Summary of genealogical information obtained from research done by Graeme Glass and obtained from various family and other sources. G.A.Glass, 102 Brookvale Road, Havelock North. New Zealand. Email: Updated September 2001.


Chapter 1. Background and history of the name - Coats of Arms.

Chapter 2  Lineage of the family. William Hopkirk I

Chapter 3. William Hopkirk II

Chapter 4  William Hopkirk III

Chapter 5  James Hopkirk

Chapter 6. William Hopkirk IV

Chapter 7. The Home Connection

Chapter 8. William Hopkirk and Isabella Home.

Chapter 9. The family of William and Isabella

Chapter 10. Anne Elizabeth Wright and her descendants.

Chapter 11. The family of Robert Home Hopkirk in New Zealand.

Chapter 12. The family of Robert Alexander Hopkirk.

Chapter 13 The family of Alexander Hopkirk.

Chapter 14. The Hopkirks of Dalbeth.

Chapter 15. The South African Hopkirks.

Chapter 16. Other Hopkirk lines.


We are very fortunate in having a number of letters which were written to various family members and their descendants, who in the 1830s and 1840s emigrated to the United States and from these letters we are able to obtain much family and historical information and also in some cases confirmation of dates, events and lineages. We are also fortunate in that my grandfather, Robert Alexander Hopkirk, wrote several pages of notes describing his life in Scotland and in New Zealand. We are able to use these writings in conjunction with parish records and other films available from the Family History Centre and build up an accurate, if somewhat sparse picture, of our ancestors' lives, at least back to the William Hopkirk who was an Elder at Melrose in 1680, and who was probably born about 1650. Family sources place him as the son of a (William) James Hopkirk, said to be Laird of Hobkirk who was captured after the Battle of Bothwell Brig on 22-6-1679 where the Covenanter forces were defeated by the Government forces under the Duke of Monmouth. This William James Hopkirk was sentenced to be transported to the American Colonies (possibly Virginia or Jamaica) as a rebel but was drowned when the ship carrying him was wrecked on Moul Head of Deerness in the Orkneys in 1679. He is listed (as James Hopkirk) in a book of Scottish Martyrs* of the Covenanting era but is shown as having been a native of the parish of Cavers which neighbours Hobkirk Parish and adjoins Hawick town.

*Note. Dr. J.S. Hopkirk of Hastings has a copy of this book.

The arrival of our William in Melrose around 1680, or possibly earlier, coincides with the death of William James Hopkirk in 1679 and family legend has it that they are father and son but at this stage there is no clear evidence to connect them and it may be very difficult to obtain such proof because the existing parish records of Hobkirk dont begin until the early part of the 18th century, long after the above events. The story that the family arrived in Melrose in the 1680s comes from family legend but the fact that a Thomas Hopkirk married an Annapel (sic) Anderson at Melrose on 2/5/1647 suggests that there were Hopkirks living in the area prior to the 1680s.

Family tradition has it that the family were dispossessed of their property as a penalty for their adherence to the Covenanting faith and that the property passed to the neighbouring Laird of Cavers who is said to have informed on our ancestor. This story is questionable because it appears that the Laird of Cavers. Sir William Douglas, seems to have had Covenanting sympathies which were carried on by his wife when he died in 1676. Indeed, he seems to have lost his hereditary position as Sheriff of Teviotdale because of his religious beliefs. We know that his widow, "The Good Lady Cavers", continued to support the Covenanting movement after his death and that she was imprisoned in the Edinburgh Tolbooth and Stirling Castle for two years because of her intransigence.

The people around Cavers, Hawick, Denholm and the Rule Water generally were hardened Covenanters and despite the efforts of the Government and the Episcopalian Church, conventicles (clandestine prayer meetings) were held in remote places at fairly regular intervals. Ruberslaw, a large hill which dominates the Rule Valley was often used and to guard against a surprise attack from Government dragoons sentries would be posted on all the approaches. Notable preachers such as Peden and Cargill attracted large numbers of worshippers and relied for their safety on the loyalty of their followers who sheltered them from the authorities. Government dragoons made frequent sweeps of the area seeking militant Covenanters and their Ministers and among the wanted men was a James Hopkirk who is described variously as "of Bedrule" and "of Cavers". He is thought to have lived in the village of Denholm which is described by Nigel Tranter as:

"Denholm is a major village set around quite the largest green I know in Scotland, under the shapely

pinnacle of Ruberslaw where Peden once preached to the Covenanters. It is a place of character, charm and exciting history - being, of course, plumb in the way of all raiders proceeding up or down

Teviotdale. It was burned by Hertford in 1545, like so much else; but more renowned is its fate at the

hands of the party of raiders of Dacre's army, led by the Prior of Hexham's steward, in 1514, the year

after Flodden, when the village of Denholm was probably responsible for the deep and no doubt

drunken sleep of the raiders at Hornshole, 2 miles further up Teviot, where they encamped for the

night. And where they were set upon in the darkness and massacred almost to a man by the youth of

Hawick, sons of the men who had marched off to Flodden the year before and never came back.

NOTE; The statue of "The Callant" which stands in the main street of Hawick. commemorates this affair.

The dragoons did not find James Hopkirk who was not at home having joined a party of Rulewater insurgents who attacked the tower at Hawick (Drumlanrig's Tower) and captured the arms which were stored there. However, his time of freedom was coming to an end. The skirmishing between the authorities and the Covenanters increased in tempo after a troop of Claverhouse's dragoons were defeated at Drumclog Moor in Lanarkshire on 11 June 1679. The Covenanters, who were heartened by this victory, mustered a large force, mainly country folk and zealots with few trained soldiers, and marched on Glasgow.

However, they were met and utterly defeated by Government forces under the Duke of Monmouth at Bothwell Brig on 22 June 1679. No matter how strong their faith, untrained country folk and clerics could not stand up to disciplined troops and although they fought bravely they did not have much chance of victory Many of the rebels were captured and 1200 of them were shut up in the walled churchyard of Greyfriars in Edinburgh where they existed for some time in primitive conditions without shelter because there wasn't any secure building in the city capable of housing such large numbers. The ringleaders were, of course, executed but many of the others were released upon taking an oath of future loyalty and it was only the hard core of intransigents, who refused to take the oath, and who were condemned to transportation. James Hopkirk was one of these and as we see above, he lost his life when the America, or Barbados, bound ship was wrecked.

There is one point in the story of James Hopkirk losing his lands that I find difficult to explain and that is that when William of Orange ousted the Catholic James II in 1689 and firmly and finally established Protestantism as the official religion of Great Britain the Covenanters came into their own and many of that faith who had suffered under the persecutions of the previous reign were rewarded by the new regime. There does not appear to be any record of the Hopkirks benefiting from the change of circumstances. There were many notable examples of this change of fortune, one being Sir Patrick Hume of Polwarth, an astute politician, who under the new king became Baron Polwarth and later Earl of Marchmont and a powerful man in Scottish politics. We know that William of Orange identified himself with the religious dissenters and that the Covenanters, in particular were partisans for him. That he did show his gratitude to some was undoubted, but perhaps the Hopkirks were only small fry and their compensation was overlooked. We do know, however, that William was not a generous king. As a matter of interest the Covenanters have been described by some historians as the equivalent of the IRA in their times. They certainly had their share of religious fanatics and if we are able to ignore the emotional aspects of history we would find that many of their actions amounted to sheer terrorism while some of the stories of the persecutions that they suffered were wildly inflated for propaganda purposes.

We assume that the name Hopkirk derives from the Roxburghshire village of Hobkirk and while the surname can be spelt with a "b" or a "p" the place name is invariably spelled with a "B". The origin of the name of the village is probably Norse and is thought to have come from "the kirk in the hope (valley).

However, a passage in Collins' "Scottish Clan and Family Encyclopaedia" reads:

"The name appears to derive from the lands of Hopkirk near Hawick in

Roxburghshire. The name may indicate lands dedicated to the Church

by either a man named Hob (a diminutive of Robert) or perhaps a

member of the ancient family of Hopringle, who held the lands near

Stow in Roxburghshire in the eleventh century. The name arises in

various charters of land in Roxburghshire, and James Hobkirk is

recorded as resident at Carrington in 1574. The principal family were

Lairds of Dalbeth (near Glasgow). James Hobkirk, a fervent

Covenanter, was drowned off Orkney in 1679".

The area of Hobkirk is described as follows:

"Hobkirk is an ancient parish situated on the Rule Water about 15 miles south west of Jedburgh and about 12 miles south east of Hawick. The parish is listed in "Origins Parochiales" an ancient register of churches and in the 13th century belonged to the Canons of Jedburgh but was one of the churches involved in a dispute with the Bishop of Glasgow."

It is difficult to assess the importance of Hobkirk in medieval times. There is no evidence of there ever having been a peel tower or Bastle house in the immediate area which suggests that the population was small or that the land owners did not have sufficient capital to build one. Perhaps their only defence at the approach of invaders was to hide in the hills. In 1535, during the reign of James V, every border landowner having estates worth 100 Pounds or more was required by law to build a stone barmkin, or fortified enclosure "for the resett and defence of him, his tenants and their good in troublous times, with a tower in the same for himself if he thinks it expedient".

There have been a number of churches on the site of the present one, which was built in 1862 and some details can be found in a book "Inhabitants of the Rule Water" by George Tancred of Weems (published by T & A Constable 1907) Unfortunately, there are no references to any people named Hopkirk but there is a considerable amount of historical detail contained in this book about the later inhabitants.

This part of the Middle March of the Scottish border has a turbulent history because of the constant cycle of border wars with England and the endless series of raids and counter raids that were not brought under control until the early 17th century. Territory was keenly held and jealously guarded. The Rule Water would have been no different from other parts of the border and with the main family being the Turnbulls with Kerrs of Ferniehurst and Douglases of Cavers for close neighbours, not to mention the English reivers of Redesdale and Tynedale, life would have been far from peaceful. Ordinary people and small land holders depended on the main families for protection against reivers and for their assistance in obtaining redress, but they also had obligations to rally in support of those families when required and it is difficult to see that any small unaligned family, without powerful friends, could have survived the depredations which descended upon them from time to time. Therefore, it is certain that the early Hopkirks were fully involved in the internecine warfare that erupted from time to time around them. They could not have avoided it. Although Hobkirk, the hamlet, was a little isolated it is situated just off the direct road that runs from Carter Bar to Hawick, an obvious invasion route and there are various records of the nearby villages of Bonchester Bridge and Southdean having been burned during raids.

There are several good books which cover the history of the border country among which are - "The Steel Bonnets" by G.M.Fraser published by Barrie & Jenkins 1971 - ISBN 0 330 23857 4 and "The Border Reivers" by Godfrey Watson published by Robert Hale and Pan Books ISBN. 09 46098 01 8. Another is the excellent "Portrait of the Border Country" by Nigel Tranter published by Robert Hale and revised as a new edition in 1987. (ISBN 0 7090 3147 5). None of these books refer to Hopkirks by name but there are many references to the Home families and others and they give much background information on the history and the geography of the Borders.

Perhaps the best is "Brave Borderland" by H. Drummond Gauld, published by Nelson in the 1930s but now out of print.

The earliest Hopkirk, that we can lay claim to, recorded in the International Genealogical Index for Roxburghshire is the baptism of William at Melrose on 25th Sept 1685, the son of William almost certainly the Elder of that Parish. However, we do know that there are earlier Hopkirks recorded in Scotland - e.g James Hopkirk who is noted as a Reidare (minor cleric) at Carrington in East Lothian in 1574 and he is possibly the same person as the Sir James Hopkirk, vicar of Kerytown in 1577 who appears in the records of the Lord Lyon King of Arms.

On the other hand there are many Hopkirks recorded in the English County of Northumberland, the first being noted was a Jaine Hobkirke who was married to a James Russell at Berwick upon Tweed on 18th February 1576. Most of the Northumberland entries are in Newcastle on Tyne which is less than 50 miles from Hobkirk and their presence there could indicate earlier migrations. We know that many of the Border families on both sides switched allegiance from one side to the other, in some cases with regularity, and there is no reason to believe that the Hopkirks showed any respect for the border. In any case, the actual border line was not clearly defined and although several Commissions were set up to establish the frontiers, they always failed to reach conclusions which were acceptable to both kingdoms. The reivers had many secret trails which were used for their not infrequent sallies and raids and even today the border lands of the Middle and West Marches are largely wild and rugged with few roads and little evidence of human settlement.

