Nathaniel Tilden

Nathaniel Tilden (1583 - bef. 1641)

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Elder Nathaniel Tilden
Born in Tenterden, Ashford Borough, Kent, Englandmap
Ancestors ancestors
Husband of — married 1606 in Tenterden, Kent, Englandmap
Descendants descendants
Died before in Scituate, Plymouth Colonymap
Profile last modified 23 Apr 2019 | Created 12 Sep 2010
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The Puritan Great Migration.
Nathaniel Tilden migrated to New England during the Puritan Great Migration (1620-1640).
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Nathaniel Tilden was baptized at Tenterden 28 July 1583, son of Thomas Tilden and Alice Bigge.[1] He died in 1641.

He had been mayor of Tenterden in 1622 and was succeeded in that office by his cousin John in 1623-4. His Uncle John had also been mayor of Tenterden in 1585 and in 1600. His father Thomas had been one of the jurate of local magistrates of Tenterden, and his brother Hopestil had held that same office.

He married Lydia Huckstep on 13 Oct 1606 in Benenden, Kent, England. All twelve of their children were born in Kent. The family emigrated together on the Hercules of Dover in March 1634-35 with seven servants.

On March 4, 1634 the Hercules sailed from Tenterden, England. John Witherly of Sandwich, England was Mariner. Boat 200 tons, 12 ft. board above hatches 4 score feet long, 16 ft. deep.[2]

Some believe that Nathaniel Tilden preceded his family in coming to America, citing deed of sale of land dated 1628.[3][4] But no such record is found and a passenger list of the Hercules of Dover exists (or is claimed to exist) that lists Nathaniel, seven children, seven servants and Lydia his wife. And there are no records of him in New England before 1634.

They settled at Scituate (from Indian meaning "cold brook") which had been founded by Timothy Hatherly, who later married Nathaniel's widow Lydia. He died probably in Scituate between 25 May and 31 July 1641 and was buried at the Cemetery of the Men of Kent, Scituate, Plymouth Massachusetts.[citation needed] There is a tall granite monument there dedicated to the Men of Kent and bears the names of the eleven original settlers of Scituate including Nathaniel Tilden and Timothy Hatherly.

Nathaniel Tilden died, late of Scituate, in 1641 between the date of his will 25 May 1641 and the inventory of his estate 31 July 1641.[5]

His wife Lydia died at Scituate, Massachusetts, on 31 Jul 1672. The Tilden's were Puritans but some early records indicate they were considered renegades.


  • In May 1637, with his friend Hatherly, he was appointed by Plymouth Colony to settle the bounds between it and Massachusetts.
  • 1634: chosen Ruling Elder of the first Church in Scituate. His house lot was on Kent-street, the 3d. south of Greenfield lane. He had also lands at Long marsh: and lands also in 1640, on the east side of the North River, below Gravelly beach."

The Seven Servants of Nathaniel Tilden

Arriving in 1634 on the ship Hercules of Dover with the Tilden family were the following servants:

  1. Thomas Lapham
  2. George Sutton
  3. Edward Ford
  4. Edward Jenkins
  5. James Bennett
  6. Sarah Couchman
  7. Mary Perien

Spousal Misconceptions

Savage and others proposed that Nathaniel's wife of Lydia, perhaps daughter of Thomas Bourne,[6] based on the reference to the "son Tilden" in Thomas Bourne's 1664 will.[7] Problems with this include:

  • Thomas Bourne was the same generation as Nathaniel Tilden, therefore too young to have a daughter of marriageable age for Nathaniel.
  • The "son Tilden" referred to in Thomas Bourne's 1664 will could not have been Nathaniel, who had been dead twenty-three years, but was probably Thomas Tilden, son of Nathaniel Tilden and husband of Elizabeth Bourne.

That the wife Lydia was the mother of all of Nathaniel Tilden's children is proved by the bequest in Joseph Tilden's will: "to my sister Lydia Tilden, late wife of my brother Nathaniel Tilden...and to her two daughters who are married in New England."[8] These daughters were born in 1610 and 1613.


