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2019 updates on compiled errors of Stephen of the Mayflower -- DEATH, PICTURES, SOURCES

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2019 updates on compiled errors of Stephen of the Mayflower -- DEATH, PICTURES, SOURCES

Posted: 1329416767000
Classification: Query
Edited: 1565459364000
Time to update and fix dead links again. Please advise if you find more. Thanks.

Stephen's BIRTH AND PARENTS post:


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

Will, Inventory, Probate dates

We do NOT know the exact date of his death. We do know the dates of the three estate proceedings.

He wrote his will 6 June 1644.
His inventory was 17 July 1644.
His will was proved 20 August 1644.

There is no excuse for not knowing at least the year that he died. In ** 1900 ** The Massachusetts Society of Mayflower Descendants published at

that he died between 6 Jun 1644 (the date he signed his will) and 17 July 1644 (when the inventory was taken by Miles Standish, Thomas Willet and John Doane)

yet the Millennium File on Ancestry says he died 20 Aug 1644, which is when his will was probated. The Millennium File is a database, not a historical record or document. It is wrong and over a century out of date.

Stephen Hopkins' Millennium File at

has four (4) errors in it. Click there to see their descriptions.

And we know that the Millennium file for the imaginary Constance Dudley says she died in 1617 in Plymouth, Massachusetts -- only 3 years before the Pilgrims arrived. Amazing. And people copy it.

Note the surviving children named in the will seen at

The death date range of 6 Jun-17 Jul 1644 has been PUBLISHED for over 100 years and yet today people are being offered hints to "records" that say he died 20 Aug 1644.


Someone once wrote to me and asked if I had any photographs of Stephen of the Mayflower. Sorry, no, I don't. No Kodak moments. There are no portraits or sketches either. There are depictions on book covers and drawings of meetings with Indians and paintings of what someone thought he might have looked like. No one had their easels and paintbrushes at the ready when anyone stepped ashore. That isn't him on his knee on the beach.

Some people saved a picture of a man in Elizabethan/Tudor-style clothing, or anything that looked like a third grade stereotypical Pilgrim costume, to REPRESENT the men of the day. Others apparently thought it was the real Stephen because on a thousand family trees they were copied and labeled as the Pilgrim Stephen Hopkins.

An early cut and paste:

The pictures that are NOT Stephen Hopkins of the Mayflower include:
1. The portrait of the seated man in a gold vest;
2. The sketch of the same man (in a short hat) with or without a signature below;
3. The portrait of a man in a fancy coat with big buttons and his little neckerchief
pulled out between the buttons of his vest;
4. The man with shoulder-length dark hair and moustache, wearing a
plain dark shirt/coat with a round flat white collar.
5. The man with a cape with a sea shell on it.
6. A man standing by a table in a dark suit.
7. The painting of a man kneeling on a beach with the Mayflower in the background.
8. A cartoon pen and ink character with no face in a gold vest and a sword.

The portrait of the seated man in a gold vest with a large brick-and-mortar building in the background is supposed to be a likeness of a different Stephen Hopkins (1707-1785) born in Rhode Island. That Stephen Hopkins was Colonial Governor of Rhode Island and signed the Declaration of Independence as delegate from Rhode Island. The building in the background is (now) Brown University in Rhode Island founded in 1764 where he was the first chancellor. The Pilgrims didn't have big brick-and-mortar buildings in Plymouth in the early 1600s. His hand is on a document dated 17something. If you get a large copy of the picture you can make out some scribbling.
His mother is the Ruth Wilkinson that over 1,000 trees had married Stephen of the Mayflower a hundred years before. While it's believed that that Stephen from Rhode Island never sat for the portrait either, the artist hired by Brown University used the likeness of a man whom they thought was Hopkins in a painting by John Trumbell depicting the signing of the Declaration of Independence. See all the details here:
He is not related to Stephen of the Mayflower.
Even Rhode Island Stephen Hopkins (1707-1785) is no under controversy. Some say that the man that Trumbell copied was really from Pennsylvania (or Delaware depending on who you read).

Nor is it Stephen of the Mayflower in the sketch of the same man (in a short hat with a wide brim) with or without a signature below. He's the Stephen Hopkins from Rhode Island again. If it has a signature that's the signature from the Declaration of Independence, not from the Mayflower Compact.
He is not related to Stephen of the Mayflower.

