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2019 updated Stephen of the Mayflower-- BIRTH AND PARENTS -- What is proved or disproved?

2019 updated Stephen of the Mayflower-- BIRTH AND PARENTS -- What is proved or disproved?

Posted: 1328157904000
Classification: Query
Edited: 1573252868000
Surnames: Hopkins, Williams, Fisher, Poole, Poore, Poley, Dudley, Machell, Kent
Updates include fixing broken links that seem to happen regularly. If you find one please advise. Tks.

In 2011 the board administrator shut down an old thread and suggested someone start a new thread on Stephen Hopkins of the Mayflower instead of correcting or commenting on previous posts.
I'm certainly not an expert on him, but since no one else has done it yet I'll give it a try.

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

Almost everything we thought we knew of Stephen's early life and family was changed in 1998 and again in 2004 with records found in Hampshire. But because all those "old facts" are on the internet and are being offered as historic records by Green Leaf Hints (beginners don't understand the difference and aren't being taught that a database is not a record) we now have over 11,000 AncestryTrees (2011 number) -- 16,000 (2013 number) for this man with known errors.

I'm going to break this into sections for different posts so we don't have huge cross-over discussions.

(this post) and the people who ARE NOT his parents.

I am not going into detail about the children. Just the dates and spouses. See the Gloucestershire and Constance DUDLEY messes there.
looking for the families of Mary and Elizabeth.

Historical/Vital Records vs Databases/Lists (i.e., the very shaky Green Leaf Hints) vs Trees vs Pure Junk that doesn't even make sense (like Stephen's being born in 1580 in Massachusetts and Mary's dying in 1613 in Plymouth).

4. I know nothing about the "Bermuda/Virginia" years so will leave it to someone else to even start that thread if there are any disagreements in that area.

5. I'm not going into the "Plymouth" years because they are pretty well documented. Again if there is any discussion please start a new thread.

I hope all these links stick. Pls advise if they don't.


Probably 30 April 1581, Upper Clatford, Hampshire, England
Probably John Hopkins and Elizabeth Williams

Everything written about Stephen Hopkins' connection to parents, first wife, birth date and place, siblings, and made-up children before 1998 and/or 2004 is wrong as are all the old trees that copied that material that most of the Green Leaf Hints appear to be compiled from.

In 2004 Ernest Christensen (see #1 below under Further Reading) wrote an article, "The Probable Parentage of Stephen Hopkins of the Mayflower" The American Genealogist (79:241-249) reporting on parish records in which he found that a Stephen Hopkins was baptized "the last of April" 1581 at Upper Clatford, Hampshire, England. His parents appear to be John Hopkins and Elizabeth Williams. Mr. Christensen used Caleb Johnson's work (see below) and expanded.

How the Wortley, Wotten-Under-Edge, Gloucestershire myth got started:
Charles Edward Banks, The English Ancestry and Homes of the Pilgrim Fathers: Who Came to Plymouth (1929) page 61-64:
uses the words "may", "possibly", "unfortunately", "imperfect", "theoretically," and "does not state" yet some people jumped on the entry and made it Stephen.
On page 64 Banks said,

"An imperfect entry in the Wotton register records the baptism
of ______ Hopkins of Stephen Hopkins, 29 October, 1581,
who was the fourth child and whose age would fit that of the
Pilgrim. The record does not state whether a son or daughter,
but as no child had been named Stephen for himself possibly
this was the name of the child."

So all these years people have been copying the child baptized that date as a male named Stephen (and even making him the son of a Nicholas Hopkins and mythical Mary Poole) although the records did NOT list a name NOR the gender of the child and the father's name was recorded as Stephen. Obviously that child's father was not Nicholas as thousands of trees show and the child isn't Stephen from the Mayflower whose baptism was found in 2004 in co. Hampshire.

Banks also confused the parish of St. Stephen, Coleman Street, London with St. Katherine Coleman which is how a son named Stephen suddenly appeared in the family of Stephen of the Mayflower in addition to other children who don't work like Bethia, John of Hartford, Mary, William, etc.

