John Howland
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John Howland (abt. 1592 - 1673)

John Howland
Born about in Fenstanton, Huntingdonshire, Englandmap [uncertain]
Husband of — married about 1623 (to 23 Feb 1673) in Plymouth Colonymap
Descendants descendants
Died in Plymouth, Plymouth Colonymap
Profile last modified | Created 11 Sep 2010
This page has been accessed 40,477 times.
The Mayflower.
John Howland was a passenger on the Mayflower.
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John Howland, the 1620 Mayflower passenger, was the son of Henry Howland of Fenstanton, England, and Margaret _____. His birth was about 1592, based on the fact that he was above 80 years, when he died at Plymouth 23 Feb 1672/3.[1][2] John's brothers, Arthur and Henry, also migrated to Plymouth, where their Quaker leanings were at odds with the established government and religion.[3]


Sept 1620, John Howland sailed on the Mayflower as one of two "man-servants" of Gov. Carver.[4]
John almost lost his life by being swept overboard. "In sundry of these storms the winds were so feirce, & ye seas so high, as they could not beare a knote of saile, but were forced to hull for divece days togither. And in one of them, as they thus lay at hull in a mighty storme, a lusty young man (called John Howland) coming upon some occasion above ye grattings, was, with a seele of tye shipe, thrown into ye sea; but it pleased God yt he caught hould of ye tope-sail halliards which hunge over board, & rane out at length; yet he held his hould (though he was sundrie fadoms under water) till he was hald up by ye same rope to ye brim of ye water, and then with boat hooke & other means got into the ship againe & 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 comone wealthe."[5]


John married before the 1623 land division, in Plymouth Colony, fellow Mayflower passenger, Elizabeth Tilley. Elizabeth, daughter of John and Joan (Hurst) Tilley, was baptized at Henlow, Bedfordshire, England, 30 Aug 1607. She died, at Swansea, 22 Dec 1687, aged eighty. The Howlands had 10 children.[2][1]


