Person:John Howland (3)

John Howland, Pilgrim Leader
m. Abt 1591
  1. George Howland - 1642/43
  2. Arthur Howland1590 - 1676
  3. John Howland, Pilgrim LeaderAbt 1599 - 1672
  4. Humphrey HowlandAbt 1600 - 1646
  5. Margaret HowlandBet 1601 & 1602 - Aft 1646
  • HJohn Howland, Pilgrim LeaderAbt 1599 - 1672
  • WElizabeth Tilley1607 - 1687
m. Bet 1624 and 1625
  1. Desire HowlandBet 1623 & 1625 - 1683
  2. John Howland1627 - Aft 1699
  3. Hope Howland1629 - 1683/84
  4. Elizabeth HowlandAbt 1630 - Aft 1691
  5. Lydia HowlandEst 1633 - Aft 1710/11
  6. Hannah HowlandEst 1637 - 1705
  7. Captain Joseph HowlandEst 1640 - Bet 1703 & 1703/04
  8. Lieutenant Jabez HowlandAbt 1644 - Bef 1711/12
  9. Ruth HowlandAbt 1646 - Bet 1672 & 1679
  10. Isaac Howland1649 - 1723/24
Facts and Events
Name John Howland, Pilgrim Leader
Gender Male
Birth[1] Abt 1599 Fenstanton, Huntingdonshire, England
Christening? 16 Jan 1602/03 Ely, Cambridgeshire, EnglandHoly Trinity
Immigration? 11 Nov 1620 Plymouth, Plymouth, Massachusetts, United StatesAboard the Mayflower
Alt Marriage 25 Mar 1623 Plymouth, Plymouth, Massachusetts, United States (probably)to Elizabeth Tilley
Marriage Bet 1624 and 1625 Plymouth, Plymouth, Massachusetts, United Statesto Elizabeth Tilley
Death[3] 23 Feb 1672 Plymouth, Plymouth, Massachusetts, United States
Burial[2] Burial Hill, Plymouth, Plymouth, Massachusetts, United States
Reference Number[8] Q6240151?


About John Howland

John Howland rose from being a steward for one of the Pilgrim fathers (John Carver), to becoming an integral participant in establishing the Plymouth colony. He was from Scrooby, a village on the great north road about 50 miles from London, where he worked for John Carver, a kindly man who operated Scrooby Manor. The manor was an inn supplying horses and lodging for travelers on the great northroad. It was at Carver's manor that a small group began assembling to observe their own type of worship in 1602. They became a fiercely independent congregation that rejected the Church of England for its laxness and excesses, favoring instead greater strictness of morals and doctrine. As separatists, they were dealt with harshly and, in 1608, many fled to Holland, which offered religious tolerance. They lived in Amsterdam for a year and then moved to Leyden for eleven more before returning to join their friends in England and embark for America. It was decided to leave Holland for the new world because they believed persecution would again be their lot as the catholic Spanish were threatening to overrun the low countries during the Thirty Years War then in progress.[9]

John came on the Mayflower as a servant to John Carver. He was the 13th Signer of the Mayflower Compact. While aboard the Mayflower, he fell overboard and was nearly lost. See Saved by the Rope: John Howland, 1620. While the "Mayflower" was yet in Cape Cod Harber, ten of "her principal" men were "sente out" in a boat manned by eight sailors, to select a place for landing; among them was John Howland. A storm drove them into Plymouth Harbor and Plymouth was selected as the place of settlement. [10]

In the 1623 Plymouth division of land John Howland received four acres as a passenger on the Mayflower. [11] In the 1627 Plymouth division of cattle John Howland, his wife Elizabeth Howland, John Howland Junior and Desire Howland were the first four persons in the fourth company. [12]

After the death of Carver, Howland rose rapidly as a leader in the colony. In 1627 he was the head of one of the twelve companies which divided the livestock, and he was one of the eight Plymouth Undertakers who assumed responsibility for the colony's debt to the Adventurers in return for certain monopoly trade privileges. He was on the 1633 freeman list, and by 1633, if not earlier, was an Assistant, being reelected to this position in 1634 amd 1635. In 1634 he was in charge of the colony trading outpost on the Kennebec River when Talbot and Hocking were killed. [13] He received a good number of land grants, was elected a deputy for Plymouth, served on numerous special committees, and was an important lay leader of the Plymouth Church, so much so that he is recorded as "a godly man and an ancient professor in the ways of Christ." It is shown that he was active in Christian work, for Governor Bradford notes that he became "a profitable member both in Church and Commonwealth. The Reverend John Cotton related how at his own ordination as pastor of the church in 1669 "the aged mr. John Howland was appointed by the chh to Joyne in imposition of hands." Howland died on 24 February 1672/73 in his eightieth year, and John Cotton noted his passing, "He was a good old disciple, and had bin sometime a magistratge here, a plaine-hearted christian."[14]