Since finding the April 1581 baptism in Hampshire, some people have just kept the 29 October 1581 date from Gloucestershire and modified it. Now we are seeing a NEW birth date showing up of 29 Oct 1580 in Hampshire to accommodate the actual baptism in April 1581. Still, many trees have him being baptized in April 1581 and then being born six months later in Oct 1581.

Some erroneous birth "records" suggested by Ancestry for example:

-- One (of many for the mythical Constance Dudley) U.S. and International Marriage Record has Stephen Hopkins born in Massachusetts in 1580;

-- One U.S. and International Marriage Record has second wife Elizabeth Fisher also born there;

-- Stephen's Millennium File has 4 errors:
Claims he was born in 1583;
has him born in "Wortley, London" (but Wortley isn't in London and he wasn't born in either place),
has his marriage to Elizabeth Fisher in March instead of the documented February, and the
death date listed is the date his will was proved.

We know that there is a marriage record in July 1579 in Upper Clatford, Hampshire, for a John Hopkins and an Elizabeth Williams. This appears to be John's second marriage. They weren't married in Merthyr Tydfil, Glamorgan, Wales. That marriage was from 1890 clearly shown on the record but seldom looked for/at. One red flag would have been that the bride is listed as Elizabeth Ann Williams. But commoners very rarely had middle names in the 1500s. It's hard to find any. None of the Pilgrims had a middle name. Three men to signed the Declaration of Independence did.

John Hopkins, the probable father of Stephen according to Ernest Christensen, died before 4 September, 1593 (revised by Ernie Christensen from first reported date of 10 September) when his inventory was taken apparently in Winchester since they'd moved from Hursley years before according to Caleb Johnson's research.

In Winchester, the widow Elizabeth was appointed administrator of his estate on 4 Oct 1593, with William Hopkins (probably not Stephen's older half-brother since he was born around 1575 and wouldn't be of age) signing the bond. Caleb Johnson reports, "The widow Elizabeth was taxed twice in 1594." --
Johnson sourced: "(citing Christensen, page 244, and citing Douglas F. Vick, Central Hampshire Lay Subsidy Assessments, 1558-1603 (Farnham, Surrey, 1987), p. 66; and (Public Records Office E179/174/415A.)."

Knowing that Elizabeth was alive in Winchester on 4 October 1593 would you be surprised to see trees showing that as her death date and using the burial record of a child named John Hopkins as their source?

The couple that most of the people have for the parents of Elizabeth Williams (Morgan Williams and Elizabeth Breyton) in the real world weren't even in the same generation, much less married to each other or parents of the Elizabeth Williams who married John Hopkins. There is no Duglam, England so Morgan Williams wouldn't have been born there. All the copied entries have the same errors.

There was a man named Morgan Williams who did have a daughter named Elizabeth who married Robert Whitney. Elizabeth Breyton was the GRANDMOTHER of Robert Whitney. Research his mother, Sybil Baskerville. It's amazing to track back through the Member Connects for these trees and see who almost everyone copied from as Source One. You need to discount information obtained from anyone who has Stephen Hopkins in his tree 14 times and has one page that has over 50 children for him. Or anyone who has the mythical Constance Dudley shown as the daughter of a Robert Dudley (or the Earl of Leicester) shown born in 1555 in New Haven, Connecticut (only 65 years before the Pilgrims landed) to parents who both died in 1551. Or who has him married to a Constance Dudley no matter who she is. She was disproved in 1998.

Apparently not understanding that women are buried AFTER they've died and under their MARRIED last name, some family trees are showing assorted burial records for several "Elizabeth WILLIAMS" on 4 October 1593 or in 1594 in London. They are using the same image of a burial record from 27 June 1593 for the picture of a birth record, a baptism record, and a marriage record in various counties for various people on various dates. It's a image that has nothing to do with anyone it's attached to and no known connection to anyone who had a relative on the Mayflower. One tree said (and has been copied) that John Hopkins' death in "Hursey" was proved in 1998. Except John wasn't found until 2004 so be weary of using any material in that tree that misspells Hursley which currently has a death record source for an "Elizabeth WILLIAMS" in 1594.

