for the newcomers.

Longboats were normally rowed but often had a removable mast and sail

Chief Powhatan

Sea Venture Monument - A nine-foot wooden cross. It is a recreation of the original cross that was made by the survivors to claim the island for England. The wood from the original cross has been salvaged to build the new monument.

John Rolfe and Pocahontas

Deliverance Replica in Bermuda

The Coat-Of-Arms of Bermuda features a representation of the wreck of the Sea Venture

The question had not occurred to anyone during all the hubbub and frenzy to get ashore and save their lives; but now that they had a moment to think about it, ...just here were they? Word quickly spread around: they were on the most feared island in the world, the Isle of Devils, so named because they were thought to be haunted, enchanted, and deviled by spirits and apparitions. [5]

There were upwards of 150 people onshore, including ten women, who now needed food, water and shelter. First up was to figure out who was in charge. Sir George Somers was the fleet's Admiral, whereas Sir Thomas Gates was the colony's appointed governor. Since they were not at sea, Sir George Somers was not really in charge any longer. But since they were not at Jamestown, Sir Thomas Gates was not really in charge either. Luckily for everyone involved, there was no power struggle to speak of--that could have doomed the group from the very start. Gates took charge, and Somers remained a strong ally sharing in that authority, as did Christopher Newport, the Sea Venture's captain. [5]

The men were pleasantly surprised to find that the island's climate was agreeable, food plentiful, and shelters easily constructed from cedar wood and palm leaves. The Isle of the Devils, turned out to be paradise, and a few began to wonder why they should leave. Strachey recounts that some of the sailors, who had been to Jamestown with the Second Supply, stated that "in Virginia nothing but wretchedness and labor must be expected, there being neither fish, flesh, or fowl which here at ease and pleasure might be enjoyed." [2]

The ship’s longboat was fitted with a mast. Henry Ravens, the Sea Venture's master's mate and pilot, was volunteered to lead the voyage, and accepted. He, along with cape merchant Thomas Whittingham and six other sailors, set sail on September 1, a little more than a month after the shipwreck, headed for Jamestown. The eight men were never seen or heard from again. [5]

For the following nine months, the crew and passengers would forage, fish, hunt and pray for survival and rescue. They found that Bermuda provided plenty of food with its plants and animals, including countless wild hogs probably left by earlier Spanish shipwrecks. However, numerous near-mutinies threatened the castaways on Bermuda. Only the strong leadership and discipline of men like Thomas Gates and George Somers prevented chaos. [8]

After salvaging all they could from the wreck, the group began to construct two small new ships, the Patience and the Deliverance, to carry the survivors the final distance to Jamestown. The Patience was slightly larger than the Godspeed, one of the three ships that brought English colonists to Virginia in 1607, and the Deliverance was slightly larger than the Discovery, smallest of the 1607 ships. [7]

So even as Governor Gates and Admiral Somers were pursuing plans to organize an escape from the island, there were others who began to actively subvert their efforts. If they did not want to go to Jamestown, who had the right or authority to force the? The dissention started first with the Sea Venture's crew, since unlike the other castaways, they had less contractual obligations to the Virginia Company.

Strachey recounts that some of the sailors, who had been to Jamestown with the Second Supply, stated that: [2]

“In Virginia nothing but wretchedness and labor must be expected, there being neither fish, flesh, or fowl which here at ease and pleasure might be enjoyed.”

The first attempt at mutiny was made by Nicholas Bennit who “made much profession of Scripture” and was described by Strachey as a “mutinous and dissembling imposter.” Bennit and five other men escaped into the woods, but were captured and banished to one of the distant islands. The banished men soon found that life on the solitary island was not altogether desirable and humbly petitioned for a pardon, which they received. But the clemency of the Governor only encouraged the spirit of mutiny. [2]

Stephen Hopkins began to grow more and more discontented with the colony's situation or as Secretary William Strachey put it, Hopkins "more subtly began to shake the foundation of our quiet safety." On January 24, while on a break with Samuel Sharpe and Humfrey Reede, Stephen argued: [2]

[T]herin did one Stephen Hopkins commence the first act or overture - who in January the twenty-fourth, broke with one Samuel Sharp and Humphrey Reed (who presently discovered it to the governor) and alleged substantial arguments both civil and divine (the Scripture falsely quoted) that it was no breach of honesty, conscience, not religion to decline from the obedience of the governor or refuse to go any further led by his authority (except it so pleased themselves), since the authority ceased when the wreck was committed, and, with it, they were all then freed from the government of any man, and for a matter of conscience it was not unknown to the meanest how much we were therein bound each one to provide for himself and his own family. For which were two apparent reasons to stay them even in this place: first, abundance by God's providence of all manner of good food; next, some hope in reasonable time, when they might grow weary of the place, to build a small bark, with the skill and help of the aforesaid Nicholas Bennett, whom they insinuated to them, albeit he was now absent from his quarter and working in the main island with Sir George Somers upon his pinnace, to be of the conspiracy, that so might get clear from hence at their own pleasures.

The mutiny was brought to a quick end when Sharpe and Reede reported Stephen to Sir Thomas Gates who immediately put him under guard. That evening, at the tolling of a bell, the entire company assembled and witnessed Stephen’s trial: [3]

“. . . the Prisoner was brought forth in manacles, and both accused, and suffered to make at large, to every particular, his answere; which was onely full of sorrow and teares, pleading simplicity, and deniall. But he being onely found, at this time, both the, Captaine and the follower of this Mutinie, and generally held worthy to satisfie the punishment of his offence, with the sacrifice of his life, our Governour passed the sentence of a Maritiall Court upon him, such as belongs to Mutinie and Rebellion. But so penitent hee was, and made so much moane, alleadging the ruine of his Wife and Children in this his trespasse, as it wrought in the hearts of all the better sorts of the Company, who therefore with humble entreaties, and earnest supplications, went unto our Governor, whom they besought (as likewise did Captaine Newport, and my selfe) and never left him untill we had got his pardon.”

Stephen appears to have learned his lesson well. He fades quickly into the background, keeps his mouth shut, and continues his duties as Minister’s Clerk and worked quietly with the others to finish the construction of the ships from Bermuda cedar and materials salvaged from the Sea Venture, especially her rigging. [5]

A month and a half later, yet another mutiny was uncovered, this time led by Henry Paine. Stephen was not involved in any way, and kept on the sidelines. Paine was not so lucky; Governor Gates sentenced him to death, and this time the execution was carried out that evening, Secretary Strachey noting "the sun and his life setting together."

Some members of the expedition died in Bermuda before the Deliverance and the Patience set sail on 10 May 1610. Among those left buried in Bermuda were the wife and child of John Rolfe, who would found Virginia’s tobacco industry, and find a new wife in Chief Powhatan‘s daughter Matoaka (Pocahontas). [2]

Only three members of the original castaways refused to go on to Virginia. They were imprisoned for mutiny but escaped and fled, believed to have been to the Walsingham area of the Main Island. The three who chose to stay, These miscreants were Edward Chard, Robert Waters and Christopher Carter, who were later fancifully but falsely referred to themselves as the “Three Kings of Bermuda”, purely because they were the only known inhabitants for a while. As fugitives, they lived as such, instead of trying to redeem themselves by improving their lot. Later, in 1612 when Bermuda was settled by design and not by accident as before, they were caught appropriately punished and deported in irons back to England. [10]

On May 10, 1610, the men boarded the newly built Deliverance and Patience and set out for Virginia. They arrived in Jamestown on May 24, almost a full year after they had left England.

