A brief history of our family
Most of the information that I have gathered together here was originally researched by my great grandfather. At that time he was able to trace a solid line back to a John Hooper who was born in the town of Andover in Hampshire County, Southern England in 1688. We also know that he married a Sarah Purver, who was a member of St. Mary Bourne parish, in the city of Winchester.
See the map to see where Andover and Winchester are in Hampshire County. This map is from 1645, so it is a fairly accurate depiction of the landcape as they would have known it. It looks like they settled in her home town, because their son William was born in Winchester in 1712. I’m not exactly sure where St. Mary Bourne parish was, it may have been on the outskirts of town, but the parish of St. Thomas, where William was baptised, can clearly been seen in this map of Winchester.
The records get a little sketchy before 1688, so we have not yet been able to find out who John Hooper’s parents were. However, there are some general things that we can tell about the Hooper surname. For example, in the middle ages it was common for people to take on the name of their profession. For example, the last name Smith comes from the profession of blacksmith. In the case of Hooper, this describes the job of making hoops for barrels. Cooper’s, another common name, were the people who made the slats for those barrels.
This seems to suggest a fairly common beginning for our family line, but there is the possibility of at least one interesting character in the family line. In the 16th century, there was a bishop named John Hooper who was burned at the stake. Here is a contemporary illustration of this event:
Bishop Hooper was burned for his religious convictions. He was a protestant bishop during a time of turbulent religious upset. Queen Mary had just taken the throne and decided to bring back Catholicism to England. Anyone who clung to their beliefs was charged as a heretic, and in many cases burned at the stake.
Another piece of the puzzle is the family coat of arms. Below are two common Hooper coat of arms. These first two are commonly shown when you look up the name Hooper on the internet (or one of those sideshow genealogy booths you see at fairs or some shopping malls).
The coat of arms shown here is specific to our particular line of Hooper’s. It is interesting in that it has the 3 rings common to one of the designs above, but the boar’s head seems unique to our family.
To read some more contemporary Hooper history, read our anecdotal family history posts.