Although travel presented difficulties until the widespread advent of public transport in the 19th century we should not think that our ancestors did not travel far from their home towns and villages. There is an interesting account in "Inhabitants of the Rule Water" of a noted local footballer, Robert Stewart, who after attending a Ball until 2 a.m. set off from Hobkirk, on foot, to meet his brother in Newcastle. He arrived there at 4 p.m. the next afternoon and had enough energy left to run a 100 yards race for a wager which his brother had committed him to. This feat should not be seen as typical but it does illustrate the mobility of our ancestors who when they had no other way of getting about simply used their feet. Also, the borderers were fine horsemen and this skill, which was of great value to their raiding activities, was also used for peaceful purposes, hence they were an extremely mobile race.

The presence of Hopkirks on both sides of the border seem to indicate that if we take the origin of the name as being "from" Hobkirk then they must be substantially older that the 16th century because of the numbers that existed by the 17th century in Roxburghshire and Northumberland.

The name was not exclusively a Roxburghshire one and I have come across several families living in the Peebles area in 17th Century Parish Records. The earliest of these was the baptism of a Helene Hopkirk on 18th November 1647. She was the daughter of a William Hopkirk and the presence of the name in this region and in Northumberland suggests that the surname was quite wide spread. Unfortunately, the earliest parish records of Hobkirk were lost during or after the Reformation, so we are not able to establish a link between our ancestors and the parish of the same name.

I have searched the records of several parishes in Newcastle and have found births deaths and marriages of a number of Hopkirks but have not been able to clearly establish links with the Scottish line of the family. However, there is a piece of evidence in a Sasine (a means of transferring ownership of landed property) which shows a definite link with Newcastle and could be significant. In addition, the entries from the Sessions minutes referred to below show that at least William (3rd) had some knowledge of Newcastle.


The granting of arms to landed proprietors and the nobility is an ancient process and in Scotland the control of such armorial matters is in the hand of the Lord Lyon King of Arms. The records of his court are a valuable source of genealogical information for those families who qualify for arms. However, the records are not complete because a fire in the early 19th century destroyed much of the ancient material and consequently there are gaps which researchers find frustrating.

There is documentary evidence showing that the Hopkirks of Dalbeth were granted arms in 1774 and again in 1815 and we have photo copies of these Patents. However, there is a curious reference in a letter dated 10 Nov.2000 written by the present Lyon King of Arms to a researcher who was employed by Eric Hopkirk of Belfast. I quote the passage:

"It does, however, seem that the reference in the recording of Arms in the Public Register of All Arms and Bearings in Scotland is to a manuscript of Robert Porteous and I have looked at our references to this manuscript and find that there are two marginally different entries by Robert Porteous for Hopkirk. The first reads "Hopkirk in the South bears Gules an cross engrailed Argent between four fleur- de-lys Or" and the second reads "Hopkirk, Gules a saltire engrailed Argent between four fleur-de-lys Or 1503".

I fond this passage curious, firstly, because Porteous seems to be referring to two different, but related branches of a family. The similarities of the Arms seem to indicate the connection and the fact that Hopkirk in the South shows an ordinary cross (such as a St George Cross) while Hopkirk (presumably in the North - or perhaps Dalkieth) shows the Scottish saltire (St Andrews Cross) indicates the difference. Possibly one branch was a cadet line of the family. Secondly, the number "1503", which ends the quotation has been accepted as a date and as such it certainly predates any other information we have on the family's origins.

End of Chapter 1, return to CONTENTS


There is evidence to show that we can trace a clear line of succession back to the William Hopkirk who was recorded as being an Elder of Melrose in 1680. He is also recorded in the records of the Hearth Tax of Scotland - 1694-5 (Film No.559525) as living in Melrose and being taxed for 1 hearth. (As a matter of interest Melrose had 424 hearths taxed and the numbers from neighbouring towns and villages gives some idea of the relative size of Melrose at that time. - Hawick - 494, Kelso - 955, Jedburgh - 850, Cavers - 249, Hobkirk - 82.) .

Where William came from is not clear and one theory is that he may have been the William Hope, who, with his wife, Bessie Swanstoun, lived in Ellistoun, a very small hamlet halfway between Denholm and Melrose. They were listed among those who frequented conventicles. He was apparently buried in Galashiels under the name of William Hope and he could have been a brother or the son of the drowned Covenanter. The fact that his landlord in Melrose was known to have Covenanting leanings as a conventicle attender may be significant. It could be that there was some confusion in the spelling between Hope, Hopekirk and Hopkirk. It is possible that William assumed the name of Hope to avoid a connection with the wanted Covenanter, James Hopkirk and then reverted to Hopkirk when the disturbances settled down.

It seems that "our" William Hopkirk may have been an Ale House Keeper in Melrose. There is an entry in the Sessions Minutes of Melrose Parish in 1732 which records that William Hopkirk and his two married daughters, Bessie Aitchison and Helen Ormiston were punished for selling alcoholic refreshments to some passing tinkers. "The vagrant beggars being, many of them, beastly drunk" apparently ran amok in Melrose in consequence of the Hopkirks' over lavish hospitality.

William, (whose wife is not named) had the following children baptised at Melrose (Film Nos. 102208 & 102299): 8-12-1682 Nicoll 25-9-1685. William. 18-1-1691. Daughter - not named - possibly Marion. 18-11-1692 Elizabeth. 22-4-1694 . Indecipherable - Possibly James. 10-1-1696 . Alexander 28-11-1697 . Helen.

Unfortunately the Parish Records of that era made no mention of the name of William's wife, a chauvinistic habit not confined to Scotland, but also found in England, and I can find no record of their marriage. However, if we accept that William was also known as Hope then it is possible that he had earlier lived in Ellistoune in the neighbouring parish of Bowden and that his wife was named Bessie Swanstoun. It seems that William was not a native of Melrose Parish and that he migrated there from some other parish in about 1682.

NOTE. The gap between 1685 and 1691 is odd in view of the fact that children were born with regularity after 1691 and it may well be that other children were born in that period but not recorded. This could be explained by a gap in the Parish Records.

William died before 1738 and is almost certainly the William Hope who was buried at Galashiels on 29th April 1732. No other Hopes appear in the Galashiels records and as the entry was taken from a copy of the original register, which has since vanished, Hope may well be a scribe's error for Hopekirk. As we will see, William's son, another William, was then living in Galashiels which probably explains the first William's burial there.

End of Chapter 2. Return to Table of Contents


I believe that the William born in 1685 is the William who married Isabella Hunter at Melrose on 23rd November 1711. He would have been aged 26 at the time and at that time there is no evidence of any other Hopkirks living in Melrose. This William is described as being William Hopkirk in Kilnow which suggests that he was a tenant in Kilnow and not the owner. (Kilnow has been identified as a mill on the Gala Water in present day Galashiels which, at that time consisted of a few houses strung out along the river. This possibly provides another link with the Hopkirk's Covenanting past because the mill at Kilnow was owned by the Kerrs of Abbotsrule (near Denholm), who were known Covenanters. Abbotsrule was the scene of conventicles and the tenancy suggests that the people of covenanting faith tended to look after their own kind.

NOTE: I have tried to locate the site of the Mill of Kilnow but the name does not occur on modern Ordnance Survey maps and my enquiries through the Borders History Society's quarterly magazine did not even get a reply.

William and Isabella had only one child baptised at Melrose but others at Galashiels.

The Melrose baptism was: 7 Nov 1714. William - Son of William Hopkirk and Isabella Hunter in Kilnow. Witnesses: William Hopkirk. John Turner.

The Galashiels baptisms were:

10 Jan 1720 Alexander, son of William Hopkirk and

Isabella Hunter in Kilnow.

31 Aug.1718 An unnamed child of William and Isabella.

This latter child obviously died in infancy because there is a burial record for two Hopkirk children in Galashiels in 1718. We have no idea who the other one was.

William II (in Kilnow) was buried at Galashiels on 14th May 1753.

Isabella (or Isobel) Hunter is almost certainly the child baptised at Melrose on 29th Mar 1683, the daughter of John Hunter, whose wife's name is not shown in the records. The Hunters were an old Roxburghshire family who lived at Lessuden (the old name for St. Boswells). John Hunter (Isabella's father) was baptised at Melrose on 29th June 1649, the son of a James Hunter, probably by his second wife, who may have been Isobel Broun(sic).

Return to Table of Contents


William (II) settled at Kilnow and nothing more is known of him apart from the fact that he was buried at Galashiels on 14th. May 1753.

We know a little about William (II)s family. We will follow the line of William (III- b.1714) shortly, but first we should note that his brother, Alexander (b.1720) became a linen dyer at Dryburgh. By his second wife, Jane Bridges (whose name is also spelled as Briggs) he had a son named George who went to Jamaica and became a successful planter building a mansion in Manchester Parish, Jamaica, which he proudly named "Roxburgh Castle". In 1804 he returned to Dryburgh for a visit and paid for the erection of an imposing stone obelisk in Dryburgh church yard in memory of his parents. The inscription reads:

Here lies the dust of Alexander Hopkirk, late Dyer in Dryburgh who died 27 January 1789 aged 69 years.

Also Jean Hopkirk, his daughter who died 21 August 1770 aged one.

Also James, his son who died 14 August 1777 aged 21 years.

Also Jean Briggs, his wife who died 23 October 1804 aged 77 years

George Hopkirk, their son dedicates this monument to their memory as a tribute of affection

and gratitude.

George Hopkirk died at Roxburgh Castle in the island of Jamaica March 11 1816 aged 48 years.

Also John Gray, Woolen Manufacturer, Grinlaw, formerly Dryburgh Mill who died there on the 15 August aged 65.

George did not marry but is believed to have left some mulatto descendants, who are apparently still bearing his name in Jamaica. There is a story that one of the South African Hopkirks, who happened to visit Jamaica after World War II arranged to meet his Jamaican relatives and was much surprised to see that they were not white.

William (III) married Isobel Tait at Melrose on 13 Oct 1739 and they had the following children baptised at Melrose: 7 Dec1740 ISOBEL Probably infant death.

Witnesses: William Hopkirk, John Tait. 17 Mar1745 WILLIAM Probably infant death. Witnesses: William Hopkirk, John Tait. 7 May1746 WILLIAM Witnesses: William Hopkirk, John Tait. 6 Nov1748 MARGARET. Witnesses: William Boll. John Tait. 3 Mar1750 ISOBEL Witnesses: John Dawson, Thomas Marr.

NOTE. The fact that William Hopkirk (II) - (certainly the grandfather) did not witness the baptisms of the last two children suggests that he had died. The same reasoning applies to John Tait with the last baptism.

It seems that Isabel Tait died between 1750 and 1752 because William Hopkirk married Margaret Lawrie at Melrose on 30th December 1752. This marriage produced the following children, who were also baptised in Melrose:

9 May 1756 JAMES No witnesses recorded 18 Feb 1759 ALEXANDER

Margaret Lawrie was baptised at Melrose on 26th Feb 1710, the daughter of George Loury (sic) of Danielton and Margaret Gill. She married a William Cook at Melrose on 20th November 1731 and had five children by this marriage. William Cook obviously died about 1751. Margaret Lawrie was buried at Melrose on 15th January 1780 and William at the same place in 1764.

The Lawries were an old Melrose family who lived at Danielton and although the name is recorded as "Loury", "Lawrie" and "Lowrie" their line can be traced back to the 1650s.

Before we leave William (the 3rd) I will quote a series of entries, which appear in the minutes of the Melrose Sessions and which I am sure refer to this William and date back to before his first marriage.

"17 Dec 1738. William Hopkirk guilty with Susanna Wanlees in Newcastle having applied that he may make satisfaction before the congregation appeared today before the Session and testified his sorrow for his sin and appointed to appear Sabbath............ in Common........

