CFHS code : ML16

Parish : St Mary the Less

Inscription : In Memory of WILLIAM HOPKINS b Feb 2 1793 d Oct 13 1866 SARAH BOYS d Oct 1850 age 91

Monument : Stone cross

Above information from Cambridge Family History Society Survey

Lat Lon : 52.202783, 0.13774309 – click here for location

Boys and Hopkins monument 2015


Facing the centre circle, in the parish area of St Mary the Less. The inscription is badly eroded.


In Memory of WILLIAM HOPKINS b Feb 2 1793 d Oct 13 1866

SARAH BOYS d Oct 1850 age 91

N.B. Although there is a lot online about William Hopkins, the facts about his personal life are vague. None of my research has been verified by looking at the original documents, I have therefore written my research in italics in the hope that a descendant may one day confirm or deny it.

Relationship – Sarah was the mother in law of William.

William Hopkins (1793-1866) 

William was born in Kingston-on-Soar, Nottinghamshire to a farming background. As a young man his father rented a farm for him to run but after the death of his wife, he chose an academic life. He entered St Peter’s College, (Peterhouse), Cambridge in 1822 and became a mathematician and geologist, earning himself the title of “wrangler maker” due to his success at tutoring mathematicians. From 1825 to 1828 he played first class cricket with the Cambridge University Cricket Club.

William married Ann Braithwaite (1795-1820) in Nottingham on 28th February 1818.They had at least one child, William (1819-1837). It is not known where William jun was brought up but he died at the home of his father and stepmother Caroline, in Fitzwilliam Street and would most likely have been buried in Mary the Less churchyard in the centre of Cambridge.William married his second wife, Caroline Boys, by special licence which was granted on 15th Dec 1827.  It is not known where the wedding took place. Caroline was the daughter of Sarah and John Boys. Caroline was an accomplished harpist. 

They had at least five children:

Francis, Caroline and Augusta

Caroline Brathwaite (1828-1828)
(This child died aged 3 weeks and no baptism record has been found), Francis Powell (b. 1830), Caroline Catherine, (b. 1831), Augusta Louisa (b. 1833) and Jane Ellice (b. 1834)

All the children were born in Fitzwilliam Street and four were baptised in the parish church of Mary the Less.

In 1841 William was staying with Charles Stokes in Kingston on Soar, Nottinghamshire.  Caroline was staying with their three daughters in Brighton with the Braddock family and Francis Powell was with his grandmother, Sarah Boys,at the family home in Fitzwilliam Street, Cambridge.

In 1851 William, Caroline and their three daughters were at the family home, 16 Fitzwilliam Street. William was now Esquire Bedell at the University. This was an important ceremonial role.

In 1861 William, Caroline and their daughter, Jane, were in Brighton. It was shortly after this that William was admitted to a hospital in Stoke Newington suffering from exhaustion and mania, it was here that he died.

The Hopkins Prize was founded in his memory by Cambridge Philosophical Society. The Prize, which was founded in 1867, is awarded every three years for the best original work in mathematico-physical or mathematico-experimental science by a past or present member of the University. The first four prizewinners were Sir George Stokes, J. Clerk Maxwell, Lord Rayleigh, and Lord Kelvin.

A painting of him hangs in the hall of Peterhouse.

The family home in Cambridge was given up and Caroline went to stay in Brighton with Jane. Her death was registered there in 1880.

Of their children

Francis Powell became an artist and examples of his work can be found online.

Caroline Catherine married Charles Caldecott James from Eton, who had studied at Kings College in 1851. He became a clergyman and taught at Eton College.

Augusta Louisa married John Martin Esq from Leicester in 1852.

Ellice Hopkins source unknown.

Jane Ellice became a social reformer and details of her life can be found online.
Her work in Cambridge involved speaking to “rough” working men often in in public houses in the poorest parts of Cambridge. She urged them to seek help from the Lord in becoming more moral characters. After her move to Brighton she set up the Ladies Associations for the Care of Friendless Girls (1876).

Sarah Ling Boys (née Cowley)(d 1850)

Sarah married John Boys, a surgeon, “Man Midwife and Freemason, in Bermondsey, London, in 1780. She had four children: Charles Worsley, Thomas Augustus, Eliza Letitia and Caroline Frances.
After she was widowed, Sarah came to live with her daughter Caroline in Fitzwilliam Street. When Sarah died she was placed in the grave next to William.

[If you have any further information about this family, please contact us at]

CFHS parish and Census transcripts
Family Search
British Freemasonry 1717-1813
Find my Past

Hopkins, Ellice (1836–1904).” Women in World History: A Biographical Encyclopedia. . 6 Aug. 2018 <>.


Barrett, Rosa M. Ellice Hopkins: A Memoir. London: Wells Gardner, 1907

ACAD – A Cambridge Alumni Database

Cambridge University Philosophical Society

Researched by Mary Naylor and Sheila Plaister

Sarah Boys; William Hopkins