Search for content in message boards

2019 updated Stephen of the Mayflower -- MARRIAGES, WIVES, CHILDREN -- What is proved or disproved?

Replies: 8

2019 updated Stephen of the Mayflower -- MARRIAGES, WIVES, CHILDREN -- What is proved or disproved?

Posted: 1328407034000
Classification: Query
Edited: 1573254786000
Time to edit and update dead links. Please advise as you find more. Thanks.

For reference see #1 Stephen's BIRTH AND PARENTS post here:

See #3 Stephen's DEATH, PICTURES, SOURCES post here:

I hope everyone will read this critically and contribute any documented information that may clarify or disprove what I wrote.

Almost everything we thought to be currently true of Stephen's early life and family was changed in 1998 when wife Mary was found in Hampshire, and changed again in 2004 when a baptism record for a Stephen was found in Hampshire. But because "old facts" (which were never proven to begin with) are on the Internet and are currently being offered as records (beginners don't understand the difference and aren't being taught that a database is not a record) we now have 15,000+ AncestryTree hits that pop up when searched for a wife Constance Dudley. (2017 Jan-- make that 17,000+)

One big problem that beginners face is the mountain of misinformation on other trees. Often they are told that trees are considered a source for information that provide evidence to use in their Facts Timeline. They are encouraged to click and save whatever they want from anyone's tree before they've learned to read censuses and find marriage records, birth records and death records.

I am not going into the lives of the children. I'm listing the names and dates of children who have some sort of documentation connecting them to Stephen (and those who don't or are disproved.)



1. Mary (probably Kent)
2. Elizabeth (probably Fisher)

The NON-wives:
1X. Constance Dudley (no record of her existence, much less marriage, children or death);
2X. Ruth Wilkinson (a real woman born around 1685 who married William Hopkins; she's the mother of Stephen Hopkins (1707-1785) from Rhode Island who signed the Declaration of Independence. No known relation to the Mayflower line);
3X. Mary Merrick/Myrick (a real woman who married Stephen's grandson);
4X. Dorcas Bronson (a real woman who married a DIFFERENT Stephen Hopkins in Connecticut who is not related to the Mayflower).


Birth -- unknown (means we don't have a clue so any guess is not valid)
Marriage -- unknown (ditto--guessing not allowed)
Burial -- 9 May 1613, Hursley, Hampshire per county records
Children -- Elizabeth, Constance, Giles (they're listed in her probate on 12 May 1613)

Caleb Johnson's article in The American Genealogist 73:161-171 in 1998 tells how new information was found in 1998 about this family in Hursley, Hampshire, England. Or see
for more details.

In 1998 they found:

-1- The burial record of Mary, wife (or listed as widow to expedite guardianship of the 3 children named in probate) of Stephen Hopkins (who was probably off in the New World at the time);

-2- Baptism records of the three children (Elizabeth, Constance and Giles) matching the names in the probate (shown in #1) and;

-3- Mary's probate (more in Appendix 1 of Caleb's biography of Stephen Hopkins).

Excellent Mayflower Quarterly article (June 2012) by Simon Neal -- the latest in the search for the family of both Mary from Hampshire and 2nd wife, possibly Elizabeth Fisher in London.
The mobile version works on computer. Image 22/100

with 23 pages of source notes at
The mobile version works on computer. Image 52/100


Birth -- unknown (means we don't have a clue so any exact guess is not valid)
Marriage -- 19 Feb 1617/18, St. Mary Matfellon, Whitechapel, Middlesex, England per parish record. To check out what 1617/18 means Google "Quaker calendar".
Death -- between Feb 1639 and Jun 1644 (repeat, exact date not known)
Children -- Damaris I, Oceanus, Caleb, Deborah, Demaris II, Ruth, Elizabeth

I read in a story in someone's tree that was copied out of the book by Haxtun from 1897--The one where the invented Nicholas Hopkins and Mary Poole/Poore/Poley was first published -- see here for explanation of that mess

Haxtun's book said Elizabeth Fisher was a very domineering woman and didn't want Giles, the son of the first wife, to be the executor of Stephen's estate and pressured him because she wanted her son Caleb to be executor. That narrative neglected to mention that Elizabeth was already dead when Stephen wrote his will and Giles and his wife were living in Yarmouth, not Plymouth--so who more logical than Caleb to be executor and to care for his sisters who were to live in the house in Plymouth until their marriage. The lesson: Beware of "narratives" from the last century.

We don't know Elizabeth's death year much less the exact day. She died between 4 Feb 1639 and June 6, 1644.

