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

Resources on

Hopkins Ancestry

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
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
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.

England. In England, both Hopkins
and Hopkinson can be found as surnames, Hopkins more in the south and
and Hopkinson more in the north, although the numbers were about equal
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
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

. Early Hopkins came to New England, Virginia and

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
    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

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
. 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
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

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
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

Select Hopkins Miscellany

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

Select Hopkins

Hopcyn ap
compiled in the late 14th century the first book of Welsh
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

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)





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