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Stephen Hopkins and Upper Clatford

By Charles Eyre Upper Clatford

Wednesday, 10 July 2019


Upper Clatford Contributor


It is only relatively recently, less than twenty years’ ago, that a link between one of the key people to sail on the Mayflower and Hampshire was discovered by American researchers. Stephen Hopkins was baptised in All Saints’ church, Upper Clatford, on 30 April 1581, the son of John and Elizabeth Hopkins. As a young married man living in Hursley with two children, he was hired by the Revd Richard Buck to serve as a Minister’s clerk on board the Sea Venture, the flagship of the fleet that was taking the new Governor of Virginia to Jamestown, in 1609. After being shipwrecked off Bermuda, reprieved from a death sentence on Bermuda having been accused of mutiny, staying in Virginia for a few years, he returned to Hursley to find that his wife had died and his children were presumed orphans. It is believed that an account of the shipwreck was later passed to Shakespeare and formed part of his inspiration for The Tempest.

He left Hursley, near Winchester, with his two children and later remarried in London in 1618. The opportunity to start a new life in America was presented by the Virginia Company and in 1620, Stephen, with his second wife and children, left for America again, this time on board the Mayflower. Stephen’s experience of the Indians in Virginia proved invaluable and he was one of two men chosen to negotiate with the Indians for the first time, which proved successful. He became a member of the Governing Council of Plymouth. Since 2009, a few of the many thousands of his descendants have made a pilgrimage back to Upper Clatford.

If you are a descendant of Stephen Hopkins and wish to meet some of the people from the village when you visit, please contact Jane Kennedy [email protected] in advance of your trip who will be pleased to arrange a tour of the village. Special village events to mark the Mayflower 400 anniversary in 2020 are currently being planned and details will be announced as soon as possible.

The Tempest as depicted at the Shakespeare Flower Festival at All Saints’ Church, Upper Clatford in 2016, to mark the 400th anniversary of Shakespeare’s death.

Contact Information

Jane Kennedy

Find Upper Clatford

All Saints Church, Church Lane, Upper Clatford, Andover, Hampshire, SP11 7HB