24 Dec 1738. William Hopkirk compeared for 1st time was admonished.

31 Dec 1738. William Hopkirk compeared the 2nd time.

7 Jan 1739. William Hopkirk compeared the 3rd time, was rebuked, dismissed and paid in two pounds ten shillings Scots.

It is interesting to note that on the same day as the first entry a James Hopkirk (relationship not known), was also brought before the Sessions for fathering a child to a Margaret Walker. He was seriously admonished and dismissed till further orders.

It must be remembered that in those days many of the functions now performed by a multitude of local and central government bodies were the responsibility of the parish authorities and they took their duties very seriously. They appear to have had far-reaching powers over the spiritual and moral well being of the people and maintained a generally firm line with wrongdoers. >From the wording of the passage it seems that William may have taken the initiative and confessed to his sins which may have contributed to a fairly light punishment but no more is recorded of the incident and he seems to have settled down happily with Isabel Tait. One interesting clue from this story is the fact that William went to Newcastle from Melrose and knowing that there were Hopkirks living in that city at that time one wonders whether he had gone there to visit relations and had met Sarah Wanlees as a result.

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The surviving male from the third William's first marriage is the William baptised on 7th May 1746 but there is no record in Roxburghshire or Northumberland of his having married and in fact there is no further reference to him in any records that I have found. It is possible that he died at an early age, but, again there is no record of his burial. However, I have discovered an interesting entry in a film of the minutes of Roxburghshire Sasines. (Film No. 217019)

"10th July 1770. James Mar, Wright, a portioner in Melrose of (No. 217019) which reads: all and Haile a house and yard lying within the regality of Melrose, a shire of Roxburgh dated the 10th day of July 1770 proceeding upon a disposition by Wm.Hobkirk, taylor (sic) in Newcastle presented by James Bevin appointee of Patrick Panton, writer in Kelso.

This transaction seems to refer to the sale of a Melrose house property by a William Hobkirk (sic), a resident of Newcastle and he could well be the missing William, the son of William and Isobel Tait. His father died in 1764 and he could well have inherited the family home and disposed of it because he had made his home in Newcastle. I have searched the Parish Records of a couple of Newcastle Parishes and have found the marriage of a William Hopkirk to a Christian Adamson at St. Andrews Church, Newcastle on 19th October 1776 (Film No.95012) but there is nothing in the record to confirm, or otherwise, that this is our William. There is no record of any children from this marriage being baptised at that church, nor is there any record of William being buried there. Although I cannot be certain that this William is the son of William and Isobel Tait born in 1746 the dates of the sale (1770) and the marriage(1776) give some credibility to the theory. It is interesting to note that this is another connection with Newcastle and this provides further evidence to suggest that the Northumberland and the Roxburgh families were linked.

Our family line comes from the second marriage through James Hopkirk and I have no doubt that the evidence for this as conclusive. It is confirmed by death certificates and also a copy of a letter in which his grandson, Alexander, refers to his grandfather. There is no record of James' marriage in Melrose or any of the neighbouring parishes but we know from the baptismal records of their children, that James married Anne Wright, in about 1776-7 and his brother Alexander married Barbara Amos and had nine children by her whose baptism is recorded. James was a shoemaker by trade and Alexander was a tailor.

The children of James and Anne Wright who were baptised in Melrose were; 21 Apr 1778. Agnes* 25 Apr 1779. Anne 21 Jun1787. David 5 Jul 1789. John* 22 May 1791. Margaret 2 Jun 1793. Alexander 26 Oct 1794. Walter 30 Apr 1797. Robert 4-8-1799. Mary 21-1-1803. Thomas

Two other children were baptised at Jedburgh as Hobkirks, they were:

7 Jan 1781 William

14 Jan 1783 James.

NOTE: * In these cases the parents are named as James Hopkirk and "Agnes" Wright but it seems probable that an error has been made in recording the mother's christian name. Such errors in parish records are not uncommon. In the 1861 Census William gives his birthplace as Jedburgh. From this it appears that James and Anne Wright lived in Jedburgh for a few years in the mid 1780s. It may be possible that Anne Wright had originally come from Jedburgh.

End of Chapter 5. Return to Table of Contents


The burial entry for William (the 4th) shows that he was born in 1781 and the death certificate of the Robert who was born in 1797 states that his parents were James Hopkirk and Anne Wright. This Robert, a bootmaker of Melrose died on 1 Jul 1862 and I have copy of the certificate which states that his parents were James and Anne Wright. I also have a copy of a letter written by his nephew, Alexander in which he reports the death of his uncle, Robert, to a brother in America. As further confirmation of James being the father of William (the 4th) there is mention in a letter written by Isabella Home (wife of the 4th William) on 30 June 1841, but appears to be dated 1840, in which she mourns the death of her son James, and refers to the death of the recipient's grandfather who had died shortly after her son. This can only be James Hopkirk, shoemaker, aged 86, who was buried at Melrose in June 1841, according to the parish records.

NOTE. It seems that Isabella Home's letter which covers the deaths is incorrectly dated 1840. The events that she mentions certainly occurred in 1841. Another piece of information comes from a letter written by Alexander Hopkirk (born 1823) to his son John Brown Hopkirk (in the possession of Dr. J.S. Hopkirk - Hastings) which describes his grandfather, (who he says was born in Jedburgh) when he was an old man,

"lame in one leg, pleasant breezy face, used to play the fiddle. Grandmother, a nice motherly woman, very kind to Willie's bairns, as she called my father, died very suddenly after a brief illness, hair black as a raven's wing, no grey" She died at Melrose on 17th April 1833.

For many years it was thought that the succession of our line of Hopkirks came through a series of Williams and most versions of the tree have traced descent through the William born in 1746, the son of William (the 3rd) and Isobel Tait but there is no record of that William marrying nor is there any record of baptism of any of his children. What happened to this William is not certain but as I have noted above he could be the William Hobkirk recorded as having sold a property in Melrose in 1770 and as being a tailor in Newcastle. I was not able to find a burial record for him in the Melrose Parish Records. On the other hand the family who were born between 1778 and 1803 are most decidedly the children of James and Anne Wright and these children can be positively linked as brothers and sisters of William (the 4th) my great grandfather. I am aware that others have questioned the validity of the descent through a line of Williams.

A final piece of evidence comes from a Sasine No 783 of 28th Aug 1848 (Film No.217134) which deals with the transfer of the late James Hopkirk's house property in the High Street of Melrose to his son Robert. Consent had to be obtained from James' other sons to the transaction and the final line of the passage states " ....with consent of William Hopkirk, shoemaker, Gattonside, his brother and son and heir of the said James Hopkirk March 10 1848."

The succession continues through the marriage of William to Isabella Home at Melrose. They were "booked for Marriage" on 27th August 1803 but no date is recorded for the actual marriage. However, there can be no doubt that it did take place, even if nobody else did the Church would have seen to that.

William was a shoemaker, living in Gattonside, just across the River Tweed from Melrose and connected by a swing footbridge (built 1826) which is still there. Isabella Home, was the daughter of John Home, a carpenter and his wife Elisabeth Millar. We have acquired some information on John Home's ancestry and this is recorded in the Home file. There is a record of a marriage of a John Home to Elisabeth Millar in 1769 at St.Cuthberts Church, Edinburgh but I doubt that this is our John Home.

Isabella Home, the fourth child, was baptised at her parent's home at Horncliff, Berwick upon Tweed on 30th April 1783 (Film No. 825350). NOTE: Horncliff is a small village in Northumberland, a few miles up the Tweed from Berwick and close to the historic Union Bridge. This bridge was the first suspension bridge in Britain and was built in 1820. We visited the village in 1994 and no doubt some of the houses were standing in the 1780s.

End of Chapter 6.  Return to Table of Contents


Isabella's family claimed a connection with the Earls of Home but I have not been able to establish what that connection was. She is quoted as saying that her family had the right to enter Home Castle by the postern gate, a right only held by close relatives. While this tradition has been faithfully passed down through the years it should be noted that Home Castle, after a stormy history was largely demolished after its capture by a Colonel Fenwick of Cromwell"s army in 1650. The present, rather ludicrous structure with its exaggerated battlements and its rectangular curtain walls is the remains of a" folly" built by the Home Earl of Marchmont in about 1770. The castle had passed to the Marchmont branch of the Homes at some time after the Earl took up residence at the Hirsel near Coldstream in the early 17th Century. There was certainly no postern gate in the walls when I visited the site in 1986,1994 and 1997. Therefore, the family right of entry must refer to the original castle and must date back before its Civil War demolition, that is well before Isabella's time.

As a matter of interest the castle stands on a rocky outcrop some 600ft. above sea level and commands magnificent views over the Merse of Berwickshire and beyond to the Cheviots which form the northern boundary of Northumberland. In its prime it was regarded as one of the strongest holds on the Borders and was generally used as headquarters of the Scottish Wardens of the East March, an office which was often held by the Lords Home.

Isabella's uncle, William Home is described as being Laird of Gateside, as is her grandfather, said to be another William, but I am certain that William and John Home (and others) were actually the sons of a George Home, a tenant farmer in East Gordon, Berwickshire. However, the farm or estate named Gateside was in the vicinity of Gattonside and I have actually visited the site. I have examined filmed records of Sasines for the County of Roxburgh for the years 1781 to 1863 and have found several references to William Home of Gateside and can trace his acquisition of the land and his eventual disposal of it in about 1798. He continued to be called William Home of Gateside at least until 1807. Another Sasine, of 1807 seems to suggest that William Home owned a property named Craigknow on the west and north sides of Drygrange Farm. I am unable to place this property but suspect that it might have been near to Earlston. Yet another Sasine refers to William as being tenant of Hollybush, which, I think is a property a little south east of Galashiels. This information tends to suggest that William was of some substance and it was thought possible that, as the eldest son he had inherited cash or property from his father. However, there is no doubt that he was not the eldest son and consequently it is difficult to see where he got the capital to buy Gateside in about 1792. This capital may have come from his wife's family. We know that he married an Isobel Gibson at Gordon on 14th April 1781 and as far as I can see Isobel was an only child. The fact that his son, Alexander (the Uncle Sandy of Isabella's letters) was the owner of a 50 acre farm at Lyne Mill, north of Peebles, in later times also suggests that there was some degree of affluence.

Modern Ordnance Survey maps of the Melrose district don't show Gateside Farm but there is a feature named "Gateside Bank" a little NW of the farm named Gattonside Mains. However, Gateside Farm is shown in old maps of the district and was situated directly north of Pavilion Cottage on the road that runs from Gattonside towards Galashiels on the North bank of the Tweed. It seems obvious that when it was sold (and confirmed by Sasines) it was either renamed or absorbed into another farm or estate and from the information in the Sasines it is likely to be part of the present Gattonside Mains or Westerhousebyres properties. I have made enquiries from the Melrose Historical Society and have had considerable help from a Mr. Peter Wood. He has researched various references and old maps and has gone to some trouble to locate the Gateside property. He provided me with a copy of a map of 1862 which shows a farm named Gateside as indicated above. The proximity of the property to the village probably answers the question why John Home and his family moved to the area from Northumberland. However, William Home did not hold the land for long and seems to have sold it in the late 18th Century. There is no question that it was a Home family property and earlier references to William Home show that he was tenant of a mill at Gordon Mid Mill, a mile or so east of Gordon village.

I have done some research on the family tree of the main line of Home, using Burkes Peerage, and while there some possibilities of a descent having originated from one of the various younger sons it is difficult to trace the exact connection. I have no doubt that the father of William (of Gateside) was not the William of tradition and that he was not the eldest son as is suggested in a letter written by Alexander Hopkirk of New Zealand to a niece in America in 1803. This letter claims that "our" Homes came from Gordon in Berwickshire and that that branch was the oldest of that family. I have followed up this clue and have been able to identify the baptisms of a John (born 1753) William (b.1757) and George (b.1758), all sons of a George Home whose wife was Alison Brodie. This is the only grouping of these names in that time frame that I have been able to find with a common father. The only problem is that there are five other children baptised to a George Home in Gordon who is described as "Tenant in East Gordon". The eldest is a Robert (b.1744) and the youngest, Isabel (b. 1765). George, who was baptised in 1706, appears to have been the son of a James Home, also a tenant in East Gordon and his wife, Beatrix Tuntor.