Meanwhile, another English colony, created because of the Sea Venture and conceived as a partner to Virginia, thrived. Bermuda, not New England, as is commonly assumed, was the location of England's second New World colony. The Somers Island Company, named for George Somers, operated as a subsidiary of the Virginia Company from 1612 until 1615. During those years, the company sent about 600 colonists to Bermuda and consistently turned a profit. Bermudians enjoyed lower mortality rates and longer life expectancy than their countrymen in both Virginia and England. By 1625, nine forts secured the island from Spanish encroachments, ministers led services at six churches, and 2,500 residents were governed in part by an elective assembly. From the loss of the Sea Venture and the founding of Bermuda, England gained an invaluable entry into the Spanish-dominated Caribbean and the profits and hope to continue pursuing its colonial ambitions. [14]


The Shipwreck in Act 1 Scene 1

William Shakespeare

Strachey's account of the wreck of the Sea Venture had made it back to England. Strachey was no stranger to the theater people who met regularly at the Mermaid Tavern, so it's probable that Shakespeare was among those who got a preview of the work. Some believe he used it as the basis for his farewell play, The Tempest, which relates the story of a shipwrecked group stranded on an enchanted island. In a play to be performed for King James I and his royal court at Whitehall on Hallowmas Night or All Saints Day, November 1, 1610. A rebel could only be shown as a clown or a villain, so Shakespeare created a drunken, mutinous butler (or bottler) with delusions of grandeur who he named Stephano. [3]

It is set on a remote island, where Prospero, the rightful Duke of Milan, plots to restore his daughter Miranda to her rightful place using illusion and skillful manipulation. He conjures up a storm, the eponymous tempest, to lure his usurping brother Antonio and the complicit King Alonso of Naples to the island. There, his machinations bring about the revelation of Antonio’s low nature, the redemption of the King, and the marriage of Miranda to Alonso’s son, Ferdinand. Stephano is a boisterous and often drunk butler of King Alonso. He, Trinculo and Caliban plot against Prospero. In the play, he wants to take over the island and marry Prospero’s daughter, Miranda. Caliban believes Stephano to be a god because he gave him wine to drink which Caliban believes healed him.. [2]

It was revitalized to decorate for the wedding festivities of Princess Elizabeth in 1613 and was incidentally the last play performed in London in 1642 when the Puritan Party closed play houses until restoration from the Stuarts in 1660. [3]

Hodges writes, "To have provided some of the fabric for Shakespeare's vision of The Tempest and to appear in the play, even in the absurd disguise as Stephano, this in itself is a kind of immortality for Stephen Hopkins." [3]


Jamestown settlement in 1607

Jamestown Starving Time Dead

Thomas West, Baron De La Warr

John Rolfe was born in Norfolk, England

At last, on May 10, 1610, the two new ships set sail for Virginia, laden with supplies and all of the survivors but three, mutineers who remained on Bermuda and allowed the English to maintain a claim to the islands. Ten days later the ships sailed into the Chesapeake Bay and made their way toward Jamestown.

The relief and elation the survivors felt gave way to horror and despair when they saw the condition of the Jamestown settlers. Arriving at the end of what is known as the “Starving Time,” they found the fort in shambles and the few remaining settlers hungry and hopeless. The Bermuda survivors soon decided that the situation was futile and chose to abandon Jamestown along with the 60 surviving Jamestown settlers. On June 7, 1610, they fired a final salute and sailed down the James River to make their way home to England. [3]

Strachey wrote of Jamestown: [2]

“the palisades torn down, the ports open, the gates off the hinges, and empty houses rent up and burnt, rather than the dwellers would step into the woods a stone’s cast off to fetch other firewood. The Indians killed as fast, if our men but stirred beyond the bounds of their blockhouse, as famine and pestilence did.”

When Stephen saw these things, like everyone else his stomach must have sunk. He had been right all along; they never should have left Bermuda, full of so many plentiful resources and so much potential. Now he and all the others would either starve, get sick, or be killed. [5]

In this desolation and misery our governor found the condition and state of the colony and (which added more to his grief) no hope how to amend it or save his own company and those yet remaining alive from falling into the like necessities. For we had brought… no greater store of provision … than might well serve… for a sea voyage. And it was not possible at this time of the year to amend it by any help from the Indian… Nor was there at the fort… any means to take fish… All which considered, it pleased our governor to make a speech unto the company… [that] "he would make ready and transport them all into their native country…" at which there was a general acclamation and shout of joy on both sides, for even our own men began to be "disheartened and faint when they saw this misery amongst the others and no less threatened unto themselves". William Strachey [8]

Before they could even make open water, they met the newly arrived military governor, Lord de la Warr, with his three ships of new settlers and supplies. With new hope, everyone returned to Jamestown, determined to make it succeed. [8]

Using the same discipline in Virginia as the castaway leaders had in Bermuda, the colonists’ fate changed for the better. They found food, security and better organization in the company of such strong leaders. Along with providing guidance, the survivors of the Sea Venture also contributed to the financial success of the Virginia Company. One of them, John Rolfe, planted the tobacco seed he brought and produced the first profitable crop of tobacco by 1614, thus ensuring the success of the colony with his “cash crop.” [8]

When a permanent residence was established in Bermuda. It became a supplier of materials to Virginia, thus establishing trade between the two colonies. Over the years Bermuda developed into an overseas territory within the British Commonwealth. The story of the Sea Venture and the founding of Bermuda is in fact a crucial part of American history. Without those who had been aboard the Sea Venture or their experiences in Bermuda, the story of Jamestown and English America may have been very different indeed. [8]

Stephen Hopkins would not see England again for five or six years. Jamestown was his new home. [5]


Robert Cushman

John Carver

William Brewster

Mr. Hopkins obtained passage on a vessel back to England, and was back in his home country again. Upon returning in the fall of 1615 or 1616, he found that his wife, Mary, had died in 1613. (Some theories maintain it was of the plague, though this is seemingly not concrete.) He was greeted by the news and to learn that his children were orphans in the custody of the Church. With Stephen absent and presumed dead, the Church liquidated the couple's estate to provide for the children. [9] [3]

By late 1617 Stephen and his children had settled into a home just outside of the east wall of London, where he was said to be working as a tanner. On February 9, 1618, in the local church of St. Mary Matfellon in Whitechapel, he married his second wife, Elizabeth Fisher. In late 1618 Elizabeth and Stephen added another child to the family – a daughter they named Damaris. [3]

Nearby the Hopkins' home was the infamous Heneage House, the Duke’s Place, in Aldgate – a mansion that had been converted into apartments which housed a number of nonconformists. Among these were Robert Cushman, John Carver, and William Brewster, members of the Scrooby Separatist congregation who had fled to Leyden, Holland years earlier to escape religious persecution. The three had returned to raise money for a patent to create a settlement in the New World for their congregation now living in exile in Holland [2]

The dissenters were true-believers who generally fell into either the Separatist or Puritan camps. In general, the Separatists' views were not as extreme as the Puritans' in regard to social customs. They dressed in the bright colored clothing of the period, drank alcohol, attended plays, and danced. They were, however, more extreme when it came to separating ties with the Church of England. The Puritans believed that the established church could be reformed. The Separatists held that membership in the Church of England violated the biblical precepts for true Christians, and that they had to break away and form independent congregations. At a time when Church and State were one, such beliefs were treasonous. [3]

Hopkins 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 Pilgrims’ religious congregation. [2]

Hopkins was the perfect candidate, especially with his previous experience in Jamestown, and he signed on as a “Stranger.” This time he packed up his pregnant wife, three children and two servants. to make the voyage with him on the Mayflower, leaving on September 6, 1620. Somewhere in the Atlantic a baby was born, and they named him Oceanus. [4]



Christopher Jones,
Ship's Master

John Clarke,
Ship's Pilot and Master's Mate

Robert Coppin,
Master's Mate

Andrew Williamson,
Master's Mate

John Parker,
Master's Mate

Giles Heale,
Ship's Surgeon

John Alden,
Cooper (Barrel-maker), Hired to stay one year

Geprge Kerr,

John Allerton,
Seaman (was to go back to help the others behind, died before the ship returned

Richard Ely,
Seaman, Hired to stay one year (returned when time was up)

Thomas English,
Seaman, Hired to stay one year (was to be master of a shallop here, died before the ship returned)

William Trevore.
Seaman, Hired to stay one year (returned when time was up)

"Master" Leaver.
Unknown, He may have been a principal officer

The other 20 or so are unknown

  • Allerton, Isaac, Leiden Congregation
  • Mary (Norris) Allerton, wife
  • Bartholomew Allerton, son, 7
  • Remember Allerton, daughter, 5
  • Mary Allerton, daughter, 3
  • Billington, John, "Stranger"
  • Ellen Billington, wife
  • John Billington, son, 16
  • Francis Billington, son, 14
  • Bradford, William, Leiden Congregation (son left behind)
  • Dorothy (May) Bradford, wife
  • Brewster, William, Leiden Congregation (children left behind)
  • Mary Brewster, wife
  • Love Brewster, son, 9
  • Wrestling Brewster, son, 6
  • Britteridge, Richard, "Stranger", (single, died first winter)