Nor is it Stephen in the portrait of a man in a fancy coat with gold buttons and his little neckerchief pulled out between the buttons of his vest. That's Esek Hopkins (1718-1802) of Rhode Island, brother of Stephen from Rhode Island, as seen here again
"Esek Hopkins later went on to become the first commanding officer of the infant U.S. Navy."
He is not related to Stephen of the Mayflower.

Nor is it Stephen in the picture (portrait or sketch?) of a man with shoulder-length dark hair and moustache, wearing a plain shirt/coat with a round flat white collar. That's supposed to be Governor William Bradford though other "pictures" of him represent a totally different person.
He is not related to Stephen of the Mayflower.

Nor is it Stephen in the portrait of a man with a cape with a sea shell on it (and a walking stick?). That is a painting entitled "Pilgrim" by Romanian painter, Gheorghe_Tattarescu (1818-1894) , depicting anyone on any Pilgrimage.
He is not related to Stephen of the Mayflower.

Nor is it Stephen in the portrait of a man standing next to a table (in a dark suit with skinny legs). Even though it's pictured in the Google Image section of "Stephen Hopkins" he is really Roger Sherman. Google "Roger Sherman compromise" and see why the United States owes so much to him.
He is not related to Stephen of the Mayflower

Nor is it Stephen in the picture of a bearded man kneeling on the beach with the Mayflower in the background. Artist Mike Haywood confirms that the man on the beach is generic. See Mr. Haywood's work was used as a collage for the cover of Caleb Johnson's book, "Here Shall I Die Ashore."

No explanation necessary.

Also, some people have a photograph of a substantial multi-story house on a hill in their family tree, listing it as Stephen of the Mayflower's home. That house belonged to Stephen Hopkins (1707-1785) from Rhode Island again.
It's in Providence, Rhode Island.
They didn't have large two-story homes with multiple fireplaces in Plymouth in the early 1600s.

Historical Documentation vs. a Database/Index vs. Someone Else's Family Tree vs vs. vs. MyHeritage vs. Family Search, etc.

Where does YOUR information come from?

Why are almost all the CURRENT TREES that are being built on WorldConnect and AncestryTrees getting the WRONG information about Stephen Hopkins of the Mayflower since everyone supposedly is doing as instructed and using the Green Leaf hints and saving "Records" as source citations? Because what they are copying aren't historical records. They are copying hits from databases, lists or indexes. There is nothing wrong with any of those as long as they are accurate, but the terms "hint," "record," "source citation" "fact" and "provides evidence" are being used very loosely these days. Depositories for submittals of family trees are NOT historical records. A GEDCOM or someone else's tree is not a historical record or document and for these families is usually wrong.

The "Mormon Church/LDS/FamilySearch" problems:
The old LDS Ancestral Files (AF) and Pedigree Resource Files (PF),
the old "contributed" (read submitted without documentation) International Genealogical Index (IGI) files (they discontinued contributions to the original group in 2008 and started over with the old recycled errors being sent in yet again and again),
OneWorldTree (that was discontinued by in 2008 but was still available through about 2012 for some bad reason),
WorldFamilyTree (with the same errors as the two above),
the entire Family Data Collections Series (-Individual, -Births, -Marriages, -Deaths),
U.S. and International Marriage Records 1560-1900,
Mayflower Births and Deaths, Vol. 1 and 2,
U.S., New England Marriages Prior to 1700 (there is a 2003 supplement that changes a lot for early families),
the profiles at Ancestry from "Profiles and Historical Records",
Passenger and Immigration Lists Index 1500s-1900s,
the Millennium File, and
are databases or indexed lists, NOT historical records or documents.

These databases/collections were "extracted" or "gathered" (grabbed) by programmed computer sweeps from various submitted family group sheets and trees made by people who often were just name collectors and often didn't know what they were doing. Some of them have Stephen, Elizabeth Fisher and Giles Hopkins' wife being born in Massachusetts all before the Pilgrims came. And of course the mythical Constance Dudley is shown dying there in 1617.

Many of the Green Leaf Hints were compiled from trees that relied on the old LDS IGI files as their source, thinking they were actual records because they were on the internet and the group that ran the site must know what they were doing. The IGI files have been discontinued for obvious reasons but the errors are being recycled in the form of Green Leaf Hints. Same problem -- different name.

Find-a-Grave is proving troublesome for a lot of these old folks since we don't know the exact death date of so many of them, yet FAG often proclaims an exact date (when it should be a range of dates). Many people think FAG is always based on actual cemetery records when they are actually submittals by the general public that can range from accurate to comical.

