Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Our Pilgrim Ancestors

As we approach Thanksgiving Day, the stories circulate once again of the first Thanksgiving Feast at Plymouth, Massachusetts. It's interesting to know that we had several ancestors who celebrated that first meal.

Stephen Hopkins was born about 1582 in England and was a tanner (cured cow-hides into leather for shoes, clothing, etc.) and merchant. He was not part of the Pilgrims' congregation but rather on the group of Mayflower passengers the Pilgrims referred to as "The Strangers". He signed the Mayflower compact and served as an assistant to the governor through 1636.

Evidence suggests that Stephen Hopkins had come to America before the Mayflower. He arrived at Jamestown, Virginia in 1609 aboard the new flagship of the Virginia Company, the "Sea Venture". He signed on as the Minister's Clerk to the Admiral of the Fleet. The ship, is desperate need of provisions, intended to stop for supplies in Bermuda. Supposedly, she was deliberately sailed onto the reefs off Bermuda to prevent her from foundering because the ship had been severely damaged in a storm.
Luckily, all 150 passengers and a dog survived the ship wreck.

Stranded on the island, the passengers and crew fitted the ship's longboat with a mast and volunteers set out for Virginia and help. Alas, they were never heard from again.

The remaining survivors built two ships, the "Deliverance" and the "Patience" from tree found on the island and materials salvaged from the wreck of the "Sea Venture".
It seems that patience was not won of Mr. Hopkins' strong suits. He was sentenced to death for trying to start a mutiny. Pleading for mercy based on how his death would destitute his wife and children, he was later freed.

Eventually, both ships made it to Jamestown, where Hopkins stayed for two years before returning to England.

My great-grandfather Frederick Newton Cone proved his descent from Stephen Hopkins and was a member of the Mayflower Society. The Descent goes as follows:
Stephen Hopkins-Giles Hopkins-Stephen Hopkins=Nathaniel Hopkins-Nathaniel Hopkins, Elisha Hopkins-Rhoda Hopkins-Joanna Warner-William Warner Cone-Frederick Naaman Cone-Charles Newton Cone-Charles Newton Cone, Jr. Cecily Louise Cone

Caleb Johnson has written an excellent book about Stephen Hopkins and his adventures entitled "Here Shall I Die Ashore: Stephen Hopkins, Bermuda Castaway, Jamestown Survivor and Mayflower Pilgrim".

1 comment:

  1. Good thing he talked his way out of the death sentence!