Elizabeth (Tilley) Howland, "Mayflower" Passenger

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Elizabeth Howland (Tilley)

Also Known As: "Elizabeth Tilley"
Birthplace: Henlow, Central Bedfordshire, England (United Kingdom)
Death: December 21, 1687
Swansea, Bristol, Massachusetts, Colonial America (Cause of Death: Age, other.)
Place of Burial: Brown Family Plot, East Providence, Providence County, Rhode Island, British Colonial America
Immediate Family:

Daughter of John Tilley, "Mayflower" Passenger and Joan (Hurst) Tilley, "Mayflower" Passenger
Wife of John Howland, "Mayflower" Passenger
Mother of Desire Gorham; Lieutenant John Howland, Jr.; Hope Chipman; Elizabeth Dickinson; Lydia Brown and 7 others
Sister of Rose Tilley; John Tilley; Rose Tilley, (again) and Robert Tilley
Half sister of Joan Hawkins

Occupation: Keeping House, Mayflower Passenger, Housewife, other
Baptism: 8/30/1607 Henlow, Bedfordshire, England
Immigration: 1620 aboard the Mayflower landed in Cape Cod in Provencetown Harbor
MEMORIAL ID: 21561583 🪦
WikiTree: Tilley-73
Managed by: Ralph Curtis Gold
Last Updated:

About Elizabeth (Tilley) Howland, "Mayflower" Passenger

Elizabeth Tilley

  • BAPTISM: 30 August 1607 at Henlow, co. Bedford, England, daughter of John and Joan (Hurst) (Rogers) Tilley.
  • MARRIAGE: John Howland, about 1625, at Plymouth.
  • CHILDREN: Desire, John, Hope, Elizabeth, Lydia, Hannah, Joseph, Jabez, Ruth, and Isaac.
  • DEATH: 21 December 1687 at Swansea.

Elizabeth came to America with her parents on the “Mayflower.”


<Elizabeth Tilley> From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Elizabeth had come to America with her parents and her father's brother and his wife. All four of the elder Tilleys died during the first winter in Plymouth. She was taken in by the Carver family as she had no other relatives.

Although the date of their marriage is not recorded, a few years after their arrival in the New World, Elizabeth married John Howland (c. 1623/4). She and John would go on to have ten children, all of whom would live to adulthood, and 86 grandchildren. Elizabeth outlived her husband by fifteen years, being one of the few original Pilgrims to live to see King Philip's War.

Children of John and Elizabeth Howland:

  1. Desire was born about 1624 and died in Barnstable October 13, 1683. She married John Gorham in Plymouth by 1644 and had eleven children. She was buried at Cobb's Hill Cemetery, Barnstable, Mass.
  2. John was born in Plymouth on February 24, 1626/7 and died in Barnstable after June 18, 1699. He married Mary Lee in Plymouth on October 26, 1651 and had ten children.
  3. Hope was born in Plymouth about 1629 and died in Barnstable on January 8, 1683. She married John Chipman about 1647 and had twelve children. She was buried at Lothrop Hill Cemetery, Barnstable, Mass.
  4. Elizabeth was born about 1631 and died in Oyster Bay, New York in October 1683. Elizabeth married: 1) Ephraim Hicks on September 13, 1649. He died on December 12, 1649. 2) John Dickinson in Plymouth on July 10, 1651 and had nine children.
  5. Lydia was born about 1633 and died in Swansea January, 1710/11. She married James Brown(e) about 1655 and had four children.
  6. Hannah was born about 1637. She married Jonathan Bosworth in Swansea on July 6, 1661 and had nine children.
  7. Joseph was born about 1640 and died in Plymouth in January 1703/04. He married Elizabeth Southworth in Plymouth on December 7, 1664 and had nine children.
  8. Jabez was born about 1644 and died before February 21, 1711/12. He married Bethiah Thatcher by 1669 and had eleven children.
  9. Ruth was born about 1646 and died before October 1679. She married Thomas Cushman in Plymouth on November 17, 1664 and had three children.
  10. Isaac was born in Plymouth on November 15, 1649 and died in Middleboro on March 9, 1723/4. He married Elizabeth Vaughn by 1677 and had eight children. He was buried at Cemetery At The Green, Middleboro, Mass.[8][9]

John & Elizabeth lived in The Howland House. This bedroom was used by them during the winter months before John's death and Eliz. remained until son Jabez sold the house in 1680. At this time, she moved to Swansea to live with her daughter Lydia Brown. She died there in 1687 (age 80y.) and is buried outside the Brown family plot, at Little Neck Cemetery.

“Elizabeth Tilley Howland: a widow for 15 years” By Robert F. Huber

For 15 years—or almost 20 percent of her life—Elizabeth Tilley Howland was a widow.

She never remarried after her husband and fellow Mayflower passenger died on Feb. 23, 1672/3 and instead played the useful role of grandma while living with her daughter Lydia Brown in Swansea.

Elizabeth was 65 when John died, probably still vivacious and attractive enough to say “yes” to a second husband, but she preferred to remain a widow until she died on Dec. 22, 1687.

The Brown household was ideal for a grandma. When Elizabeth was widowed, the Brown children included James who was 17 years old, Dorothy who was six, and Jabez who was a lively five. Daughter Lydia was born in 1633so she was 39 when her father died.

Elizabeth had barely settled in at the Brown home when King Phillip’s War erupted in 1673. She was forced to flee as Swansea became the storm center of the war. At one point the little community founded only a few years before was almost deserted as residents scurried to safer places such as Barnstable which boasted a population of 3000 compared with 2600 for Plymouth.

