Select Hopkins Surname Genealogy

Robert, introduced by the Normans, produced a lot of short-name variations, such as Rob, Dob, Hob, and Hop.  Hob or Hop with the suffix "kin" early developed as a surname.  Nicholas Hobekyn was recorded in the Cambridge rolls of 1273. 

In Wales, the suffix "cyn" was an adaptation of the English "kin" and the name ap Hopcyn could be found in the Welsh patronymical style.  In the 1600's ap Hopcyn lost its ap and Morgan son of Hopkin, which had earlier been Morgan ap Hopkin, was now Morgan Hopkin and a fixed surname.  Over time Hopkin gained an "s" (as Hopkin's son).

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Wales.  Hopkins is one of those "-kins" surnames, like Jenkins and Watkins, which established itself in Wales. 

Its largest concentration was in south Wales, in the villages along the Swansea valley in Glamorgan. The name in its early patronymical form was Hopcyn and some Hopcyns have claimed to trace their lineage back to Rhodri Mawr, the first ruler of Wales in the 9th century.  Hopcyn ap Tomas was a collector of the old bardic prophesies at the time of Owen Glendower. 

By the 17th century fixed surnames had arrived.  We find Lewis Hopkin of Llandyfogwg, the bard who was a descendant of Hopcyn Thomas Phylip.  His grandson Lewis Hopkins became a minister in Bromyard, Herefordshire.  Will Hopcyn of Llangynwyd was, by repute, another Welsh bard.  His ill-fated love for a local lass was the basis for an old Welsh story, the maid of Cefn Ydfa

The late 18th century saw Thomas Hopkins from these parts team up with two English businessmen to construct the Blaenavon ironworks near Pontypool, the largest ironworks in the world at that time.  In more recent times there has been the actor Anthony Hopkins who was born in Port Talbot.   

EnglandIn England, both Hopkins and Hopkinson can be found as surnames, Hopkins more in the south and midlands and Hopkinson more in the north, although the numbers were about equal in Lancashire.  Hopkins in Warwick date from the late 14th century. 

Hopkins can be traced in Elizabethan times to Wortley in Gloucestershire, Lambourn in Berkshire, and Coventry in Warwickshire.  In Coventry William Hopkins was a draper who rose to be mayor of the town in 1564.  His descendants remained civic leaders in Coventry for the next hundred and fifty years. 

By the 19th century, there was, with the exception of the Hopkins in Kent and London, a definite westward shift to the distribution of Hopkins.

Ireland.  The Hopkins name also cropped up in Ireland.  The Gaelic name Mac Oibicin, mainly to be found in Mayo, was often translated to Hopkins by English census takers. 

There were 101 Hopkins in Mayo at the time of Griffith's land valuation of 1857.  Hopkins was also to be found in Connacht and county Longford, probably from English or Welsh settlers.  One Hopkins account writes of a Scots-Irish Presbyterian family who left for America in the 1730's.  Many emigrated to Canada in the 19th century.          
.  Early Hopkins came to New England, Virginia and Maryland.

New England.  Hopkins arrivals here were:
  • Stephen Hopkins and wife and children who came on the Mayflower.  His daughter Constance married Nicholas Snow in Plymouth colony in 1627.  A headstone marker was placed by her descendants in Eastham in 1966. 
  • John Hopkins who arrived in Cambridge, Massachusetts in 1634.  His descendants are recorded in Timothy Hopkins' 1932 book, John Hopkins of Cambridge Massachusetts.
  • Edward Hopkins, a London merchant, who was one of the founders of New Haven, Connecticut in 1637.  But he did not stay and returned to England in 1652.
  • Thomas Hopkins who arrived in Providence, Rhode Island in 1639.  His great grandson Stephen became Governor of Rhode Island and a signer of the Declaration of Independence.
  • and William Hopkins, a grave digger by profession, who arrived in Roxbury, Massachusetts some time in the 1650's.
Descendants of these early immigrants spread across New England, to New York state, and further afield. Mark Hopkins, a descendant of John Hopkins, reached California in 1849 at the time of the Gold Rush.  He made his money there as one of the four principal investors in the Central Pacific Railroad.  He did not live long to enjoy his wealth; but his wife Mary did and became renowned in San Francisco for her extravagance. 

