Person:Bethia Hopkins (9) - Genealogy
Bethia Hopkins
b.Est 1631
d.Bef Nov 1695
m. Bef 1631
  1. Bethia HopkinsEst 1631 - Bef 1695
  2. Stephen HopkinsEst 1633 - 1689
m. 27 May 1652
  1. Bethia Stocking1658 - 1732
  2. George Stocking1663/64 - 1713/14
  3. Daniel Stocking1667 - 1733
  • HJames Steele1622 - Aft 1698
  • WBethia HopkinsEst 1631 - Bef 1695
m. Bef 1685
Facts and Events
Name[1] Bethia Hopkins
Gender Female
Birth[1] Est 1631
Alt Birth[3] Abt 1641 Hartford, Hartford, Connecticut, United States
Marriage 27 May 1652 Hartford, Hartford, Connecticut, United Statesto Deacon Samuel Stocking
Marriage Bef 1685 Hartford, Hartford, Connecticut, United Statesto James Steele
Death[2] Bef Nov 1695

Timothy Hopkins on Bethia Hopkins

"Bethiah2 (Hopkins) b.1641 at Hartford; m. there (1) 27 May 1652, Deacon Samuel2 Stocking of Middletown (Connecticut Historical Society Collections, 14:68), b. in England, son of George and Anna Stocking. He d. at Middletown 30 December 1683. (Hartford Land Records, 1st and 2d Books.) She m. (2) at Hartford, James Steele, and both d. after 1698.

In the absence of records there is conclusive evidence that Bethiah2 was born after the family removed to Hartford. Governor Winthrop attended her child in 1669, and the entry in his Journal reads: 'Bethia Stockin about 28 years, wife of Stockin of Middletown, child of about one month old' (p. 926). In March 1697-98, 'Bethiah Steele, 57 years of age or thereabouts' made a deposition in the Hartford Court concerning the will of her first husband. (Probate Court Record, pp. 44-45, Manwaring, 1:587.) Twenty-nine years intervened between these statements, but both are in agreement that she was born in 1641.

Bethiah's marriage at the age of eleven and the birth of her first child when thirteen is unusual and would indicate that she might have been a 'big' girl, precociously developed."[3]

Robert Charles Anderson on Bethia Hopkins

In his 2002 article in The American Genealogist, Anderson reviews the two pieces of evidence cited by Hopkins in forming his conclusion that Bethia Hopkins was born about 1641 and thus married at the age of eleven. The second of the two is Manwaring's abstract of the probate package of Samuel3 Stocking, son of Bethia (Hopkins) Stocking, specifically a deposition made by her and by Captain Nathaniel White.

Mr. Anderson continues. "The estate came before the court of 4 March 1697/8, and so the assumption has been made that this was also the date of the deposition. Again, the arithmetic places Bethia's birth in or about 1641. (Manwaring also states that Samuel3 Stocking made a nuncupative will dated 5 February 1691/2, nearly six years before his death, an unusual occurrence.)

Reference to the recorded version of these probate documents provides a different story. There is first the inventory of the estate of Samuel3 Stocking, dated 2 December 1697 and presented on 4 March 1697/8. This is followed immediately by the deposition referred to above. But when we reach the end of the deposition, after the words "next Haddam bounds," and before the acknowledgement by Samuel Stocking, there is inserted the date "Febr[uar]y the 5th 1691/2." Because this date comes after the deposition and before the acknowledgement, we cannot be certain whether this is intended for the date of the former or the latter, but it appears to be the date of the acknowledgement. …

Given this remaining uncertainty, the next step was to examine the original probate documents in the files. The probate packet for Samuel3 Stocking contains six documents, but not the deposition of interest to us here. …

We have to turn to the probate packet for the father, the first husband of Bethia Hopkins, to find the deposition of interest. A single, small sheet contains the deposition as it appears in the record book (with slight alterations in spelling), followed by the acknowledgement, and then the declaration of 4 March 1697/8. These three elements are in three different hands. The deposition and the acknowledgement are in the same or very similar ink, but the forms of many of the letters are different. The important point is that the portion of the document in the first hand ends with the words "next Haddam bounds," and the portion in the second had begins with the date "Febr[uary] 5 1691/2." Thus this date is for the acknowledgement and not the deposition (Note also that the deponents' signatures are not included in this document.)

We conclude, then, that the deposition was made no later than 5 February 1691/2, and perhaps earlier. If the deposition had been made on 5 February 1691/2, then this would place Bethia's birth in about 1634 or 1635, and so she would have been seventeen or eighteen at marriage, a much more reasonable age.

A further consideration, apparently not noted by Timothy Hopkins, is the age given by Nathaniel White. He was born in England, son of John White of Hartford. His baptismal date has not been found, but at his death on 27 August 1711, he was said to have been "aged about 82," which would place his birth about 1629. We might expect such an age at death to be somewhat exaggerated, but in this case this seems unlikely, as his eldest child was born on 7 July 1652.

If we now use this information in analyzing the joint deposition, Nathaniel White would have been 60 years old in about 1689. If that is the date of the deposition, we would calculate the birth of Bethia Hopkins as taking place in about 1632.

Returning to the Winthrop medical record, we can now propose that he made a simple error in this entry, writing "28" when he intended "38." Although the evidence is not certain, Winthrop probably made loose notes at the time of his medical visits, and then later transcribed these into his permanent journal. Such an arrangement could well give rise to errors of transcription such as this. The date of the record in question is 8 June 1669, and so under this hypothesis Bethia would have been born about 1631.

We conclude, then, that Bethia Hopkins was born about 1631 or 1632 in England, and that she was about 20 or 21 years old when she married Samuel Stocking."[4]

  1. 1.0 1.1 John Hopkins, in Anderson, Robert Charles; George F. Sanborn; and Melinde Lutz Sanborn. The Great Migration: Immigrants to New England, 1634-1635. (NEHGS, 1999-2011)

    Bethia Hopkins, b. about 1631 [TAG 77:25-27].

  2. James Steele, in Barbour, Lucius Barnes. Families of Early Hartford, Connecticut. (Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing Co., 1977)
  3. 3.0 3.1 Hopkins, Timothy. John Hopkins of Cambridge, Massachusetts, 1634, and Some of His Descendants. (Palo Alto, Calif.: Stanford University Press, 1932)
  4. Anderson, Robert Charles, "Bethia2 Hopkins did not Marry at Age Eleven," vol. 77 [Jan 2002] : 25-27, in The American Genealogist (TAG). (Donald Lines Jacobus,