George Wray Hopkinson grew up in Liverpool and started working for the National Telephone Company there in 1893, at the age of about 15 years. He later became an associate member of the (British) Institute of Electrical Engineers. In July 1900, during the Anglo-Boer War (1899-1902), he came to South Africa to take up an appointment as sub-inspector of the Imperial Military Railways Telegraphs at Bloemfontein. After the war, in 1903, he became inspector of the Central South African Railways Telegraphs, remaining at Bloemfontein. In August 1904 he joined the Orange River Colony Postal Service as inspector and engineer, with responsibility for telegraphs and telephones. The next month he married Madeline Isabel Garner of Liverpool, with whom he had five surviving children. He remained in his post in Bloemfontein, from 1908 as inspecting engineer in the telegraph department of the General Post Office, until August 1912, after the formation of the Union of South Africa. He was then appointed plant inspector (engineering) in the Union Department of Posts and Telegraphs and was stationed in the Transvaal. Towards the end of his career his profession was given as statistician.
Hopkinson became a member of the Philosophical Society of the Orange River Colony in 1908. The next year he read his "Notes on the magnetic storm of September 25, 1909" at the annual congress of the South African Association for the Advancement of Science in Bloemfontein. The note was included in the association's Report (p. 68) for that year.