Virginia and Maryland.  Thomas and Robert Hopkins from Wales arrived at what came to be known as Hopkins Point in Maryland in 1649.  It was to remain the family home for the next hundred and fifty years.  These Hopkins are believed to be related to the Hopkins who settled in Northumberland county, Virginia a few years later.  Hopkins descendants moved onto Illinois, Kansas and Texas.

Dr. Arthur Hopkins came to Virginia from Ireland in 1705 with two brothers.  From this line came Samuel Hopkins, a general in the Revolutionary war and an early settler in Kentucky.  Francis Hopkins moved his family from Kentucky in 1823 to what became Red River county in Texas.  Around the same time, Cornelius Hopkins arrived in Pike county, Kentucky from Virginia.  In 2003, Bruce Hopkins wrote Spirits in the Field: An Appalachian Family History, an account of this family's history.       

Earlier, Gerrard Hopkins had come from Kent in the 1660's and settled in the Crofton area of Maryland. The family became Quakers and tobacco farmers.  They set free their slaves in 1807 and Johns Hopkins, from this family, ventured into other businesses after the Civil War, which made him very wealthy.

While the Quakers agonized over slavery, other denominations could accept its practice. 

The Rev. Rigby Hopkins, for instance, was a slave-owner in nearby Talbot county who used to boast of the slaves he whipped every Monday.  General Francis Hopkins' plantation was in McIntosh county, Georgia.  There are African American descendants from "Daddy" Randal Hopkins, a slave on his plantation.  John and Sarah Hopkins' plantation was located along the Congaree river in South Carolina.   Descendants still live in the house that was built there in 1808.

Canada.  Many of the Hopkins who arrived in the first half of the 19th century came from Ireland, such as:
  • William and Jane Hopkins from Wicklow who settled in Gloucester township, Ontario in 1829.
  • Nicholas and Mary Anne Hopkins who settled in Brockville, Ontario in 1840.
  • Richard and Martha Hopkins from Wicklow who settled in Bentinck township, Ontario in 1847.
Edward Hopkins was English, a chief factor for the Hudson Bay Company in the 1860's.   His wife Frances accompanied him on his travels and she sketched intensively.  Her best-known works, made into large paintings, depicted voyagers on their canoes.  

.  The name Hopkins appears in the early history of Tasmania.  Thomas Hopkins, a servant of Governor Collins, established one of the first inns in Hobart in 1807.  But he didn't stay long.  Henry Hopkins, who had arrived from Kent on the Heroine in 1822, prospered as a shopkeeper and later as a wool merchant. He built Hestercombe Chapel in 1833, the oldest Congregationalist church in Australia, and is often credited with founding Congregationalism in Australia. 

Select Hopkins Miscellany

If you would like to read more, click on the miscellany page for further stories and accounts:

Select Hopkins Names

Hopcyn ap Tomas compiled in the late 14th century the first book of Welsh literature.
Matthew Hopkins, the son of a Puritan minister, was a feared witch-hunter in East Anglia at the time of the English Civil War.
Johns Hopkins was the richest man in America when he died in 1873.

Gerald Manley Hopkins
was a Jesuit priest and a poet whose 20th century fame established him posthumously among the leading Victorian poets.

Harry Hopkins
was Franklin Roosevelt's closest advisor, one of the architects of the New Deal and a key policy maker during World War Two.
Lightnin' Hopkins was an acclaimed country blues guitarist from Houston, Texas.
Anthony Hopkins, born in Port Talbot in Wales, is one of the leading film actors of the present day.
Bernard Hopkins, who grew up in the tough end of Philadelphia, has held the middleweight boxing world championship for ten years through twenty title defences.

Select Hopkins Today
  • 42,000 in the UK (most numerous in Bristol)
  • 36,000 in America (most numerous in Texas).
  • 20,000 elsewhere (most numerous in Canada) 

PS.  You might want to check out the surnames page on this website.  It covers surname genealogy in this and companion websites for more than 800 surnames.

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