There are at least 7 DIFFERENT "U.S. and International Marriage Records" for Stephen and the mythical Constance Dudley. None of them is true. They all have different birth and marriage dates. People made them up.
An actual marriage record shows the exact date of the marriage and the exact location such as a church, parish, borough, city, county or whatever jurisdiction covered that event. Some of the "Marriage Records" shown on Ancestry don't even have a last name for the alleged bride.

The ABGI (the I stands for INDEX) is often iffy because so many of them refer to family books or county histories with errors that have been around since the book was printed. The Index is only as valid as the sources it copied from back in the old days. The Index doesn't tell us what the book or family tree says so using it as a source is meaningless unless you obtain a copy. All you're doing is saying his name matches a name that appears in a book or article.

Some tree owners, instead of updating and overwriting an old file, simply add an additional tree when they update (full of the same mistakes from their previous twelve trees). One of these trees is from an owner who has multiple pages for many people who never existed married to someone else who never existed, mythical children born before/after parents, etc. , . . . often multiple pages for the same real person often with different dates and places--as if he copied every variation from every other tree they ever found about this person. One of the multiple pages for Stephen has TEN (10) wives for Stephen and over EIGHTY (80) children some are which aren't even Stephen's. Update: I recently found a tree duplicated 5 times on WorldConnect with one version containing 15 wives and around 103 children. Wouldn't that make his descendants proud.

Unless websites like or or MyHeritage provide documentation disregard their "Confirmed Matches" and stories the profiles of the person that have usually been cut and pasted with the best of intentions.


If you're going after Giles Hopkins' wife, Catherine Wheldon, be careful. Her Millennium file has her born in Massachusetts for starters to the wrong mother. For EVERYTHING Wheldon you need to check out the Nottingham records found a few years ago by Jan and Jean, two cousins from America. One of them co-authored an article, "The Origins of Gabriel Whelden of Yarmouth and Malden, Massachusetts," in The New England Historical and Genealogical Register. (Boston: New England Historic Genealogical Society), 163:253-261, October 2009.
NEHGR article at to see baptism records for the children and deed record of Gabriel with his wife Jane in Nottingham in 1637.

The authors of this article were concerned with some of the editing and additions to their work that they did not authorize and wrote an additional piece the next year. Contact the authors for further information.

That article put a big damper on the fanciful fictional tales of Gabriel Wheldon and some of his family along with this from 1938 that discusses the Native American wife story

It was written over sixty years before two the American cousins found Gabriel's wife, Jane, with him in Nottingham in 1637 and the baptisms of the known children in Parish Records. None of the children were born in Massachusetts especially in 1618. If Margaret died in 1651 as shown on so many copied trees then she is not the Margaret listed in Gabriel's will who was taken to court in 1655 by four of the children from Gabriel's first marriage.

Some people find it hard to understand how, if Giles Hopkins of the Mayflower had married a woman who was the daughter or niece of the chief of a local Indian tribe, that Governor Bradford would have neglected to mention it in his journal.


The Nicholas Snowe who was baptized 25 Jan 1599/1600 was buried 3 days later. He is not the husband of Constance Hopkins.

See problems with the dates for three (3) possibly UNrelated Nicholas Snows in Middlesex between 1559 and 1599/1600 (and the mythical Elizabeth Harwoode) at

See problem with death date for Elizabeth Rowlles

Remember, commoners commonly didn't have middle names in that era. Only 3 men who signed the Declaration of Independence had a middle name.


1. "Mayflower Families Through Five Generations." Vol. 6. Third Edition. Family of Stephen Hopkins. John D. Austin, General Society of Mayflower Descendants, 2001 (available at a big library and the BWO website)

2. A shortened Google Books entry for Johnson, Caleb, "Here Shall I Die Ashore"
He's the man who arranged for research in Hampshire that found baptisms of the three kids and the burial, inventory and probate of Mary, the first wife. 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. Even *WIKIPEDIA* at
has him more correct than 99% of the trees on the internet and has current info on 1st wife Mary's maiden name and family found in 2012 (see #5 below).


5. For those who like the research process -- Simon Neal's latest work on trying to find the families of Stephen's wives. Excellent MAYFLOWER QUARTERLY article (thanks V in NC) from June 2012 at
download Flash Player and flip through the pages of the journal. doesn't check
burial, or
probate records,
Green Leaf Hints,
"Suggested Records",
Find-a-Grave submittals,
other trees or
for accuracy.
Double-check me on everything and look for my mistakes.


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