The Tilley Family

Passenger Profile

John Tilley, his wife Joan, and daughter Elizabeth were passengers on the Mayflower. John’s brother Edward, with his wife Ann/Agnes were also passengers; Elizabeth was the sole survivor of the first winter.

John Tilley, was born at Henlow, Bedfordshire, where he was baptized on 19 December 1571, the son of Robert and (poss.) Elizabeth (     ) Tilley. He married at Henlow, 20 September 1596, Joan (Hurst) Rogers. He and his wife died in the general sickness of the first winter in 1620, leaving their daughter Elizabeth an orphan.

John signed the Mayflower Compact on 11 November 1620, as the ship was anchored at Provincetown Harbor. On 6 December 1620, John joined one of the expeditions along the inner coastline of Cape Cod under the leadership of Myles Standish. It was during this expedition that the party found and selected Plymouth as the site of the future settlement. John was likely on the other two expeditions as well and it was during these expeditions that the men became sick from the freezing weather.

Note that in 1999, a descendant of Robert2 and Mary (Hawkins) Tilley traced her line and was able to join the General Society of Mayflower Descendants through Robert’s parents, John and Joan Tilley of the Mayflower.

Children of John and Joan (Hurst) Tilley: [baptized at Henlow]

  1. Rose2 Tilley, baptized 23 October 1597; died young.
  2. John Tilley, baptized 26 August 1599; no further record.
  3. Rose Tilley, baptized 28 February 1601/02; no further record.
  4. Robert Tilley, baptized 25 November 1604; married at St Paul, Bedford, Bedfordshire, 1 November 1632, Mary Hawkins; died 1639; he and Mary had two sons and a daughter.
  5. Elizabeth Tilley, baptized 30 August 1607; married at Plymouth, John Howland, a fellow Mayflower passenger; died at Swansea, 21 December 1687. See John Howland for their children.


“English Ancestry Of Seven Mayflower Passengers: Tilley, Sampson And Cooper,” by Robert L. Ward, The American Genealogist [TAG] 52 [1976]:198-208.

“The lost children of Bedfordshire’s Pilgrim Fathers: The Tilley family of the Mayflower,” by Joy Forster, Mayflower Quarterly 65 [Nov. 1999]:322-325.

Mayflower Passenger References, (from contemporary records and scholarly journals), by Susan E. Roser. 2011. pp. 383-88.


St. Mary’s Church in Henlow, Bedfordshire, England where brothers Edward and John Tilley and John’s daughter, Elizabeth, were baptized.