  • Browne, Peter, "Stranger"

  • Button, William, Family Servant to Samuel Fuller, (single, died first winter)

  • Carter, Robert, Family Servant to William Mullins, (single, died first winter)

  • Carver, John, Leiden Congregation, (no children, died first winter)
  • Katherine (Leggett) (White) Carver, wife (died first winter)
  • Chilton, James, Leiden Congregation (another daughter and husband came later)
  • Mrs. Chilton, wife
  • Mary Chilton, daughter, 13
  • Clarke, Richard, "Stranger", (single, died first winter)

  • Cooke, Francis, Leiden Congregation (wife and other children came after)
  • John Cooke, son. 13
  • Crackston, John, Leiden Congregation
  • John Crackston, son (died without issue)
  • Doty, Edward, Family Servant to Stephen Hopkins

  • Eaton, Francis, "Stranger"
  • Sarah Eaton, wife
  • Samuel Eaton, son, 1
  • Fletcher, Moses, Leiden Congregation, (left no issue in the colonies)
  • Fuller, Edward, Leiden Congregation
  • Mrs. Edward Fuller, wife
  • Samuel Fuller, son, 12
  • Fuller, Samuel (physician, brother to Edward)

  • Gardinar, Richard, "Stranger". (died later at sea, no evidence of children)

  • Goodman, John, Leiden Congregation, (single, died early)

  • Holbeck, William, Family Servant to William White (died first winter)

  • Hooke, John, Family Servant to Isaac Allerton, (died first winter)

  • Hopkins, Stephen, "Stranger"
  • Elizabeth (Fisher) Hopkins, wife
  • Giles Hopkins, son by first marriage, 12
  • Constance Hopkins, daughter by first marriage,14
  • Damaris Hopkins, daughter, 1-2
  • Oceanus Hopkins, son, born in-route on the mayflower
  • Howland, John, Family Servant to John Carver

  • Langmore, John, Family Servant toChristopher Martin,(died first winter)

  • Latham, William, Family Servant to John Carver(no issue)

  • Leister, Edward (servant to Stephen Hopkins, no issue)

  • Margesson, Edmund, "Stranger" (died first winter, no issue)

  • Martin, Christopher, "Stranger", (died first winter, no children in colonies)
  • Mary (Prower) Martin, wife (died first winter)
  • Minter, Desire, Leiden Congregation, (with John Carver, returned to England, died without issue)

  • Moore, Ellen, Family Servant, (died first winter)
  • Jasper More, brother, (put to John Carver, died first winter)
  • Richard More, brother, (put to William Brewster)
  • Mary More, sister (put to Edward Winslow, died first winter)
  • Mullins, William, "Stranger"
  • Alice Mullins, wife
  • Priscilla Mullins, daughter, 18
  • Joseph Mullins, son, 14
  • Priest, Digory, Leiden Congregation

  • Prower, Solomon, Family servant to Christopher Martin, (died first winter)

  • Rigsdale, John, "Stranger" (died first winter)
  • Alice Rigsdale, wife (died first winter, no issue)
  • Rogers, Thomas, Leiden Congregation (his other children came after)
  • Joseph Rogers, son, 17
  • Soule, George, Family Servant to Edward Winslow

  • Standish, Myles, "Stranger"
  • Rose Standish, wife
  • Story, Elias, Family Servant to Edward Winslow, (died first winter)

  • Thompson, Edward, Family Servant to William White, (died first winter)

  • Tilley, Edward, Leiden Congregation (no children)
  • Ann (Cooper) Tilley, wife
  • Samson, Henry, cousin (child)
  • Cooper, Humility, cousin (baby daughter of Robert Cooper, returned to England)

  • Tilley, John, Leiden Congregation
  • Joan (Hurst) (Rogers) Tilley, wife
  • Elizabeth Tilley, daughter, 13
  • Tinker, Thomas, Leiden Congregation, (family died first winter)
  • Mrs. Thomas Tinker, wife
  • boy Tinker, son (died in the winter of 1620)
  • Turner, John, Leiden Congregation, (he had a daughter who came years later)
  • boy Turner, son (died in the winter of 1620)
  • boy Turner, son (died in the winter of 1620)
  • Warren, Richard, "Stranger" (wife and children left behind)

  • White, William, Leiden Congregation
  • Susanna White, wife
  • Resolved White, son, 5
  • Peregrine White, son (Born aboard the Mayflower in Provincetown Harbor)
  • Wilder, Roger, Family Servant to John Carver (died first winter)

  • Williams, Thomas (died first winter)

  • Winslow, Edward, Leiden Congregation
  • Elizabeth (Barker) Winslow
  • Winslow, Gilbert, "Stranger", (returned to England, no issue)

  • Dorothy, maidservant of John Carver]


The Mayflower

The Speedwell

Thomas Weston

The Orlop

Barrel Sizes

Decks of the Mayflower

A Shallop

Signing the Mayflower Compact

The voyage was set for early spring so that the colonists would arrive in the New World in time to prepare for winter. But there were many delays and the spring of 1620 came and went, and it was July before the Separatists left Leyden in their small ship, the Speedwell. They sailed to Southampton, a city on the English south coast, where they were joined by the investors and the non-Separatists recruited by Weston. For their primary transportation, the investors had hired the Mayflower, a larger ship that had been used in the wine trade. [3]

The Separatists hoped to fulfill their contract with the investors by becoming fishermen, but some of the more experienced men, such as Stephen, realized the group was ill- prepared. They had purchased fish hooks that were too large and nets that were too weak, and brought almost nothing to trade with the Indians. When Robert Cushman arrived at Southampton, he was advised to buy more muskets and armor, as well as copper chains, beads, knives, scissors, and other things to trade with the natives. [3]

Disagreement over the contract brought another delay. The original plan called for the colonists to work five days a week for seven years to pay their debt. In the end they would own their houses and a share of the land worth 10 pounds. After five weeks of pressure from the investors, Cushman signed a new agreement in which the colonists would work seven days a week for seven years to pay their debt and would own nothing privately, not even the roofs over their heads. Under the new agreement they would risk their lives and work like slaves for seven years with nothing to show for it but their share of land. They also learned that Thomas Weston had no clear patent from the Virginia Company and had not even invested his own money in the enterprise. [3]

There had never been a more poorly planned and supplied venture, but the settlers were willing to forge ahead. On August 5, 1620, they boarded the two ships and set sail for the New World. Their voyage was soon interrupted, however, when the smaller Speedwell began leaking. They put into the port at Dartmouth and made repairs, but the condition recurred once they were under sail again. They managed to make it to port in neighboring Plymouth where they decided to abandon the unreliable ship. The already crowded Mayflower could take on only a few of the Speedwell's passengers, so the rest had to return to Leyden. Only 35 of the Separatists remained. The other 67 Mayflower passengers were the non-Separatist Londoners who had been recruited by Weston. On September 6, 1620, these Pilgrims (Separatists and non-Separatists alike) set sail across the North Atlantic headed for the northernmost boundary of the Virginia colony. [3]

The 70 or 80 passengers had to work out there own accommodations in the orlop, a large open under-deck meant for carrying freight. Some built small cabins, no bigger than a large bed, while others simply placed straw-filled mattresses on the deck. [15]

It was dark, rainy, and cold out on the open Atlantic, and the ship pitched and rolled. There were no other vessels on the tossing waves. The travelers on Mayflower were alone. It was autumn 1620. The ship's passengers - 102 in all - did not think they were sailing into history. They were more concerned about the weather. Bt this wind-tossed ship they traveled in would become an important symbol in the history of the United States. [15]

What appeared to be chaos among men and rigging slowly evolved into the smooth operation of a ship under sail. The passengers must have felt encouraged by the week of fair weather they had at the start of the voyage. Some of them could handle the constant motion of the ship, whereas others, even in calm weather, were seasick. Soon autumn gales began to blow. As William Bradford told it "they were encountered many times with crosswinds and met with fierce storms, with which the ship was shroudly [viciously] shaken, and her upper works made very leaky". During her stormy passage she suffered only a bowed and cracked main deck beam. While this frightened some mariners and passengers enough to suggest turning back to England, the ship's carpenter quickly had the damaged beam repaired. [15]