Of the two burial records for "Elizabeth HOPKINS" from 1593 one appears to be a child. The other burial record was 27 June which is even before John died. No one thinks John Hopkins' wife was buried in St Dunstan in The West or St Botolph Bishopsgate or St Katherine By The Tower, London, England in 1593.

All help appreciated if you have something solid that makes sense for the birth or death/burial of Elizabeth, probable mother of Stephen.

No known connection between any Hopkins families in
Gloucester, or
to the Mayflower Hampshire family.

The ROBERT HOPKINS born around 1582 in Surrey is not the son of John, nor the sibling of Mayflower Stephen. He got into the mix because someone was collecting Hopkins names. Not like there are a lot of Roberts in the Mayflower family.

There is no reason to believe that John Hopkins is the father of the unknown wife of EDWARD FULLER. Susanna is not Anna and Anna is not Ann. See discussion at
for how the mythical Ann/Anne was spread. Whoever she was she only has two (2) known children, not 6 to 8 as seen on some copied trees

We do not know anything further of the Hopkins children baptized in Hampshire in the 1500s except Stephen. No info on William, Alice or Susanna. All guesses have been disproved so far.

When and where Nicholas HOPKINS and Mary POOLE got invented,
how a Reverend Stephen Hopkins "from Norfolk" was invented as Nicholas's father,
and how they spread.

The earliest published reference to "Nicholas Hopkins and Mary Poole" that I've found so far is from the "work" performed for Frederick Hopkins, of Catskill, N.Y. who died January 19, 1879. It looks like he got his information from a man who had a heraldry office in NYC. His ideas were published in a truly weird book in 1897, SIGNERS OF THE MAYFLOWER COMPACT by Annie Arnoux Haxtun, which is mostly supposition, guesses and opinion.

Anne Arnoux Haxtun was the genealogy editor of "The Evening Mail" in NY. The book was based on queries/letters received by the column with her opinions thrown in. Many of them. Sort of like an early message board. And you know how strange some of those threads can get. See one of the worst pages for Hopkins at P45 at Google Books at

" . . . Nicholas married Mary (sister of Sir Giles Poole), "Col. of Arms.' Stephen Hopkins,
who came over in the Mayflower, named his oldest son Giles. He was probably the son
of the above Nicholas." (F.H.)."

But Mary, the sister of Sir Giles Poole, didn't marry a Nicholas Hopkins.

Sir Giles Poole
son of Leonard Poole of Sapperton, co. Gloucester
did have a sister named Mary, but she married Edward Baynard
of Lackham, Wiltshire, had no children and died before her father wrote his will in 1536 .

It's impossible that she is the mother of someone born in 1581. She was 2 or 3 generations too old to be his mother and quite deceased.

But since POOLE didn't work out now we see women named Poore or Poley who get assigned to Nicholas.

If Nicholas ever existed (there is no known record of him) he wasn't the Sheriff in Coventry in 1561 at the age of 13 and his wife also was not Mary POLEY (daughter of John Poley and Anne Wentworth) who married John Lany/Laney and really did die in 1633 but in Suffolk not London. See her at

There are no records for either Nicholas Hopkins or a Mary Poole/Poore separately, married or as parents to any child that works for this family.

Some trees have this imaginary Nicholas as the son of a Hopkins family who they think (no documentation) is from Warwickshire who worked in Norfolk. Others have the mythical Nicholas's father from Somerset, Gloucester, London or Worcester. There are no records found so far connecting any of the Hopkins men (especially a Reverend) from those counties to each other, much less to Nicholas who has no real birth date/location, no marriage, no death date/location. Some trees have Nicholas dying in 1581 and getting married in 1600. His wife's father's name is often copied into trees as "See Scary Poole". His death often copied as 1547 in Frederick, Maryland (only 73 years before the Pilgrims arrived).

