John Tilley, "Mayflower" Passenger

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John Tilley

Also Known As: ""Mayflower Compact"", "Mayflower Passenger"
Birthplace: Henlow, Bedfordshire, England (United Kingdom)
Death: between circa January 10, 1621 and circa March 10, 1621
Plymouth, Plymouth, Massachusetts, Colonial America (John and Joan (Hurst)(Rogers) Tilley came on the Mayflower in 1620, bringing with them their daughter Elizabeth. Joan, along with her husband, died the first winter at Plymouth,)
Place of Burial: Plymouth, Plymouth, Massachusetts, United States
Immediate Family:

Son of Robert Tilley and Elizabeth Tilley
Husband of Joan (Hurst) Tilley, "Mayflower" Passenger
Father of Rose Tilley; John Tilley; Rose Tilley, (again); Robert Tilley and Elizabeth (Tilley) Howland, "Mayflower" Passenger
Brother of Rose Goods; George Tilley, died young; Agnes Tilley; Elizabeth Austin; William Tilley and 4 others

Occupation: Silk weaver, Pilgrims, both died in "first illness", Came over on Mayflower 1620, A silk-weaver., Immigrant on Mayflower, silkweaver, Mayflower Pessenger
Baptism: 12/19/1571
MEMORIAL ID: 16539001 🪦
WikiTree: Tilley-84
Managed by: Ralph Curtis Gold
Last Updated:

About John Tilley, "Mayflower" Passenger

John Tilley (Pilgrim)

“The Tilley Genealogy”
By Jared L. Olar
January 2019

Among our New England ancestors, we have a descent from the Mayflower passenger John Tilley (1571-1621), who was accompanied on the voyage to Plymouth, Massachusetts, by his wife Joan and daughter Elizabeth, along with his younger brother Edward and his wife Ann and two other Tilley relatives. John, Joan, Edward, and Ann were among the half of the colonists who died in Plymouth's first winter in early 1621. John Tilley and his ancestors were from the English village of Henlow in Bedfordshire, where these Tilleys are known to have lived at least since the 1400s. The surname of Tilley has two possible origins. Some Tilleys are so called because their ancestors lived at the village of Tilley in Shropshire, a placename that derived its name from the Anglo-Saxon Telgaleah ("Bough Wood" or "Bough Clearing"). But most Tilleys probably acquired the name because their ancestors were farmers who tilled the soil -- from the Anglo-Saxon verb tilian, "to till or cultivate," came the Middle English occupational title "tilie," a husbandman or farmer. For as long as our Tilleys appear on the historical record, they were farmers


From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

John Tilley (1571 – 1620 or 1621) was one of the settlers who traveled from England to North America on the Mayflower but died shortly after arrival.

  • BAPTISM: 19 December 1571 at Henlow, co. Bedford, England, son of Robert and Elizabeth Tilley.
  • MARRIAGE: Joan (Hurst) Rogers, on 20 September 1596 at Henlow, co. Bedford, England, the daughter of William and Rose Hurst and widow of Thomas Rogers (no relation to Thomas Rogers, the Mayflower passenger).
  • CHILDREN: Rose (died young), John, Rose, Robert, and Elizabeth.
  • DEATH: Sometime the first winter at Plymouth, likely between January and March 1621.

Surprisingly little is known about John Tilley. He was born in 1571 at Henlow, co. Bedford, England, and his brother Edward Tilley and wife Agnes (along with their neice and nephew Humility Cooper and Henry Samson) also came on the Mayflower. Brother Edward is known to have lived in Leiden, but there is no record of John Tilley there (though it is certainly possible he was present there and just didn't get named in any record). John and Joan Tilley came on the Mayflower with their youngest child, Elizabeth, then about thirteen years old. Both John Tilley and wife Joan died the first winter at Plymouth, but their daughter Elizabeth survived and later married fellow Mayflower passenger John Howland.


Tilley was christened in Henlow, Bedfordshire, England on 19 December 1571. He was the eldest child of Robert and Elizabeth Tilley. He had four sisters (Rose, Agnes, Elizabeth, and Alice) and three brothers (George, William, and Edward or Edmund). Research done by Robert Ward Leigh, using probate records, show that Tilley's paternal grandparents were William and Agnes Tylle, his great-grandparents were Thomas and Margaret Tylle, and great-great-grandparents were Henry and Johann[a]? Tilly, all of Henlow.

