Origins of Michael Hopkinson and daughters Ann Wood, Mary Grant and Susanna Todd?

+6 votes

The identity of sisters Ann ( ) Wood, Mary ( ) Grant and Susanna ( ) Todd has long been unknown and a problem for genealogists. The three women were known to be sisters from the will of Mary Grant, and all three married men who were early settlers of Rowley, Massachusetts.

Recently, Barry Wood posted on the profile of Thomas Wood his discovery that Michael Hopkinson, one of the founders of Rowley, had daughters Anne, Mary and Susanna born in England. Finding a perfect match in names of three sisters, all born at the exact right time, and all living in Rowley early in its founding, would seemingly prove both the English origins of Michael Hopkinson and the long-sought birth names of Ann Wood, Mary Grant and Susanna Todd.

While writing up the profile of Michael Hopkinson, I did run across one small problem. Michael Hopkinson apparently died testate, though his will is now lost. An inventory was taken and is extant. However, his widow Ann failed to administer the estate. Following the death of Michael Hopkinson in 1649, his widow remarried John Trumble in 1650. In May 1657, John Trumble petitioned the court for remittance of his wife’s fine for failing to administer the estate of her previous husband, Michael Hopkinson. John Trumble then died in July 1657. In September 1657, Ann Trumble presented to the court both the inventory of her first husband, and the estate of her second husband. The court then split both estates in a single ruling to Michael Hopkinson’s sons Jonathan, Jeremiah, John and Caleb; John Trumble’s children by his first marriage namely John, Hannah, Judah, Ruth and Joseph; and John Trumble’s two children by Ann namely Abigail and Mary.

So the problems:

  1. If Ann Wood, Mary Grant and Susanna Todd were daughters of Michael Hopkinson, why weren’t they mentioned when the court divided his estate in 1657?
  2. If the identification is correct, then Michael Hopkinson and Ann Brigg were married in December 1624 and their first child was born in August 1625. They had a total of ten children. Ann Brigg then remarried John Trumble and had two more daughters by him born in December 1651 and April 1654. Though not impossible, the chronology is rather long and improbable.  If Anne was born say 1605 and married at age 19 and had her first child at age 20, then her last child was born when she was 48 or 49 years old. She would also be 7 years older than her second husband (again not impossible but very unusual).

Thoughts on identifying Michael Hopkinson of Kildwick as being the immigrant to Rowley, Massachusetts and the three sisters as being his previously unknown daughters?

See the free-space: Identity of sisters Ann ( ) Wood, Mary ( ) Grant and Susanna ( ) Todd for more details and sources

WikiTree profile: Michael Hopkinson
in Genealogy Help by Joe Cochoit G2G6 Pilot (265k points)
edited by Joe Cochoit
One thing I noticed is in the 1657 inventory of John Trumbull's estate; he owed a debt to John Todd.  Was it John Todd the husband of Susannah Hopkinson?  It's not much, but at least a possible connection.  Noted here

I checked Essex Deeds for any transactions between Hopkinson, Trumble/Trumbull, Wood, Grant and Todd as grantee or grantor and only came up with one fairly close match (there were several from 1738 on but at that point they could just as well be random as any indication that they were family in any way).

Essex Deeds Vol 28 #269 on 29 Dec 1698 Deborah Jackson-36085, widow of John Trumble-335 (son of the immigrant John Trumbull and his first wife Elinor Chandler) and her son Judah sold 7 acres including a pasture called "Wolf's End" abutting the land of John Clark-605 to Jonathan Hopkinson-111, son of Michael Hopkinson-5, the immigrant.  Possibly it was actually John "jr", son of Hopkinson-111, but he was only 22 at the time so it seems more likely to be his father.  Unfortunately I saw nothing specifying a family relationship.  John Clark-605 was brother-in-law of this Jonathan Hopkinson-111 and called him that explicitly in another deed between the two of them (ED 29:237) because Hopkinson married Hester Clark, sister of John Clark-605.

So this is just more anecdotal evidence that the families of Trumbull & Hopkinson were close but not specific proof.
Thanks Brad, and I think that is a good observation.  It is yet another connection between these families.