Excellent Mayflower Quarterly article (June 2012) by Simon Neal -- the latest in the search for the family of both Mary from Hampshire and 2nd wife, possibly Elizabeth Fisher in London as shown in Mary's section --
The mobile version works on computer. Image 22/100


Constance Dudley is a myth that won't die because she's on the Internet and is in so many Green Leaf databases that her hints keep recycling.
In Feb 2012 there were 11,650 Ancestry Trees hits when searching Stephen Hopkins and spouse Constance Dudley with exact names checked.
Considering there is not one single historical document or record that shows a marriage or Constance as a wife or mother or live person where could beginners and newbies to the family be finding their information? See explanation at

There are 14 U.S. and International Marriage Records on Ancestry indexed for a Constance Dudley to a Stephen Hopkins, none of which is documented. The marriage dates range from 1599 to 1605 because people made up the dates. If it were an actual historical record (a real marriage record of the time) it would have the exact date and location (church/parish/county) of the marriage.

Years ago programmed computer sweeps went through submitted tress and family group sheets and counted up how many different people, places, dates, etc., there were, and the items that appeared most often became the item that was made into a "fact." The results were compiled into a database named OneWorldTree--same kind of thing later with the Millennium File database. That's why Constance Dudley is shown on so many trees. It's not that anyone EVER found one single historical record connecting her to Stephen of the Mayflower. It's that she was already on more trees than the real first wife who was not found until 1998. So she's a "fact" on the Internet and is currently being offered in hints as the wife of Stephen and the mother of a whole slew of children who aren't hers (and often not even his).

Caleb Johnson says, "The origin of the Constance Dudley myth is harder to explain, since there has never been any evidence to support it."
for more details.
page 10, "The mythical wife Constance Dudley, and the brother William, and the whole cast of characters that had been developed around his supposed Gloucester origins, were simply wrong. The family history had to be rewritten. . . .
Appendix I and II contain the full text of the original peer-reviewed The American Genealogist articles . . . These more academic treatments on the subject will be of particular interest to genealogists, and to those who may not yet be convinced of the illegitimacy of the Gloucester origins, the fictional 'Constance Dudley,' and the other biographical aspects once assigned to Stephen."

There is no Constance Mary or Mary Constance Dudley because people very very seldom had middle names back then. None of the Pilgrims did. Only 3 of the men who signed the Declaration of Independence did.
"England’s upper classes began using middle names somewhat later. In 1605 William Camden, a British historian, wrote that “Two Christian names are rare in England.” That held true until the 19th century, though only about 10% of the British population had a middle name in 1800, writes Wilson (versus 40% in France).
The timing is mirrored in early modern Scotland, says Alice Crook, a PhD student at the University of Glasgow who analyzed Presbyterian records from 62,456 children born in Scotland between 1680 and 1839. She found middle names rare until about 1780 when their popularity began to rise dramatically—almost 99% of children in her sample who had middle names were born after 1780."
"For centuries in Europe, a legal name consisted of a given or first name and a surname or patronymic. Middle names began appearing in late Medieval times. In England, they were reserved for the nobility, with an old law making them illegal for the rest of the population. Since the Pilgrims and many early settlers came from England, early Americans followed the tradition of having only two names."

After Mary (probably Kent) was found in 1998 some people just added "Mary" to they mythical Constance Dudley and just left Constance "just in case/what if she really exists."

There is no birth record for any Constance Dudley that works that anyone has found. We know there's no record of the birth in Middlesex from 1580 that people are copying from Ancestry. Sometimes people source it as "Middlesex, England, Extracted Parish Records". Apparently those people believe that having a source to cite turns the information into a factual connection. That actual historical record turns out to be a court case in * 1616 * where a Constance Dudley and five other women are accusing a man of beating a woman "so that within a week she was untimely delivered of a child." I found it on Google.
So much for this as historical evidence of a birth in Middlesex for Constance Dudley 1 Jan 1580 (from a 1616 record) whose last name wouldn't appear as Dudley if she were married to a Hopkins or already deceased.

There is no marriage record for Constance Dudley and Stephen Hopkins on 9 May 1599 in London or any other time or place. Experts have looked. That date happens to be the real marriage date of the couple most often seen as the parents of Nicholas Snow, husband of Constance Hopkins -- but he's not the child baptized 25 Jan 1599 because that child was buried 3 days later -- 28 Jan 1599. We have no idea of the birth/baptism date or place, parents, grandparents or siblings of Nicholas Snow, Constance's husband.

No matter how many U.S. and International Marriage Records someone saves to their file (21 is the record I've seen sourced in one file for that one "marriage") sheer volume doesn't make it so. Those are not historical records. They are hits on a database that was compiled by the computer sweep.

Constance was suggested (read: made up) as Mayflower Stephen's first wife in the 1800s. I saw mention of a "long article" in The Boston Transcript genealogy column in 1928 that was supposed to disprove her (so says an article in the Bristol and Gloucestershire Archaeological Society newsletter).
This on-line Boston Transcripts link runs through issues to November 1915.

