Francis Hopkins

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Francis Hopkins

Also Known As: "The Tory Bandit"
Birthdate: (59)
Birthplace: East Greenwich, Kent , Rhode Island
Death: April 22, 1779 (59)
Washington County, Virginia, United States (Hanged by Col. William Campbell and a negro, Thomas)
Immediate Family:

Son of Joseph Hopkins, Jr. and Sally Hopkins
Husband of Mary (Mercy) Hopkins
Father of Mary Woolsey; Hannah Lewis; Unknown Hopkins; Henry Hopkins; Sarah Hopkins and 8 others
Brother of Hannah Pierce and George Hopkins

Occupation: Horse thief, counterfeiter
Managed by: Dennis Harold Cloukey
Last Updated:

About Francis Hopkins

Francis Hopkins was born 1720 in East Greenwich, Kent, Rhode Island and died 1778 in Washington,Virginia. He was in Newsbury, New York; Wyoming Valley, Pennsylvania, and Washington County, Virginia. Francis Hopkins was a Tory during the Revolution. He was captured and hanged in Washington county, Virginia. His son William was captured with his father, but escaped and moved to the Kentucky frontier.

Parents: 10th child and son of Joseph Hopkins and Martha Whale/Whaley. OR

"Austin lists the last child of Joseph and Martha (Whaley) Hopkins a son Francis, (born about 1720) I believe that Austin was mistaken since Joseph did not name son Francis in his "will-deed" of 1725 nor in his will of 1735. Such an oversight does not seem in character with a man who gave such careful directions for the disposition of his property. It is my contention that Francis was the son of Joseph Hopkins, Jr., born 1698. My notes:(Daisi Grossman) I tend to agree with Mrs. Royse regarding Francis and came to that conclusion while researching birth and other vital records of E. Greenwich, RI. Dates there is no conflict there, Joseph Jr. would have been about 22 if Frances was indeed born in 1720. I have taken the liberty of 'moving' Francis from the Joseph Sr., to Joseph Jr. This means there is no records to prove Francis the son of either, so in essence, he may or may not belong to this family."


  1. January 09, 1742/September 01, 1743 in East Greenwich, Kent, Rhode Island to Mary Joslin, daughter of HENRY JOSLIN and ELIZABETH MATTESON

10 Children of Francis Hopkins and Mary Josline are:

  1. HENRY4 HOPKINS, b. December 02, 1743, East Greenwich, Kent, Exeter, Rhode Island; d. 1814, Shelby County, Kentucky; m. HANNAH BURR, July 26, 1769, Redding, Connecticut.
  2. SARAH HOPKINS, b. December 26, 1744, East Greenwich, Kent, Exeter, Rhode Island.
  3. RACHEL HOPKINS, b. May 21, 1747, East Greenwich, Kent, Exeter, Rhode Island.
  4. WILLIAM HOPKINS, b. November 15, 1748, Warwick, Rhode Island East Greenwich; d. 1832, Nicholas County, Kentucky.
  5. GARDNER HOPKINS, b. July 16, 1750, East Greenwich, Kent, Exeter, Rhode Island; d. June 04, 1832, Floyd County, Kentucky.
  6. MARY HOPKINS, b. April 09, 1753, East Greenwich, Kent, Exeter, Rhode Island; d. 1825, Edmonson, Kentucky.
  7. FRANCIS HOPKINS, JR., b. 1756, East Greenwich, Rhode Island Kent County; d. 1823, Bath County Kentucky.
  8. HANNAH HOPKINS, b. March 03, 1757, Orange Co, NY; d. August 26, 1852, Pomp, Morgan Couunty, Kentucky.
  9. ROBERT HOPKINS, b. July 04, 1760, East Greenwich, Rhode Island Kent County; d. March 26, 1824, Nicholas County, Kentucky; m. ELIZABETH, 1786, New Jersey.


From: HISTORY OF SOUTHWEST VIRGINIA, 1746-1786, Washington, Co, 1777-1870, pages #275-277. By Lewis Preston Summers. Published in Baltimore in 1966 by the Genealogical Publishing Company. Found Genealogical Forum Library-Portland, OR. January 1997.

At this time there lived in Washington County two men by the names of Francis Hopkins and William Hopkins. Francis Hopkins was a counterfeiter and, at the May term of the COunty Court in the year 1778, he was tried by the court on suspicion of his having counterfeited, erased and altered sundry treasury notes; the currency of this Commonwealth, knowing the same to be bad. He was found guilty, fined fifty dollars lawful money of Virginia, sentenced to six months in prison, and was ordered to be confined within the walls of the Fort at William Cocke's (Now C.L. Clyce's), on Renfro's Creek, alias Spring Creek, until the county goal was completed. He was conveyed to Cocke's Fort, but within a short time thereafter, made his escape and began a series of very bold and daring depredations upon the Whig settlers of the county. He organized a band of Tories, whose occupation was to steal horses of the settlers and intimidate the citizens whenever possible. He went so far as to post notices at and near the home of Colonel William Campbell, warning him that if he did not desist from his prosecution of the Loyal adherents of George III, a terrible calamity would befall him, either in the loss of his property or his life.