1620: 11 Nov, John Howland signed the Mayflower Compact.[6]
1621 Winter: Death of about half the passengers on the Mayflower, including Gov. Carver and the entire Tilley family except Eilzabeth. John Howland was "man-servant" to Govenor Carver and was part of his household family. The Governor and his wife were among the fifty Pilgrims who died during the first year at Plymouth. It is believed that John Howland inherited John Carver's estate as the Carvers had no children of their own.[7]
1623: John Howland received 4 acres in the 1623 Land Division[8]
1626, 1627: The expedition to Plymouth was funded by about 70 men, known as "Adventurers." After several years, for various reasons, it was decided to purchase the shares in the colony from these Adventurers. John Howland became one of the group (eight men from Plymouth and four in England) known as "undertakers" who purchased the shares for £1800.[9]
1627: The Plymouth cattle division of 1627 listed John as the head of the fourth lot. His wife, Elizabeth, and children John Jr and Desire were also listed. Their share was one of the 4 heifers that came in the Jacob.[8]
1633: The first list of Plymouth freeman in 1633, contains the name of John Howland placed as part of the Council.[10] His name was on subsequent lists of freeman dated 6 Mar 1636/7 and the Plymouth sections in 1639, 1658, and 1670.[11]
1634 April: The Plymouth colonists began trading with the natives of the Kennebec area about 1626. In 1629, they secured legal rights to this trade known as the Kennebec or Plymouth Patent. In April of 1634, when John Howland was in charge of the trading, John Hocking challenged those exclusive rights to trade. John Howland told Hocking to weigh anchor. Hocking replied with angry words, and Howland ordered three of his men to cut the anchor. Unfortunately, the current was strong, so they added a fourth man Moses Talbott. When they reached the ship, Talbott was shot and killed by Hocking, despite Howland's protests that Talbott was only doing as ordered, and that Hocking should shoot himself (Howland) instead. Before any more people could be shot by Hocking, he was shot and killed by somone on Hocking's boat.[12]
1633-5: Plymouth Colony Assistant.[13]
14 Mar 1635/6 John represented the "Duxborrow side" in a meeting.[14] He was one of the early settlers in the area known as Duxborrow (Duxbury). He sold his property in Duxbury 2 April 1640,[15] but had previously purchased land in Plymouth 2 Feb 1638/9.[16] This property was in the area known as Rocky Nook.[17]
1641: Plymouth Deputy to the Plymouth General Court for about 30 years between 1641 and 1667.[18]
1641-1665: As early as 1641, Mr. John Howland was active in the affairs of the town of Plymouth. He served on committees, as a "rater" (assessor), as surveyor of highways (1649), selectman (1665).[19] About 1665, John fades from the town records and his sons Joseph and Jabez become active. John would have been in his 70s.
1643: John Howland Sr. was on the 1643 list of men in Plymouth "able to bear arms"[20]
1656: In his years in Plymouth Colony John acquired many parcels of land for himself and to see that his children were well settled. Many of these can be found in the Plymouth Colony Records especially in Vol 12. There were sometimes disagreements.
1656 "A writing apointed to bee Recorded"
"Wheras there was a diference fell out betwixt John howland senir Thomas Bourne and John Dingley about the Range of a pcell of marsh meddow lying in Marshfeild and not eazye to be knowne;
"These are therefore to put an end to the aforsaid Diference; It is agreed by and between the said John Howland senir Thomas Bourne and John Dingley senir: that the line or Range shall begin att the beach next the sea upon a west line sett by a compas to a homacke in the marsh whre there lyes an old Ceader tree there being noe other nor no more trees neare next to the great Iland but that onely And from the aforsaid homacke and tree to Run upon the aforsaid west line to the Basse creeke To which agreement all the aforsaid pties have freely assented unto as abovesaid; alsoe that this agreement bee put upon Record both att Marshfeild and the court booke att Plymouth to avoid all further Diference for time to Come about the prmises; in witnesse wherof wee the said John howland senir: Thomas Bourne and John Dingley have put to our hands this fourth of May 1655" It was signed in the presence of Myles Standish by John howland, Thomas Bourne and John Dingley[21]
1659: John Howland served on the committee for Fur trade.[22]


Death: February 23, 1672/3 at Plymouth, Plymouth Colony.[23] "The 23th of February, 1672, Mr. John Howland, 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 usefull instrument of good in his place, & 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.[24] The current grave stone on Burial Hill was erected in 1897 with funds raised by Mrs. Joseph Howland. It replaced a stone erected about 1836 by John and Henry Howland of Providence, Rhode Island. The older stone was buried under the new one. It stated that Howland's wife was a daughter of Governor Carver. The 1856 discovery of Governor William Bradford's manuscript "Of Plimoth Plantation." proved this to be wrong. Instead he married Elizabeth, daughter of John and Joan Tilley.[25]

Will & Inventory

John Howland's Will was made 29 May 1672 and presented at court 5 Mar 1672 {1672/3] "now Grown aged; haveing many Infeirmities of body" he made bequests to John howland, eldest son; son, Jabez; Isaac Howland, youngest son; wife, Elizabeth Howland (also named executrix; son, Joseph; daughters, Desire Gorum, Hope Chipman, Elizabeth Dickenson, Lydia Browne, Hannah Bosworth, Ruth Cushman, grandchild Elizabeth Howland, daughter of son John.[12]
John had an extensive inventory, which not including land, and after debts and charges was appraised at £157 8s 8d. He had his dwelling house at Rocky Nook in Plymouth, land at Jones River, 1/2 a house and land at Colchester in Plymouth, land in Duxburrow, house and land in Middleberry, and shares of land called "Majors Purchase. His house was three rooms, a front and back room and an upstairs chamber. Besides his Bible, he had other books.[12]
See John Howland's Will and Inventory (complete)