My own feeling is that it would be way too much of a coincidence for a Rowley founder to have had daughters Ann, Mary and Susanna for them not to be identical with Ann Wood, Mary Grant and Susanna Todd.

I can only assume that the daughters were not part of the distribution of their father's estate because they were all already married and had been provided for by their father's will.

The chronology, though unlikely, is not impossible, and it must be assumed that Ann Brigg married early in life and then had children into her mid/late 40s.

There is a potential fly in the ointment with the Susan baptism. There is a Michael Hopkinson in Elland (nearer to Halifax than Kildwick, or Sutton, where Kildwick Michael lives) who buries his wife Susannah in 1635. How can we be sure it’s not his child who is baptised in Halifax in 1633? The mother is not named, how do we know it’s Ann?

The various baptism & burial places are a bit sketchy.

There are a few Michael Hopkinsons roaming around that area, which make me think the theory he might be from that area of Yorkshire may be a good one, but has the right Michael really been found? 

The comment added on Michael Hopkinson’s profile about a marriage in Rowley in 1640 on American Ancestors, is that just white noise? What does it pertain to? It says Michael married an Ann Gott. ? (Coincidentally, quite a few Gotts in the registers of Kildwick.)

The lack of mention in the estate distribution doesn't bother me so much, it was a pretty small estate anyway, they were already grown and married so even if they weren't estranged to some degree, that would be understandable.  They might well have said "no thanks, others need it more than us".

The thing that throws me is Ann the mother, having children across a 29-year span is just really biologically unusual from my understanding.  Somebody has to be the statistical outlier I suppose.  There was a 7-year gap between children (1634-1641), could the first Ann have died and then he married another Ann?  No basis in fact for that theory at this point.

Felix, re the LNAB Gott for Ann(from her page):
The name "Gott" is based on a probable misinterpretation of her Will, attached hereto, where she makes a bequest to her son Caleb of "a chest that his father Gott made". Given the frequent mis-spellings and capitalizations in that Will, it is easy to understand that Caleb's father "got" the chest made. If Gott was really Ann's maiden name, she would have spoken of the chest Caleb's "grandfather Gott made". The "Gott" theory was first mentioned in a footnote in Vol. 2, Pg. 867 of Mary Lovering Holman's Pillsbury genealogy, and has ever since been added to pedigrees far and wide.

Brad, I would agree the most troubling problem is the chronology.  You would have to assume that Ann was married earlier than was the norm in this time period, and continued having children much later than normal.

2 Answers

+5 votes

First, I want to express appreciation for the thoughtful comments offered above. 

Second, the issue of the estates is an interesting one for a lawyer like me who, while in law school, fancied a career in the law of real property and estates. 

Michael Hopkinson had a will, which sadly is no longer extant.  "The General Court moderated fines of Nicholas Jackson and John Trumble for not proving the wills of their wives’ former husbands, Hugh Chaplin and Mighill Hobkinson."  RFQC Essex 2:52, September Court, 1657.  (Perhaps there is an earlier reference to a fine being imposed on the widow Ann in this respect, instead of on John Trumble, but if so, I seem unable to find it.  And I can't even find a source for the initial fine by the Quarterly Court to either of them.) 

This entry was made less than two months after John Trumble's death in July 1657.  He had been married to the widow Ann Hopkinson for almost seven years.  They had married in August 1650, some five months after Michael Hopkinson's death.  He was taking on, at that time, the burden of a wife with four young boys, while he would have been expecting her to care for his five young children of whom the eldest was just turning eleven years old.  The two Hopkinson daughters still at home would have been more of an asset (in helping to maintain the family and rear the young children) than a burden.

Under the circumstances, it seems very forgivable that the probate of the first husband's estate was neglected, especially in light of the extensive services that John Trumble provided to the town.  (We have him to thank for the vital records of Rowley through those years.) 

Let's contemplate the likely terms of Michael Hopkinson's will.  It's unfortunate that the actual will has not come down to us, such that we have to extrapolate from the minimal facts supplied in RFQC Essex, vol. 2, p. 54, but that's our lot. 