During the rough weather, conditions aboard Mayflower became increasingly wet and miserable. The air below decks smelled foul. Amid the cramped animal pens and crowded cabins, many passengers fell sick. Yet they felt blessed that only one colonist, William Butten, a servant in the Fuller family, died a sea. A sailor also died on the voyage. In fair weather the passengers were allowed up on deck to get fresh air and exercise. But in the long spells of bad weather that plagued the two-month crossing, they must have spent many uncomfortable hours cooped up below decks. One happy event was the birth of Elizabeth Hopkins son, appropriately named Oceanus. [15]

Provisions necessary for 100 passengers and crew

  • 45 tun beere [tun is a barrel size]
  • Mallega and Canari caske 16 a tun [kinds of wine]
  • 6 tuns of water
  • 12 M of bread, after ¾ C to a man [M=1,000 Lbs; C=100 Lbs]
  • 22 hheds of bieffe [hheds=hogshead, a barrel size]
  • 10 C of cheese
  • 40 bushells peas, a peck a man ye voyadg
  • 20 bushells oatmeale
  • 14 C haberdyne [kind od fish]
  • 8 dussen pounds of candeles
  • 2 terces of beere vyneger [terce is a barrel size]
  • 20 gallons oquavite [a type of liquor]
  • 1 ½ bushels mustard seed
  • 20 gallons oyle, Gallipoly or Mayorke, a qrt a man
  • 2 ferkins of soape [firkins, a barrel size]
  • 2 runlett Spanish wyne, 10 galls a p [runlett is a barrel size]
  • 4 towsand of billetts [firewood]
  • 10 firkins of butter

Sailors require significant quantities of fresh water on extended voyages. Fresh water was taken on board in casks that quickly developed algae and became slimy. Beer was a dietary mainstay in those days. Chances are the beverage in question was "ship's beer," a not-very-alcoholic concoction that, along with the even weaker "small beer," was drunk in formidable quantities during the colonial era (upwards of a quart per day seems to have been a typical ration). Undoubtedly an advantage was that, unlike more perishable foodstuffs, ship's beer would keep during long voyages and, having been boiled, was likely purer than ordinary water.

After 66 days at sea, on November 11 the Mayflower stopped in Provincetown, Massachusetts, north of their Hudson River destination. There was a lot of discussion about whether they should continue on to find the Hudson or stay put. Hopkins, despite almost being killed for his i

ndependent ideas in Bermuda, politicked for staying where they were so they would have less governing oversight and more freedom to do what they wanted. He argued, again, that since they hadn’t reached their original destination they were exempt from obligation to their original agreement. [4]

The Mayflower anchored at Provincetown Harbor on November 11. The Pilgrims did not have a patent to settle this area, thus some passengers began to question their right to land; they complained that there was no legal authority to establish a colony. In response to this, a group of colonists, still aboard the ship as it lay off-shore, drafted and ratified the first governing document of the colony, the Mayflower Compact, the intent of which was to establish a means of governing the colony. Though it did little more than confirm that the colony would be governed like any English town, it did serve the purpose of relieving the concerns of many of the settlers. This social contract was written and signed by 41 Separatists. It was modeled on the church covenants Congregationalists used to form new congregations. It made clear that the colony should be governed by "just and equal laws", and those who signed it promised to keep these laws. [11]

The group remained on board the ship through the next day, a Sunday, for prayer and worship. The immigrants finally set foot on land at what would become Provincetown on November 13. The first task was to rebuild a shallop, a shallow draft boat that had been built in England and disassembled for transport aboard the Mayflower. It would remain with the Pilgrims while the Mayflower returned to England. [11]


Cape Cod

Provincetown Harbor at the tip of Cape Cod

Corn Hill from the beach

Corn Hill Plaque

Plaque at first encounter beach

Myles Standish

William Bradford

Capt. John Smith

Late Summer on the Pamet River

What the Pilgrims needed to find was a piece of ground that would best support their future colony. they needed some place that was near enough to a bay to facilitate easy anchorage of ships. They needed a place that was defendable and with some high ground to mount their defensive cannons. It needed to be an area where the soil could support crops, and that could be cleared with reasonable ease. There needed to be running fresh water nearby -- not only for drinking, washing and irrigation, but also access to food (primarily fish), boat moorage, and for eventually building mills to grind corn and wheat. [5]

The Mayflower anchored inside what is now Provincetown Harbor, right at the tip of Cape Cod. The harbor was plenty big enough for ships, the area passed on of their criteria at least. They noted lots of waterfowl, and forests of oaks, pines, and juniper. There were whales in the bay, but unfortunately the colonists had no means to hunt them. As soon as they could get organized a group of about 16 men made a quick trip ashore just to see what was there, and to gather some firewood. They found the ground to be generally sandy with a small layer of good black crust. The women were taken ashore, and got right to work on the laundry - which had been piling up for two months! There can be no doubt that everyone was just a little smelly.. [5]

They started reassembling their main water transportation: a shallop they had disassembled and stored between the decks on the Mayflower. Some of the passengers had actually taken up residence inside the dismantled ship. The boat was in need of quite a lot of repairs, on top of needing to be reassembled. [5]

Realizing the shallop would be weeks, not days, in repair, the Pilgrims decided to head out on their first exploration on foot. Sixteen men volunteered, led by Myles Standish with William Bradford and Edward Tilly, both Leiden separatist; and Stephen Hopkins as advisors. They were set ashore on Tuesday, November 15th, and had only marched south about a mile before spotting six Indians and a dog off in the distance. The did not know that the Indians on Cape Cod were not particularly fond of Europeans. In 1614, Captain John Smith (of Jamestown fame) left behind an associate, Captain Thomas Hunt, who later lured twenty-seven Nauset and Patuxet onboard his ship and then sailed away with his captives - selling them off as slaves in Malaga, Spain. The Pilgrims, seeing the Indians on the beach, and desiring to find a native village to establish communication and ultimately trade ignorantly gave chase. The Pilgrims followed he Indians' footprints for more than ten miles, before night fell. The next day they continued looking for Indians. What they found were some fifty acres of corn stubble from a previous season. Moving on, they found a mound of dirt with a mortar on top, which they dug into , and found some arrows and pots; suspecting a grave, they covered it up and moved on. They later came to an abandoned Indian house, out side in a mound of sand, they found a large cash of corn seed [Later known as corn hill]. With no present way to get any in fair trade, they decided to take what they found. What they got was 36 ears of corn and a bunch of loose seed as well, amounting in total to a couple of bushels. [5]]

The Nauset, of course, saw things a little bit differently, The armed men who gave chase to them, had now dug into one of their graves, and then stole a family's entire supply of seed for the upcoming planting season. The Pilgrims were not making any friends at this point. [5]

That night, it rained profusely, so the Pilgrims built a sturdy rendezvous to ride out the stormy night. The next morning, they started to march back from where they had come, but promptly got lost in the thick woods. As they aimlessly wandered around, the group encountered a bizarre-looking man made contraption. Hopkins immediately recognized it as a deer trap. As everyone began to gather around to admire the handiwork and comment on the excellent rope work, William Bradford stumbled in from the rear wondering what everyone was looking at, stepped on and triggered the trap, and up he went with a Jerk! Everyone but William go a good laugh out of it. [5]

In late November, Susanna White (Wife of William White) gave birth to a son, Peregrine White, on the Mayflower. He was the first English child born to the Pilgrims in the New World. [11]

In late November, with the shallop patched up enough to be functional, thirty-six men were organized to head out on the next exploration. They decided to survey the Pamet River to see its possible suitability as a place to establish their colony. Surveying the area carefully, they determined the river could not support ships, although it was deep enough for boats. Everyone came to the conclusion that the area was not suitable. [5]

The story of the “First Encounter” appears both in Mourt’s Relation by George MORTON, published in London in 1622, and (in a condensed version) in William Bradford’s Of Plymouth Plantation. [2]

“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 …”

” … 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 barricado 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 barricado 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 barricado, 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.” [2]