There really was a Stephen Hopkins who really DID live in Norfolk from 1551 to 1555. He was rector of two small parishes. He has a paper trail from Eton and Kings College, Cambridge. We don't know where he came from, if he even had a wife (no marriage record) , any children (no baptism records that work) , when or where he died (no burial, no will or probate proceedings). We lose track of him after 1561 when the Queen let him out of the Fleet Prison.

That Stephen (often seen with invented dates of 1518-1591 or 1592 ) didn't marry the mythical Katherine Wheldon (b 1525) who was invented on the old LDS IGI. She was submitted in 2004 married to a Giles Hopkins shown born 1525. The same person edited the text and resubmitted with her married to Stephen Hopkins. I believe that was sold on Compact disc #92. In the same submittal it has Stephen Hopkins shows married to Constance Dudley, born 29 Oct 1581 in Hursley, Hampshire, son of Nicholas Hopkins and Mary Poore. It also has Giles Hopkins' real wife, Catherine Wheldon shown born in "Yarmouth, Mass" about 1615 (only 5 years before the Pilgrims arrived -- but she was really baptized in Nottingham in March 1616/17) so we know how valid that CD was.

The "Katherine" (b 1525) was resubmitted in 2007 and sold on Compact Disc #138 with the same info on Stephen, but a new husband his time named William Hopkins. The same submitter morphed this woman through 3 husbands trying to force-fit her into the Mayflower scenario.


No, we don't know the exact BIRTH dates of any of these early generations. We have baptisms for some of them from actual parish records but no indication that any Hopkins from any part of England connects to anyone else in any generation. Most of the errors were from submittals from people who match names and don't bother looking to see if it's the correct person with the matching name.


1. Easiest place for all the basics: One-page at
then follow up parts of Caleb Johnson's book

Use the search box on the left.

Caleb Johnson is 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. Ernest Christensen expanded on his work.

-- 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.

2. Wikipedia
Caleb Johnson and Simon Neal spent most of the summer of 2012 looking for Mary's last name and family. Machell didn't work out and has been dropped down the list and Kent moved up. Click to Wikipedia (which is NOT to get the most current information. Currently it's more accurate than 90% of the family trees on the internet.
SEE THE FULL article for Simon Neal's research from MAYFLOWER QUARTERLY on the 2nd post of this series about the wives.

3. The Gold-Standard reference for his later life 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)


BEWARE of all trees and "My Famous Royal Family and All the Presidents I Could Force-Fit into my Tree" books, stories and group charts published before 1998 and 2004. They will have the same mistakes as all the Ancestry Trees that are relying on Green Leaf Hints for sources that appear to be recycled "facts" from the LDS submitted IGI files that discontinued contributions to the old format in 2008 and have a whole new set with the same errors.

See the next post for the wives and children and #3 for why most of the Green Leaf Hints about this Hopkins family are wrong.

Ancestry doesn't check
birth/marriage/death records,
Green Leaf Hints,
"Suggested Records",
Find-a-Grave submittals,
other trees or
for accuracy.

Continue to
to see where most of the errors for this family originated and how they are being spread.

Re: 2012 Stephen of the Mayflower-- BIRTH AND PARENTS -- What is proved or disproved?

Posted: 1329014901000
Classification: Query
Surnames: Hopkins
It's clear that a lot of careful research went into this. It is accurate and easy to follow. Even the "Professionals" should be impressed.
I hope many see this and straighten out the mistakes that so many have copied from others. It's frustrating to see how many people have gone astray on their Stephen Hopkins. This should give better understanding to the problems following this great ancestor of ours. KUDOS to you, Shirley. A job well done.

Re: 2017 *updated* Stephen of the Mayflower-- BIRTH AND PARENTS -- What is proved or disproved?

