Monday, May 12, 2008

First visitor times two

During my digging of family history, which is pretty easy because of, I've been wondering if I could find some sort of connection to the Mayflower. Much of my mother's side of the family has New England roots that go back to the 17th century, and I thought it might be possible that someone landed in Plymouth in 1621.

Well, I have found said person. The catch is that the person is a direct ancestor of three of my cousins. My aunt's great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-grandfather is Stephen Hopkins, who indeed was on the Mayflower. The fun part is that Hopkins has a lot more going for him than stepping on a big rock.

Hopkins grew up in England, and headed to Jamestown in 1609. Sadly, his ship, the Sea Venture, was marooned on an island along the way, believed to be Bermuda. It actually was a break for the passengers, since a drought hit Jamestown at that time and most of the residents died. After nine months, Hopkins was part of an uprising against the leadership. He was sentenced to death for his actions, but apparently whined and begged his way out of it. Hopkins eventually landed in Jamestown, stayed for a while, went back to England in the mid-1610's. Supposedly, Shakespeare used part of the episode in "The Tempest," and Hopkins was used for part of a character.

But Hopkins wasn't done with the New World yet. He hitched a ride on the Mayflower, seeking fortune again. The ship was split into religious believers who wanted to worship in peace, and people like Hopkins who were out to make a buck. Hopkins had a son born on the way over, and named him Oceanus, which is a pretty ugly name by any time and standards.

Once arriving, Hopkins was an expert on communicating with the Natives. When Samoset showed up in Plymouth to welcome the English, he stayed at Hopkins' house. About 15 years later, though, Hopkins got into trouble for serving alcoholic beverages at his shop. He died in 1644.

Sounds like the movie rights to that sort of story should be up for bid. (You can find a longer biography by clicking here.)

Call me officially jealous of my cousins to have such an interesting ancestor.

1 comment:

Becky said...

I'm jealous that you're able to dig up stories, and interesting ones, from that far back.

Both sides of my family pretty much get stuck at the great great stage, and even then verifying mere dates and actual family members is difficult.

A sort of relative is across the ocean right now doing research and having a great time too!