"John Howland had been part of Plymouth above 50 years. Though there were still a few Mayflower passengers surviving outside Plymouth, virtually all the old guard were gone now. Governor Prence, too, having arrived in 1621 on the Fortune, had spent more than fifty years intertwining his life with that of the colony. Though reputed to be a strict man, a severe man, he must have been in some way representative of at least the freemen of the colony, for after the death of Bradford they continually reelected him governor until the day he died."[15]

Plymouth Colony: Its History and People also notes "The 23rd of February 1672/73, Mr. John Howard, Senir, of the towne of Plymouth, deceased. Hee was a godly man and an ancient professor in the wayes of Christ; hee lived untill hee attained above eighty yeares in the world. Hee was one of the first comers into this land, and proved a useful instrument of good in his place, and was the last man that was left of those that came over in the Shipp called the May Flower, that lived in Plymouth; hee was with honor intered att the towne of Plymouth on the 25 of February 1672."[16]


The identity of this family is proved by the probate records of John's brother, Humphrey Howland, a draper, who settled in St.Swithin's Parish in London. Humphrey Howland ,In his will written in London 28 May 1646 and proved 10 July,1646 by his second wife, Anne. mentioned his brothers, Arthur, John Henry, his sister,Mararett, Wife of Richard Phillips of Fenstanton, shoemaker, his "nephew",Simon Howland, and his "niece, "Hannah Howland "Simon's sister. Additional information about John Howland's family is found the records of the intestate estate of another brother George Howland, a merchant of St. Dunstan's, East London, who had died two years earlier,10 Feb,1643/4. His estate was administered by Humphry Howland's wife, Anne, 11 July 1646. Simon Howland was baptized in Fenstanton 19 Aug. 1604, called the "son of Henrye," and was probably The Simon Howland who was apprenticed 19 March 1622, to Humphrey Howland,"citizen and draper of London." "English Reseach," The Howland Quarterly (Jan-Apr 1964)28:6-7, Fenstanton, "(July 1968) 32:2-4, include a brother, Simon,in this family, but Simon Howland is called "nephew" in Humphrey Howland's will as ststed in "The Will of Humphrey Howland," (June 1964) 28:2-3.

John Howland is an ancestor to President George Bush, and to First Lady Edith (Carrow) Roosevelt (Mrs. Theodore Roosevelt). Presidents Richard Nixon and Gerald Ford are descendants of John Howland's brother Henry. Winston Churchill is descended from John Howland's brother Arthur.

There is a today a John Howland house in the Plymouth Plantation restoration and The Pilgrim John Howland Society operates the Jabez Howland House in Plymouth itself. (Jabez was the ninth of John Howland's ten children).


John Howland's Will

The Last Will and Testament of mr John howland of Plymouth late Deceased, exhibited to the Court held att Plymouth the fift Day of March Anno Dom 1672 on the oathes of mr Samuell ffuller and mr William Crow as followeth Know all men to whom these prsents shall Come That I John howland senir of the Towne of New Plymouth in the Collonie of New Plymouth in New England in America, this twenty ninth Day of May one thousand six hundred seaventy and two being of whole mind, and in Good and prfect memory and Remembrance praised be God; being now Grown aged; haveing many Infeirmities of body upon mee; and not Knowing how soon God will call mee out of this world, Doe make and ordaine these prsents to be my Testament Containing herein my last Will in manor and forme following;

Imp I Will and bequeath my body to the Dust and my soule to God that Gave it in hopes of a Joyfull Resurrection unto Glory; and as Concerning my temporall estate, I Dispose thereof as followeth;

Item I Doe give and bequeath unto John howland my eldest sonne besides what lands I have alreddy given him, all my Right and Interest To that one hundred acres of land graunted mee by the Court lying on the eastern side of Tauton River; between Teticutt and Taunton bounds and all the appurtenances and privilidges Therunto belonging, T belonge to him and his heirs and assignes for ever; and if that Tract should faile, then to have all my Right title and Interest by and in that Last Court graunt to mee in any other place, To belonge to him his heires and assignes for ever;

Item I give and bequeath unto my son Jabez howland all those my upland and Meadow That I now posesse at Satuckett and Paomett, and places adjacent, with all the appurtenances and privilidges, belonging therunto, and all my right title and Interest therin, To belonge to him his heires and assignes for ever,

Item I Give and bequeath unto my son Jabez howland all that my one peece of land that I have lying on the southsyde of the Mill brooke, in the Towne of Plymouth aforsaid; be it more or lesse; and is on the Northsyde of a feild that is now Gyles Rickards senir To belonge to the said Jabez his heirs and assignes for ever;