I had managed to extract about a page of text from that article in bits and pieces, and while I can't find the date it was written, the author was still on the old disproved Wortley/Wotton track for Stephen but mentioned The Boston Transcript article with no further reference to Constance.

" . . . 'many old references have given as his first wife Constance Dudley; but a long article in the Boston Transcript of 1928 disproves this.' Neither the Christian nor the surname occur in Wortley, and the surname apparently not even in the county. . . . "

At the DAR Library in Washington DC in Feb 2012 I got a copy of the 27 Jun 1928 article. While it does not DISprove Constance Dudley it does state the known--there are NO records for her anywhere, any time, anything. She is a non-person who was invented by a very careless person and regurgitated by beginners. The author of the article says,

" . . . Stephen Hopkins did not marry Constance Dudley "before 1605" or at any
other time and I defy anybody to set forth the proof of it. . . .Genealogy given
without a scintilla of evidence renders a disservice to hundreds of people who think a thing in print is next to holy writ in accuracy and if repeated sufficiently often will become a fixed fact. It would be interesting to know who first started the
Constance Dudley legend. I have my suspicions as to its origin. The absurdity
of the Hartford Times article is shown in almost every allegation, particularly the one that gives the mythical Stephen Hopkins born about 1495 as "Rector of Norfolk." As Norfolk is a county such an office did not and could not exist. A Rector had jurisdiction over a parish only. . . ."

The invention of Rev. Stephen Hopkins is explained here as father of the mythical Nicholas:

I've always wondered how she got listed in so many trees as the daughter of Robert Dudley and Anne Wood from Newcastle-upon-Tyne, Northumberland. They didn't even have a daughter named Constance. Or Mary or especially an Elizabeth Fisher who shows up by that name as their daughter in some trees and often born before even the parents and often configured as the GRANDMOTHER of Stephen of the Mayflower.

Some trees even have Robert Dudley being born in 1555 in New Haven, Connecticut to parents who both died in 1551. They have Robert dying in Hursley, Hampshire which is about as far from where he lived (Northumberland) as you can get and still be in England. Apparently when Constance's name first surfaced someone decided to make her the child of someone famous which is why you'll also see her listed as the dau of the Robert Dudley Earl of Leicester. People are making Robert Dudley of Northumberland into the Earl of Leicester complete with all kinds of Coats of Arms and Crests and do-dads. None of the Dudleys in these generations are known to be related to the Mayflower.

Ruth Wilkinson was not Stephen's wife. One reason we know this is because she was born about a hundred years after Stephen of the Mayflower around 1685 in Rhode Island not 1585 as shown on an old LDS IGI file (they discontinued the original contributed IGI files in 2008 because of so many errors, but the info was already out there on so many teres so is being recycled into the "new" contributed IGI files on Family Search) which has her dying on the date confirmed wife Mary was buried in Hampshire. The real Ruth Wilkinson married a William Hopkins in Rhode Island.

She is the mother of a different Stephen Hopkins (1707-1785) born in Rhode Island -- and
who was Colonial Governor of Rhode Island, who was first chancellor of (now) Brown University in Rhode Island, and who signed the Declaration of Independence
as a delegate from Rhode Island. His Find-a-grave submittal (real cemetery in Rhode Island, not virtual cemetery) at
Some people were using that Stephen Hopkin's stone for that of Mayflower Stephen on their trees. Except we don't know where Stephen of the Mayflower is buried.

All the formal portraits that people have been copying of the seated man in the gold vest is supposed to be a likeness of Stephen Hopkins of Rhode Island. The very large building in the background might have been a clue that it wasn't from the 1600s in Plymouth. The drawing of the man in the wide-brimmed hat with the signature at the bottom is the man from Rhode Island. The man with his signature below his drawings in the man from RI. He is NOT related to the Mayflower. Many trees copied invented grandparents for MAYFLOWER Hopkins but are unable to provide any docs or records and swear up and down that they exist. I'm just looking for proof if anyone has it. See my first post for how two sets of grandparents for Hopkins of the Mayflower got invented.

Mary Merrick/Myrick was not Stephen's wife. She was born around 1650, after Stephen died. She married his GRANDSON, Stephen Hopkins, son of Giles Hopkins and Catherine Wheldon (who wasn't born in Barnstable, Massachusetts in 1618. See her bapt in Notthingham, Eng.)

Dorcas Bronson was not this Stephen's wife. She was baptized in late 1633 (eleven years before Mayflower Stephen died). She married a different Stephen Hopkins in Connecticut who was no relation to the Mayflower.


Listed as children of Mary in her probate record plus baptism records found in Hampshire in 1998.

1. Elizabeth -- baptized 13 March 1604/05 (corrected from May). Mentioned in Mary's estate on 12 May 1613. Never seen again. She is not "Bethia". We don't know when or where she died so beware someone who has an exact date in their tree.

