What do Jamestowne, the Mayflower and Shakespeare have in common? The answer is Stephen Hopkins: a Jamestowne settler, Mayflower passenger and survivor of the wreck of the Sea Venture, reputed to be the basis for Shakespeare’s comedy, The Tempest.
Hopkins (1581-1644), second son of John Hopkins (1550-1593) and Elizabeth Williams (b. and d. unknown), was baptized at All Saints church, Upper Clatford, Hampshire, England 30 April 1581. In 1603/4, he married his first wife, Mary. By 1608, they had three children, when Hopkins’ life took a dramatic turn; he was hired by the Reverend Richard Buck and charged with the reading of the Psalms and Chapters at Sunday services for the Virginia Company.
On 2 June, 1609, he boarded the Sea Venture with Jamestowne Governor Sir Thomas Gates, , Admiral Sir George Somers, and Christopher Newport, who previously was Captain of the Susan Constant that brought the first settlers to Jamestowne in 1607. On 28 July 1609, the Sea Venture was separated from the remainder of the third supply fleet during a hurricane. For three days the vessel was tossed by monstrous waves, became sailless and took on water. Just as hope seemed lost, Somers spotted land and Newport beached the ship on the coast of the “Isle of Devils” – Bermuda.
Life on Bermuda proved to be so easy that when Somers and Gates ordered two smaller ships built from the wreckage of the Sea Venture and local cedar to take the survivors to Jamestowne, some crew members 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.
The story of the Sea Venture is said to be the inspiration for The Tempest by William Shakespeare, when it first appeared on the London stage in November 1611. The episode when drunken, power-hungry butler Stephano tries to depose the island’s ruler, Prospero, may be based on Hopkin’s mutiny.
Finally, on 24 May 1610, the shipwrecked party with Stephen Hopkins and 140 others arrived at Jamestowne after having been marooned for nine months on Bermuda. There, Hopkins witnessed the results of Jamestowne’s Starving Times of 1609-10, when only 60 out of a population of 240 colonists had survived. He 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 settlers and Native Americans and as an aid to the Governor. In later life he became a shopkeeper and died a wealthy man between 6 June and 17 July 1644. He had 10 children, 37 grandchildren and about 330 great-grandchildren.
This biography was submitted by Mary Jane Simpson, Central North Carolina Company Historian, and later supplemented by Frederick Cron, Registrar of the First Colorado Company.
Descendants of Stephen Hopkins who belong to the Central North Carolina Company include Dr. John Blue Clark, Jr. and Mr. Samuel M. Hobbs.
Seventh in a series of biographical sketches on members of the House of Burgesses whose descendants belong to the First Mississippi Company in honor of the 400th anniversary of the July 30, 1619, meeting of the first representative governmental body in American at the 1617 Church on Jamestown Island
Accomack County, VA
Southey Littleton was the second son of Ann Southey and her second husband Nathaniel Littleton. Ann came to Virginia in 1622 on the Southampton with her parents and five siblings. By the time of the 1624/25 Muster, Ann’s father and three of her siblings were dead, and she lived in James City with her mother and a brother named Henry. Ann Southey Harmar, widow, had married Nathaniel Littleton by 1 Jun 1740. Nathaniel Littleton, sixth son of Sir Edward Littleton of Shropshire, England, came to Virginia about 1635 and settled in the part of Accomack County that became Northampton.
Southey Littleton owned 2,340 acres at Nandua Creek in Northampton, 2,300 acres in Accomack County, and other land in Northampton County and Somerset County, MD. In 1674, Southey inherited 4,250 acres from his brother Edward Littleton. Much of the Littleton land had originally belong to Southey’s mother, Ann Southey—land she inherited from her first husband Charles Harmar and from her father Henry Southey.
Southey Littleton was a prominent figure on the Eastern Shore. He was a member of Governor Berkeley’s court that sat in judgment of members of Bacon’s Rebellion. He served as a Burgess from Accomack in 1676 and 1677 and was one of three men appointed to value goods from the condemned ship Phenix. Along with Colonel William Drummond, he was sent to Albany, NY, to confer with Governor Andros on Indian Affairs; he died while engaged in this commission. His will, written at Albany-on-the Hudson, was proved in NY and in Accomack. He named his seven children in his will and his executors were charged with the disposition of 7,314 acres in Accomack.
Southey married Sarah Bowman, who predeceased him. His children were named Nathaniel, Bowman, Esther, Sarah, Elizabeth, Gertrude, and Southey.
Descendants of Southey Littleton who belong to the First Mississippi Company: Betty Stewart and Betina Cooper
To Our Contributors
We welcome properly researched contributions of ancestor profiles, vignettes and comments from members that focus on their ancestors’ roles in Jamestown’s history, plus other aspects of their lives, events and experiences in the colony. PLEASE NOTE that all information must be documented and backed up by primary source documents, and not unverifiable information and family and urban legends. Submissions without this backup may be rejected. Please limit contributions and blog entries solely to the ancestors themselves, and do not include subsequent lineage information. Entries should be no more than 400 words.