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HOPTON OF CHELTENHAM, GLOUCESTERSHIRE, ENGLAND TO WELLINGTON, NEW ZEALAND
(Updated 29 June 2015)

The HOPTON family came to New Zealand under the Colonial Emigration Scheme of the New Zealand Company. Free passage and land was offered to all manner of trades including cabinet maker, which was Robert’s trade. It is not known why the HOPTON’s left Cheltenham for New Zealand but possibly a depression in the trade was affecting their work prospects. Robert’s father Shadrach HOPTON, committed suicide in 1843 and it was discovered that he was very depressed about his cabinet making company.

On the 8th January 1841, the HOPTON family, comprising Robert (aged 31), Charlotte (aged 29) and their five children Mary Emma (9), Eliza Lavinia (7), Sarah Augusta (5), Robert William (2) and baby Susan Mary Jane left Gravesend, near London, for Port Nicholson (Wellington).

They came on the LORD WILLIAM BENTINCK, which arrived at Port Nicholson on the 24th May 1841. There were 39 married couples, 24 single men, 15 single women, 51 children under 14 and 52 under 7 on board. Five births and nine deaths had occurred during the voyage.

The HOPTON family stayed in Wellington, and Jury Lists show Robert living at Ghuznee St, Willis St, Te Aro and later in Molesworth Street. Around 1853 the family moved to the Hutt Valley.

The HOPTONs had a sad beginning to their life in New Zealand – shortly after arrival, their son Robert died*, and then in 1843 the baby Susan died, both of decline.

The eldest daughter Mary Emma HOPTON married Mr Francis EYARE, a stonemason, at the home of Mr John CLEMENT, Thorndon in 1854. However, this was to be short lived as she died in her residence on The Terrace, Wellington 3 months later. This was possibly a result of a problem during childbirth as a son, Joseph William Hopton EYARE has been born on the 24 May 1854 - Mary Emma died on the 30 May at her residence at Wellington Terrace. No burial can be found in the Bolton Street cemetery records.

Francis EYARE is probably the Francis EYARE who took his discharged from the 65th Regiment at Wanganui on 31 January 1851. He had enlisted at Macclesfield, Cheshire on the 25 December 1845. Francis appears in the Wellington Jury lists for 1853 and 1854 but then with his baby son Joseph disappears from New Zealand.

In June 1854, Robert HOPTON was killed by a fracture to the skull, at his residence at the River Hutt.

Charlotte HOPTON remarried shortly after. She married a widower, William THOMAS, on the 8th April 1855 at the residence of Mr James TAVNER, Lower Hutt. They lived in Taita, where William was a carpenter. Charlotte had a stepson, Michael THOMAS, who called one of his sons Robert Hopton THOMAS. Both Michael and Robert are buried in the Greytown Cemetery. Charlotte died on the 5th November 1875 at Taita. Charlotte’s brother Stephen FAGAN, and their mother, also came to New Zealand.

Robert and Charlotte’s second daughter, Eliza Lavinia married Almon BOULCOTT, son of John Ellerker BOULCOTT, a director of the New Zealand Company. Almon and his brother Joseph arrived in Wellington in 1841 and took up farming on land owned by their father in the Hutt. The area is still known as Boulcott, and was the site of the “Battle of Boulcott’s Farm” in 1846.

The third daughter, Sarah Augusta HOPTON, later became Mrs John CLEMENT .

* - Very early in our research on the Hopton family we came across Early Wellington, a book by Louis Ward which was published in 1928.* In this book was the Register of Deaths from 1840 to 1847. For 1841 was Robert Hopton, son, 4 years, decline and in 1843 Robt. Hopton, daughter, 2 years, decline. Neither of the deaths were registered and a burial record was unable to be found at the Bolton Street Cemetery, but neither of these were surprising giving the time period. So this was accepted.

Fast forward to July 2013 – twenty five years later. An email from a distant Hopton cousin had found something on Papers Past – had I seen it. The Evening Post, Volume XII, Issue 93, 16 October 1875, Page 3 had “If this should meet the eye of ROBERT HOPTON, will he communicate with his mother Charlotte THOMAS, who is now lying dangerously ill. Hokitika papers please copy.”

WHAT !!! With electoral rolls and other entries in Papers Past we followed a Robert Hopton sometimes Robert William Hopton who appeared to be a miner on the West Coast, which would tie in with the Hokitika papers please copy.

He then made his way to Australia and appears in various on line records there as a miner. Then in the Queensland Death Indexes, this entry - Name: Robert William Hopton Death Date: 15 May 1921 Death Place: Rockhampton, Queensland Father's Name: Robert William Hopton Mother's Name: Charlotte Durham Registration Year: 1921 Registration Place: Rockhampton, Queensland.
I sent for his certificate and it appears to be for a second Robert William HOPTON born in Wellington, New Zealand about 1843 though his birth was not recorded.

However we found that he was born on 15 September 1842 and baptised 7 November 1847 by a Primitive Methodist minister in Wellington. His parents’ residence at that date was in Wellington. (Alexander Turnbull Library: Ms Papers 1185/180/1 (MSY 515); Ms Copy Micro 14/9; Sydney Street Primitive Methodist Church, Wellington, register of baptisms, 1847-95; entry no. 5).

*Title: Early Wellington Author: Louis E. Ward Publication details: Whitcombe and Tombs Limited, 1928, Auckland

For more on the Hopton family see - HOPTON FAMILY HISTORY. Thanks to Patrick Hopton for this.




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