James Home was probably the son of another James also from Gordon.

I have searched various films of wills, testaments and sasines without any luck so far.

I pursued another line of enquiry through Isabella's brother Robert who was a solicitor and Town Clerk of Berwick from 1849 to 1867. I have obtained copies of his obituary and his will but they do not provide any information on ancestry. However, the obituary mentions the fact that the family moved from Horncliff to a farm at Gattonside in about 1793/4.

End of Chapter 7.  Return to Table of Contents


To return to the Hopkirks, William and his wife Isabella Home:

Isabella was the third daughter of John Home and his wife Elisabeth Millar and has been described by her son Alexander in a letter written in 1901 as

"a handsome woman, tall and strong, as straight as an arrow and active in her movements, pleasant countenance, dark complexion, keen eyes. Her mental powers were of the first order and had she had good training she would have had few equals. Sir David Brewster (a neighbour in Gattonside) had a high opinion of her intelligence". She had minimal schooling "but she had learned to read at home with the Bible as her main lesson book".

She was much in demand in (Gattonside) village life as a nurse and midwife and was often called to emergency situations before the doctor was summoned. A very strong character.

William (IV) was described by Alexander as a hard working man whose education had been sadly neglected. A strict disciplinarian but very fond of his wife and children and did his utmost to ensure that they were better educated than he was. During the Napoleonic wars he served in the Militia and no doubt was called out in the famous false alarm of February 1804 when the warning beacon at Hume Castle was fired accidentally and all the militia of Berwickshire mustered and marched towards the Firth of Forth to repel the French invaders who never came.

William Hopkirk (the 4th) and Isabella Home had the following children born at Gattonside: 28-7-1804 Elisabeth. 3-12-1807 James 1-4-1809 John 9-5-1811 William 18-8-1814 David 30-12-1816 Robert 18-2-1821 Walter 23-5-1823 Alexander.

It is interesting to note that the children's names followed the traditional Scots naming pattern. Elisabeth was named after the mother's mother, James after the father's father, John after the mother's father and William after his father. Unfortunately there was only one daughter but it does show how closely some Scots families followed traditions.

These children grew up in Gattonside and Alexander has left us a short description of the village and the home that they lived in. He describes the village as lovely, with scattered houses, often surrounded by fruit trees. The village is probably little changed today and many of the houses would be recognisable to the Hopkirks of that age. It is still a very pleasant village with fine vistas of the Eildon Hills to the south seen across fields gently sloping to the magnificent Tweed and with Melrose on the other side gently rising towards the hills. The Eildons, which, are the peaks of three long extinct volcanoes have a well established place in Scottish mythology and history with one legend that claims the area as the burial place of King Arthur. During the Roman occupation one of these hills was the site of a signal station and fort. The nearby village of Newstead was the site of the large Roman fort, Trimontium, an important position guarding the point where Dere Street crossed the Tweed and continued on to the Firth of Forth. When we visited Gattonside and Melrose in 1986, 1994 and 1997 it was interesting to see the narrow winding lanes and the well cared for homes, many of which have been renovated but still retain the character of their past. We believe that many of the inhabitants commute to work in places like Galashiels and as far away as Edinburgh. It seems that Gattonside is an "in" location.

The family home consisted of two flats and a garret. They occupied the upper flat of two apartments and a closet at the stair head as well as the garret, one of the rooms being used by William as a workshop for his trade of shoemaker. It must have been cramped at times with seven tall sons and a daughter as well as the parents but Alexander's letter conveys the memories of a very happy home life and childhood.

On the film of Sasines, referred to above, we have a record of the acquisition of this property in Gattonside. I quote;

Sasine "No.253. Nov 20 1846. William Hopkirk, shoemaker, Gattonside and Isabella Home, his spouse and longest liver of them seised in a dwelling house of 2 stories, dwelling house of 1 story, large orchard or yard contiguous to said houses and small piece of ground now used as a middenstead on the East side of the town street of Gattonside par Melrose:- on Disp by the Trustees of George Cole Bainbridge of Gattonside No 24-27 1845."

The family, or what remained of them in Scotland, are recorded in the 1851 Census - Film 1042542, Melrose, Page 18, Gattonside.

Names. Desig. Status Age Occupation Birthplace.

William Hopkirk Head Marr 70 Master Shoemaker Jedburgh. Rox.

Employing 1 man

Isabella Hopkirk Wife Marr 68 England

Robert Hopkirk Son Unmar 34 Shoemaker Melrose Rox


Alexander Hopkirk Son Unmar 27 Teacher Melrose Rox.

On the death of his parents their property passed to Alexander and the Sasine referring to that transaction is No 590 in Vol 4 1856-1868 Dec 31 1857.

William died at Gattonside on 18th June 1854 at the age of 73 and was buried at Melrose on 20th June 1854. (I presume in the Abbey grounds but cannot be sure) Isabella died three years later on 22nd August 1857 at the age of 74 and was also buried at Melrose. I have obtained a copy of Isabella's Death Certificate.

End of Chapter 8.  Return to Table of Contents


In the years that followed the family gradually scattered but some had left Scotland earlier with William, who married Jane Redpath before he left and took his bride with him, and with, I think, John, sailing from Liverpool to America in about 1834. In 1842 William and his family arrived in the then new, state of Iowa and, with John and his family were among the founders of the town of Lockridge in Jefferson County. (John, then single, was the first to arrive and we have a very interesting letter which he wrote to William advising him to move to Iowa quickly) In that year William "entered" 160 acres of land on Section 34, Lockridge Township and lived there for the rest of his life. Eventually his land holding increased to 560 acres. A story is told of a narrow escape they had from a Sioux war party but they survived and now have descendants living in different parts of the United States. Sons from both families took part in the American Civil War fighting on the Federal side. Two of William's sons, William and Robert died of wounds and illness while serving in Iowa regiments with the Federal forces in Alabama in the operations against the Confederate General, Nathan Bedford Forrest. One after being wounded at Ripley, Mississippi during the Federal retreat after the Battle of Brices Cross Roads and the other on a hospital ship on the Mississippi. William Senior was active in local and State politics and after serving his community in various public offices was elected to the General Assembly of Iowa in 1870, being re-elected for three consecutive terms. He roused the anger of the railroad interests when he introduced the "Hopkirk Bill" which provided that railroad property would be taxed on the same basis as other property. He was a staunch Republican supporter and his first presidential vote was cast for John C. Fremont in 1856. William died on 16th July 1892 and his wife (Jane Redpath) died at Lockridge on 12 February 1869. They had eleven children, five sons and six daughters.

We do not have the same amount of detail on John's life but we do know that he married a Jane Nicholson, an Englishwoman, in Jefferson County and that he died in 1875. They had three sons and two daughters. We have some biographical notes on one of their sons, William Home Hopkirk (born 1843) who commenced work on his father's farm and then, during the Civil War enlisted in Company M of the Fourth Iowa Cavalry. He took part in the campaigns in Mississippi and Tennessee, including the battles of Brices Cross Roads and others around Vicksburg. He then attended the Iowa Weslyan University, graduating B.A. in 1872 and embarked on a career as a teacher which he followed for 20 years. In 1894 he went to Fort Madison and took up the real estate and insurance business. He was also a staunch Republican and like his forebears, a strong Presbyterian.

William and John were possibly joined in Iowa by their elder brother James but we know little about him and he was certainly in Scotland in 1841 where he died prematurely, of smallpox, at the age of 34.. He was buried at Melrose churchyard on 25th April 1841 and was followed to the grave by his grandfather, James, in June of the same year. Both of these burials are recorded in Melrose Parish Records (Film No.102299).

Elisabeth, the only daughter also travelled to America to be with her brothers and to act as housekeeper for them but decided to return home to be with her mother at some time between 1846 and 1850. Unfortunately, the ship she was sailing on ran into a severe gale in the North Atlantic and the deck house, in which she was accommodated was washed overboard and all the occupants lost. I cannot establish the date or the name of the ship but Dr. J.S. Hopkirk (of Hastings) has a note concerning a newspaper cutting which refers to the tragedy. It lists the names of the Captain - C. H. Christianson- the First Mate - ....Hall and among the steerage passengers lost is Miss Elizabeth(sic) Hopkirk. The ship is not named, nor is the date given, but we are told that the survivors were rescued by the brig "Belize" bound for Port au Prince (Haiti).

David, the fourth son went to sea at an early age and led quite an adventurous life trading in the Mediterranean and to the Americas. He later served as an officer on a river steamer, in America and at one time took up a section of land in Jefferson County, Iowa. He died an early death when he was first mate on a sailing ship bound for New York. The crew were struck down with a fever and only managed to bring the ship to anchor in the outer anchorage of New York harbour before most of them died, including David. His mother's letter of 9th August 1851 to John and William mentions her grief and her anguish that none of his personal possessions were returned to the family, including several gold sovereigns which were sewn into the fabric of his coat and some new handkerchiefs. A postscript to Isabella's letter reads; I send the name of the owners of the "St. Lawrence" Messrs Houland and Aspinwall. I believe that this refers to the ship that David died on.

I have a copy of David's will which I obtained from Fairfield Public Library in Jefferson County.

(Book B p.937 Jefferson County IA wills).

Walter seems to have been a wanderer and one unconfirmed source suggests that he went to Prince Edward Island in the Gulf of St. Lawrence, Canada but we know that he tried his luck on the California Gold diggings before settling on a farm near Windsor, Missouri. He married Mary Ellen Moffat and had three daughters and two sons. One of the daughters, Jessie Crandall, described Walter as a man of fine education, of the highest sensitivities, pure ideas of honour but one who kept very much to himself. However, she also described him as a wholly impractical and helpless man with an ungovernable temper with a talent for profanity. He and his family lived through the turmoil of the Civil War in Missouri and in one letter he states that there are "8,000 Rebel troops just to the south of him and 12,000 Northern troops just to the north of him and the damned rebels have been burning all the farms..............but he is not leaving."

The Civil War often divided families and Walter and Mary had their problems. Walter was a staunch Union man while the Moffats were Confederates. At one stage when the Confederates were in the ascendancy Walter was hounded by the Militia who considered that he was a Union spy.

Life seems to have been hard for Walter but he does not appear to have been an energetic man and the farm was probably mainly worked by his wife and family while he worked as a cabinetmaker in Windsor town.. He died about 1895 at Salida, a town in Colorado.

The two brothers who remained in Scotland lived for many years in Gattonside, Robert working as a shoemaker with his father and Alexander the youngest becoming a schoolmaster in the village of Gattonside. Alexander was the first to wed marrying Agnes Spottiswoode on 26th April 1856. They had six sons and one daughter and most of the Hopkirks at present in New Zealand come from this family.

Robert's domestic life is something of a mystery. Parish records show the birth of an illegitimate daughter who was christened "Anne Elizabeth Wright Hopkirk (or Wood) at Melrose on 8th July 1852". Her mother's christian name is not mentioned in the records, which is strange, but her surname was obviously Wood. Family tradition has it that Anne was the daughter of a first marriage but the Parish Records are quite clear and there is no further mention of the mother. I am not concerned with any moral judgement on the matter and it is sufficient to say that Robert brought up his daughter and she was part of the family and accepted as such by everyone. I quote from a letter written by Alexander to William (his brother) in 1863 "Robert and his daughter still keep house by themselves and get along wonderfully well"

After Robert married in November 1863 Anne was brought up as an elder sister from an "earlier marriage" with the later family. It is interesting that Anne was given the names of Robert's grandmother, Anne Wright.