Item I give and bequeath unto Isacke howland my youngest sonne all those my uplands and meddows Devided and undivided with all the appurtenances and priviliges unto them belonging, lying and being in the Towne of Middlebery, and in a tract of Land Called the Majors Purchase near Namassakett Ponds; which I have bought and purchased of William White of Marshfeild in the Collonie of New Plymouth; which may or shall appeer by any Deed or writinges Together with the aformentioned prticulares To belonge to the said Isacke his heirs and assignes for ever;

Item I give and bequeath unto my said son Isacke howland the one halfe of my twelve acree lott of Meddow That I now have att Winnatucsett River within the Towne of Plymouth aforsaid To belonge to him and said Isacke howland his heires and assignes for ever,

Item I Will and bequeath unto my Deare and loveing wife Elizabeth howland the use and benifitt of my now Dwelling house in Rockey nooke in the Township of Plymouth aforsaid, with the outhousing lands, That is uplands uplands [sic] and meddow lands and all appurtenances and privilidges therunto belonging in the Towne of Plymouth and all other Lands housing and meddowes that I have in the said Towne of Plymouth excepting what meddow and upland I have before given To my sonnes Jabez and Isacke howland During her naturall life to Injoy make use of and Improve for her benifitt and Comfort;

Item I give and bequeath unto my son Joseph howland after the Decease of my loveing wife Elizabeth howland my aforsaid Dwelling house att Rockey nooke together with all the outhousing uplands and Medowes appurtenances and privilidges belonging therunto; and all other housing uplands and meddowes appurtenances and privilidges That I have within the aforsaid Towne of New Plymouth excepting what lands and meadowes I have before Given To my two sonnes Jabez and Isacke; To belong to him the said Joseph howland To him and his heires and assignes for ever;

Item I give and bequeath unto my Daughter Desire Gorum twenty shillings

Item I give and bequeath To my Daughter hope Chipman twenty shillings

Item I give and bequeath unto my Daughter Elizabeth Dickenson twenty shillings

Item I give and bequeath unto my Daughter Lydia Browne twenty shillings

Item I give & bequeath to my Daughter hannah Bosworth twenty shillings

Item I give and bequeath unto my Daughter Ruth Cushman twenty shillings

Item I give to my Grandchild Elizabeth howland The Daughter of my son John howland twenty shillings

Item my will is That these legacyes Given to my Daughters, be payed by my exequitrix in such species as shee thinketh meet;

Item I will and bequeath unto my loveing wife Elizabeth howland, my Debts and legacyes being first payed my whole estate: vis: lands houses goods Chattles; or any thing else that belongeth or appertaineth unto mee, undisposed of be it either in Plymouth Duxburrow or Middlbery or any other place whatsoever; I Doe freely and absolutly give and bequeath it all to my Deare and loveing wife Elizabeth howland whom I Doe by these prsents, make ordaine and Constitute to be the sole exequitrix of this my Last will and Testament to see the same truely and faithfully prformed according to the tenour therof; In witness whereof I the said John howland senir have heerunto sett my hand and seale the aforsaid twenty ninth Day of May, one thousand six hundred seaventy and two 1672

Signed and sealed in the prsence of Samuel ffuller John Howland

William Crow And a seale

Holy Trinity Church

Text References

  1. Johnson, Caleb.

    Referred to as "a lusty young man" by 30-year old William Bradford in his Mayflower journal, but old enough to sign the Mayflower Compact. [1]

  2. Epitaphs from Burial Hill, Plymouth, Massachusetts.

    Epitaph: "Here endeth the Pilgrimage of John Howland and Elizabeth, his wife; was the last left of those that came on the mayflower"

  3. Anderson, Robert Charles. The Great Migration Begins: Immigrants to New England, 1620-1633. (Boston: New England Historic Genealogical Society, 1995).

    Citing Records of the Colony of New Plymouth, 8:34; "above eighty years"

  4.   Immigrant Ships Transcribers Guild.
  5.   William Bradford. History of Plymouth Plantation.
  6.   Savage, James. A Genealogical Dictionary of the First Settlers of New England: Showing Three Generations of Those Who Came Before May, 1692, on the Basis of Farmer's Register. (Boston: Little, Brown, and Co, 1860-1862)

