On June 2, 1609, he boarded the Sea Venture with Sir Thomas Gates, Jamestowne Governor, Sir George Summers/Somers, and Christopher Newport, previously Captain of the Susan Constant, who had brought the first settlers to Jamestowne in 1607. In July of 1609, the Sea Venture became separated from the remainder of the third supply fleet during a tropical storm. For three days the vessel was tossed by hurricane- driven waves, sailless and taking on water. Just as hope seemed lost, Sir George Summers spotted land and beached the ship on the coast of present day Bermuda.
Life on the island of Bermuda proved to be so easy, that when Sir George Summers ordered a smaller ship be built from the wreckage of the Sea Venture to take the survivors to Jamestowne, some members of the crew refused to cooperate. Their leader was Stephen Hopkins. He was apprehended and tried for mutiny. Sentenced to death, he pleaded for his life so eloquently that he was pardoned.
In May, 1610, the survivors reached Jamestowne. His mutinous efforts in Bermuda gained him such notoriety that Shakespeare wrote him into “The Tempest” as the plotting butler, Stefano. Hopkins remained in Virginia until 1614, when the death of his wife forced his return to England. He worked as a shopkeeper and married Elizabeth Fisher in 1617/8.
Still longing to return to the New World, he, his wife and three children joined the voyage of the Mayflower in 1620. His wife gave birth in route to a son named Oceanus. Hopkins signed the Mayflower Compact on November 11, 1620. In Plymouth, he served an ambassador between the Pilgrims and Native Americans and as an aid to the Governor. In later life he became a shopkeeper and died a wealthy man in 1644.
This biography was provided by Mary Jane Simpson, Central North Carolina Company Historian. Descendants of Stephen Hopkins who belong to the Central North Carolina Company of the Jamestowne Society: Dr. John Blue Clark, Jr. and Mr. Samuel M. Hobbs