Hopkins, Francis (1752–1819), obstetrician, was the son of Francis Hopkins, described as a ‘gentleman of means’, of Davidstown, Co. Meath. He graduated BA (1773) from TCD, and MD (1777) from Edinburgh University. In 1779 Hopkins became the first practitioner of midwifery to be admitted licentiate of the (R)K&QCPI on the repeal of its by-law of 1753 which excluded practitioners of midwifery from examination for a medical degree. Elevated to fellowship (1780), he was elected president of the (R)K&QCPI six times between 1785 and 1815, and devoted considerable time to college administration.
He served as physician to the Meath Hospital (1781–5) and Mercer's Hospital, Dublin (1786–1811), where he was elected a governor, and to the army medical department (1797). In 1786 the governors of Mercer's were forced to abandon their agreement to provide beds for clinical teaching for TCD when, according to Dr Edward Hill (qv), in ‘a fit of the spleen he [Hopkins] frustrated the negotiations’. His anger may have been provoked by his unsuccessful application for the King's professorship of the practice of medicine at TCD; he was subsequently appointed lecturer in midwifery at TCD (1803).
Assistant master of the Rotunda Hospital (1789–92), he was elected master (1807–14) after his unsuccessful candidatures in 1793 and 1800. During his mastership, four student nurses were introduced into the hospital and given a six-months' training course. In 1813 during an epidemic of puerperal fever in the hospital, the death-rate rose to 2.49 per cent; John Brenan (qv), MD, a student attached to the hospital, published a pamphlet in 1814 describing the curative powers of turpentine, which he had administered to patients – without, however, the necessary permission of Hopkins. Brenan refused to abandon his treatment and was dismissed by Hopkins, who doubted its efficacy, and who then became the butt of Brenan's jibes in his satirical Milesian Magazine. Hopkins died 19 November 1819 at his home, 130 Baggot St., Dublin. He was survived by his sons Francis Hopkins and the Rev. James Hopkins.