While the men explored the coastline, the women were left on board the Mayflower to worry about the fate of their husbands, and contend with spreading sickness brought on by dampness, cold, and malnutrition. The colonists had to settle somewhere soon. [3]

One of the ship's crew knew of a good inlet further along the coast that the sailors called "Thievish Harbor." On December 6, Stephen was one of ten men that braved the frigid weather to take the shallop along the coast. They found an Indian burial ground and some unoccupied dwellings before camping for the night. At daybreak they were attacked by members of the Nauset tribe. There was a brief exchange of arrows and musket shot, but no one was harmed. They got back in their boat and rowed on in hopes of finding the harbor. That afternoon they were caught in a rising storm which broke the rudder hinges and the mast. One of the Mayflower's mates managed to maneuver the shallop into a nearby harbor where they landed on an island and spent a cold and rainy night. The following day being Sunday, they did little but explore the island. [3]

On Monday, the 11th of December, the weather had cleared up, the shallop had been mended, it was now time to coast around the rest of the harbor. The harbor was good and big, deep enough for ships. The ground was generally level; there were cleared areas of abandoned cornfields; and there were freshwater streams. This was the best they had seen, and they were out of time to look for anything else.  They returned to the Mayflower with the news that they had, at last, found a suitable place to build their new community. The Mayflower arrived in the harbor on December 16, 1620 giving everyone onboard a first glimpse of their new home.. [5]


Plymouth Bay Map showing Clark's Isand, Plymouth and Billington Sea

Plymouth Rock

Pilgrims Landing

Town Brook

Pilgrim Spring as it is today

The Mayflower dropped anchor in Plymouth Harbor on December 16,1620 and spent three days looking for a settlement site. They rejected several sites, including one on Clark's Island and another at the mouth of the Jones River, in favor of the site of a recently abandoned Native American settlement named Patuxet. The location was chosen largely for its defensive position; the settlement would be centered on two hills: Cole's Hill, where the village would be built, and Fort Hill, where a defensive cannon would be stationed. Also important in choosing the site, the prior Native villagers had cleared much of the land, making agriculture relatively easy. Fresh water for the colony was provided by Town Brook and Billington Sea. Although there are no contemporary accounts to verify the legend, Plymouth Rock is often hailed as the point where the colonists first set foot on their new homeland. [11]

The area where the colonists settled had been identified as "New Plymouth" in maps by John Smith published in 1614. The colonists elected to retain the name for their own settlement—after their final point of departure from England: Plymouth, Devon. [11]

Stephano - "I shall no more to sea, to sea; Here shall I die ashore"
William Shakespeare - "The Tempest" Act II scene ii,

On December 21, 1620, the first landing party arrived at the site of what would later become the settlement of Plymouth. Plans to immediately begin building houses, however, were delayed by inclement weather until December 23. As the building progressed, twenty men always remained ashore for security purposes, while the rest of the work crews returned each night to the Mayflower. Women, children, and the infirm remained on board the Mayflower; many had not left the ship for six months. The first structure, a "common house" of relatively flat top of Cole's Hill, and a wooden platform was constructed to support the cannon that would defend the settlement from nearby Fort Hill. [11]

During the winter, the Mayflower colonists suffered greatly from diseases like scurvy, lack of shelter and general conditions onboard ship. Many of the able-bodied men were too infirm to work; 45 out of 102 immigrants died and were buried on Cole's Hill. Thus, only seven residences (of a planned nineteen) and four common houses were constructed during the first winter. By the end of January, enough of the settlement had been built to begin unloading provisions from the Mayflower. In mid-February, after several tense encounters with local Indians, the male residents of the settlement organized themselves into military orders; Myles Standish was designated as the commanding officer. By the end of the month, five cannons had been defensively positioned on Fort Hill. John Carver was elected governor to replace Governor Christopher Martin. [11]

The Mayflower remained anchored in the harbor throughout the winter. Although the ship was cold, damp, and unheated, it was their only shelter until the houses could be completed on shore. Exposure, malnutrition, and illness began taking their toll. Stephen had escaped the "starving time" at Jamestown, but he did not escape this one. William Bradford wrote:

In two or three months' time half of their company died, especially in January and February, being the depth of winter, and wanting houses and other comforts; being infected with the scurvy and other diseases which this long voyage had brought up on them, so as there died sometimes two or three of a day. Of 100 and odd persons, scarce fifty remained. And of these, in the time of most distress, there was but six or seven sound persons who to their great commendations spared no pains night or day, but with abundance of toil and hazard to their own health, fetched them wood, made them fires, dressed them meat, made their beds, washed their loathsome clothes, clothed and unclothed them. [3]

The women were the hardest hit with only four of eighteen surviving. By some miracle, the Hopkins family and their servants were spared. In March some of the sick began to recover, and those who were able began to plant their gardens. A grateful Bradford wrote:

"the Spring now approaching, it pleased God the mortalitie begane to cease amongst them, and the sick and lame recovered apace, which put as it were new life into them; though they had borne their sadd affliction with much patience & contentednes." [5]

It was not until March 1 that everyone was finally brought ashore and began permanently living at Plymouth - by that time, some people had likely been living onboard the ship for about nine months. [5]

In early April, the Mayflower returned to England with a small cargo of beaver skins and sassafras. Not one of the pilgrims chose to return to England. William Bradford would later write:

"May not and ought not the children of these fathers rightly say: Our fathers were Englishmen which came over this great ocean, and were ready to perish in this wilderness; but they cried unto the Lord, and He heard their voice and looked on their adversity." [3]


Pilgrims meet Samoset

Squanto stayed with the Hopkins'. He died in 1622

Massasoit, "Yellow Feather" was the "Great Sachem" of the Wampanoag Confederacy

Massasoit and Gov Carver sign a treaty in the Hopkins' home.

Wampanoag house or "Wetu"

Inside the Wetu

For some 12,000 years, the "Wampanoag" had lived in America fishing the waters, hunting the shores, and planting crops in the sheltered inland areas. Their name means "People of the First Light" but they referred to themselves simply as the "People". Their rich culture was organized around family, village, and nation. Their leaders, called sachems, governed by general agreement. [15]

Having learned a great deal from his experiences in Bermuda and Jamestown, Stephen quickly proved his worth to the colony. While skilled as a hunter and fisherman, his biggest contribution was his ability to relate to the native people. The Hopkins home became an embassy where Indian chiefs were entertained, and Stephen was asked to participate in several important trips to Indian settlements in the summer of 1621. As early as mid-February, the settlers had spotted Indians "skulking about the settlement," but it wasn't until mid-March that the groups finally met. [3]

On March 16, 1621, the first formal contact with the Indians occurred. An Indian named Samoset, originally from Pemaquid Point in modern Maine, walked boldly into the midst of the settlement and proclaimed, "Welcome, Englishmen!" He had learned some English from interacting with English fishermen and trappers (most probably from Bristol) operating in the region. It was during this meeting that the Pilgrims found out that the previous residents of the village, Patuxet, had died of an epidemic thought to be smallpox. They also discovered that the supreme leader of the region was a Wampanoag  sachem (chief) by the name of Massasoit; and they learned of the existence of Squanto—also known by his full Massachusett name of Tisquantum— originally from Patuxet. Squanto had spent time in Europe and spoke English quite well. (During his lifetime, he crossed the Atlantic Ocean six times) Samoset spent the night in Plymouth and agreed to arrange a meeting with some of Massasoit's men. [11]

Samoset was taken to the Hopkins house where he was given a meal of the best they had to offer – brandy, roast duck, biscuits and cheese, and corn pudding. Over dinner Samoset explained that he had learned their language from the Englishmen who crossed the North Atlantic each year to fish for cod. He had heard about the pilgrim's arrival and, for some time, had been traveling south to meet them. [3]

He explained that the Nausets, with whom the colonists had skirmished, harbored ill-feelings toward the English because Captain Thomas Hunt, an English slave- trader, had kidnapped some of their people a few years earlier. [3]

Massasoit and Squanto were apprehensive about the Pilgrims. In Massasoit's first contact with the English, several men of his tribe had been killed in an unprovoked attack by English sailors. He also knew of the Pilgrims' theft of the corn stores in their landings at Provincetown. Squanto had been abducted in 1614 by the English explorer Thomas Hunt and had spent five years in Europe, first as a slave for a group of Spanish monks, then in England. He had returned to New England in 1619, acting as a guide to the explorer Capt. Robert Gorges. Massasoit and his men had massacred the crew of the ship and had taken in Squanto [11]