  1. Desire Howland, b. say 1624; m. by 1644 John Gorham (eldest child b. Plymouth 2 April 1644 [MD 5:72]).
  2. John Howland, b. Plymouth 24 April 1627; m. Plymouth 26 October 1651 Mary Lee [PCR 8:13].
  3. Hope Howland, b. say 1629; m. by about 1646 John Chipman.
  4. Elizabeth Howland, b. say 1631; m. (1) Plymouth 13 September 1649 Ephraim Hicks [PCR 8:8]; m. (2) Plymouth 10 July 1651 John Dickerson [PCR 8:13].
  5. Lydia Howland, b. say 1633; m. by about 1655 James Brown.
  6. Hannah Howland, b. say 1637; m. Swansea 6 July 1661 Jonathan Bosworth [SwVR 23].
  7. Joseph Howland, b. say 1640; m. Plymouth 7 December 1664 Elizabeth Southworth [PCR 8:25], daughter of THOMAS SOUTHWORTH.
  8. Jabez Howland, b. about 1644 (deposed on 19 July 1680 aged 36 years [SJC#1915]); m. by 1669 Bethiah Thatcher, daughter of Anthony Thatcher (eldest child b. Plymouth 15 November 1669 [PVR 668; NYGBR 42:154-57]).
  9. Ruth Howland b. say 1646; m. Plymouth 17 November 1664 Thomas Cushman [PCR 8:25], son of Thomas Cushman.
  10. Isaac Howland, b. Plymouth 15 November 1649; m. by 1677 Elizabeth Vaughn, daughter of George Vaughn [TAG 23:24-26].

Research Notes


Confirmed DNA results through the Big Y-500 (original Big Y) test, Big Y-700 test, and Y Elite test reveal that Henry Howland of Fenstanton's Haplogroup and SNP (single nucleotide polymorphism) is R-A9703. His haplotree line is R-M269 >> R-U106 >> R-Z8 > R-Z1 > R-Z344 > R-Z6 > R-A96 > R-S10415 > R-A9701 > R-A9703.[26][27]

Seven Howland men share all 11 Y-DNA SNPs which are identified as A9702, A9703, A9704, A9706, A9707, A9708, FGC58199, FGC58202, FGC58206, FGC58207, and FGC58217 on the R-A9703 block level in the Y haplotree.

All 11 unique SNPs have occurred before the birth of Henry Howland of Fenstanton, and they are genetically passed to all his sons and their male descendants; however, there are more unique private variants that occurred in the Y-DNA of their paternal line descendants after the births of Arthur, John, and Henry Howland individually.[28]

For example, two private variants belong to one male descendant of Pilgrim John Howland's son, John Howland, Jr., and four private variants belong to one male descendant of Pilgrim John Howland's son, Jabez Howland, but none of these two private variants are identical to the four private variants. It means Pilgrim John Howland did not have any more novel variants but only did have inherited 11 SNPs of R-A9703 in his Y-DNA chromosome at that time when he was born.

Furthermore, those two and four private variants are not identical to any of those private variants or SNPs in the results of Arthur Howland and Henry Howland, Jr's male descendants.

If another paternal line descendant of Pilgrim John Howland takes the Big Y-700 test and his results reveal a match to any of those private variants, it will create two new separate haplogroup subclades of R-A9703 in the future for Lt. John Howland, Jr's line and Jabez Howland's line.

The parentage of Arthur Howland, John Howland, and Henry Howland, Jr. has been confirmed by SNP testing by Anonymous Howland, Frank Howland, FGC kit #E8PEF, and Big Y-500 tester which shows that they share 11 unique SNPs and are therefore all-male descendants of Henry Howland Sr.

The more DNA testings can discover other SNPs unique to the descendants to trace the Y-DNA to one of three Howland brothers in America. Recruiting additional Howlands for further SNP testing - anyone interested in submitting their Y-DNA. See more information at Howland (Y-DNA) under the Mayflower DNA project and Howland DNA project under Family Tree DNA.

