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Paymaster Lieutenant Commander Edward N. Hopkns RN as King's Messenger


Lieut. Hopkins and fellow officers checking the depth of the ice in archangel, Russia


Lieut. Hopkins on board H.M.S. Constance 1918



Paymaster Lieutenant Commander Edward N. Hopkns RN (1878 to 1947)


His Naval career started in 1896 when he joined as a young Midshipman from Public school and entered HMS Victory as an assistant clerk from where he was posted in November 1896 to HMS Philomel .One of his colleagues at that time was Max Horton ,later to become Admiral Max Horton C. in C. of the Western Approaches in WW2.

HMS Philomel was deployed in 1897 to assist in the troubles in Benin (Now Nigeria) and one thing which always stood out in his mind was the horror of watching matelots returning to the ship with precious looted artefacts, priceless vases, carpets and other valuables, many being damaged or broken on the way.

In 1900 he was posted to HMS Hermione and served as an assistant paymaster on the China stations sailing up the Yangtze River during the 4th Boxer Rebellion. He served on a number of ships including HMS Venus, HMS San Pareil and HMS Albemarle.

On one occasion returning from the Far East his ship docked for “coaling up” in Lagos in Nigeria when he was asked by the District Commissioner of Southern Nigeria to assist as paymaster to the troops serving there and later he was seconded by the Navy to the Colonial Office. Later he acted as Deputy Commissioner but sadly his time in Nigeria was cut short by a severe attack of malaria which meant his returning to U.K.

His illness kept him away from the Navy for some time. When his health returned he joined HMS Constance. In 1917 the ship was sent to Archangel in Russia to assist with the evacuation of the Tsar and his entourage. Some of the entourage had already joined the ship when the family was assassinated and plans had to be changed. Appalling weather caused the ship to be frozen in and they were unable to sail for some time. Sadly during that period his malaria returned and he was once again very sick as there was no suitable medication on board.

It was decided on his return that he was no longer fit for seagoing duty and he was promoted to Lieut. Commander and became a King’s messenger carrying documents from Portsmouth to Scapa Flow and other Naval stations. This was a post which meant he travelled by train in a locked 1st class carriage with a brief case padlocked to his wrist carrying dispatches.

He finally retired from the Navy in 1919 and took charge of a small private school in Portsmouth cramming boys in mathematics and Greek in readiness for Public school entrance. He died in 1947.

For image of H.M.S. Constance and some of her officers click here



Type: 104 gun first rate ship of the line
Displacement: 3,500 tons

In use as a

Naval School of Telegraphy, moored at Portsmouth.



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Displacement: 2,575 tons



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Displacement: 4,360 tons


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Displacement: 5,680 tons


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Displacement: 10,470 tons


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Displacement: 13,270 tons



Cambrian class light cruiser

Displacement: 4,180 tons



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Copyright © Tony Drury , Barbara Hopkins & Adrian Hopkins 2011