Stephen Hopkins was born on March 7, 1707 in Smithfield, Rhode Island, United States. He was the son of William and Ruth (Wilkinson) Hopkins and a descendant of Thomas Hopkins, an Englishman who settled in Providence about 1638 as an associate of Roger Williams and later became a member of the General Assembly. Stephen was born in that part of the original town and the present city of Providence that was included in the town of Cranston from 1754 to 1868. His early years, however, were mostly passed in the section that since 1731 has formed the town of Scituate. He grew up in the life of a farmer but, like many ambitious Rhode Islanders, became also a practical surveyor.