2. Constance -- baptized 11 May 1606.
Marr: Nicolas Snow. Died mid-October 1677
Her husband, Nicolas Snow was not bapt 25 Jan 1599/1600. That child was buried 3 days later. We don't know his birth date or place or parents or siblings much less grandparents.

They had no children named
Hannah or
Waitstill (The wife of Joseph Sabin of Rehoboth has no known maiden name).

3. Giles -- baptized 30 January 1607/08.
Marr: Catherine Whelden (xref Wheldon). Died between 5 March 1688/9 and 16 April 1690
Their son William Hopkins did not die in 1718. That was a different Wm Hopkins.
See the images of Giles will from Barnstable records at

With second wife Elizabeth Fisher:
4. Damaris -- Born about 1618/19. Died before 1627. (female)
5. Oceanus -- Born onboard the Mayflower at sea in the fall of 1620. He was not the only children born on the ship. Peregrine White was born while the ship was moored in Provincetown Harbor before they cross the Bay to Plymouth. Oceanus died before 22 May 1627 (male)
6. Caleb -- Born abt 1623. Died in possibly Barbados before spring 1651.
7. Deborah -- Born abt 1626. Mar: Andrew Ring. Death unknown.
8. Damaris (the second) -- Born abt 1628. Marr: Jacob Cooke. Death unknown.
9. Ruth -- Born abt 1630. Died bet 1644-1651. Unmarried.
10. Elizabeth -- Born abt 1632. She was not in Plymouth by 1659. Death unknown.

There are no historical records (and often proof against) that even hint that Stephen Hopkins and either wife are the parents of




Bethia -- Wm Kelsey's wife is never named in records. See these links to see what her problems are:



--John, (ESPECIALLY the one in Hartford, Connecticut. No proof of Strong for last name of wife either. No marriage record known to exist in England or America.)






--Bartholemew, or

--Mary (ESPECIALLY if she was born in Hatfield, Hampshire, MA as shown on so many trees. She would have been a minor and there is no Mary listed in Stephen's will. Plus the Stephen Hopkins family lived in Plymouth, not Hatfield which is nowhere near Cape Cod. Mrs. Edward Church's wife's maiden name is unknown).

He didn't have any children 17 years before he was born. None of these people were born, married or died in Massachusetts before 1620.

There were and/or still are Ancestry Trees that had/have an assortment of children (claimed to be his and Constance Dudley's usually) shown born in Gloucestershire, Wales, India, Ireland, Netherlands, France, Kentucky, Germany, Connecticut, Indiana or Arkansas.

None of his real children died in North Dakota, Oklahoma, Texas, Kansas, Liberia Mississippi or any of the countries listed above.

Today, 7 NOV 2019, there are over 100 trees that have Caleb Hopkins born in Colony, Laurel, Kentucky. Most of those copied trees (or those that had the word "Colony" in the birth box and clicked with Ancestry offered them the drop-down choice of "Colony, Laurel, Kentucky" usually show him dying in Nimba, Liberia. I don't know how one would get that drop-down suggestion from Ancestry.

He is not related to the * SHATTUCK * family in Salem, Essex, Massachusetts. The maiden name of Damaris "the widow Shattuck" is unknown and her husband's first name is unknown. We don't know when or where they were born or when/where he died. She died Nov 1674.
See page 361 at
and all-in-one place what's known and unknown (and obvious errors) about her and her family at


1. The standard reference is the "Silver Book" published by the General Society of Mayflower Descendants: "Mayflower Families Through Five Generations: Family of Stephen Hopkins" by John D. Austin, F.A.S.G. Vol. 6. THIRD EDITION (or later when applicable) .

2. A shortened Google Books entry for Johnson, Caleb, "Here Shall I Die Ashore" published 2007. He's the man who tracked down the baptisms of the three kids and Mary the wife in Hampshire. These two TAG articles are in the appendix of the actual book (not on the abbreviated Google Books). Those are the articles with the detailed citations. All in one place.
-- Caleb Johnson, "The True Origins of Mayflower Passenger Stephen Hopkins," The American Genealogist, 73(1998):161-171.
-- Ernest M. Christensen, "The Probable Parentage of Stephen Hopkins of the Mayflower," The American Genealogist, 79(October 2004):241-249.

3. Hopkins 101:

4. Wikipedia
This is kept pretty current by people who like to see documentation. This page is more correct than 90% of the trees on the internet. Updates on things found since the publication of #1 about Stephen's wives, (Mary and Elizabeth) are in Wikipedia
SubjectAuthorDate Posted
ssbosco2 1328407034000 
Melba Harkins 1328845589000 
ssbosco2 1328855511000 
searching05 1329853463000 
marydayo 1329096220000 
waynehopkins1... 1341235893000 
jasche 1335094829000 
ssbosco2 1335111900000 
marydayo 1355691870000 
per page

Find a board about a specific topic