In 1609, on a voyage to resupply England's troubled Jamestown colony, the Sea Venture was caught in a hurricane and shipwrecked off the coast of Bermuda. The tale of its marooned survivors eventually inspired William Shakespeare's The Tempest, but for one castaway it was only the beginning.
A Stranger Among Saints traces the life of Stephen Hopkins, who spent ten months stranded with the Sea Venture crew, during which he was charged with attempted mutiny and condemned to dieonly to have his sentence commuted just before it was carried out. Hopkins eventually made it to Jamestown, where he spent six years before returning to England and signing on to another colonial venture, this time with a group of religious radicals on the Mayflower.
Hopkins was the only member of the party who had been across the Atlantic beforethe only one who'd encountered America's native people and land. The Pilgrims, plagued by disease and contentious early encounters with indigenous Americans, turned to him for leadership. Hopkins played a vital role in bridging the divide of suspicion between the English immigrants and their native neighbors. Without him, these settlers would likely not have lasted through that brutal first year.