The Howland Family

Passenger Profile

John Howland was a single man when he traveled on the Mayflower, as a servant of John Carver.

John was probably born at Fenstanton, Huntingdonshire, circa 1598-99, the son of Henry and Margaret Howland. He died at Kingston, 23 February 1672/73. John married at Plymouth, circa 1623, Elizabeth Tilley. Elizabeth and her parents, John and Joan (Hurst) Tilley were also passengers on the Mayflower. Elizabeth was baptized at Henlow, Bedford, England, 30 August 1607; she died as Swansea, 21 December 1687.

Bradford relates that during the voyage, “in a mighty storm, a lusty young man called John Howland… [was] thrown into sea; but it pleased God that he caught hold of the topsail halyards which hung overboard…till he was hauled up…and then with a boat hook…his life saved. And though he was something ill with it, yet he lived many years after and became a profitable member both in church and commonwealth.”

John received four acres in the 1623 land division; in addition to himself, these shares would be for his wife Elizabeth, and her parents who died the first winter. In the 1627 cattle division he is listed with wife Elizabeth, and children John Jr. and Desire Howland.

From his beginnings as a servant, John rose quickly in status; he was the head of his group of 13 people in the 1627 cattle division and by 1633 he was serving as an Assistant to the Governor. He also served many times as deputy, surveyor of highways and land, grand juror and selectman.

Children of John and Elizabeth (Tilley) Howland:

  1. Desire Howland, born at Plymouth, circa 1625; died at Barnstable, 13 October 1683; married at Plymouth, circa 1643, John Gorham; they had 11 children: Desire, Temperance, Elizabeth, James, John, Joseph, Jabez, Mercy, Lydia, Hannah, and Shubael Gorham.
  2. John Howland, born at Plymouth, 24 April 1627; died at Barnstable, after 18 June 1699; married at Plymouth, 26 October 1651, Mary Lee; they had ten children: Mary, Elizabeth, Isaac, Hannah, Mercy, Lydia, Experience, Anne, Shubael and John Howland.
  3. Hope Howland, born at Plymouth, 30 August 1629; died at Barnstable, 8 January 1683; married at Rocky Nook, Kingston, circa 1646, John Chipman; they had 12 children: Elizabeth, Daughter (died young), Hope, Lydia, John (died young), Hannah, Samuel, Ruth, Bethiah, Mercy, John and Desire Chipman.
  4. Elizabeth Howland, born at Plymouth, circa 1631; died at Oyster Bay, Long Island, NY, before 26 September 1692; married 1) at Plymouth, 13 September 1649, Ephraim Hicks; married 2) at Plymouth, 10 July 1651, John Dickinson; they had nine children: Elizabeth, Joseph, Mercy, Jabez, Lydia, Samuel, Mehetable, Hannah and James Dickinson.
  5. Lydia Howland, born possibly in Maine, circa 1633; died possibly at Swansea, after 11 January 1711; married circa 1654, James Brown; they had three children: James, Dorothy and Jabez Brown.
  6. Hannah Howland, born at Plymouth, circa 1637; died at Swansea, 1705; married at Swansea, 6 July 1661, Jonathan Bosworth; they had ten children: Mercy, Hannah, Elizabeth, Jonathan, David, John, Jabez, Ichabod, son (died young) and Jonathan Bosworth.
  7. Joseph Howland, born at Plymouth, circa 1640; died at Plymouth, January 1703/04; married at Plymouth, 7 December 1664, Elizabeth Southworth; they had nine children: Thomas, James, Sarah, Lydia, Elizabeth, Mercy, Nathaniel, Benjamin and Joseph Howland.
  8. Jabez Howland, born at Plymouth, circa 1644; died at Bristol before 6 February 1711/12; married prob. at Yarmouth, by 1669, Bethia Thacher; they had 11 children: Jabez, John, Bethia, Josiah, John, Judah, Seth, Samuel, Experience and Joseph Howland.
  9. Ruth Howland, born at Plymouth, circa 1646; died before 16 October 1675; married at Plymouth, 17 November 1664, Thomas Cushman3 (Mary2 Allerton, Isaac1); they had three children: Robert, Desire and Thomas Cushman.
  10. Isaac Howland, born at Plymouth, 15 November 1649; died at Middleborough, 9 March 1723/24; married circa 1676, Elizabeth Vaughn; they had eight children: Seth, Isaac, Priscilla, Elizabeth, Nathan, Jael, Susannah and Hannah Howland.


John Howland of the Mayflower, The First Five Generations Documented Descendants Through his first child Desire2 Howland and her husband Captain John Gorham. vol. 1, by Elizabeth P. White; 1990, 2014.

John Howland of the Mayflower, The First Five Generations Documented Descendants Through his second child John2 Howland and his wife Mary Lee, vol. 2, by Elizabeth P. White. Picton Press, 1993, 2008.

John Howland of the Mayflower, The First Five Generations Documented Descendants Through his third child Hope2 Howland, Wife of John Chipman, vol. 3, by Elizabeth P. White. Picton Press, 2008.

John Howland of the Mayflower, The First Five Generations Documented Descendants Through his fourth child Elizabeth2 Howland, Wife of Ephraim Hicks and Captain John Dickinson, vol. 4, by Elizabeth P. White. Picton Press, 2008.

Mayflower Families Through Five Generations, John Howland, vol. 23, part 1, by Ann S. Lainhart and Robert S. Wakefield. Plymouth, 2006.

Mayflower Passenger References, (from contemporary records and scholarly journals), by Susan E. Roser. 2011. pp. 264-80.

Descendants of John Howland and Elizabeth (Tilley) Howland are invited to join The Pilgrim John Howland Society.

St Peter and St Pauls
Photo credit: The Pilgrim John Howland Society

St. Peter and St. Paul’s in Fenstanton, England, John Howland’s home town.