    JOHN, Plymouth, of the ever honored passeng. wh. came in the Mayflower 1620 the latest surviv. exc. John Alden, among the adult males; tho. a minor d. of lsaac Allerton, Mary, wh. m. Elder Thomas Cushman, liv. more than 78 yrs. after the landing. He was a serv. or attend. of Gov. Carver, yet he is in rank the thirteenth signer of the Covenant, 11 Nov. and was reckon. as part of the fam. of Gov. Carver, wh. gave occasion, no doubt, to the vain tradit. prevail. for the last century and a half that his w. Elizabeth was d. of the Gov. who, perhaps, never had a ch. certain. brot. none. Both the Gov. and his w. d. in the first season, and Howland, at the time of their arr. 28 yrs. old, m. Elizabeth d. of John Tilley (wh. with his w. a. soon after landing, leav. only this ch.), we are hardly permit. to doubt, early in 1621, as his ch. John, b. 24 Feb. 1627, and Desire are nam. at the div. of cattle 1627, and he seems to have counted as many heads at the partit. of lds. 1623-4. For correction of the long prevalent error, that he m. a d. of Gov. Carver, we are indebted to Bradford's Hist. formerly part of the N. E. Library of Prince, in the tower of O. s. ch. at Boston, discov. 1855, in the Library of the Bp. of London at Fulham. He was an assist. 3 yrs. so early as 1633-5, and often a rep. and d. 23 Feb. 1673, aged more than 80, and his wid. d. 21 Dec. 1687, aged 80. His will, of 29 Mar 1672, names ten ch. we may hope in the order of b. of each sex, but we are ign. of the exact dates or sequence of any, exc. that John is by it call. eldest, and Isaac, youngest, Jabez, and Joseph; Desire, wh. was [[vol. 2, p. 480]] the first ch. m. 1643, John Gorham and d. 13 Oct. 1683 Hope, w. of John Chipman, as early as 1646; Elizabeth m. 13 Sept. 1649 Ephraim Hicks, and 10 July 1651, John Dickenson; Lydia, w. of James Brown of Swanzey; Hannah, m. a Bosworth, Nathaniel, as by the scrupulous writer of the life of the late John Howland, p. 11, is said and in his will she is nam. Bosworth; and Ruth, m. 7 or 17 Nov. 1664, Thomas Cushman, s. of the Elder.

  7.   Plymouth, Massachusetts, United States. Plymouth County Probate Estate Files 1686-1915
    Case No. 10932.

    Image 766 - 5 Mar 1672 Elizabeth Howland appointed Admin.

  8. John Howland, in Wikipedia: The Free Encyclopedia.

    the text in this section is copied from an article in Wikipedia

    John Howland (February 23, 1673) accompanied the English Separatists and other passengers when they left England on the to settle in Plymouth Colony. He was an indentured servant and in later years an executive assistant and personal secretary to Governor John Carver.

    In 1620 he signed the Mayflower Compact and helped found the colony. During his service to Governor Carver in 1621, Howland assisted in the making of a treaty with the Sachem Massasoit of the Wampanoag. In 1626, he was a freeman and one of eight settlers who agreed to assume the colony's debt to its investors in exchange for a monopoly on the fur trade. He was elected deputy to the Plymouth General Court in 1641 and held the position until 1655, and again in 1658.

  9. Notes of User:Japezoid, citing "Mayflower Web Pages" by Caleb Johnson, 1999
  10. The History of the State of Rhode Island and Providence Plantations: Biographical. From pages 102-3 of a separate edition. From the RI Gen Web, 6/7/2001.
  11. Plymouth Colony Records 12:4.
  12. PCR 12:10
  13. Plymouth Colony: Its History and People 1620-1691, Part One Chronological Histories, Chapter 6: King Philip's War (1675-1676)
  14. The History of the State of Rhode Island, supra
  15. Plymouth Colony: Its History and People, Ch. 6, supra
  16. Chapter 5: Quaker Ranters, Baptist Schismatics, and Indians with Tongues Running out (1657-1675) Middleborough

Image Gallery

The Mayflower (1620)
The Mayflower was the first settlement voyage to New England, carrying primarily English Separatists known as Pilgrims. It was destined for the mouth of the Hudson River, but landed at Cape Cod in present-day Massachusetts.
Sailed: 6 Sep 1620 from Southampton, England under Captain Christopher Jones
Arrived: 11 Nov 1620 at Plymouth, Massachusetts
After spending the winter aboard ship, the surviving passengers moved ashore on 21 Mar 1621.
Next Vessel: The Fortune (1621)

104; 24 families left descendants (Full List)
Pilgrim Families: Allerton (Asst. Gov. Isaac) - Bradford (Gov. William) - Brewster (Rev. William) - Chilton - Cooke - Fuller (Edward) - Fuller (Samuel) - Priest - Rogers - Sampson - Tilley (Edward) - Tilley (John) - White - Winslow (Edward)
Other Families and Servants: Alden - Billington - Browne - Doty - Eaton - Hopkins - Howland - Mullins - Soule - Standish (Capt. Miles) - Warren - Winslow (Gilbert)

Resources: Primary Sources: Bradford's History of Plymouth Plantation - Mourt's Relation - Pilgrim Hall (wills and other contemporary documents)
Wikipedia: Mayflower (voyage) - Passenger List - Pilgrims - Plymouth Colony - Captain Christopher Jones