Some Descendants

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


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 Anderson, Robert C., The Pilgrim Migration, "John Howland" Boston: Great Migration Study Project, New England Historic Genealogical Society, 2006. pp 279-284. link (free) AmericanAncestors
  2. 2.0 2.1 Lainhart, Ann Smith. Mayflower Families through Five Generations, Volume 23, Part 1, Family of John Howland, General Society of Mayflower Descendents, Plymouth, MA., 2006.
  3. Johnson, Caleb H. "Henry Howland of Fenstanton, Huntingdonshire: Father of Mayflower Passenger John Howland". Available at The Pilgrim John Howland Society website (2015). Link to online PDF.
  4. Bradford, William. History of Plymouth Plantation (Massachusetts Historical Society, 1856) p. 447 "8 [persons] M. John Carver; Kathrine, his wife; Desire Minter; & . 2. man-servants, John Howland, Roger Wilder; William Latham, a boy; & a maid servant, & a child yt was put to him, called Jasper More." p. 450. "M. Carver and his wife dyed the first year; he in ye spring, she in ye somer; also, his man Roger and ye litle boy Jasper dyed before either of them, of ye commone infection. Desire Minter returned to her freinds, & proved not very well, and dyed in England. His servant boy Latham, after more then 20 years stay in the country, went into England, and from thence to the Bahamy Ilands in ye West Indies, and ther, with some others, was starved for want of food. His maid servant maried, & dyed a year or tow after, here in this place." "15. [persons]His servant, John Howland, maried the doughter of John Tillie, Elizabeth, and they are both now living, and have 10. children, now all living; and their eldest daughter hath 4. children. And ther 2. daughter, 1. all living; and other of their children mariagable. So 15. are come of them."
  5. Bradford. History of Plymouth p. 76
  6. Morton, Nathaniel. New England's memorial. (Boston: Congregational board of publication, 1855) Originally published 1669.p. 26. Note: The original compact is gone. Morton furnished the earliest known list. 1669 facsimile.
  7. B. Clay Shannon. Still Casting Shadows: A Shared Mosaic of U.S. History. (2006) p. 18
  8. 8.0 8.1 Records of the colony of New Plymouth, in New England, Nathaniel B. Shurtleff and David Pulsifer, eds., 12 volumes in 10 (Boston 1855-1861) Vol 12 of Series. Deeds, &c. Vol 1 p. 1620-1651 and others. 1623 p. 4; 1627 p. 10
  9. Stratton, Eugene Aubrey, FASG. Plymouth Colony Its History & People. The Generations Network, Inc., Provo, Utah: Ancestry Publishing, 1986 pp 19-29
  10. Plymouth Colony Records Vol 1:3
  11. Plymouth Colony Records. Vol 1:52, 5:274, 8:173 and 8:197
  12. 12.0 12.1 12.2 Bowman, George Ernest. "John Howland's Will and Inventory. The Mayflower Descendant Vol 2: Will p. 170, Inventory p. 173, 1634 shooting pp 10, 11.
  13. Shurtleff, Nathaniel B. Records of the colony of New Plymouth, in New England : printed by order of the legislature of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. Court Orders Vol. 1 1633-1640. (Boston : Press of W. White, 1855) Vol 1p. 5, p. 21, p. 32
  14. Plymouth Colony Records Vol 1 p. 41
  15. Plymouth Colony Records Vol 12 p. 56
  16. Plymouth Colony Records Vol 12 p. 41
  17. Wakefield, Robert S. "John Howland in Maine." The Mayflower Descendant 42:15 (1992) Link at AmericanAncestors ($)
  18. Plymouth Colony Records. Vol 2 pp 16, 94, 117, 123, 144, 154, 167, Vol 3: pp 8, 31, 44, 49, 63, 79, 99, 135, 214, Vol 4 pp 37, 122, 148.
  19. Plymouth (Mass.). Records of the town of Plymouth (Plymouth : Avery & Doten, 1889) Howland selectmanp. 82 suveyor p. 28
  20. Plymouth Colony Records Vol 8: 187
  21. Mayflower Descendant v. 10; April 1908; pp. 72 - 73. Cites Plymouth Colony Deeds p. 169.
  22. Plymouth Colony Records Vol. 3 p. 170
  23. MF 5 Gen by Lainhart & Wakefield.
  24. Shurtleff, Nathaniel B. Records of the colony of New Plymouth, in New England Vol. 7 Miscellaneous Records 1633-1689 (New York : AMS Press, 1968 reprint.) (Original 1857.) Vol 7. p. 34.
  25. The Pilgrim John Howland Society.
  26. General Society of Mayflower Descendants. “Mayflower: Official Project of General Society of Mayflower Descendants (GSMD).” FamilyTreeDNA,, 2019, Mayflower DNA Project - Y-DNA Colorized Chart.