Squanto whose adventures abroad had taught him a great deal about the ways of the Europeans. Being a man without a home, family, or tribe, Squanto settled in with the Hopkins and became the colony's agent in their interaction with the local tribes. His arrival paved the way for a visit by Ousamequin 'Yellow Feather' also known as Massasoit the 'great chief' of the Wampanoag. [3]

On the day of his arrival, Massasoit was escorted to the Hopkins house. After eating and exchanging gifts, Massasoit and Governor Carver began negotiations. The Wampanoag had powerful enemies in the Narragansetts, and wanted the Englishmen as allies. Being so few in number, the colonists also needed allies, so the two signed a peace treaty stating that they would come to each other's aid in the event of attack from outsiders. It was a momentous occasion. The peace agreement made in the Hopkins home that day would stand for more than fifty years. [3]

In the spring the settlers began planting their crops. Squanto showed them how to make the most of their corn by planting it in mounds, using fish as fertilizer. Gov. John Carver was hoeing in the corn fields one day, when he suffered a stroke and died shortly afterward. The colony then elected William Bradford to rule over what remained of their fragile colony. [3]

In July Governor Bradford asked Stephen, Squanto, and Edward Winslow to locate Packanokik, the settlement of chief Massasoit, so that they would be able to call on him quickly in time of need. They also wanted to determine the size and strength of his community and to renew the "league of peace and friendship" they had established with the Wampanoags. Winslow kept a record of their journey which would later appear in Mourt's Relations. [3]

They reached Massasoit's village, but he was not at home. Winslow wrote that they "found the place to be 40 miles from hence, the soyle good, and the people not many, being dead and abundantly wasted in the late great mortalitie which fell in all these parts aboute three years before the coming of the English, wherein thousands of them dyed, they not being able to burie one another; their sculs and bones were found many playces lying still above ground, where their houses and dwellings had been; a very sad spectackle to behould." [3]

When Massasoit returned, the Englishmen greeted him by firing their guns in salute. He welcomed them into his house, where Squanto acted as interpreter. They gave Massasoit a red cotton horseman's coat and copper necklace, which he immediately donned and modeled for the entertainment of his tribe. [3]

As diplomat, Winslow suggested that Massasoit's people should only come to Plymouth with the consent of the chief, since the colony was short of food and could no longer entertain an unlimited number of guests. They also stated that they wanted to repay the Nauset for the corn they had taken from their mounds, and asked if Massasoit would send word to them. Winslow also asked for trading goods, such as beaver skins, which could be sent back to England. Massasoit agreed to all their requests and gave a lengthy speech explaining the matter to his people and naming all thirty of his villages that were bound by the agreement. He ended his speech after pledging loyalty to the English King, and telling the pilgrims that he felt sorry for King James whose wife, Queen Anne, had died in 1619. He then lit tobacco for them, and they discussed matters in England, particularly how the King was getting along without a wife. [3]

When the group retired, Stephen and Winslow were invited to join the chief and his wife in their bed. By custom, the bed had to be full, so two other tribal leaders crowded in the remaining space. The four Wampanoags quickly put themselves to sleep through rhythmic chanting, but the Pilgrims had a restless night. The bed was full of lice and fleas, but moving outside meant they would be eaten alive by mosquitoes. Winslow later complained that they were more weary "of their lodging, than of their journey." [3]

They rose before sunrise the next day and departed with the six Indians who had brought them. They shared the last of their food with their guides who surprised them the next morning with a breakfast of fresh fish. They were caught in a "great storm" on the last day and reached Plymouth wet and weary, but elated with success. [3]

Stephen and Squanto had barely recuperated from their trip, when they were asked to join a search party to find young John Billington. They soon learned that he had been found in the woods by the unfriendly Nausets, so they gathered their courage and rowed the shallop to the Nauset village. Hearing that the pilgrims were coming, Chief Aspinet met the boat with "no less than a hundred of his men," but the colonists had nothing to fear. With Squanto's help, they understood that the pilgrims had come in peace and wished to pay for the corn they had taken. A great train of men then carried the boy through the water to the boat unharmed and bedecked with beads. The colonists thanked Chief Aspinet and the man who had found Billington with gifts of knives. [3]

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The First Thanksgiving

The Feast

Wampanoag Lullaby

As summer ended, the settlers took stock of their situation. Their crops were successful and, if their other food gathering efforts proved effective, they could survive a second winter. William Bradford wrote:

They begane now to gather in ye small harvest they had, and to fitte up their houses and dwellings against winter, being well recovered in health & strenght, and had all things in good plenty; for some were thus imployed in affairs abroad, others were excersised in fishing, aboute codd, & bass, & other fish, of which yey tooke good store, of which every family had their portion. All ye somer ther was no wante. And now begane to come in store of foule, as winter aproached, of which this place did abound when they came first (but afterward decreased by degree). And besids water foule, ther was great store of wild Turkies, of which they took many, besids venison, &c. Besids they had aboute a peck a meale a weeke to a person, or now since harvest, Indean corne to yt proportion. Which made many afterwards write so largly of their plenty hear to their freinds in England, which were not fained, but true reports. [3]

In their first ten months at Plymouth, just passed, they had erected seven dwellings, a Common Meeting house and three small store houses for food, clothing and other supplies. In spite of their numbers having been cut in half by sickness and death, they found reasons for thankfulness. They had gained their foot-hold on the edge of an inhospitable continent. They were well recovered in health and strength. They were making the best of a hard life in the wilderness. They had proved that they could sustain themselves in the new, free land. They were assured of the success of their purpose of establishing freedom. They had made firm friends with the Indians, who had been so kind to them. The original account of the first Pilgrim Thanksgiving is in a letter from Edward Winslow in Plymouth, dated Dec. 21st, 1621 to George Morton in England. It was printed in Mourt's Relation, London, 1662. Winslow relates the following: [13]

Our Corne [wheat] did prove well, & God be praysed, we had a good increase of Indian Corne, and our Barly indifferent good, but our Pease not worth the gathering, for we feared they were too late sowne, they came up very well, and blossomed, but the Sunne parched them in the blossome; our harvest being gotten in, our Governour sent foure men on fowling, that so we might after a more speciall manner reioyce together, after we had gathered the fruit of our labors; they foure in one day killed as much fowle, as with a little helpe beside, served the Company almost a weeke, at which time amongst other Recreations, we exercised our Armes, many of the Indians coming amongst us, and among the rest their greatest King Massasoyt, with some nintie men, whom for three dayes we entertained and feasted, and they went out and killed five Deere, which they brought to the Plantation and bestowed upon our Governour, and upon the Captaine, and others. And although it be not alwayes so plentifull, as it was at this time with us, yet by the goodneses of God, we are so farre from want, that we often wish you partakers of our plenty. [3]

 -- We have found the Indians very faithful in their Covenant of Peace with us; very loving and ready to pleasure us. Some of us have been fifty miles into the country by land with them. -- There is now great peace amongst us; and we, for our parts, walk as peaceably and safely in the woods here as in the highways in England. - I never in my life remember a more seasonable year than we have enjoyed. -- If we have but once kine, horses and sheep, I make no question but men might live as contented here, as in any part of the world. -- The country wanteth only industrious men to employ, for it would grieve your hearts to see so many miles together with goodly rivers uninhabited, and withall to consider those parts of the world wherein you live to be seven greatly burdened with abundance of people." For three days the Pilgrims and their Indian guests gorged themselves on venison, roast duck, goose and turkey, clams and other shell-fish, succulent eels, corn bread, hasty pudding, leeks and water-cress and other "sallet herbes," with wild plums and dried berries as dessert, all washed down with wine made of the wild grape. The affair was more like an out-door barbeque for the entire population, than a family reunion dinner. This feasting involved the preparation of unusually large quantities of food, some of it unfamiliar. Only four of their married women had survived, and only five teenage girls, three of those being the sole survivors of their families. They must have been extremely industrious and efficient, and they must have worn themselves ragged, trying to fill a hundred and forty demanding stomachs for three days. Sufficient tribute has never been paid to them for making these festivities a success, under such trying conditions. Indeed, even the success of the Colony rested largely in their most capable and devoted hands. The gathering was enlivened by contests of skill and strength: running, jumping, wrestling. Also, there were games of various kinds. The Indians were probably amazed to learn that the white men could play games not unlike their own. The Indians performed their dances and struck up their singing. Standish put his little army of fourteen men through their military review. Then followed feats of marksmanship, muskets performing against bows and arrows. The Massasoit and his braves headed home at last with a warmth of feeling for his white friends which survived even the harsh tests to which it was soon subjected. Thus they elaborately celebrated the prospect of abundance until their next harvest. [13]