As he lay dying, his daughter Susan (Susanna) was already married to John Todd, a capable member of the Rowley community, and they had welcomed their first child seven months earlier.  Daughter Ann was also older that the boys, and perhaps able to shift for herself, as she had turned 22 that spring if she was the one chr. at Kildwick in 1627/8 (or 13, if the Ann chr. at Leeds (see below).  She would marry my 8th great grandfather Thomas Wood in June, 1654. 

Daughter Mary was a bit younger than Susan, but at age 17 she would have been already of age, and marriageable (if not already married!).  The date of her marriage to John Grant is not recorded, but others have pegged it at around 1652. 

In contrast, the boys were much younger.  Jonathan, the oldest surviving son, was only seven years old, and his youngest brother not yet two. 

Under these circumstances, in Michael Hopkinson's shoes, I would make modest, fixed bequests to the three daughters, to be paid to Susan within (say) sixty days of my decease, and to the other two at the time of their marriages.  For that matter, Michael might have already paid Susan & John Todd her "marriage portion" on their wedding day, such that her claim to a share in the estate was already satisfied before Michael died. 

(As Brad noted, the only sizable liability of the Hopkinson/Trumble estate per the 1657 inventory was a debt to John Todd of three pounds and change, so clearly John Todd was solvent, and able to advance funds or property to his father in law, and Susan would not have been needy.) 

Continuing to imagine me as Michael, I would leave the remainder of my estate to my wife for the upbringing of the four boys.  Whatever might be left when they came of age could be distributed to them then, or on their wedding days, subject to Ann retaining a life estate in the real property.  Perhaps Michael directed that Jonathan, as the oldest son, receive a double portion per the then-current custom. 

If my guess is more or less correct, by the time the disposition of the Michael Hopkinson estate came before the Court, in 1657, Michael's will had already been fulfilled as it related to the three Hopkinson daughters, all adults.

Aside from the presumed bequests to the daughters, what had been Michael's property had been effectively merged with the property of John Trumble by 1657.  Let's not forget that (as Prof. Whitman liked to say), "at common law the husband and wife were one, and the husband was the one."

The Court was therefore presented with the need to divide the properties of the merged estates among the widow and the eleven children still in the home.  

There may have been testimony about which pieces of real estate had been owned by Michael Hopkinson as opposed to John Trumble, but in the end the Court split the estate down the middle.  The Court awarded the Hopkinson sons a total of 79 pounds.  The Trumble children by Elinor Chandler were to receive a total of just 39 pounds, while Abigail and Mary (the two youngest children) - John and Ann's children together - were to receive 20 pounds each, such that the total flowing to the Trumble heirs was also 79 pounds. 

Since all eleven children were minors as of 1657, the sums awarded by the Court (or the tangible assets that they represented, pending liquidation) would have been held by Ann as widow and administratrix pending the children coming of age. 

In sum, I am in total agreement with Joe's suggestion that "the daughters were not part of the distribution of their father's estate [in 1657] because they .... had been provided for by their father's will."

Turning to the issue of the appearances of Michael Hopkinson in the parish register of Elland, Yorkshire, mentioned by L. Felix, that could probably use some further study.  However, my sense is that Michael of Elland was older than the man who ended up in Rowley.  Notably, he started having children no later than 1611, and was done having children (so far as I can tell from a cursory review) by about 1625, whereas we are looking for a Michael Hopkinson who would have been virile for another couple of decades. 

So I sort of got the sense that Michael of Elland was a different generation from our Rowley man, and that his wife (or widow) Susanna, buried 14 July 1635, was well past child-bearing years. 

The only problem with that is that Susanna's burial record calls her the "wife" of Michael Hopkinson, rather than the "widow."  And then there's also the record of the burial of the (unnamed) widow of Michael Hopkinson on 18 Feb 1643/4.  She might have been the "Editha Helliwell" who had married a Michael Hopkinson in Elland 4 Nov 1606.  But none of this fits our emigrant to Mass. Bay and Rowley of 1638/9, who was having children in Kildwick and Halifax from about 1625 to 1634. 