On 17th November 1863 Robert married Catherine Greig who at that time was employed as a Ladies Companion to Lady Brewster, the second wife of Sir David Brewster, at "Allerley" a large Georgian house on the eastern fringe of Gattonside. Sir David gave the bride away. After the marriage Robert and Catherine continued to live in Gattonside where their eldest daughter Jessie was born in 1864 but with the shoemaking business falling away , perhaps because of the fall off in population in rural areas they moved to the city of Perth where Robert secured a position as teacher of the blind in Perthshire. At first they lived in the bottom half of a house in Priory Place where four further children were born. Their family then consisted of: Jessie Born Gattonside. 1864. Margaret Born Perth 1865 Robert Alexander Born Perth 1866 Marion Born Perth 1870 William Born Perth 1871.

As the family increased the flat in Priory Place became too small and they moved to a large house at Methven about 5 miles to the west of Perth but lived there for only a year before moving to the small village of Craigie about two miles from Perth. The children grew up in a mixture of town, village and country life and acquired a knowledge of the countryside and its history. They had relatives at St Andrews (Greigs) and Torryburn on the Firth of Forth (Hendersons) and spent their holidays at these sea side resorts.

In the meantime Robert's brother Alexander had also left Gattonside and moved with his family to Muirhead, near Markinch in Fifeshire where on 23rd July 1870 his wife, Agnes Spottiswoode, died after a three year illness. Alexander was left to look after a young family. For some years he had felt himself under pressure to emigrate in order that he would be able to find a better life for himself and his family and his thoughts are well expressed in his letters from this period. He had considered emigrating to the United States as had his parents. Canada and Australia had been considered but by 4th July 1873 he had made up his mind and he wrote to his brother William to tell him that the family was sailing for New Zealand on the 10th of that month. They sailed on the ship "E.P.Bouverie" and reached Wellington, New Zealand on 19th October 1873 after a passage of 100 days. They were accompanied by Robert's daughter Anne Elizabeth Wright, who acted as housekeeper.

Robert and his family remained for a few more years in Craigie, Perthshire and the children commenced their education, firstly at a Free Church School and then at a school at Cherrybank, about two miles behind Craigie. However, the schoolmaster there proved to be much too brutal and after a stormy interview between the master and their father the children were removed to a Board School in Perth, which was held in a building adjacent to King James VI Hospital. They travelled the two miles each way on foot and were given a penny each to buy their lunch. My grandfather's memories of this school are happier ones and from his comments we can assume that their education benefited from the change.

In 1878, no doubt encouraged by Alexander, who by this time was well established in Wellington, Robert and Catherine decided, for the sake of their children, to leave their homeland and settle in New Zealand. This was a bold move for a 60 year old man of small means and perhaps emphasises the feeling that he must have had about the lack of opportunity for his children in Scotland. The family had much sadness at leaving their homeland but it must be remembered that by that time most of their closer relatives had either died or had emigrated, particularly the Hopkirks. It was possibly more difficult for Catherine Greig because she left her sisters behind and never saw them again but this was the sacrifice that many of our early settlers made in establishing a new life for themselves and their children.

Alexander and Robert were the last of their immediate family to leave Scotland and their only close Hopkirk relation remaining in Melrose was their Aunt Mary who lived on in the old family home in the High Street of Melrose until she died in 1897, aged 98 years. The Melrose connection was broken after over 200 years.

The family travelled to their embarkation port of Plymouth by train and were accommodated in the Barracks of that city while awaiting the New Zealand Shipping Company's full rigged ship "Rakaia". which had been delayed at London. They finally sailed on July 6th 1878 and after an uneventful passage of 93 days landing in Wellington on 8th October 1878. During the voyage Robert was appointed schoolmaster and on fine days took the children and some of the single men for lessons on deck. The party was met by Alexander and Robert's daughter Anne, who, it will be remembered had travelled out with Alexander's family to Wellington in 1873, and installed in a small cottage which had been obtained for them and partly furnished.

Robert seems to have had difficulty in obtaining work and although he was a first class shoemaker that trade was suffering increasing competition from machine made goods and he had to take whatever work was offering. Life could not have been easy but his involvement in the affairs of the Presbyterian Church seems to have given him great interest and purpose to his life. He had been an Elder of the Free St. Leonards Church in Perth and on his arrival in Wellington he was invited to join the Session of St.John's Church in that city, an office he held until his death. He had a gift for preaching, was said to be an authority on Church Law and from time to time relieved, as minister, where vacancies occurred requiring that talent.

In the 1880s he took charge of the Riwaka district where he did good work and was a great favourite with all denominations. He was also one of the founders of a new Presbyterian Church, St. James at Newtown.

It is interesting that the name of St. James was taken because several members of the founding committee had that Christian name.(James Smith, James Barrie, James McKerrow).

Robert Home Hopkirk died of old age in Wellington on 14th June 1900 at the age of 82 and was buried at the Sydney Street Cemetery.

While we have a reasonable knowledge of Robert's life we only have occasional glimpses of his character. His mother, Isabella Home in one of her letters to her sons in America refers to Robert's temper and that ".......while she can bear what he says to her, his father does not bear it so well". It seems that he could be difficult, whereas Alexander seems to have been much more amiable. Nevertheless, the two brothers Alexander and Robert remained good friends up to the time of the latter's death. Both brothers also kept up correspondence with their American relatives and it is thanks to the Americans, who saved their letters, that we know as much as we do about the family.

The picture we get of Robert is a stern, devout and somewhat rigid man but a hard worker and a respected parent who perhaps had a frustration because he lived in an age and environment where he could not develop what potential he possessed.

Among Dr. J.S. Hopkirk's papers is a letter written by one of the Spottiswoodes who remained in Scotland. He had just heard of Robert's death and he was recalling earlier times when Robert had been the driving force in a Mutual Improvement Society which they had formed in Gattonside in their younger days. In his younger days he did some fishing and shooting but gave up these sports in the 1840s although his son, Robert Alexander Hopkirk has a memory of his father stretched full length alongside a stream poaching trout or salmon.

We have little knowledge of Catherine Greig, the wife of Robert Home Hopkirk apart from a memory that Alan Hopkirk had of her being somewhat stern but an early photograph of her shows an attractive woman of some character and it seems that after an interesting early life with the Brewsters there must have been some anti-climax in her later life. Sir David Brewster was a highly prominent man, who from humble beginnings in Jedburgh, rose to become Vice Chancellor of Edinburgh University and an expert in the science of optics and natural philosophy. He travelled widely through Scotland and during one of their visits to a country house Catherine Greig met the Prince Consort, who presented her with a brooch, which is still in the family. Catherine died in Wellington at 85 Pirie Street, on 14th July 1916 of influenza at the age of 79 and was also buried at Sydney Street Cemetery. Her eldest daughter Jessie died at about the same time, unmarried.

End of Chapter 9.  Return to Table of Contents


Before Robert and his family arrived in Wellington Anne Wright had become engaged to a Wairarapa farmer, James Miller and in 1879 they were married and moved to his new home on his backblocks sheep station. It was difficult of access and for the last five miles the road was only passable on foot or on horseback. Twice a year a bullock team came in with stores and took out the wool but even with bullocks it was a hazardous trip as the rivers were unbridged and had to be forded. The Millers had a family of three boys and four girls. Isa, the eldest girl became a dairy farmer at Rongotea after early training for the Foreign Mission field and later service as a Deaconess to the church in Masterton. Marion, the second daughter married Joseph Renall, a dairy farmer and, I believe lived in Waiuku, where there are descendants still living. Grace, the third daughter married J. Falloon and had a family of six sons and one daughter. She died just three weeks before her mother. The two eldest sons, Frederick James and Hugh, became farmers. Hugh being a dairy farmer near Morrinsville. His son, also Hugh had a distinguished career in The Royal Air Force and was decorated with the DFC, AFC and OBE in World War II. He retired as a Wing Commander. He is mentioned in the New Zealand Official War Histories "New Zealanders with the R.A.F" for an epic bombing flight to Turin in Northern Italy early in the war, and after the fall of France, when the quality of aircraft and navigation equipment made such operations most hazardous. In this raid Hugh Miller's aircraft , although it was damaged by lightning, was the only plane to reach the target. The return flight to their English base was even worse without radio or a sight of land and they eventually ditched in the sea off North West England and were luckily picked up by a naval vessel.

The Miller's third son, Ronald trained for the ministry and after service in France during World War I was ordained and served as minister in Kaikoura, Te Kuiti and Manaia. A fourth daughter, Janet, married a Clarence Smith and certainly at one time lived in Palmerston North.

End of Chapter 10.  Return to Table of Contents


The eldest sister Jessie did not marry and after training as a dressmaker had a business of her own having charge of the outfitting work in the Children's' Receiving Home in Wellington. She was an enthusiastic worker for St. John's Presbyterian Church and also assisted in the foundation of the Boys' Institute in Wellington. She died within a week of her mother in 1916 from influenza.

The second daughter Margaret (Maggie) was never in good health but benefited from the voyage out and gained strength in New Zealand but a heavy fall from a horse left her an invalid and after 10 year of patient suffering she died in 1891.

The youngest child, William, had some schooling in New Zealand and after he left school had several jobs before he joined the Railway Locomotive Branch and became a first class engine driver. He was unfortunately killed in a collision in the Wellington yards in 1920. He married but had no children.

Marion, the third daughter also attended school in Wellington and became one of the head women in the Government Printing Office at Wellington. She did not marry.

Robert, my grandfather, started work soon after his arrival in Wellington, his schooling being considered finished at Standard 6. At the age of 12 1/2 he obtained work as a messenger boy, firstly for a bookshop and then for the Evening Post newspaper but not knowing the town and having a broad Scots accent he had difficulty in making himself understood and did not last long in either job. He then worked for several weeks in a candle factory before taking up an apprenticeship with Messrs. Maddel, McLeod and Weir, Carpenters and Joiners. He completed his apprenticeship and worked at his trade in Wellington for a number of years before becoming a foreman for Mr. D.A. Douglas another builder. He also worked with three of his cousins (Joseph, Robert and Alexander Hopkirk) building a flaxmill in the Wairarapa and later went with them to Tuhara, north of Wairoa, in Hawkes Bay, where they had secured a large area of flax swamp. All their equipment and machinery was transported from Napier to Wairoa by steamer and taken to the site from the head of the lagoon by bullock dray. He lived for four months in that then isolated district where there were only two white families and while the local Maoris were hospitable at first, they had trouble obtaining satisfactory local labour to work the mill. When the cousins dispensed with the locals and brought in workers from other districts they had even greater trouble and one night the mill was burned down along with about 500 pounds worth of fibre. There is a photograph of the mill in a pictorial book published by the Wairoa Museum Society.

That was the end of that venture and Robert returned to Wellington in 1890 where, after working as a jobbing carpenter for some time obtained a post as carpenter in the Maintenance Branch of the Railways who he remained with until his retirement 40 years later.

Robert had inherited strong Presbyterian beliefs from his father and was active in a number of that church's affairs. Bible Class, Debating and Library Society, and Sunday School Teaching. In addition he served as a volunteer in D Battery of the Artillery.

In March of 1891 Robert married Susannah Margaret Elizabeth Burch at Nelson. (Details of her family are contained in the Burch/Gandy file.) At first they lived in a rented cottage in Vivian Street but then purchased a cottage in Coombe Street where, in February of 1892 their first child was born, a daughter who was christened Susannah Margaret, but who was known throughout her life as Daisy.

After 3 1/2 years in Wellington Robert was transferred by the Railways to Carterton in the Wairarapa to be nearer to most of his work. A son, Robert Eriton Burch Hopkirk was born here followed by another daughter Dorothy Catherine a few years later. After about seven years in Carterton Robert was transferred as Leading Carpenter to Dunedin where a further son was born, Douglas Home.

Daisy and Burch attended school at Caversham where Daisy soon showed her scholastic ability by becoming Dux of the school and passing top of the Junior scholarship examination for Otago and Southland before she was 12. After a period in Dunedin the family transferred to Waipukurau where they remained for the next 17 years. Their youngest child, Alan Charles Home Hopkirk was born there and the family grew up in that community, taking part in various activities such as tennis, Red Cross, and of course, the Presbyterian Church. Robert had been firm in his faith and wherever he lived was active in church affairs. He came to be an expert in Church law and never lost his zeal for Presbyterianism. In 1923 Robert and family transferred to Invercargill, where he was appointed Railways Bridge Inspector but only had a relatively short stay in that city before taking up the job of Foreman of Works in Wanganui, which post he held until his retirement. He continued to live at his home at 175 Anzac Parade until his wife died in 1943 when he moved to Otorohanga to live with his daughter Daisy who was Head Mistress of the District High School. He died there in 1948.

