Whether you want to be a member of the Jamestown Society, the Mayflower Society, the Colonial Dames, the Colonial Warriors or the First Families of Virginia – you could join all of them based on this Colonial Ancestor who was an adventurer from head to toe. He was called the “Stranger” but it was not because of the strange adventures he had. He was almost hung for mutiny in Bermuda in 1609, only to become a respected leader in Plymouth.
Stephen Hopkins (1582 – 1644) was an adventurer and merchant who was one of the passengers on the Mayflower in 1620. Hopkins was recruited by the Merchant Adventurers to provide governance for the colony as well as assist with the colony's ventures because he had already made the voyage to the new land. He was a member of a group of passengers on the Mayflower known to the Pilgrims as "The Strangers" since they were not part of their religious congregation.
Stephen Hopkins who arrived on the Mayflower was actually taking his second trip to the colonies. He had arrived in Virginia in 1610 aboard the Sea Venture. The ship was on the way to the Jamestown Colony in Virginia in 1608 bringing much needed supplies when it foundered in a severe storm off the coast of Bermuda. The survivors had been washed ashore on the Bermuda "Isle of the Divels" on July 28, 1609. At first they sent the longboat out to Virginia for help, “but they were never seen again”. The 150 survivors of the Sea Venture were marooned on the island for nine months, until they finished building two vessels which took them to Virginia. Famously, Hopkins attempted to start a mutiny or at least his Captain thought so, while stranded on Bermuda. He was sentenced to death but was set free after complaining of the "ruin of his wife and children" and after his friends had pleaded for his release.
He and the other castaways eventually made their way to Jamestown, where Hopkins appears to have stayed for two years before returning to England. That is why the Hopkins family is considered one of the First Families of Virginia. The story of the Sea Venture shipwreck (and Hopkins' mutiny) is said to be the inspiration for The Tempest by William Shakespeare. But who really was this man? A first man among the Pilgrims in a new land, Stephen Hopkins signed the famous Compact (the “first declaration of independence”) in the cabin of the Mayflower, November 21, 1620. And he is remembers as “a member of the first expedition that left the ship to find a place for landing; he was in the first party that went ashore at Plymouth Rock; he was the first white man of the colony to entertain an Indian at his house overnight. He went, with Gov. Winslow and Squantum, on the first embassy sent to Massasoit to conclude a treaty; he was a member of the first Council of Governor's Assistants after the incorporation of Plymouth - a position to which he was chosen for three years in succession (1632-1635); and to this we may add that his two servants, Edward Leister and Edward Doty, fought the first duel on record in New England. He is repeatedly mentioned in the records of the colonies”. He also had a good sense of humor. He named his “son” who was born on the Mayflower, “Oceanus."