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Signing of the Mayflower Compact
Signing of the Mayflower Compact

Stephen Hopkins (born about 1582 – 1644), was a tanner and merchant who was one of the passengers on the Mayflower in 1620, settling in Plymouth Colony. 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. Hopkins was one of forty-one signatories of the Mayflower Compact and was an assistant to the governor of the colony through 1636.

Sea Venture shipwreck and Mutiny

There is some evidence that the Stephen Hopkins who arrived on the Mayflower was the man of that name who had arrived in Virginia in 1609 aboard the new flagship of the Virginia Company, the Sea Venture, on which Sir George Somers took the helm. That Stephen Hopkins had embarked as a Minister's Clerk on the "Sea Venture", the Admiral of the Fleet. The ship was on the way to the Jamestown Colony in Virginiamarker with much needed supplies when it was deliberately driven onto the reefs of Bermudamarker to prevent its foundering as a result of the damage it had sustained during a severe storm. All aboard, 150 passengers and crew and a dog, survived. The ship's longboat was fitted with a mast and sent to Virginia for help, but it and its crew were never seen again. Hopkins attempted to start a mutiny while stranded on the island. He was sentenced to death when this was discovered but was eventually set free after complaining of the "ruin of his wife and children". Hopkins and the remaining survivors spent nine months on Bermuda building two smaller ships, the Deliverance and Patience, from Bermuda cedar and materials salvaged from the Sea Venture. He and the other castaways eventually made their way to Jamestown, where Hopkins appears to have stayed for (some say) two years before returning to England. The Hopkins family is considered one of the First Families of Virginia. The story of the Sea Venture shipwreck (and Hopkins' mutiny) is said to be the inspiration for The Tempest by William Shakespeare.

Diplomat and Veteran

Hopkins was respected for his previous experience with Indians and was elected ambassador for native relations. When Squanto arrived in Plymouth he resided with the Hopkins family. In 1621 Hopkins, Edward Winslow and William Bradford were delegated by their associates to treat with the Indians in the Plymouth vicinity on behalf of the Pilgrims and succeeded in winning the friendship of Chief Massasoit (1580-1661), concluding a peace treaty on 22 March 1621 in the Hopkins home. He later served in the Pequot War of 1637.


1. Mary: She may have died while Hopkins was on his first attempt to reach New World.

2. Elizabeth Fisher: married Hopkins at St. Mary Matfellon, Whitechapel, London, on 19 February 1617/8, and was a Mayflower passenger who died in Plymouth, 1639.


Stephen and Mary had three children:

Stephen and Elizabeth had eight children:
  • Damaris b. England, 1618; Mayflower passenger.
  • Oceanus b. en route to Plymouth onboard the Mayflower.
  • Caleb b. Plymouth, 1623; dead by spring 1651.
  • Elizabeth b. Plymouth, 1623.
  • Deborah b. Plymouth, 1626, married Andrew Ring, son of William and Mary Ring
  • Damaris b. Plymouth, 1628, married Jacob Cooke, son of Pilgrim, Francis Cooke and Hester Mayhieu (Cooke)
  • Ruth b. Plymouth, 1630.

See also


  • Caleb Johnson, Here Shall I Die Ashore: Stephen Hopkins, Bermuda Castaway, Jamestown Survivor, and Mayflower Pilgrim (Xlibris, 2007) ISBN 978-1-4257-9638-9.
  • Caleb Johnson, The American Genealogist 73:161-171, “The True English Origins of Stephen Hopkins of the Mayflower”, July 1998. His first wife was not Constance Dudley, though this erroneous name is given by older references.
  • Mayflower Families Through Five Generations, Volume Six, Third Edition, Stephen Hopkins ISBN 0-930270-03-7

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