  1. Thomas1 Tilden died young.
  2. Mary Tilden married Thomas Lapham (one of the 7 servants?); He joined the Church in Scituate on Mar. 24, 1636 and on Mar. 1636 he married Mary; Lothrop was the minister. She was baptized at Tenterden on May 20, 1610 in St. Mildred's as Marie. She died after Mar. 28, 1690, in Bridge Water, Massachusetts. Thomas was born before 1610, Kent Co., England, died before Mar. 23, 1648
  3. Joseph1 Tilden died young
  4. Sarah Tilden married George Sutton,[9] one of the seven servants of the Tilden family; he came from Attleborough, England to Sandwich, Kent, England, then on to Massachusetts, settling in Scituate.[10] He arrived in America in 1634 upon the ship 'Hercules' as one of seven servants of Nathaniel Tilden. George was a planter in Scituate from Mar 5, 1638/39 to 1643. He was also the town officer. His house was near John Daman's at the southwest end of Greenfield Lane where it unites with the Driftway. George married Sarah Tilden; the family belonged to the Church of England until sometime after 1650 when the family turned to the Quaker faith. In 1668, his family moved to Perquimans County, North Carolina because of the Quaker persecution in Massachusetts.
  5. Joseph2 Tilden married Elizabeth 'Mary' Twisden
  6. Stephen1 died young
  7. Thomas2 married Elizabeth Bourne Waterman
  8. Judith married Abraham Preble
  9. Winifred died young
  10. Lydia1 died young
  11. Lydia2 married Richard Garrett
  12. Stephen2 married Hannah Little; had twelve children and became a large proprietor of land in Lebanon Connecticut where he resided.[citation needed]

Last Will & Testament of Nathniel Tilden of Scituate[11]

Dated 25 May 1641

  • To Lydia, my wife, most of my property, including the house, wherin one Richard Lambert dwelleth being in Centerden in Kent, Old England;
  • To my two Youngest Children, Lydia and Stephen their maintenance of their mother.
  • To my son Joseph.
  • To son Thomas;
  • To my daughter Judith;
  • To my daughter Mary, the wife of Tho. Lapham
  • To Sarah, my daughter, wife of Geo Sutton.
  • My Servants Edward Ginkins, and Edward Tarte, to serve son Joseph.

Witnesses Symon Sutton his mark; Thomas Hatch

Inventory. 31 July 1641. by Wm. Vassall, Tho. Chambers, Wm. Patch.


Men of Kent Cemetery, Scituate, Plymouth, Massachusetts. His obviously more modern tombstone has listed the date of his inventory as his death date.[12]

Legends that need proving[13]

  • Nathaniel's brother Joseph was one of the "merchant adventurers" who fitted out the May Flower which brought the Pilgrims to Plymouth.
  • Nathaniel Tilden, brother of Joseph, came over in the good shippe "Anne." [wrong; he came on the Hercules]
  • The family was well connected in England and by marriage was related to Oliver Cromwell, the "Protector"
  • The Tilden line runs back to Sir Richard Tilden, who accompanied Richard I of England, the renowned Coeur de Lion, to the holy land and fought by his side at the Battle of Ascalon against Sultan Saladin in the twelfth century.
  • Tennis player "Bill" William Tatem Tilden is a descendant.
  • The Davis Cup was started by Dwight Davis in about 1900 - his mother was presumably a Tilden.
  • One proposed ancestry:
1293 Henry de Tildenne, Sutton de la Hone, Kent.
1315 Thomas de Tilden, son of Walter, Marden, Kent.
1510 Richard Tylden of Tenterden.
1544 John Tylden of Cranbrook.
Nathaniel Tilden, babt. July 28, 1583 at Tenterden.
  • Another proposed Ancestry:
1320 John(1) Tilden born in Marden, Kent Co; died about 1370; married Isolde Reve about 1341, born about 1320.
  • Another proposed ancestry:[14]
Sir Richard de Tylden was Seneschal to Hugh de Lacy, Constable of Chester, during the reign of Henry II of England ca 1153-1189, Richard is said to have accompanied King Richard I (Cour de Lion) on crusade to Palestine. His son was probably:
Sir Richard of Sittenbourne who m Gertrude dau of Sir Wm Vernon of Fordsham, Cheshire. They had:
Sir Henry m Phillipa dau of Sir Richard Boteler of Lancashire; they had
Sir Wm. m Constance dau of Rodolphus Gannett and had:
Sir Wm Tylden who served under the Black Prince in the Battle of Poitiers in 1366. Sir Wm married Angharad, daughter of Sir Matthew Ellis of Cheshire and had:
Sir Thomas who m Alice dau of Robert Holmes, Lord of Tranmere. Their son:
Sir John Tylden m Isabel dau of Sir Roger Cotgreave, Lord of Tattenhall.
Sir Wm.Tylden of Wormshill, believed the eldest of John & Isabel, married Eliz. Tonge & had:
Richard Tylden m Eliz.dau of John Toke. They had
John, Richard, William. John & Richard had no heirs. William Tylden married Hannah daughter of Sir Thomas Manby of Lincolnshire and had:
Richard who m Eliz Osborne in 1210 and had Manby, Wm., and Richard Osborn. [This makes no sense; someone m in 1210 would have been born about 1185, so could not possibly be this many generations down from someone born in the same century.
  • Another proposed ancestry (which makes far more sense):
The Tildens of America can trace their lineage back by authentic records to John Tilden, an influential clothier of Benenden, who was born about the year 1400. He was the direct progenitor of Nathaniel Tilden...