  27. Howland DNA Project. Family TreeDNA., 2020,
  28. Block Tree. Family TreeDNA, Family, 2020.
  • Caleb Johnson's MayflowerHistory, database online.
  • White, Elizabeth Pearson. John Howland of the Mayflower through Desire Howland for Five Generations (Picton Press, Camden, Maine, c1990-) vol.1, pages 1-7.
  • Stratton, E.A., Plymouth Colony, Its History & People 1620-1691, Ancestry Publishing, Salt Lake City, UT, 1986. Other editions available.
  • Banks, Charles Edward, The English Ancestry and Homes of the Pilgrim Fathers Who Came to Plymouth, (Baltimore, Genelogical Publishing Co., Inc. 1976).
  • Bowman, George Ernest, The Mayflower Reader, (Baltimore, Genelogical Publishing Co., Inc., 1978).
  • Willison, George F., Saints and Strangers (The Cornwall Press, Cornwall, NY, 1943) Third Printing.
  • John Howland, Mayflower passenger, Wikipedia.
  • Howland, Franklyn. A Brief Genealogical and Biographical History of Arthur, Henry, and John Howland (The Author, New Bedford, Mass., 1885) .
  • Hanna, Doreen Potter. A Potter-Richardson Memorial: the ancestral lines of Wiliam W. Potter of Michigan, and his wife, Margaret (Richardson) Potter, published 1957, city and publisher unknown. Reproduced in facsimile by ProQuest Information and Learning Company Address: 300 North Zeeb Road, PO Box 1346, Ann Arbor, Michigan, U.S.A. 48106-1346. 734.761.4700. HeritageQuest Online is owned by ProQuest Information and Learning Company and is protected by copyright. See also online at
  • John Howland, The Pilgrim John Howland Society, Founded 1897.
  • Roberts, Gary Boyd. Notable Kin, Volume One. Carl Boyer, 3rd; Santa Clarita, California; 1998. Published in cooperation with the New England Historic genealogical Society, Boston, Massachusetts. The Mayflower Descents of President George Herbert Walker Bush, First Lady Barbara Pierce Bush, and Vice President James Danforth Quayle.
  • Ward, Robert Leigh. "English Ancestry of Seven Mayflower Passengers," The American Genealogist (Oct. 1976) 52:203.
  • Bangs, Jeremy Dupertuis. "The Pilgrims and Other English in Leiden Records: Some New Pilgrim Documents," New England Historical and Genealogical Register (July 1989) 143:209.
  • The Mayflower Descendant (Massachusetts Society of Mayflower Descendants) 3:54-57: Bristol Co. Probate 1:13-14 (Elizabeth Howland). Plymouth Colony Wills and Inventories 3:1:49-54 (John Howland). 2(1900):70-77.
  • Roser, Susan. Mayflower Deeds and Probates, 1600-1850 ( Operations, Inc.).
  • Roser, Susan. Mayflower Births and Deaths, Vol. 1 and 2 ( Operations, Inc.).
  • Find A Grave: Memorial #6613808, citing Burial Hill, Plymouth, Plymouth County, Massachusetts, USA . Permission received from Caryn to upload headstone onto Wikitree on 4/3/2020.
  • Arnold, James N. Vital Record of Rhode Island, 1636-1850 (Narragansett Historical Pub. Co., Providence, R.I., 1891) Vol. 2 Providence County, Page 268: Deaths.
  • Bradford, William, 1590-1657. Of Plimoth Plantation: manuscript, 1630-1650. State Library of Massachusetts "List of Mayflower Passengers." In Bradford's Hand.
  • PCR12 p. 14. 1627 laid out lots; p. 40. 1638 bought 30 acres from William Holmes; p. 41 Feb 1638/9 bought house, barns etc. and land at Rocky Nook from John Jenney; p. 60. bought 5 acres from William Reynolds; p. 135. 1646 memorandum John exchanged 30 acres from William Holmes for 20 and 3 acres at Jones River Bridge; p. 164. 1648 bought land "great island Marshfield" from William Bradford; p. 165. On the same day he sold half this land to his son-in-law John Gorum]
  • The Boy Who Fell Off the Mayflower or John Howland's Good Fortune, a children's book, is a fictional work based on historic facts, by author and illustrator P. J. Lynch, published by Candlewick Press, Somerville, Massachusetts, copyrighted 2015. Suggested Children's reading
  • Families of the Pilgrims. Published By the Massachusetts Society of Mayflower Descendants. link to sales page
  • Perkins, Frank Herman and Burbank, Alfred Stevens Handbook of Old Burial Hill, Plymouth, Massachusetts: Its History, Its Famous Dead, and Its Quaint Epitaphs (Pilgrim Bookstore (Plymouth, Mass.) Published by A.S. Burbank, Pilgrim Bookstore, 1902) image of John Howland memorial stone p. 51 See also p. 17