Posted: 1486055328000
Classification: Query
Surnames: Hopkins, Stephen
I wanted to drop in and thank you for your fine research into this ancestor and the problems regarding modern "crowd-sourced" historical/genealogical research. You are one of a very few who openly warn and advise Ancestry users regarding the simple acceptance of information provided as factual or accurate. I find on Ancestry that transcription errors common, due to untrained though well-meaning users' lack of awareness regarding penmanship, language usage, spelling and other common writing patterns of the time in which the record was produced. Additionally, inaccurate information - such as the "Constance Dudley" kerfluffle - makes its way into the genealogical narrative without research, fact-checking or usage basic research protocol (note to world: Wikipedia is *not* a primary source...for *anything*!)...

My initial rush of research using incorporated members' family trees; I no longer utilise this option because of egregious lapses in research such as you have expertly outlined here. I arrived at your post here due to my efforts to clean up and correct many inaccuracies I incorporated into my own early research.

Again, thank you for your diligence, hard work and most importantly, for sharing!
K W Mundstock
Posted: 1487216794000
Classification: Query
This goes over most people's heads.

Re: 2017 *updated* Stephen of the Mayflower-- BIRTH AND PARENTS -- What is proved or disproved?

Posted: 1495500899000
Classification: Query
As an Ancestry user, I became uncomfortable with all the heraldic profile pics, random titles, and overwhelmingly different ancestors with matching and then unmatching dates. I became leery, and began independently verifying all the, "research," I encountered.

I disagree with the person who said this will go over most people's heads. I am, in this case, most people--and this post was the confirmation I needed that my instincts were right.

Thank you.

Re: 2017 *updated* Stephen of the Mayflower-- BIRTH AND PARENTS -- What is proved or disproved?

Posted: 1499011714000
Classification: Query

Thank you so very much for taking the time to clearly correct the record of the MANY errors regarding Stephen HOPKINS, his ancestry, and descendants. Too, I appreciate your humor in the telling....

Always find it amazing that folks actually post what is so blatantly untrue (birth after parents' deaths, et al) when, often, the truth is easily found ... with due diligence.

Thank you for yours!

I descend from John HOPKINS' 1574 marriage to Agnes BORROWE and their child Alice (1578-1618) who married John GILBERT 1606 Bridgwater, Somersetshire, England.

Stephen HOPKINS, child of John and his second wife (m. 28 Jul 1579) Elizabeth WILLIAMS, and half-brother of Alice (my 10th-great-grandmother), was the Mayflower immigrant.

My research on Alice and her family has been greatly enhanced by the scholarly research on Stephen.

Thank you for your work and for sharing it with us all.


Re: 2017 *updated* Stephen of the Mayflower-- BIRTH AND PARENTS -- What is proved or disproved?

Posted: 1499357154000
Classification: Query
Just to be up to date....

Thanks to this thread and, especially Shirley and her invaluable research and information, I've concluded my Alice HOPKINS who married John GILBERT was NOT the Alice who was half-sister of Stephen HOPKINS of The Mayflower.

If anyone shares Alice HOPKINS and John GILBERT, I'd appreciate hearing from you.


Re: 2017 *updated* Stephen of the Mayflower-- BIRTH AND PARENTS -- What is proved or disproved?

Posted: 1513720453000
Classification: Query
Very enlightening. It's a shame that everyone doesn't use the same care and logical thought as they make additions to their trees. I have run into so much careless, incomplete, and contradictory information that it gets discouraging sometimes. Now I don't know what to think about the "leaf" hints. Thank you so much for the clarifications on the Hopkins.

Re: 2017 *updated* Stephen of the Mayflower-- BIRTH AND PARENTS -- What is proved or disproved?

Posted: 1555998985000
Classification: Query
Surnames: Hopkins
Does anyone know what happened to Elizabeth Hopkins? How can she just disappear.
What did Sparrow do to her to land him in court. What was her disability?
How could Giles and brother in laws divide her holdings up in court, if they didn't know for sure she was dead. Where did she go? One day she was just gone. Did she kill herself? Get lost in the woods? Was she murdered.? Kidnapped by Indians?
Does anyone at all know?
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