  • "England Births and Christenings, 1538-1975," database, FamilySearch ( : 30 December 2014), Nathaniell Tilden in entry for Joseph Tilden, 12 Jan 1611; citing Tenterden, Kent, England, reference Dcb/Bti/237/4; FHL microfilm 1,737,094.
  • Plymouth Colony: Its History and People 1620-1691.
  • 1643 Able to Bear Arms list George Sutton and Symon Sutton.
  • "English Origins of New England Families," First Series, Volume ?, by Genealogical Publishing Company, a collection of articles of NEHGR.
  • Deane, History of Scituate, 353 ff.)[NEHGR, Oct. 1911, p. 331
  • Baltimore Sun, Dec. 11, 1904
  • "The Life and Letters of Samuel Jones Tilden" by John Bigelow, L.L.D. Edited by Harper Bros. New York
  • Anderson: Robert Charles Anderson, "Nathaniel Tilden", The Great Migration: Immigrants to New England 1634-1635, Vol. VII, Boston, New England Historic Genealogical Society 2011. pp. 42 - 46
  1. [Anderson citing NEHGr 65:326]
  3. Laphams in America, Compiled and written by Bertha Bortle Beal Aldridge. Victor, New York 1932-1953
  4. "History of Marshfield", by Lysander Richards
  5. [Anderson citing Plymouth Colony Probate 1:37]
  6. Ancestral Records and Portraits, pp. 692-693
  7. Pope, Pioneers of Massachusetts
  8. Water's Gleanings, vol. 1, p. 71
  9. The will of Nathaniel Tilden bequeths "also to Sara my Daughter the wyfe of Georg Sutton tenn shillings..."
  10. American Ancestry vol 2 pg 127
  11. Abstract of the Earliest Wills in the Probate Office, Plymouth in NEHGR, volume 4, April 1850, p. 173
  12. Find A Grave: Memorial #8650673
  13. Some (not all) of these extracted from August 25, 1876 issue of THE CARROLL COUNTY TIMES (on microfilm)
  14. The present Sir John Maxwell Tilden, of Milsted in Kent, has in his possession a copy of an ancient pedigree which began with Sir Richard Tylden, who lived under the reigns of Henry II and Richard I, a period which extended from 1154 to 1189, and his armorial bearings are said to show that his ancestors intermarried with the first Norman Earl of Chester, a nephew of William the Conqueror.

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Comments: 12

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I agree with Anne. I believe the death date should be set as 'before' the inventory date of 31 July 1641
posted by Mindy Silva
I think we should be using either after the date of the will or before the date of the inventory (my preference). The date currently being used is neither, and seems to be a conglomeration.
posted by Anne B
The stone was not engraved at the time of his death; the stone looks far newer.
posted by Jillaine Smith
His will was dated 25 May and probated on 31 July. He died somewhere in between.
The stone is engraved with death date.

31 July 1641

posted by Beryl Meehan
My 10th great grandfather
posted by Kathleen Murphy
His wives need to be merged.
posted by James LaLone
Tilden-369 and Tilden-6 appear to represent the same person because: This is the same person
posted by Kristin Merritt
Tilden-500 and Tilden-6 appear to represent the same person because: This is the same person.
posted by Kristin Merritt

Nathaniel is 16 degrees from Peter Roberts, 10 degrees from Emma Smith and 10 degrees from Henry VIII of England on our single family tree. Login to find your connection.

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Categories: Puritan Great Migration | Hercules of Dover, sailed March, 1634-35