Three of Elizabeth’s children—Desire, John and Hope—lived in Barnstable when the Widow Howland moved there. Not far away in Plymouth were three other offspring of the Mayflower couple—Isaac lived in nearby Middleborough and Hannah made her home in Swansea, but Elizabeth had gone to far-away Oyster Bay, Long Island.

There were many other Howlands in Barnstable, including scores of grandchildren who kept Elizabeth busy with her grandmother duties.

Desire Howland was born in Plymouth about 1625, married to John Gorham about 1643 and moved to Barnstable after 1652. Gorham owned a grist mill and tannery there. He was a captain in the militia during King Philip’s War and died in 1676 as a result of war wounds. Five of the Gorham children were born in Barnstable—Jabez, Mercy, Lydia, Hannah and Shubael.

John Howland, second child of John and Elizabeth, was born in 1627 and in 1651 he wed Mary, daughter of Robert Lee of Barnstable. Of their 10 children, the last eight were Barnstable babies. They were Isaac, Hannah, Mercy, Lydia, Experience, Anne, Shubael and John. Both John Howland Jr. and his wife Mary Lee died in the cape town.

Hope Howland, who was born in 1629, married when she was about 17. Her husband was John Chipman who came in 1630 from Barnstaple, Devonshire, England. (Note that the English spelled Barnstaple with a P while the Americans spelled it with a B.)

All of the 11 children probably were born in Barnstable. They were Elizabeth, Hope, Lydia, John (he lived only about 15 months), Hannah, Samuel, Ruth, Bethia, Mercy, John and Desire.

So many grandchildren must have taxed Elizabeth’s memory for there were three Lydias, three Hannahs, three Mercys, three Johns, two Isaacs and two with the name Shubael. How could she keep them all straight?

And just imagine Grandma Howland baking birthday cakes with magic candles for all these grandchildren.

Elizabeth’s son-in-law, James Brown, was one of the most prominent of the early settlers in Swansea. He was a leader in the war against Philip, serving as a major. He also was one of the original members of the Swansea church and was fined five pounds for setting up a Baptist church in Rehoboth.

He tried his best to bring peace to Plymouth Colony and went twice to see the Indian leader but found Philip “very high and not p’suadable to peace.”

Large families usually have their tragedies and the Howlands had theirs. Three of Elizabeth’s children—Desire Gorham, Hope Chipman and Ruth Cushman—died before she did.

The war didn’t last any great length of time and in the end Philip lost his head. The Indian chief was shot by another Indian and his head cut off. The bloody skull was taken in triumph to Plymouth where it was mounted on a pike. It remained there for 20 years, a souvenir of savagery. Birds make it a favorite resting place and finally the Rev. Increase Mather too the jawbone.

With fighting over, Elizabeth returned to Swansea where she kept busy helping with the cooking, sewing, cleaning, gardening—caring for family members.

Everyone dies once in a lifetime and for Elizabeth death came on Dec. 22, 1687. She was buried in Little Neck Cemetery in what is now east Providence, Rhode Island. The monument and grave are maintained by the Pilgrim John Howland Society.

In her final will Elizabeth Tilley Howland gave her possessions to her children and grandchildren and expressed her deep religious faith:

“And first being penitent & sorry from ye bottom of my heart for all my sins past most humbly desiring forgiveness for ye same I give & commit my soule unto Almighty God my Savior & Redeemer in whome & by ye merits of Jesus Christ I trust & believe assuedly to be saved & to have full remission & forgiveness of all my sins & that my Soule wt my Body at the generall day of resurrection shall rise againe wt Joy & through meritts of Christ’s Death & passion possesse & inherit ye Kingdome of Heaven…”

She concluded:

“It is my Will & Charge to all my Children that they walke in ye Feare of ye Lord, and in Love and peace towards each other…”

Notable descendants

John and Elizabeth Howland founded one of the three largest Mayflower progenies and their descendants have been "associated largely with both the 'Boston Brahmins' and Harvard's 'intellectual aristocracy' of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries."[10]

Their direct descendants include notable figures such as:

  • U.S. presidents Franklin D. Roosevelt, George H. W. Bush, and George W. Bush[11]
  • U.S. first ladies Edith Roosevelt and Barbara Bush
  • Continental Congress President Nathaniel Gorham
  • Former Governors Sarah Palin (Alaska) and Jeb Bush (Florida)
  • Poets Ralph Waldo Emerson, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, and Florence Earle Coates (a 9th generation descendant and a founding member (1896) of the Society of Mayflower Descendants in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania (SMDPA))[12]
  • Actors/actresses Christopher Lloyd, Humphrey Bogart, Maude Adams, Anthony Perkins, Lillian Russell, and the Baldwin brothers (Alec, Daniel, William and Stephen). and Chevy Chase.[10][13][11]
  • President and founder of the Latter Day Saint movement Joseph Smith, his wife Emma Hale, and President of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Brigham Young
  • Opera singer and music educator William Howland
  • Conductor and pianist Robert Spano
  • Colin Tilley, American music video director for Riveting Entertainment
  • Canada diplomat Warwick Fielding Chipman[14][15]
  • The wife of Theodore Roosevelt Alice Hathaway Lee Roosevelt
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Elizabeth (Tilley) Howland, "Mayflower" Passenger's Timeline

August 30, 1607
Henlow, Central Bedfordshire, England (United Kingdom)
August 30, 1607
St. Marys Church, Henlow, Bedfordshire, England (United Kingdom)