On a quiet and beautiful Sabbath in the spring time of the year 1780, General Campbell accompanied by his wife (who was a sister of Patrick Henry), and several of their neighbors, attended a religious service at a Presbyterian House of worship known as Ebbing Spring CHurch in the upper end of this county. As they were returning to their homes they happened to be conversing about the audacity of the Tory who had been so bold and defiant in his declarations and was suspected of having posted these notices above referred to. Just as they arrived at he top of a hill, a short distance west of the present residence of Colonel Hiram A. Greever, they observed a man on horseback on the opposite hill, coming towards them, General Campbell was riding beside his wife, with an infant on before him. One of them remarked that the individual meeting them was the Tory of whom they had been speaking probably now on a horse-stealing expedition, as he was observed to be carring a rope halter in his hand. Hearing this, General Campbell, without halting, handed the infant over to its mother and dashed out in front. Seeing the movement and recognizing the man who he so much feared and hated, the Tory wheeled his horse and started back at quite a rapid gait, pursued at full speed by Colonel Campbell and one of the gentlement of the company, whose name was Thompson. Never, it may be presumed, either before or since, has such a dashing and exciting race been witnessed upon that long level between the residences of Colonel Greever and Beattie. As they reached the branch at the base of the hill a little west of Colonel Beattie's, Colonel Campbell dashed up alongside the fleeing Tory, who, seeing that he would be caught, turned short to the right down the bank and plunged into the river. As he struck the water, Colonel Campbell, who had left his companion in the rear, leaped in beside him, grasped the Tory's holsters and threw them into the stream, and then dragged him from his horse into the water.

At this moment Mr. Thompson rode up. They took the prisoner out on the bank and held what may be termed a drum-head court. The Tory, who, bad as he was, had the virtue to being a brave, candid man, at once acknowledged the truth of the charge preferred against hime and boldly declared his defiance and determination to take horses wherever he could find them. But he was mistaken in his man, for in less than ten minutes he was dangling from the limb of a large sycamore that stood upon the bank of the river, the stump of which was to be seen a few years ago, and maybe there yet for aught the writer knows. * Charles B. Coale.

n.b. Francis' son William was arrested with him, but escaped and went to Kentucky.


Francis Hopkins, the Tory bandit'" For a year or more Hopkins had given the County authorities much trouble; they had imposed heavy fines upon him for his rascalities, and had placed him under heavy bonds. He had been found guilty of passing counterfeit money--was ordered imprisoned at Cocke's Fort on Renfroe creek, till the county jail should be completed; and when the new structure was ready for occupancy, it was a rickety affair, and Hopkins one dark night was released from his confinement by the aid of sympathizing Tories, who pried the jail door from its hinges, and carried it half a mile away. Thus the bandit and counterfeiter evaded further imprisonment, and snapped his fingers at justice. He fled to the nearest British garrison--probably in Georgia--where he obtained a commission, with letters to the Cherokee Indians and the white emissaries among them, urging them to fall upon the frontier settlers with fagot, knife, and tomahawk. He was, in every sense, an infamous Tory, and a dangerous character."


"When people ask at genealogy meetings or courses if anyone has a horse thief in their family, I HAVE to raise my hand."

"I have found articles on the death of Francis HOPKINS: "Southwest Virginia, 1746-1786/Washington County, 1777-1870" pages 275-278; and Family History Center film 1750788, item 19 "The Glade Spring Presbyterian Church". These articles were very informative. I especially liked the following: "Even though it has been claimed that the patriots had gone through a trial, the proceedings were so irregular as to need official sanction. So the VIrginia General Assembly passed in October 1779 an act stating that although some of the frontier measures suppressing 'open insurrection and conspiracy' may not have been strictly warrented by law, they were justifiable from the immediate urgency and imminence of the danger. Be it therefore declared and enacted that the said . . . persons . . . concerned in suppressing . . . stand indemnified and clearly exonerated." They passed a law after-the-fact justifying the hanging of Francis HOPKINS!!"


  1. History of southwest Virginia, 1746-1786, Washington County, 1777-1870. By Lewis Preston Summers.  Published 1903 by J. L. Hill printing company in Richmond, Va .  Page 275-277


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Francis Hopkins's Timeline

East Greenwich, Kent , Rhode Island
December 2, 1743
Age 23
Exeter, Kings Co, RI
December 26, 1744
Age 24
East Greenwich, RI, USA
May 21, 1747
Age 27
E. Greenwich, RI
November 15, 1748
Age 28
Warwick, Kent, Rhode Island
Age 28
E. Greenwich, Kent, R. I.
July 16, 1750
Age 30
East Greenwich, Kent, Rhode Island
April 9, 1753
Age 33
East Greenwich, Kent Co., RI
Age 36
East Greenwich, RI, USA