HOPKINS, William, of Warwick.
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Family and Education
m. Alice, ?1s.
Commr. of inquiry, Warws., Worcs. July 1380 (lands of Coventry priory), Warws. Dec. 1383 (concealments).
?Bailiff, Warwick (by appointment of Richard, earl of Warwick), by Mich. 1408-aft. 1418.1
Hopkins, who became one of the most prominent townspeople of Warwick, probably came from a local family, although his earliest known property dealings (in 1372) concerned tenements which his wife had inherited in Kenilworth. In 1383 he purchased two messuages in Warwick, and in later years either he or a namesake rented a house there from St. Mary’s college.2 Hopkins evidently had an interest in the local cloth industry: in 1380 and 1382 he acted as surety for John Ray of Coventry when he was granted leases of the subsidies on cloths for sale in Warwickshire and three other counties, and in 1397-8 and 1405-6 he and his wife were assessed for alnage on fabric produced in Warwick.3
In 1363 Hopkins had witnessed at Warwick the grant of the manor of Moreton ‘Daubeney’ to the lord of the borough, Thomas, earl of Warwick, and within a few years he had become the leading burgess (probably holding office as senior bailiff, by the earl’s appointment). In 1374, 1377 and 1380, when royal grants of portage were made for the repair of the ‘great bridge’ over the Avon, on each occasion the group of five townsmen put in charge of the collection and disbursement of the money was headed by Hopkins. Furthermore, in 1383 he headed the list of 13 townsmen who, with the aid of the earl, procured a royal licence to found a guild in honour of the Holy Trinity and St. Mary in St. Mary’s church, a guild which was subsequently to assume considerable importance in the life of the community.4 There can be no doubt that Hopkins was well respected locally: Sir William Breton† (d.1378) asked him to be an executor of his will; and William Catesby† valued his testimony with regard to the validity of transactions concerning the manor of Ladbroke.5
It is difficult to ascertain when the career of this William Hopkins ended and that of a namesake, of equal prominence in the affairs of Warwick, began. One of them was appointed bailiff of the town by Richard, earl of Warwick, some time before the autumn of 1408, and continued to hold that office for at least ten years. A William Hopkins witnessed several local deeds (notably on behalf of Robert Hugford*, the supervisor of the earl’s estates), served on juries (for instance on that of 1417 which provided information to the royal commissioners investigating lollardy), and attended parliamentary elections for the borough on no fewer than 12 occasions between 1410 and 1433.