Colonial Hall -- Biographies of America's Founding Fathers

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Sarah Scott Hopkins


Wife of Stephen Hopkins

Stephen Hopkins, alternately Governor and Chief Justice of the Province of Rhode Island for many years before his palsied hand wrote its tremulous signature to the Declaration of Independence, married Sarah Scott, daughter of Silvanus and Joanna Jenckes Scott, as his first wife, in 1726. Both were of Quaker stock and both of them were barely turned twenty years of age. Sarah Scott was a great-granddaughter of Richard Scott, said to be the first Rhode Island man to embrace the Quaker faith. Richard Scott's wife, Sarah Scott's great-grand-mother, was Catharine Marbury, sister of Ann Hutchinson, who was driven from Boston during the outbreak of religious intolerance that characterized some of the earlier years of the Massachusetts Bay Colony, and Catharine Marbury, herself, was whipped in Boston jail for her religious contumacy. We know but little of Sarah Scott Hopkins except that it is recorded that she was "a kindly, industrious, and frugal woman, a good mother and an affectionate wife."

She was the mother of seven children, only five of whom arrived at maturity. These were as follows: Rufus, who married Abigail Angell of Providence; John, who married Mary Gibbs of Boston; Lydia, who became the second wife of Col. Daniel Tillinghast of Newport; Silvanus, who died unmarried, and George, who married Ruth Smith, daughter of his father's second wife.

John Hopkins, the second son, died of small-pox in 1753, off the coast of Spain. He was master of the ship Two Brothers which at once put into port, but the dead man, having been a Protestant, was denied Christian burial. He was twenty-four years old at the time of his death.

Silvanus sailed the same year, 1753, for Cape Breton, as mate of a small schooner, and on his return was wrecked off the coast of Nova Scotia. In attempting to return to Louisburg in an open boat, he was surprised by Indians on the shore of St. Peter's Island and his body left on the beach. Sarah Scott Hopkins died the same year as her two sons, in the twenty-eighth year of her married life.

Source: Wives of the Signers: The Women Behind the Declaration of Independence, by Harry Clinton Green and Mary Wolcott Green, A.B. (Aledo, TX: Wallbuilder Press, 1997). Orignaly Published in 1912 as volume 3 of The Pioneer Mothers of America: A Record of the More Notable Women of the Early Days of the Country, and Particularly of the Colonial and Revolutionary Periods (New York: G.P. Putnam's Sons). Pages 86-88. (Some minor spelling changes may have been made.)


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Last modified January 5, 2004