End of Chapter 11.   Return to Table of Contents


Susannah Margaret was the eldest child, born in Wellington on 9th February 1892. As mentioned above she demonstrated high academic ability at an early age. After obtaining a scholarship at Dunedin Girls High before she was 12 years of age she moved with the family to Waipukurau and continued with her education, and the scholarship, which had been transferred to Dannevirke High School. Here she won another scholarship, The Queen's Scholarship and the Senior Board Scholarship. She was also Dux of that school and won a bursary at Victoria University College. She commenced pupil teaching at Newton School in Wellington and also attended university lectures and Teachers' Training college. She graduated B.A. and took up a teaching position at Matamau. Because of the war and the shortage of male teachers she was able to apply for and obtain a position as relieving head teacher at the District High School at Reefton and was so successful in this post that after the war finished she was confirmed in the position. Daisy remained at Reefton for 11 years and was then appointed Head Mistress of Otorohanga District High School, a position she held until her retirement in about 1948. She was a remarkable woman and in the context of those days a highly successful teacher when we consider that most of the top jobs were reserved for men. She clearly possessed high intelligence and was a very good educator. She also took a great interest in the development of her pupils and other young people and went to considerable trouble to encourage them in learning and in life. My memories of her are of a very kindly person who never forgot a birthday and who always sent the most interesting books. I know that our fondness of her was shared by others including ex pupils.

Daisy was awarded the George V Jubilee medal and the George VI coronation medal. She died in Otorohanga in 1954.

Robert Erriton Burch Hopkirk (the second christian name was meant to be Perriton - after a relation but was misspelled at registration - was born in Wellington on 14/9/1894 and received his primary school education at Carterton, Caversham, and Waipukurau and attended secondary school at Waipawa District High School. He started work at the Post & Telegraph Office at Waipukurau but after a short time entered the Railways as a cadet. At the outbreak of World War I he was serving in the Territorial Army and immediately volunteered for overseas service. He joined the Samoa Expeditionary Force in 1914 which expelled the Germans from their colony there. He later went to Egypt with the 4th Reinforcements and to Gallipoli in June 1915 and experienced the August battles there before being invalided to England with Rheumatic Fever. Went to France with the New Zealand main body and saw action on the Western Front before being sent to an Officers' Training School at Cambridge University. While there he played Rugby for Cambridge in their annual match against Oxford. Was commissioned and returned to New Zealand but a recurrence of Rheumatic Fever prevented a projected return to France. In 1918 Burch married Ethel Mason and they had one son, Robert Dudley Mason Burch Hopkirk. After the war they went farming at Pakaraka in Northland, but were not successful in this venture and moved to Palmerston North where Burch had a business, I think involving the sale of some service or an agency line. He continued with the Territorial Army and when war broke out held the rank of major and was commanding (temporarily) the Manawatu Mounted Rifles. During World War II carried out administrative and training duties, mainly in Wellington.

Awarded Efficiency Decoration at the end of the war. After the war entered Public Service and worked in Industries & Commerce and was retired in 1950s as Deputy Director of the Standards Institute. Lived in retirement at Johnsonville and occupied himself with Masonic Lodge business and family history research. Died at Johnsonville in 1973 aged 78. His wife had predeceased him.

Followed Presbyterian religion but not to the same degree as his father.

The second daughter, Dorothy Catherine Hopkirk was born on 25th May 1894. Her first christian name was also a family name of the Perriton* relations and her second name was that of her grandmother Catherine Greig. She was born in Carterton and educated at Caversham, Waipukurau and Waipawa District High School. Attended Wellington Teachers' Training College and Victoria University College and taught school in various locations, mainly in Hawkes Bay before she was married to Pat James Voller Glass (for details of his life see Glass file) In 1924, held teaching posts at Waipukurau, Ruataniwha and Nuhaka. Married in Invercargill, where her family were then living and set up home in Wairoa where her husband operated in partnership with one, Hodgson as Hodgson & Glass motor engineers. They had four children, Douglas James, born 8th.February 1926, Graeme Alan, born 24th February 1928, Judith Cathreen, born 13th January 1930 and Suzanne Elizabeth, born 16th May 1932. During war years, because of shortage of teaching staff, she returned to teaching and held various posts in Wairoa area, first on a relieving basis but then on permanent basis. Was Senior Mistress at North Clyde School for several years and retired from there. Very highly respected as a teacher and well remembered for her ability to maintain discipline in that mixed race school while at the same time earning the affection of her charges. Her husband died prematurely in 1963 and she continued to live in Wairoa with her younger daughter, who was also a teacher. For some years after retirement worked as teacher in Wairoa Hospital and her span in the teaching profession lasted well beyond a normal career. Was a firm Presbyterian. Died in Wairoa 15th August 1977 , and was cremated at Hastings. Her husband had predeceased her by some 14 years.

*NOTE: I have not been able to trace a connection with Perritons. Alan Hopkirk thinks that they lived in London and were of some means. It may be that they were linked with the Gandys who lived in London at one time.

Douglas Home Hopkirk was the second son and he was born at Caversham, Dunedin on 9th March 1901 and was educated at Waipukurau and Waipawa D.H.S. He won a Junior scholarship and entered the Public Service in the Audit Department. Served in several areas but spent the latter part, and most of his life in Wellington. Married Annie Featherston and had four children, Robert, Donald and Iain and Jennifer, all of whom are married with families. Douglas was a tall imposing man with a kindly generous nature and was, for many years a pillar of the Presbyterian Church in Karori. He lived out his retirement, at first in Karori, but later in a retirement village in Lower Hutt. Unfortunately his final years were marred by ill health and his death in was not unexpected. His widow, Aunt" Nancy" died in Lower Hutt in 1991.

The third son, Alan Charles Home Hopkirk also carried the Home name of which connection the family had considerable pride. Alan was born in Waipukurau on 5th June 1903 and educated at the same schools as Douglas. On leaving school he took up an electrical apprenticeship and qualified as a licensed wireman. Was Electrical Inspector with New Plymouth City Council but lost that job in the Depression. Then moved to Wanganui where he set up in business on his own. Married Gwenda Black of Otorohanga on 24th September 1938 and apart from Military service in New Zealand during World War II remained in Wanganui for the rest of his life. No children. Prior to World War II had been trained as a gunner in the Territorial Army and at the outbreak was called up to serve in an anti-aircraft battery. Rose to the rank of WOII and was not released from the army until 1944. Was precluded from overseas service because of an illness which he contacted during this period. His wife, Gwenda, died in Wanganui on 23rd March 1992. Alan lives at 12 Hakeke St. Wanganui.

End of Chapter 12.  Return to Table of Contents


NOTE; Mary Atkinson of Stratford, a descendant of William Hopkirk and Mary (Daniel) prepared a series of biographies on this family and I acknowledge that much of my information has come from her work. Anyone interested in further details should read Mary's papers.

Alexander Home Hopkirk was born on 23rd May 1823, the youngest son of William Hopkirk and Isabella Home. He grew up in the family home at Gattonside and became a schoolmaster teaching his pupils in the small school on the southern side of the village, towards the great river Tweed.

On 26th.April 1856 Alexander married Agnes Spottiswoode who presented him, in due course, with six sons and one daughter:

William 1857-1936 born Gattonside

Joseph Spottiswoode 1858-1950

Alexander 1860-1949

Robert Home 1863-1951

James 1865-1874 Probably born Gattonside

John Brown 1867-1949 Born Markinch

Agnes Isabella 1869-1905 "

At some time in the middle 1860s Alexander, finding that his school roll numbers were dwindling because of the depopulation of the rural areas, was forced to look for new employment and he found this as a teacher of the blind in Markinch, Fifeshire, (It is interesting to note that Alexander's brother, Robert, held the same position in Perth, a few miles to the north west of Markinch). Here the family lived until they emigrated to New Zealand in 1873. Unfortunately, Alexander's wife, Agnes, died while they were in Markinch and her body was taken back for burial in the Abbey cemetery at Melrose. Alexander and Agnes had been very close and her passing left Alexander with an enormous gap and the problem of bringing up a large family. In this he was assisted by an aunt of Agnes but she declined to accompany the family to New Zealand.

For many years Alexander had agonised over the prospect of emigration in the hope that such a move would offer a better life for his children. He had considered joining his brothers in Iowa U.S.A. but the cold winters of the Mid West had deterred him. Australia had also been contemplated but, in the end, he chose New Zealand, for climatic reasons, and on 10th July 1873 the family embarked at London aboard the full rigged ship "E.P.Bouverie" as Assisted Emigrants. Robert's daughter, Anne Wright Hopkirk, looked after the children during the voyage and acted as housekeeper until her marriage to a pioneer Wairarapa sheep farmer, James Miller in about 1879.

The party arrived in Wellington on 14th. October 1873 and were met at the wharf by Mr. James Smith, a merchant, whose son, James had been taught by Alexander's son, William, in Scotland, when he was a pupil teacher. They remained with the Smith family until they obtained a small cottage, probably in Tory Street, and Alexander obtained employment as a carpenter. As the family prospered Alexander became increasingly involved with the Presbyterian Church and was appointed Superintendent of the Sunday School. Although Alexander was a relatively young man, at 50 years, when he arrived in New Zealand, he did not greatly exert himself and adopted the practise of living with members of his family throughout the lower North Island.

Alexander was a very intelligent man, an avid reader and a prolific letter writer. He was articulate, observant and interesting, even to modern day readers of his letters. It is thanks to his pen that so much of the Hopkirk family history is known to us today. He was popular with his children and their families and they did much to make his later years pleasant and comfortable. Mainly he lived with his eldest son, William in Marjoribanks Street, Wellington, but he shared his presence with the others from time to time and helped them where he could, sometimes with gifts, or loans of money. He died in Cambridge on 9th August 1907 and was buried in the family plot at Karori Cemetery.

WILLIAM HOPKIRK -son of Alexander and Agnes. 1857-1936.

William was sixteen when he arrived in New Zealand and had trained as a pupil teacher in Scotland. At first he worked as a clerk for Mr. James Gear on Lambton Quay and his income supplemented the family earnings.

On 5th. November 1889 William married Mary Daniel and they went to live at 86 Marjoribanks Street. By that time William was a clerk in a lumber yard but by 1901 he was bookkeeper in McLeod and Weir's saw milling and joiners yard. Later, William became a partner and still later he bought out his partners and the firm became known as Hopkirk Timbers operating from a site in Waring Taylor Street. Later the company moved to a site in Kaiwharawhara between the railway line and the main Hutt Road, now occupied by Fletchers, who purchased the business of Hopkirk Timbers Ltd.

William was prominent in the timber industry and in 1917 he was responsible for forming the New Zealand Timber Merchants' Federation, becoming its first President. He was also President of the New Zealand Employers Association and a Justice of the Peace. William was also prominent in Church affairs and well known in Wellington. (Note: In 1950 when the writer applied to join the New Zealand Scottish Regiment (Territorial Army) the fact that his mother was a Hopkirk easily established enough Scottish blood to meet the Regiment's requirements).

William died in Wellington on 27th April 1936 and was buried in the family plot at Karori Cemetery.

He and Mary had the following children:

Agnes Williams Hopkirk 1890-1964 Married J.W. Gendall

James Alexander Daniel Hopkirk 1892-1951 Married L.E. Gemmell

William Spottiswoode Hopkirk 1893-1916 Killed in action - France

Walter Aitken Hopkirk 1894-1942 Married A.M.L. Bredow

Edna Mary Hopkirk 1897-1990 Married Edward Carter

John Joseph Hopkirk 1898-1987 Married C.M. Ford

Sybil Eliza Hopkirk 1900-1993 Married D.C. Blake

Vivian Albert Hopkirk 1901-1985 Married (1) E.D.Gilbert  &   (2) Thelma Forrest

JOSEPH SPOTTISWOODE HOPKIRK - son of Alexander and Agnes 1858-1950.

