The Year: 1621
Not much is known about Mayflower passenger Elizabeth Hopkins. She married Stephen Hopkins in either 1617 or 1618 at Whitechapel, England, and had a daughter Damaris born sometime around 1619. Elizabeth was Stephen Hopkins’ second wife. The name of his first doesn’t appear in any records.
In 1620, Stephen Hopkins brought his wife and their baby Damaris on the Mayflower—and his children from his first marriage, Constance and Giles. Elizabeth gave birth to a son, Oceanus, while they were at sea.
Stephen had been recruited by the Merchant Adventurers to provide leadership for the colony and to assist in the colony’s ventures. He was a member of a group the Pilgrims called “strangers,” which comprised more than half the passengers on the Mayflower.
These strangers signed on in London to help defray the cost of sending a ship to the New World and to further the chances of the colony’s survival. They included merchants, craftsmen, skilled workers and indentured servants, and three young orphans. All were common people, and about one-third of them were children.
Stephen Hopkins held positions of responsibility in the Colony. He was one of the forty-one men who signed the Mayflower Compact. He was a part of all the early exploring missions, and was sent on several ambassadorial missions to meet with the various tribes of Native Americans in the region.
In 1621, Stephen Hopkins, Edward Winslow, and William Bradford were delegated by the colonists to reach an agreement with the Native Americans, and they succeeded in winning the friendship of Chief Massasoit. A peace treaty was signed on March 22, 1621. When Samoset walked into Plymouth and welcomed the English, he spent the night in Stephen Hopkins’ house.
Elizabeth was one of only four women who survived long enough to attend the harvest celebration in the autumn of 1621. She and Stephen had five more children in America.
He served as assistant to the governor of the colony through 1636, but Stephen Hopkins turned out to be quite the character. In the late 1630s, he opened a shop that served alcohol. He had an altercation with John Tisdale and seriously wounded him.
In 1637, he was fined for allowing drinking on Sunday. Early the following year, he was fined for allowing people to drink excessively in his house, and was twice fined for selling beer at twice its actual value.
Also in 1638, Stephen’s maidservant got pregnant by Arthur Peach, who was subsequently executed for murdering a Native American. The Plymouth Court ruled that Stephen was financially responsible for Dorothy and her child for the next two years, while she completed her term of service.
Stephen threw Dorothy out of his household and refused to provide for her, so the court had him arrested. John Holmes stepped in and purchased Dorothy’s remaining term from him and agreed to support her and her child.
Elizabeth Fisher Hopkins died in Plymouth in 1639.
Stephen died in 1644 and left a will, asking to be buried near his wife.