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52 Ancestors: Week 2 Family Legends

I am taking part in the 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks challenge for 2021. The challenge is organised by Amy Johnson Crow who provides a weekly writing prompt. This week the prompt is Family Legends.

There are two stories I was told about my father’s side of the family. One that he was the oldest son of the oldest son going back 7 generations, all of whom have the middle name Humphrey. The second, that somewhere, probably on his mother’s side, we are descended from gypsies.

The second story I have not yet researched in any seriousness. I feel sure that it will become clear if it is true, but I have not made any attempt as yet, and to be perfectly honest I don’t know where to start.

The first story was told by my great grandfather Thomas Humphrey Hopkinson, that my father was the seventh eldest son named something Humphrey Hopkinson. I don’t remember Grandpa Thomas, but here we are about a year before he died.

With my Great Grandfather Thomas Humphrey Hopkinson

My parents were very relieved when I, a girl, was their first born and they did not have to follow the family tradition. My middle name is very definitely NOT Humphrey!
Thomas named his first born Robert Humphrey Hopkinson, you may recall I wrote about him last week. Bob’s son, my father is also a Humphrey.

Thomas had an elder sister, who must be the subject of a blog one day, I have heard plenty of stories about Aunt Lucy. But her very existence changes the story a little, my parents wouldn’t have been so relieved that I was a girl if they thought a second child would have to have the name Humphrey.

Thomas’ father was Job Hopkinson and I can find no evidence at all that he was named Humphrey. It certainly isn’t mentioned on his birth certificate.

Job Hopkinson’s birth certificate. No mention of Humphrey anywhere!

As can also be seen on the birth certificate Job’s father was another Thomas. Thomas Hopkinson was born in 1837, and again no mention of Humphrey on any of the documents relating to him. He had married Sarah James, and they had five children:

  • William James Hopkinson born 1859
  • Ann Hopkinson born 1862
  • Joseph Hopkinson born 1867
  • Job Hopkinson born 1869
  • Mary Hopkinson born 1877

Job not only doesn’t appear to have the middle name Humphrey, but he was not the eldest son. The only child given a middle name (his mother’s maiden name) was the eldest son William.

In 1893 Job Hopkinson married Elizabeth Goodwin. Her father was Humphrey Goodwin. It seems that they named their second child, their first son after both their fathers Thomas Hopkinson and Humphrey Goodwin. Whether Thomas was told that his middle name was a long family tradition, whether he misunderstood, or deliberately created a false family legend we will never know.

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