On 20 September 1596 in Henlow, John married Joan Hurst Rogers, the daughter of William and Rose Hurst and the widow of Thomas Rogers of Henlow. Joan had had one daughter from her previous marriage. John and Joan had five children between 1597 and 1607. At least one child died young. Research by George Ernest Bowman shows that John was not the Jan Tellij that married Prijntgen Van den Velde in Leyden.

In September 1620, John and Joan embarked on the Mayflower along with their teenage daughter Elizabeth and John's brother Edward Tilley and his wife Ann or Agnes (Cooper) Tilley. Edward and Ann brought along Ann's relatives Henry Sampson and Humility Cooper. They left behind their older children, who were married by this time. They arrived at what would become Plymouth in November. John and brother Edward were amongst the men who signed the Mayflower Compact.

Unfortunately, the first winter after their arrival was extremely difficult and a number of the settlers died. Amongst these were John, wife Joan, brother Edward, and sister-in-law Ann. William Bradford reported, "...Edward Tillie, and his wife both dyed soon after their arrivall; and the girle Humility their cousen, was sent for unto Ento England, and dyed ther But the youth Henery Sampson, is still liveing, and is maried, & hath .7. children. John Tilley and his wife both dyed, a litle after they came ashore..." This left daughter Elizabeth the only surviving member of the Tilley family in America. The orphan was taken in by John Carver but he and his wife both died that spring. Elizabeth later married John Howland, Carver's former servant, and left a numerous posterity.


  1. Rose Tilley, baptized 23 October 1597 in Henlow, Bedfordshire, England, died young
  2. John Tilley, baptized 26 August 1599 in Henlow, Bedfordshire, England
  3. Rose Tilley, baptized 28 February 1602 in Henlow, Bedfordshire, England
  4. Robert Tilley, baptized 25 November 1604 in Henlow, Bedfordshire, England, served as an apprentice to a tailor, married Mary Hawkins on 1 November 1632 at St Paul’s Church, Bedford, Bedfordshire, England.
  5. Elizabeth Tilley, baptized 30 August 1607 in Henlow, Bedfordshire, England, sailed on the Mayflower in 1621, married John Howland presumably in Plymouth, Plymouth, Massachusetts, died 21/31 December 1687 in Swansea, Bristol, Massachusetts, will written 17 December 1686 and proved 10 January 1687/8.

In addition, Joan Hurst Rogers Tilley had a daughter, Joan Rogers, from her first marriage. She was christened on 26 May 1594 in Henlow, Bedfordshire, England and married Edward Hawkins on 27 June 1620 at St. Paul’s Church, Bedford, Bedfordshire, England.

'Ancestors of the Mayflower Tilley:'

  • 1 Henry TILLY c.1465 Henlow, Bedford Co., will proved 4 Dec 1520 – 1 Sep 1520 + Johana?
  • 2 Thomas TILLY c.1490 Henlow, will proved 6 Oct 1556 Henlow + Margaret, d.>1556
  • 3 William TILLEY c.1515, bur.21 Jan 1578 in Henlow England, will dated 1 Jan 1578/9 + Agnes, buried 7 Jun 1582 Henlow
  • 4 Robert TILLEY 1540, bur.21 Feb 1612/1613 Henlow England, will dated 31 Dec 1612 + Elizabeth ELLBORNE? c.1545 Henlow; m.1570 Henlow
  • 5 Edward 27 May 1588 Henlow – winter 1620/21 Plymouth MA + Agnes/Ann Cooper, d.winter 1620/21 Plymouth MA; m.20 Jun 1614 (both were Mayflower passengers)
  • 5 John TILLEY 15 Dec 1571 - 1621 Plymouth, MA, silk weaver + Joan HURST bapt.13 Mar 1567/8 Henlow, d.<11 Jan 1621 Plymouth MA (dau of William HURST c.1530 – 17 Dec 1569 + Rose c.1545 d.23 Jul 1601 Henlow; widow of Mr. Rogers); m.20 Sep 1596 Henlow England (Mayflower passengers)

'George W. Bush descent from John Tilley'