Edward Doty Memorial

Although loyal to King Charles I, the citizens of Plymouth created their own laws and local government. Hopkins was elected as one of seven Council Assistants who served as advisors to the governor and ruled in judicial matters. Being one to help create the laws did not make Hopkins a model citizen, however. In June, 1636 he was found guilty of beating John Tisdale and fined £5. As the owner of a tavern, he was responsible for the behavior of his patrons. Several times he was fined for serving drink on Sunday, for permitting servants to drink and play shuffle board at his place, and for allowing his friends to get drunk. He was also guilty of price gouging. He had to pay £5 for selling wine, beer and liquor for exorbitant prices, and he tried to sell a mirror for 16 pence that could be bought somewhere else for nine pence. [4]

Plymouth’s first criminal act was committed by Stephen’s indentured servants, Edward Doty and Edward Leister. While Stephen was off on one of his expeditions that first summer in Plymouth, the two men began to compete for the affections of his daughter, Constance. After an open quarrel, they went into the woods with swords and daggers and returned with wounds in the hand and thigh. Dueling was illegal, and Stephen returned home to find his servants in handcuffs and awaiting trial. After finding the men guilty, Governor Bradford consulted William Brewster’s book of English law which prescribed that the men have their necks tied to their feet and remain in that agonizing position for twenty-four hours in the town square. Stephen couldn’t bear their suffering and implored Governor Bradford and Captain Standish to set the men free. “Within an hour,” says an early record, “because of their great pains, at their own and their master’s humble request, they were released by the Governor.” [2]

One incident landed Hopkins in jail. His indentured servant, Dorothy Temple, was pregnant by a man who had been hung for murder. She was whipped for having a bastard child, but then she had nowhere to live. The court ordered Hopkins, as her owner, to be responsible for her support for the duration of her contract. Hopkins wanted to resolve the matter on his own terms without a court order, and he was found to be in contempt. He spent four days in jail until John Holmes agreed to take Temple and her son to live with him for the payment of £3, relieving Hopkins of his obligation. [4]


Plymouth Village Plot Layout

Constance Hopkins Snow

In November 1621, one year after the Pilgrims first set foot in New England, a second ship sent by the Merchant Adventurers arrived. Named the Fortune, it arrived with 37 new settlers for Plymouth. However, as the ship had arrived unexpectedly, and also without many supplies, the additional settlers put a strain on the resources of the colony. Among the passengers of the Fortune were several additional people of the original Leiden congregation, including William Brewster's son Jonathan, Edward Winslow's brother John, and Philip Delano (the family name was earlier "de la Noye"). The Fortune began its return to England laden with £500 worth of goods, more than enough to keep the colonists on schedule for repayment of their debt, however the Fortune was captured by the French before she could deliver her cargo to England, creating an even larger deficit for the colony. Robert Cushman carried a terse letter from Thomas Weston asking the colonists why they had run up expenses by keeping the Mayflower at Plymouth all winter, and why they had not filled her hold with more cargo for the return trip. Then, because some of the non-Separatists had begun to press for individual property rights, Cushman gave a sermon comparing their "worldly ambition" to the "pride of Satan." [11] [3]

In July 1623, two more ships arrived named the Anne, under the command of Captain 'Master' William Peirce and Master John Bridges and Captain Emanuel Altham on the Little James ten days later, carrying 96 new settlers, among them Leideners, including William Bradford's future wife, Alice. Some of the passengers who arrived on the Anne were either unprepared for frontier life or undesirable additions to the colony and returned to England the next year. According to Gleason Archer, (With Axe and Musket at Plymouth. New York: The American Historical Society, Inc., 1936.) "those who remained were not willing to join the colony under the terms of the agreement with the Merchant Adventurers. They had embarked for America upon an understanding with the Adventurers that they might settle in a community of their own, or at least be free from the bonds by which the Plymouth colonists were enslaved. A letter addressed to the colonists and signed by thirteen of the merchants recited these facts and urged acceptance of the new comers on the specified terms." The new arrivals were allotted land in the area of the Eel River, known as Hobs Hole, which became Wellingsley, a mile south of Plymouth Rock. [11]

The Hopkins home sat across from Governor Bradford's on the eastern corner of Main and Leyden. It was one of the largest houses in Plymouth to accommodate its large family. By 1627 each house had a fenced garden with flowers and herbs. The Hopkins also had a barn, dairy, cow shed, and small apple orchard. Both Damaris and Oceanus died around 1626, but five new children, Caleb, Deborah, Damaris (again), Ruth, and Elizabeth, were born between 1622 and about 1630. Constance moved out in 1628 when she married carpenter Nicholas Snow who had sailed on the Anne. [3]

Stephen had been an early proponent of the fur trade, so expanded his house to include a store where the Indians could come and trade beaver skins for English goods. In 1624 when ships began importing wine, beer, brandy, and gin, Stephen added a tavern. He also built and owned the first wharf in Plymouth Colony, and in 1638 built a house at Yarmouth on Cape Cod, but soon returned to Plymouth. He gave the Yarmouth dwelling to Giles, who had married Catherine Wheldon in 1639. [3]

Between 1623 and 1638, Stephen made numerous appearances in Plymouth Colony records:

In the 1623 Plymouth division of land, "Steven Hobkins" received six acres as a passenger of the Mayflower.

In the 1627 Plymouth division of cattle, Stephen is listed with his wife Elizabeth, and children Gyles, Caleb, Deborah, and Damaris.

In the 1633 list of Plymouth freemen (those who were entitled to citizenship and other special privileges in the colony), Stephen is near the head of the list, included among the Council Assistants.

On July 1, 1633 "Mr. Hopkins" was ordered to mow where he had mowed the year before, followed by similar orders on March 14, 1635 and March 20, 1636.

In the Plymouth tax list of March 25, 1634 Stephen was assessed £1 7s.

In the list of Plymouth Colony freemen, March 7, 1636, he appears as "Steephen Hopkins, gent."

On February 5, 1637 "Mr. Stephen Hopkins requesteth a grant of lands towards the Six Mile Brook."

On July 17, 1637 "Stephen Hopkins of Plymouth, gent.," sold to George Boare of Scituate, yeoman, "all that his messuage, houses, tenements, outhouses lying and being at the Broken Wharfe towards the Eele River together with the six shares of lands thereunto belonging containing six acres."

On August 7, 1638 "liberty is granted to Mr. Steephen Hopkins to erect a house at Mattacheese, and cut hay there this year to winter his cattle, provided that it be not to withdraw him from the town of Plymouth."

On November 30, 1638 "Mr. Steephen Hopkins" sold to Josias Cooke "all those his six acres of land lying on the south side of the Town Brook of Plymouth."

On June 1, 1640 "Mr. Hopkins" was granted twelve acres of meadow.

