John Howland and Elizabeth Tilley: Their Life and Legacy in Plymouth Colony; The Story of William Bradford and His Role in Plymouth Colony – FamilySearch August 28, 2020

I ran across these two stories on FamilySearch today – John Howland and Elizabeth Tilley: Their Life and Legacy in Plymouth Colony and The Story of William Bradford and His Role in Plymouth Colony I kept it only to the three individual introductions as this put this post at a bit over 600 words.

August 28, 2020  – by  Amie Tennant

This November marks the 400th anniversary of the arrival of the Pilgrims to the New World. In September 1620, the Mayflower started its journey with 35 crew members and 102 passengers, including John Howland and Elizabeth Tilley. This fascinating man and woman are estimated to have millions of descendants. Let’s learn more about them and find out if they are a part of your family story!

Who Is John Howland?

John Howland was born in Fenstanton, Huntingdonshire, England, between about 1592 and 1599. Based on his death date, which is recorded on his headstone and death records in Plymouth, he would have been born in about 1592. Some researchers believe his age at the time of death may have been inflated, which was common. Because Howland was listed as a manservant to John Carver on the Mayflower voyage, he was perhaps a younger man at the time of the voyage, perhaps under the age of 25.

In November 1620, the  Mayflower Compact was signed by nearly all the adult male colonists and two indentured servants. One of those indentured servants was John Howland. His signature on the famous document suggests he was likely an adult and at least 21 years old in 1620.


Who is Elizabeth Tilley?

John Howland married Elizabeth Tilley in about 1623. No official record of their marriage has been found, but a division of cattle record from 1627 reveals that the couple had two children by then. Their oldest child, Desire, was recorded as having been born in about 1624, which would likely mean the couple was married the year before.

Elizabeth Tilley was baptized on August 30, 1607, in Henlow, Bedford, England. Prior to 1856, when William Bradford’s Of Plymouth Plantation was discovered, scholars believed Elizabeth to be the adopted daughter of John Carver. However, this was not the case. Elizabeth had traveled on the Mayflower as a 13-year-old girl with her parents, John Tilley and Joan (Hurst) Tilley, and her uncle and aunt, Edward and Ann (or Agnes) Tilley.

Elizabeth’s parents and aunt and uncle all died that first winter, leaving her an orphan. She was then taken in by the Carvers. When the Carvers died in the spring, Elizabeth might have become the ward of John Howland. However, this theory is pure speculation—Elizabeth could have been placed in any household, and there is no evidence that there were any formal wardships for any of the orphaned children.



August 28, 2020  – by  Alison Ensign

Of the roughly 100 pilgrims that joined the Mayflower voyage and founded the Plymouth Colony, William Bradford stands out. After leaving his England home as a teenager in pursuit of religious freedom, he later became a leader in one of the most famous colonies in what later became the United States.

What Is William Bradford Known For?

William Bradford was one of the original settlers of the Plymouth Colony after leaving England on the Mayflower in 1620. Bradford was influential in shaping Plymouth’s government and became its governor in 1621. He went on to serve as governor off and on for over 30 years.

After his years of service, Bradford left behind a successful and thriving colony that would later be assimilated by Massachusetts. He is also known for his invaluable journal called Of Plymouth Plantation, which offers a detailed account of Plymouth Colony’s early stages and the lives of the Mayflower pilgrims.


About Wichita Genealogist

Originally from Gulfport, Mississippi. Live in Wichita, Kansas now. I suffer Bipolar I, ultra-ultra rapid cycling, mixed episodes. Blog on a variety of topics - genealogy, DNA, mental health, among others. Let's
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