Joseph was born at Gattonside on 31st October 1858 but spent most of his early life, prior to coming to New Zealand, in Fifeshire. He was less robust than his brothers and was handicapped by a club foot, which, while it made it difficult for him to keep up with his brothers, did not daunt his spirit. He started work in Wellington learning the trade of an engineer and throughout his life Joseph was one of those people who could fix most things mechanical.

In the 1880s he joined two brothers and his cousin, Robert in a flax milling venture in the Wairarapa and in 1889 they moved to a block of flax swamp at Tuhara, near Wairoa where they set up another Mill. However, this venture failed because of difficulties experienced with local labour and after four months the mill was burned down.

In about 1905 Joseph set up business as an engineer and blacksmith in Hawera and seems to have remained there for many years.

Joseph died in a rest home in Island Bay, Wellington on 26th. December 1950 and was buried at Palmerston North. He did not marry.

ALEXANDER HOPKIRK - Son of Alexander and Agnes. 1860-1949.

Alexander was also born in Gattonside on 7th November 1860 and was a lively child, more interested in nature than in becoming educated. He was 12 years old when the family came to New Zealand and after some schooling in Wellington Alick went into the drapery business. However, in about 1880 he joined Joseph and Robert and their cousin Robert in the flaxmilling venture, firstly in the Wairarapa and then in the ill fated venture at Tuhara, near Wairoa in Hawkes Bay. After fire destroyed that venture Alick bought a property at Ashurst, Manawatu.

On 17th. November 1892 Alick married Mary McLean in Wellington. They had three children:

     Margaret Fyfe Hopkirk B.1893 Married A.F. Mills

     Mary Dorothy Spottiswoode Hopkirk 1897-1976 Married F.N.R. Downard

     Alexander John Hopkirk 1899-1982 Married Dorothy Goodchap

The Ashurst farm did not prosper and after ten years of hard work and little reward sold out and moved to Cambridge where he bought a few acres which he named "Kinloch" where he ran sheep and cows. This must have been a more prosperous venture because, in time Alick owned several other farm properties in the district which were run by managers or sharemilkers. The home property was planted in trees and flowers and Alick was able to carry on his love of horticulture. His specialty was the breeding of daffodils and he became an authority on this subject, winning awards and acclaim for his skill. Alick died in Hamilton on 23rd April 1950 and he and Mary are buried at Cambridge. Their property "Kinloch" is now a geriatric home.

ROBERT HOME HOPKIRK son of Alexander and Agnes. 1863-1951

Robert was born at Gattonside on 16th. February 1863 and was ten years old when he arrived in New Zealand. He completed his education in Wellington and commenced work as a joiner but was also involved in the flax milling ventures mentioned above.

He married Jane Kidson Barron at St. Johns Presbyterian Church, Wellington on 30th December 1891. They had the following children:

     Madeline Janet Hopkirk 1894-1927

     Jeannie Doris Barron Hopkirk 1896- ? Married John Searle

After the Tuhara venture failed Robert went to manage a farm property "Glenburn" near Palmerston North but in about 1901 he purchased a farm of his own named "Waimanawa" which was situated on the main road between Palmerston North and Ashurst. Here he ran dairy cows and sheep and seems to have done well. It is interesting to note that the property is now in the hands of Robert's descendants, David and Murray Searle.

Robert died on 3rd August 1951 and was buried in Palmerston North Cemetery.

JOHN BROWN HOPKIRK Son of Alexander and Agnes 1867-1949.

John was born at Markinch in Fife on 20th August 1867 and was one of the family party who emigrated to New Zealand as assisted emigrants in 1873.

He was educated at Mount Cook School. Wellington and having completed his education was employed for about two years as a clerk at the Gear Meat Company in Wellington. He then decided to take up teaching as a career and obtained a position as a pupil teacher at Mount Cook School. On

28th December 1893 he married Emily Gertrude Pilcher and together they moved to a sole charge teaching position at Hamua, a remote settlement in the bush west of Pahiatua. Four of their children were born there, two of whom survived childhood. From Hamua they transferred to Featherston for a year and then, in 1899 to a position as headmaster of Brooklyn School, Wellington, where John remained until he retired in 1931. John was highly regarded as a teacher and his school enjoyed a very good reputation for the quality of its education. However, in those days the position was poorly rewarded and it is noted that they always had a struggle to keep food on the table.

On his retirement the family moved first to Seatoun in Wellington, then to High Street, Lower Hutt and finally to a home in Fairfield Avenue, near the Waterloo Railway Station in Lower Hutt. Age and increasing infirmity led to the disposal of this property and in the end they moved to their daughter Gertrude's home in Tinakori Road, Wellington. John died on 6th December 1949 and Emily on 28th July 1950. They had the following children:

     Cyril Spottiswo0ode Moy Hopkirk 1894-1987 Married D.K. Saunders

     David Hamua Hopkirk 1895-1955 Married M.C. Blackwell

     John Keith Hopkirk 1897-1899

     Gertrude Emily Hopkirk 1899-1991 Married A.J. Varlow

     Kenneth Home Hopkirk 1901-1990 Married R.A. Yule

     Jean Pilcher Hopkirk 1903-? Married T.L. Seatter

     Oswald Robert Hopkirk 1907-1990 Married Gladys Jenden

     Joseph Edward Hopkirk 1912-? Married F.E. Smith

AGNES ISABELLA HOPKIRK Only daughter of Alexander and Agnes 1869-1905.

Agnes was born at Markinch, Fife and was only ten months old when her mother died and only 4 years old when the family emigrated to New Zealand. She was educated in Wellington and on 25th July 1895 she married John Jarvie Gillies who was in charge of a creamery and regarded as "reasonably comfortable" They had the following children:

     Alexander Jarvie Gillies 1896-? Married G.M. Bunker

     Agnes Mary (Nancy) Gillies 1900-1972

     Gertude Gillies 1902-? Married R.F. Giddings.

I know nothing of these relations nor do I know the circumstances of Agnes' early death at the age of 36 years.

End of Chapter 13.   Return to Table of Contents


Collins "Scottish Clan and Family Encyclopedia" states that the principal Hopkirk family was the line which were the Lairds of Dalbeath (a property near Glasgow). According to the grant of a coat of arms by the Lyon King of Arms to Thomas Hopkirk of Dalbeath, dated 1st February 1774 this line is traced back to a John Hopkirch who is described as a native of Germany and thought to be a refugee from the Thirty Years War. According to this document the line runs from him to another John, to another John, then Alexander, then a William, then a Francis who married a Mary Paterson, whose son was the Thomas who was granted the coat of arms. However, a further charter granted on 8th May 1815 by a later Lyon King of Arms to Thomas' son James, suggests a slightly different succession. In both charters the motto of "Spero Procedere" is granted and in the second, James is additionally confirmed as Chief of the name of Hopkirk.

It is difficult to be certain of dates in this line and the oldest one for which any dates are shown is the Francis who married Mary Paterson on 10th April 1704. In a family tree provided by his descendants he is said to have been born in 1677 and died in 1722. He is shown as the second son of William Hopkirk of Cowsland in Cranstoun near Dalkeith in Midlothian. Francis is said to be great/great grandson of the refugee from Germany and if we allow 25 years to a generation, as a rough rule of thumb, it appears that the original John was born around 1577. The Thirty Years War, which devastated much of Central Europe raged from 1618 to 1648 and it seems that John would have been relatively old when he fled from Germany and established himself in Scotland.

There is no evidence to show a connection between the Dalbeth Hopkirks and those of Roxburghshire but if could be possible that some of the former family moved south from Dalkeith.

Because the first of the Dalbeth line who can be dated is Francis - who is said to have been born in 1677 and who died in 1722 - we can only guess the ages of his forefathers. Some of his predecessors are said to be second sons so any calculations should perhaps allow 30 years for each generation. If this is correct then we have the following line.

     Francis born 1677 - son of William


     William - assumed to be born 1647 was 2nd son of Alexander


     Alexander - assumed to be born 1617 was 2nd son of John


     John - assumed to be born 1587 was son of John Hopkirche - from Germany


     John Hopkirche - assumed as being born in 1557.

If we use the 25 year span for each generation then we assume that the original John was born in about 1577.

Unfortunately we do not know when William Hopkirk (our first verified ancestor) was born but have concluded that it must have been in the 1650s, that is in the same era that the Dalkeith Hopkirks had a son named William, who seems to be accounted for. Therefore, if there is a link, it cant be in that generation and we would have to go back to the John Hopkirk - son of the original John Hopkirche.

We will probably never be able to answer this question.

Regardless of whether the Hopkirks of Dalbeth are connected with our lines they are a very interesting family. They originally lived at Cowsland, which is a small village a few miles east of Dalkeith. They were obviously of some substance because they are referred to as "of" Cowsland, not "in" Cowsland. An Adam Hopkirk appears in the 1680s as a brewer and some twenty years later there is reference in the burials of Greyfriars Churchyard of a William, a merchant.

They first appear in Glasgow records when a Francis Hopkirk, son of William of Cowsland is apprenticed to Thomas Pollok, a taylor (sic) on 1st May 1694. At that time Glasgow had only about 12,000 inhabitants and it is difficult to understand why Francis left his Cowsland home to take up this position. However,he completed his apprenticeship and in April 1704 was admitted as a freeman of the incorporation of tailors. The members of the Tailors' Incorporation were more than simply clothiers. They dealt in cloth, all soft goods, and in fact were really warehousemen.

When he was admitted to the Guild, Francis married Marie (or Mary) Paterson, daughter of John Paterson, a wright, and by her right was admitted a Burgess and Guild Brother. The Patersons were of considerable standing in the community and in 1688 John was a Bailie of the City of Glasgow. This marriage to the daughter of a Bailie helped to advance Francis' career but he must have been of some substance, or promise, to aspire to marry the daughter of a Bailie He became Collector of the Incorporation in 1705, a member of the Master Court four years later and a Deacon in 1713 at the early age of 36 years. In October 1714 he was elected Water Bailie of the city and the following year Treasurer of the City.

The position of Treasurer of the City was a peculiar one. He was elected for one year only and seems to have been expected to make advances personally in payment of public accounts, recovering the sums advanced at some later date. In 1715 Frances was part of the Glasgow contingent which marched to Stirling to help repel the Jacobite march which culminated in the drawn Battle of Sheriffmuir and put an end to the "Old Pretenders" attempt to wrest the throne from the Hanoverians.

Francis died in 1722 and was buried in the High Kirk Yard of Glasgow on 6th. December 1722. Only three of their children are known to have survived childhood. These were:


     Francis - who died in 1720

     Mary - who died in 1721.

Early Glasgow records mention a John Hopkirk who was apprenticed to Francis but we do not know what their relationship was.

Thomas Hopkirk was not prominent in civic affairs, as his father had been, but seems to have devoted his energies to business. In fact he seems to have shunned public office and in 1755 refused the office of Town Councillor which led to him being fined 20 pounds. Later, he was elected Dean of the Merchants' Guild and was again fined for his refusal. However, he refused to pay this fine, which was seen as a means of raising funds for the Guild, and his case was upheld by the Court of Session.

In 1748, Thomas married Elizabeth Smellie, daughter of John Smellie of Easterhill, a small property on the river Clyde to the east of the City. The Smellie family were prominent in the commercial life of Glasgow as partners in one of the tobacco importing houses who suffered serious losses when the crash caused by the American War of Independence in 1775.

In about 1754 Thomas acquired the property of Dalbeth from his wife's family and took a place in the circle that by their energy did so much to build up the trade of the City.

In 1750 The Glasgow Arms Bank was formed and Thomas was one of the 26 original partners. He seems to have avoided the tobacco trade and thereby does not seem to have suffered unduly when that trade collapsed.

