Friday, July 31, 2009

How Not to Survive a Hurricane

Stephen Hopkins was probably the young man of that name who served as minister's clerk on the vessel Sea Venture which sailed from London 2 June 1609, bound for Virginia. The Ship was severely damaged in a hurricane, and the company was washed ashore on the Bermuda "Isle of Divels" on 28 July. The 150 survivors were marooned on the island for nine months, building two vessels which ultimately took them to Virginia. During the sojourn Stephen Hopkins encouraged an uprising by his fellows upon the grounds that the Governor's authority pertained only to the voyage and the regime in Virginia, not to the forced existence on Bermuda. For his remarks he was placed under guard, brought before the company in manacles and sentenced to death by court-martial. "But so penitent he was and made so much moane, alleging the ruine of his Wife and Children in this his trespasse," according to William Strachey's record of the voyage, that friends among his cohorts procured a pardon from the Governor. The two newly built vessels, the Patience and the Deliverance, arrived at Jamestown on 24 May 1610, but no evidence has been found of Hopkins' residence there, and it is presumed he soon returned to his family in England. When he returned to England he found his wife had died, and so he remarried and took his family with him on another ship to the new world; the Mayflower. Stephen must have stayed a while in Virginia for he knew how to communicate with the Indians and he appears regularly in the court records of Plymouth. (He got drunk on fairly often and was arrested for being drunk.)

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