• 1. John TILLEY (1571-1620) m. Joan HURST (1567-1620)
• 2. Elizabeth TILLEY (1607-1687) m. John HOWLAND (1593-1672)
• 3. Hope HOWLAND (1629-1683) m. John CHIPMAN (1613-1708)
• 4. Hope CHIPMAN m. John HUCKINS
• 5. Hope HUCKINS m. Thomas NELSON
• 6. Hannah NELSON m. Jabez WOOD
• 7. Jabez WOOD (1718-) m. Joanna SHORT
• 8. Joanna WOOD (1750-1813) m. Comfort HORTON (1743-1805)
• 9. Sarah HORTON (1777-1856) m. Jarvis WHEELER (1774-1852)
• 10. Betsey S. WHEELER (1800-1881) m. Levi PIERCE (1797-1838)
• 11. Elizabeth Slade PIERCE (1822-1901) m. Courtland Philip Livingston BUTLER (1813-1891)
• 12. Mary Elizabeth BUTLER (1850-1897) m. Robert Emmet SHELDON (1845-1917)
• 13. Flora SHELDON (1872-1920) m. Samuel Prescott BUSH (1863-1948)
• 14. Prescott Sheldon BUSH (1895-1972) m. Dorothy WALKER (1901-)
• 15. George Herbert Walker BUSH President (1924-) m. Barbara PIERCE
• 16. George Walker BUSH President (1946-) m. Laura Lane WELCH (1946-)

Notable descendants

President Franklin D. Roosevelt

Franklin D. Roosevelt → James Roosevelt → Mary Aspinwall → Susan Howland → Joseph Howland → Nathanial Howland Jr. → Nathanial Howland Sr. → Joseph Howland → John Howland → Elizabeth Tilley → JOHN TILLEY

Presidents George H. W. Bush, and George W. Bush.

George W. Bush → George H. W. Bush → Prescott Bush → Flora Sheldon → Mary Butler → Elizabeth Pierce → Betsy Wheeler → Sarah Horton → Joanna Wood → Jabez Wood → Hannah Nelson → Hope Huckins → Hope Chipman → Hope Howland → John Howland → Elizabeth Tilley → JOHN TILLEY

Ralph Waldo Emerson. Famous poet.

Ralph Waldo Emerson → Ruth Haskins → Hannah Upham → Hannah Waite → Lydia Sargent → Lydia Chipman → Hope Howland → ELIZABETH TILLEY (an entirely female line, meaning Ralph Waldo Emerson carried the mitochondrial DNA of Mayflower passenger Elizabeth Tilley → JOHN TILLEY


  • * Marriage and christening records found on the International Genealogical Index (extracted from original source records by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints).
  • * Bradford, William, Of Plymouth Plantation 1620-1647.
  • * Bowman, George Ernest, “Jan Tellij of Leyden was Not John Tilley of the Mayflower”, Mayflower Descendant, Vol. 10, No2, April 1908. pgs. 65-67.
  • * Ward, Robert Leigh, “English Ancestry of Seven Mayflower Passengers: Tilley, Sampson, and Cooper”, The American Genealogist, Vol. 52, pgs. 198-208.
  • * Bowman, George Ernest, “Elizabeth (Tilley) Howland’s Will”, Mayflower Descendant, Vol. 3, No. 1, Jan 1901, pgs. 54-57.
  • * Forster, Joy, “The Lost Children of Bedfordshire's Pilgrim Fathers: The Tilley family of the Mayflower”, The Mayflower Quarterly, Vol. 65, No. 4, Nov 1999.
  • * Bowman, George Ernest, “Elizabeth (Tilley) Howland’s Will”, Mayflower Descendant, Vol. 3, No. 1, Jan 1901, pgs. 54-57.
  • * Anderson, Robert Charles. The Great Migration Begins: Immigrants to New England, 1620-1633, vols. 1-3. Boston, MA: New England Historic Genealogical Society, 1995 (entry on John Howland).
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John Tilley, "Mayflower" Passenger's Timeline

December 19, 1571
Henlow, Bedfordshire, England (United Kingdom)
December 19, 1571
Henlow, Bedfordshire, England (United Kingdom)
December 19, 1571
Henlow, Bedfordshire, England
December 19, 1571
Henlow, Bedfordshire, England
December 19, 1571
Henlow, Bedford, England
December 19, 1571
December 19, 1571
Henlow, Bedford, England
December 19, 1571
Henlow, Bedfordshire, , England
December 19, 1571
Henlow, Bedfordshire, England
December 19, 1571
Henlow, Bedfordshire, England