He was known to have owned several Glasgow properties, including a large tenement on the east side of the High Street known as "Hopkirk's Land" and also a mansion in the Trongate which had been built in 1750 for Provost John Murdoch at the junction of Dunlop Street and Trongate. They used this house in winter and spent the summers at Dalbeth. Dalbeth was an agglomeration of a number of small properties, originally Church lands and had an area of about 120 acres

Thomas died at Dalbeth on 31st August 1781, his wife surviving until 4th February 1796. Their children were:

     James 1749-1835

     Thomas II 1759-1810

     Barbara 1746-1823

     Elizabeth 1754- ?

     Mary 1744-?

James, as the eldest son, inherited Dalbeth and other landed property and Thomas (II) and the daughters all received cash inheritances. It seems that Thomas (II) and the daughters did not marry However, Thomas (II) appears to have been a merchant, possibly in partnership with his father, but working from ports on the east coast of Scotland, possibly in trade with the Baltic and the Low Countries. In 1784 he was admitted as a freeman of the Burgh of Queensferry and in 1786 he was accorded the same honour by the Burgh of Banff. He served as an officer in the Royal Glasgow Volunteers when there seemed to be a danger of a French invasion. In 1798 he was elected a member of the Town Council and two years later became a Director of the Merchants House.

Thomas died at Dalbeth on 16th July 1810 and was also buried in the High Church Yard.

James carried on the business of his father and also the family tradition of public service. In 1774 he was entered as a Burgess and in 1783 he was appointed Treasurer of the City. He married Christian Glassford, the daughter of John Glassford of Dougalston on 29th March 1784 and this marriage produced three sons and two daughters:

     Thomas III 1785-1841

     John Glassford 1789-1859

     Barbara 1792-1833 Married Laurence Hill

     Anne Died 1838

     Isabella Died 1836

     James II 1803-1859, Married Jessie Hardie.

James was a successful importer and exporter of general merchandise and was a partner in a number of prominent Glasgow firms, one of which owned a store in Leonardtown, Maryland as late as 1793.He also took a leading part in civic affairs and was, at one time, involved in a group of citizens who actively promoted an improved water supply for the city. He took an active part in the building of the old Barony Church, which is regarded as the most hideous in the City. In 1824 he was presented with a handsome gift of silverware to commemorate his 40 years as the congregation's representative to the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church.

James died at Dalbeth on 21st August 1835 at the age of 85 years. His widow, who had moved to Edinburgh after his death, died on 27th January 1839.

Thomas Hopkirk III was born in 1758. He did not follow his father into the mercantile business and his only involvement with civic affairs was limited to a few years (1828-1834) as Councillor for the Burgh of Anderston and as a Justice of the Peace. His chosen career was in Botany and in this career he made an indelible mark, as one of the founders of the Natural History Society of Glasgow and the Glasgow Botanical Gardens. He established a collection of nearly 2,000 specimens of native and exotic plants at Dalbeth and later transferred this collection to the Botanical Gardens. He was also involved with the introduction of Lithography to Glasgow. Glasgow University awarded him the degree of LLD and he received membership of a number of other learned bodies.

Thomas III married Agnes Parlane and they had two sons and six daughters: The only ones that we have records of are:

     Francis James 1833-1910

     Barbara 1824-1876

     Anne 1830-1920


The other children died in infancy.

Thomas lived at Helensburgh in 1831 and later at Rothesay but his work took him to Belfast in Northern Ireland where he was engaged in the Geological Survey of Ireland. His wife died on 18th December 1836 and Thomas died in Belfast on 23rd August 1841 at the relatively young age of 56 years.

Thomas' brother John Glassford Hopkirk born in 1789 graduated LLB from Glasgow University and qualified as a Writer to the Signet in 1811. He was for many years the Law Agent for Glasgow University in Edinburgh and died there on 2nd August 1859.

The descendants of Thomas still live in Ulster and much of the above information has been provided by Eric Hopkirk, a great/great grandson of Thomas III. Eric is a Civil Engineer and elder brother to Paddy Hopkirk, the well known rally driver.

NOTE. We have more detailed biographical notes on this family but because of space limitations have tried to condense this information

End of Chapter 14.  Return to Table of Contents


With this line we do have very good information thanks to Mary Perkins Hopkirk, a keen genealogist and writer. the wife of Stewart Hopkirk. who obviously carefully researched the subject and had access to material which is no longer available.

The South African line stems from David Hopkirk who was baptised at Melrose on 21st June 1787, the 3rd son and 5th child of James Hopkirk and his wife, Anne Wright. David became a linen weaver and went to work in Edinburgh at a young age. There he met and married Margaret Grieve on 17th May 1811 at St. Giles Cathedral. Margaret was the daughter of James Grieve (a carrier to Dirleton) and his wife, Janet Murray.

David and Margaret lived, at first, in Melrose, where their eldest child, Janet was born in 1812. Sadly, Janet was killed by a horse in 1814 a few days before their son, James was born. After this tragedy they moved to Edinburgh where David carried on his trade as a Weaver. David lived in a tenement building at 17 Earl Grey Street, Edinburgh, a little to the south of the Castle Rock on 15th. September 1856, and was buried at Dalry Cemetery. Margaret lived in the same flat until her death on 16th. September 1872.

Their family comprised:

     Janet 1812-1814

     James 1814-1875

     David Died prior to 1881

     William ?

As we see above, Janet was killed by a horse at the age of 2 years but the other children lived to reasonable ages.

Our main theme with this family is the story of James, but before we carry on with his story I will comment on the others.

David married Ann Goodall at Perth, Scotland on 7th May 1839. David was a baker in that city and died at some time prior to 1881. In the Census of that year, Ann is shown as carrying on as a Baker and with two sons and two daughters living with her, their ages ranged from 31 years to 36 years and none were married at that time but another son, John is known to have married Helen Ritchie Hill and to have had 2 daughters and 4 sons. The 1881 Census shows John, also a Baker, living in 36 Hospital Wynd, Dundee with his family. No doubt there are descendants of this line still living in Scotland.

William, the younger son, married Isabella Heriot on 8th. August at Edinburgh. This family, which appears to have settled in Cupar, Fife, produced three daughters and one son. We have no further positive information on them. William served in the Royal Artillery for a time at Portsmouth and at Plymouth, reaching the rank of Corporal in June 1849.

To return to James, who was born in 1814 at Melrose. He was apprenticed to an upholsterer in Edinburgh and his mother hoped that he would eventually become a Minister. However, on 27th. August 1834 he was so captivated by a recruiting march through the city that he enlisted on the spot at a gunner/driver in the 7th Battalion, Royal Artillery. His official description reads: Height 5ft. 9.5 inches. Complexion: Fair. Eyes: Blue. Hair: Red.

He was later transferred to the 4th. Company of the 5th Battalion and on 1st April 1835 his unit sailed on HM Troopship "Atholl" for Quebec. Here he served as Batman to Lieut. G.R.H. Kennedy and was paid one Pound nineteen shillings and four pence three farthings a month. He was promoted to Corporal on 1st March 1843 and remained with his unit in Canada for nine years. They served in Quebec, Montreal, Kingston, Toronto, Drummondville and London, Ontario. NOTE: Isabella Home(Hopkirk) in her letter to her son in Iowa dated 30/6/1841 suggests that he should write to James in Toronto.)

On 31st January 1844 James married Catherine Morrison at the Anglican Cathedral in Montreal. Nothing is known about Catherine except that she was described as Irish/American.

On 11th September 1844 the 4th Company returned to England on HM Troopship "Apollo" arriving at Woolwich on 3rd October. Here, three weeks later their 1st child, John was born, only to die a year later. In May 1846 James was promoted to Sergeant at Two shillings and eight pence a day, and a daughter, named Catherine, was born. Shortly afterwards the Company was transferred to Gosport where they remained for three years serving at Fort Monckton, Fort Blockhouse and Colewort Barracks at Portsmouth. Here, another child, James William was born and died soon afterwards.

In February 1849 the unit returned to Woolwich where, in April Catherine gave birth to another son, David. She was evidently very ill because James was given one months compassionate leave to look after her and her two infants.

The granting of leave for this purpose seems very humane by Victorian army standards because the normal life of enlisted mens' families was incredibly harsh. They were expected to follow their husband's units wherever they went and little official notice was taken of their comfort and wellbeing. Their accommodation was in barracks with little or no privacy and poor ventilation. Life on troopships was even worse where normally the families existed on the lower decks in perpetual darkness for voyages which, often took months to complete.

On 16th. August 1849 James and his family, as part of the 4th Company embarked on the troopship "Devonshire" bound for the Cape of Good Hope. However, before they left the English Channel, Catherine died, probably from Cholera, or possibly Scarlet Fever. Her body was taken ashore for burial at Plymouth and buried at Devonport by her brother in law William. James was not allowed ashore and had to continue the voyage to South Africa with his two motherless children, Kete, aged 3 years and David aged four months. Apparently, an officer's wife and her nursemaid were very kind to James and looked after the children during the ten weeks voyage via Rio de Janeiro. They landed at Cape Town on 22nd August 1849 and on 5th November James, with a small detachment travelled, by sea, on to Durban which was a very primitive settlement at that time. Fortunately, James found a compassionate foster mother for his children which was just as well because the detachment was then despatched to drag their guns across the roadless country to Pietermaritzburg. A journey of 55 miles to another primitive settlement, where only 61 people could sign their names.

They were the first British troops in this area and had been sent there because of hostilities between the Boers and the Zulus.

For the next nine years the detachment remained in this region moving between Durban, Pietermaritzburg and King William's Town. In 1851 and 1852 they saw service in the Kaffir War with James acting as second in command under one Royal Artillery officer.

On 30th September 1855 James married Emma Elizabeth Alder who was aged 24 years. Emma may have gone to Natal in Bishop Colenso's retinue in 1855 or she may have been the "nannie" who cared for James' children on the passage out to South Africa.

In 1856 James was promoted to Company Sergeant and in 1857, while the main body were sent to India to fight in the Mutiny which broke out in 1857, he was part of a smaller detachment which returned to Cape Town. He remained there until his discharge from the Army on 27th September 1858 after 24 years of service. He was awarded a Good Conduct and Long Service Medal and decided to settle in the Colony.

In 1858 he joined the Cape Town Volunteers and was appointed Sergeant Major, Instructor and Acting Adjutant of the Artillery. In 1859 he was commissioned as Captain and Adjutant and in the same year he is shown in the Cape Town Directory as Superintendent with Emma as Matron of the Immigration Board Depot where they remained until 1862. In 1863 James was appointed Keeper and Emma Matron of the Somerset Hospital, which was a military storehouse and hospital used for the treatment of sick soldiers and sailors. James was also Superintendent of Lock Hospital and Governor of Roben Island (made famous in the 20th Century as the prison where Nelson Mandela was confined).

James and Emma had four sons and two daughters between 1856 and 1865. We only know the names of three of these:

     Margaret 1859-1920 Married a Mr. Love- had issue

     Frank 1860-1920 Had issue

     George Howard 1865-1906 Married Mary Phemister Kirkman. Had issue.

The hospital was subject to gruesome visitations of typhus, smallpox and cholera and on 28th October 1867 Emma died of "fever" at the age of 36 leaving six children under the age of ten. Once again James, at the of 54, was left to care for motherless children, but he was fortunate in that Catherine, his daughter by his first marriage, now married to a man named Graham, was available to help.

James continued his work at the hospital and the Cape Volunteers until his death on 25th. August 1875 when he was given a handsome obituary and a Military Funeral, which commemorated a life devoted to duty and the service of his country.

The descendants of Catherine's children have died out but Emma's descendants have survived through Peter Hopkirk, a quite well known author ( a great grandson of James) and has children by his two marriages.

End of Chapter 15.  Return to Table of Contents


We know of a line of Hopkirks who are centred in the area of Sunderland who may be descended from a James Hopkirk who was born in Melrose. Unfortunately, we are unable to establish a link with this branch of the name.

There is also a family of Hopkirks who lived in the area around Largs on the Clyde Estuary who seem to come from a James Hopkirk, a shoemaker in Jedburgh. It seems likely that they are connected somewhere but we are not yet able to find that connection.

End of Chapter 16.  Return to Table of Contents