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Comments: 35

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I am going to move the Will and Inventory transcriptions (maybe some other stuff) to a Free space page if no one objects. Objections?
posted by Anne B
Sally Marr has made an interesting argument for 1599 as the approximate birth year. I am not going to quote for fear of copyright violation, but she argues that he must have been under 25 (born after 1595) to have come over on the Mayflower as an indentured servant. She also points out that ages at death are often overstated in old records. The complete article can be found here:
posted by Carol (Jennings) Thoma
Raymond, his place of birth is shown as "uncertain."
posted by Bobbie (Madison) Hall
The Howland family is not proven to be in Fen Stanton until the baptism of Simon Howland in 1604. (from the Bishop's Transcripts). Unfortunately both the parish register and the Bishop's Transcript for Fen Stanton are very fragmentary during this time period.

In any case, Henry Howland (father of John) is not believed to be a native of Fen Stanton and we simply don't know when he moved here. It is possible John Howland was not born/baptized at Fen Stanton.

This information comes from Caleb Johnson's article in the MAR 2016 "The Howland Quarterly" (pp. 10-20)

posted by Raymond Wing
After review, deleted text under copyright today (see Comment below).

I'm doing a personal study of Mayflower ancestors John and Elizabeth (Tilly) Howland and her parents, and will add sources/text not under copyright as I find them.

Onward and Upward, cousin.

Cousins, we have a problem on this profile for John Howland. Several pages of "John Howland of the Mayflower" Vol 1 by Elizabeth Pearson White have been copied verbatim under the section "Additional Information". I will be removing most of it, as it is a copyright issue of major proportions. She is a living author and the book has a c. date of 1990. My copy is the 7th printing, 2014. Very little of the text under 'Additional Information' will remain when I'm done. Much of it is elsewhere in the text box, from other sources, or is not directly related to Howland's life.

Just to let you know a major change will occur on this profile, and why. It is to protect WikiTree.

Caleb Johnson wrote an article in the MAR 2016 "The Howland Quarterly" (pp. 10-20) documenting Henry Howland, father of John (and others) as well as his children.
posted by Raymond Wing