That brings up the issue of the span of Ann (Brigge) Hopkinson Trumbull Swan's child-bearing years.  I share some of Brad's concern on the topic, but I am still comfortable with the theory that Ann (Brigge) was the mother of the whole lot.  If I'm right about her origin in Kildwick, she must be the Ann daughter of Henry, chr. in late 1607.  (It seems that Henry had a previous daughter Ann, chr. in 1604, but she and her mother died such that Henry remarried and had this second Ann by his new wife.) 

That would make Ann (Brigge) Hopkinson 16 years old on her wedding day, which was not unusual in those times for a bride.  If a woman has her first child at 17, she can go on having children for 30 years.  I realize that births to 47 year old women are not very common, but I believe that they were more common in times before plastics, pesticides and pills etc. messed with human reproduction the way we see it happening now. 

My own great grandmother was 47 when she had her last child, in 1887, and my mother was 43 when my sister was born.  I noticed some other examples of Rowley women having children when past age 45, but failed to make a list of the specifics.   

Finally, I am also sensitive to the seven year gap between the set of the known English births and the first of those in America.  Here, I am open to the possibility that the family spent those years in either (a) Rowley, in which case we would have no record of the births or burials that would have occurred in that time because the parish register is lost, or (b) in the Leeds area, some 20 miles ESE of Kildwick (i.e., in the direction of Rowley). 

No Michael Hopkinson is found in that neighborhood before 1635, but on 13 October of that year, a Michael Hopkinson had a son Michael Jr. christened at Swillington (six miles ESE of center Leeds).  Sadly, the boy didn't live long (buried 16 December).  

Then this family evidently moved into Leeds proper, as there we find christenings for:

(1) Ann Hopkinson, daughter of Michael, on 5 February 1636/7.  This is exactly the right timing for a mother who had lost a child in late 1635, and thus would not have had the contraceptive effect of nursing operating to defer pregnancy for the standard 12 to 15 months, to give birth.  (As the father of seven children, all of whom were breast fed, I know about these things.) 

2)  Margaret Hopkinson, chr. 5 August 1638.  This would have been a little more than a month before the Rev. Rogers and his followers embarked on their journey to Massachusetts Bay.  There is no burial record for Margaret in Leeds, so I assume that she must have died en route to America, or shortly after the group's arrival, if indeed this is our Hopkinson family.  

Even without knowing what happened to Margaret, I am still extremely intrigued by the facts revealed in the Swillington & Leeds records.  Tellingly (so far as the parish register discloses), no Michael Hopkinson was there prior to 1634 (i.e., whilst my PGM emigration candidate Michael Hopkinson was having children in Kildwick and Halifax), OR after the sailing of the "John of London" to Boston. 

Inclusion of the Swillington & Leeds records solves a couple of problems with my theory of Michael Hopkinson's English past.  First, it resolves the concerns that Brad and I shared about the seven year gap in children, or at least most of it. 

Second, it hints that Michael & Ann's daughter Ann, chr. at Kildwick in 1627/8, died between then and early 1637.  If so, that would lay to rest my worry that I didn't really have the right Ann to marry Thomas Wood in Rowley because of the four year age difference (Thomas having been born in 1632).  Of course, it has sometimes happened that a man would marry an older woman, but it's unknown in my entire direct Wood line extending all the way from Thomas Wood' grandfather Lewis Wood to me (twelve generations). 

If Ann Hopkinson of Leeds is Michael's daughter of that name who survived to come to America, then she would have been a proper 17 years old on her wedding date, and a good four years (plus a bit) younger than her husband.  Really a much better fit overall.

I hope that everyone feels better about this whole proposition now.  I know that I do. 


by Barry Wood G2G2 (2.3k points)
That's great analysis and a good find on the other parish records.  I haven't looked at all those locations on a map yet.