On June 8, 1642, William Chase, in consideration of a debt of £5 which he owed to Stephen, mortgaged to him "his house and lands in Yarmouth containing eight acres of upland and six acres more lying at the Stony Cove." [3]

He seems to have been fairly prosperous, withal; for toward the close of his life we find him purchasing a share in a vessel of 40 or 50 tons, valued at two hundred pounds sterling. [11]

In September 1623, another ship carrying settlers destined to re-found the failed colony at Weymouth arrived and temporarily stayed at Plymouth. In March 1624, a ship bearing a few additional settlers and the first cattle arrived. A 1627 division of cattle lists 156 colonists divided into twelve lots of thirteen colonists each. Another ship also named the Mayflower arrived in August 1629 with 35 additional members of the Leiden congregation. Ships arrived throughout the period between 1629 and 1630 carrying new settlers; though the exact number is unknown, contemporary documents claimed that by January 1630 the colony had almost 300 people. In 1643 the colony had an estimated 600 males fit for military service, implying a total population of about 2,000. By 1690, on the eve of the dissolution of the colony, the estimated total population of Plymouth County, the most populous, was 3,055 people. It is estimated that the entire population of the colony at the point of its dissolution was around 7,000. For comparison it is estimated that between 1630 and 1640, a period known as the Great Migration, over 20,000 settlers had arrived in Massachusetts Bay Colony alone, and by 1678 the English population of all of New England was estimated to be in the range of 60,000. Despite the fact that Plymouth was the first colony in the region, by the time of its annexation it was much smaller than Massachusetts Bay Colony [11]


Governor John Endicott

Thomas Morton, Founder of Colony of Merrymount

Eight years after the pilgrims landed at Plymouth, a group of colonists under Governor John Endicott sailed into Massachusetts Bay. They were followed two years later by the eleven ships of the Winthrop fleet, which represented a far greater investment of time, energy, and money than had been spent on neglected Plymouth. The pilgrims undoubtedly looked on with some envy as the new colonists quickly established villages at Boston, Salem, Cambridge, Watertown, and Charlestown. [3]

As the English began to pour into New England, tensions with the Indians mounted, particularly after the Indians began buying alcohol and firearms from unscrupulous adventurers. One of the worst was Thomas Morton who had arrived and taken control of a nearby plantation at Mount Wallarton, which he appropriately renamed "Merry Mount." [3]

William Bradford wrote that Morton and his followers, mostly outcasts from Plymouth, "set up a maypole with much drinking, dancing, and consorting with the Indian women . . . after this they all fell to a great licentiousness and from then on led a most dissolute life." To make matters worse, the pleasure-seekers traded their guns to the Indians for food rather than interrupt their activities to go hunting. [3]

The Indians soon became crack shots and, with little provocation, began to shoot at the English. The men at Plymouth felt that it was a matter of self-preservation to put an end to this gun trade, and Stephen was second in command of the expedition to wipe out Merry Mount. The raiding party caught Morton and his men off guard, disarmed them, and sent Morton back to England on the next ship. But even with Merry Mount gone, the Indians still had their weapons and major conflict seemed inevitable. [3]

The Pequot War of 1637, the first major conflict between Indians and colonists in New England, set a brutal precedent for subsequent Indian-European warfare. The Pequots were accused of murdering two Massachusetts Bay colony men, and refused to yield up the suspected killers. Colonial authorities decided to retaliate, a decision reinforced by Pequot resistance to new Connecticut settlements. On May 26, 1637, a force of white soldiers, along with Mohegan and Narragansett warriors, attacked the principal Pequot village, burned it, and slaughtered its inhabitants. The surviving Pequots were relentlessly pursued, until the tribe was largely destroyed. [3]

Hodges writes, "When Massachusetts Bay called on Plymouth for help, the older colony was reluctant. Like most men at Plymouth, Stephen Hopkins was opposed to the Pequot War. It not only threatened the physical safety of the colony, but it could bring an end to the fur trade which was the best hope Plymouth had to lift its burden of debt . . . However when the call came for volunteers, Stephen Hopkins and his two sons Giles and Caleb were among the able-bodied men who offered themselves as soldiers . . . but before the Plymouth volunteers could organize themselves, the Pequot War ended." [3]


Hopkins again outlived his wife when Elizabeth died in 1640 (The exact date is unknown). His oldest children, Constance and Giles, were gone by this time, but the five younger children were probably still at home as Caleb, the oldest, would have been just eighteen. [3]

Among the earliest wills probated at Plymouth, MA was that of Stephen Hopkins, 6 June 1644  directing that he be buried near his deceased wife, naming son Caleb, 'heir apparent,' mentioning other children and naming Captain Myles Standish as overseer of the will. He died sometime before July 17th when his will was proven. An inventory of his estate shows that he was a rich man by Plymouth standards. [11] [3]

The inventory of the goods of Stephen Hopkins amounted to £128/16/7. [2]

The last Will and Testament of Stephen Hopkins

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 pay.

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 Myles 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.

June 6th 1644 Witnesses hereof By me Steven Hopkins
Myles Standish
William Bradford

In 1650 William Bradford wrote, "Mr. Hopkins & his wife are now both dead, but they lived about 20 years in this place & had one son and four daughters born here. Their son [Caleb] became a seaman and dyed at Barbadoes, one daughter died here & two are married, one of them hath three children and one is yet to marry. So their increase which still survive are 5, but his son Giles is married & has 4 children. His daughter Constanta is also married & hath 12 children all of them living & one married. One of these children was Mary Snow, who married Thomas Paine. Stephen settled in the part of Eastham now included in the town of Orleans, on the place at the head of the Cove, called by the Indians "Kesscayoganseet" and later owned and occupied by James Percival." [3]

During Stephen Hopkin's lifetime the settlements of Jamestown and Plymouth were more reviled than admired. Jamestown was a disaster, and Plymouth was damned as a hotbed of radicals who would destroy Church and State. But these settlements, which began as mere commercial enterprises, contributed to the United State's most treasured constitutional ideals. [3]

The tradition of representative government began in Jamestown and, echoing Stephen's declaration in Bermuda that he was "freed from the government of any man," Plymouth Colony created a government "of laws, not of men." It drew up a Bill of Rights, gave women property and dower rights, and honored a peace treaty with the Wampanoag for a record fifty years. If Stephen Hopkins had done nothing more than to help found 'Plimoth Plantation,' he would deserve a place in history. [3]


Children of Stephen and Mary Hopkins, born in Hursley:

  • Elizabeth was baptized on May 13, 1604. She was alive at her mother’s death, but there is no further reference.
  • Constance was baptized on May 11, 1606. She married Nicholas Snow in Plymouth by May 22, 1627, and had twelve children. She died in Eastham in mid-October 1677.
  • Giles was baptized on January 30, 1607/8. He married Catherine Whelden in Plymouth on October 9, 1639, and had ten children. He died in Eastham between March 5, 1688/9, and April 16,1690.

Children of Stephen and Elizabeth Hopkins:

  • Damaris was born about 1618 in England, and died young in Plymouth.
  • Oceanus was born in the fall of 1620 aboard the Mayflower. He had died by May 22, 1627.
  • Caleb was born in Plymouth about 1624. He became a seaman and died at Barbados between 1644 and 1651.
  • Deborah was born in Plymouth about 1626. She married Andrew Ring in Plymouth on April 23, 1646, and had six children. She died probably before 1674.
  • Damaris was born in Plymouth about 1627–8. She married Jacob Cooke after June 10, 1646, and had seven children. She died in Plymouth between January 1665/6 and November 18, 1669.
  • Ruth was born about 1630. She died in Plymouth between November 30, 1644, and spring 1651, unmarried. Elizabeth was born in Plymouth about 1632 and probably died before October 6, 1659, unmarried.


Books about Stephen Hopkins by: Caleb Johnson; Available on

[1] Caleb Johnson, Stephen Hopkins, Mayflower History,

[2] Miner Decent, Stephen Hopkins,

[3] Kate L McCarter, McCarter Family, Stephen Hopkins of the Mayflower,

[4] Debbie Foulkes, forgotten Newsmakers, STEPHEN HOPKINS (1581 – 1644) Jamestown Colonist and Pilgrim on the Mayflower,

[5] Caleb Johnson, "Here Shall I Die Ashore, Stephen Hopkins: Bermuda Castaway, Jamestown Survivor, and Mayflower Pilgrim."


[7], Sea Venture,

[8] Jamestown & Yorktown Settlement Victory Center,

[9] WikiTree, Stephen Hopkins,

[10], Bermuda's History from 1500 to 1699,

[11] Wikipedia, Plymouth Colony,

[12] Wikipedia, The Third Supply,

[13] Duane A Cline, The Pilgrims & Plymouth Colony: 1620.

[14] Virginia Foundation for the Humanities, Encyclopedia Virginia. Sea Venture.>

[15] National Geographic, Mayflower 1620, A New Look At A Pilgrim Voyage, Plimoth Plantation,