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HOPTON OF CHELTENHAM, GLOUCESTERSHIRE, ENGLAND TO WELLINGTON, NEW ZEALAND

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 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. The next month, Robert 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 !!! Robert Hopton senior had died from a fractured skull at 'his residence near the River Hutt, aged 45 the Hutt on the 19 June 1854. His widow Charlotte then married widower William THOMAS on the 8 April 1855 at Lower Hutt. She died on the 5 November 1875 at Taita. What was going on. 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 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 definetly appears to be our Robert though his birthplace is given as Wellington, New Zealand. His age matches the Robert who was born in England.

*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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