One other minor thing that ocurred to me, John Todd ran an "Ordinary" if I recall correctly, so maybe Michael's debt to him was his bar tab, assuming he liked to bend an elbow now and then.  But that would be a pretty big bar tab...
I think that I mispoke on that one.  The inventory described represented the combined Hopkinson / Trumble estate at the time it was taken -- shortly before 29 September (7th mo.) 1657, when the widow Ann acknowledged it in Ipswich court.  This was just a couple of months after John Trumble had died (buried 18 July).  If the debt to John Todd was a trade debt of some kind, I think it more likely that it was the obligation of John Trumble, rather than a hangover from whatever tab Michael Hopkinson may have run up at the Ordinary eight years or more earlier.

Back to the "family feud" of 1670-75, I have a better understanding now why Thomas Wood, John Todd and Ann Hopkinson took the side of John Pickard in the defamation suit filed by John Acie / Acy, above and beyond the destruction of John Hopkinson's intended romance with Hannah Palmer through Acy's meddling.

John Pickard's daughter Rebecca had, a few years earlier (in 1667) married Solomon Phips [Jr.] of Charlestown.  Solomon Phips' father Solomon Sr. was Thomas Wood's brother in law (married to Thomas' older sister Elizabeth).  It seems that Solomon Sr. & Elizabeth took Thomas Wood in and taught him carpentry after Thomas' parents died (1642).  Thus the younger Solomon would have been like a stepbrother to Thomas.  Sadly, Rebecca (Pickard) Phips died in 1669, a few days after the birth of son Solomon III.  Despite Rebecca's early death, one can imagine Thomas & Ann Wood considered themselves close kin to John Pickard.

Final note on the drama of the suit:  You will recall that Pickard had accused Acy of ruining the lives of four people, including Hannah Palmer (his niece.)  A hint at the nature of the ruination is found in the burial of Hannah Palmer 25 Oct 1670, just four months after her first love John Hopkinson married his "second choice," Elizabeth Pearson.  The cause of death could have been nearly anything, of course, but I wonder whether Hannah, despondent over her lost opportunity to marry John, didn't commit suicide.

I would love to see this drama converted into a movie.  It wouldn't offer as much in the way of glamor as "Dallas" or as much in the way of power plays as "Poldark," but I still think that it has the potential to illuminate a period of American history of which few people in the current generation have any awareness.
+4 votes
In a further response to the question about the division of Michael Hopkinson's estate is that there is no precise record of the distribution of his estate.  Michael had died in 1648/9 but the widow was obviously busy caring for her very large family.  The Court proposed to fine her "for neglecting to administer on the estate," but her second husband John Trumble petitioned on 7 third month 1657 for "remitment of his wife's fine."  He noted that an inventory had been taken "and the estate had in no way been alienated."  

In other words, the property had been left in Ann's hands to help keep the family together.  So the Court granted the request for remitment, provided that John Trumble "give in an inventory to the next County Court and the said Court to dispose of the estate to the woman and her children."  The Probate Records of Essex County, Mass. 1635-1664 (on Google Books, p. 253.  

The inventory (which had been taken 10 first month 1648 by Joseph Jewett and Thomas Dickanson) was then submitted to the Court, but I have found no record of the disposition of the estate.  This is presumably because most of the surviving children (i.e., the four or five young Hopkinson boys) were still minors, whereas the older children (all girls) were all married by 1657 to solid men, such that the obvious need would have been to retain the core assets of the estate for the benefit of the boys.  In particular, a division of the real estate (which had been valued at only 31 pounds to start with, and Ann would have retained her right of dower in a third of that) would have been very disruptive.  This may indeed have been the tenor of Michael's will (mentioned in my other answer from Jan. 2022).  Assuming that it did exist, it probably provided for the property not to be sold so long as Ann had minor Hopkinson children to care for.

The lack of any distribution order is particularly true reasonable in light of the untimely death of John Trumbull just four months after the date of the petition to the Court.  John was buried 18 July 1657.  That left Ann with eleven or twelve children in the home:  Her four or five sons by Michael Hopkinson; John Trumble's five surviving children from his first marriage; and the two daughter John and Ann had together.  I can't imagine her having the time to sort out, at that point, what distributions should be made to her children by Michael Hopkinson.  Most likely she struck some sort of settlement with daughters Susanna, Ann and Mary that obviated the need for anyone to insist on a final resolution by the Court.
by Barry Wood G2G2 (2.3k points)

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