Tribute to a Pilgrim


Here ended the Pilgrimage of


Who died February 23, 1672/3

aged above 80 years

He married Elizabeth daughter of


Who came with him in the

Mayflower December 1620

From them are descended a

Numerous posterity.

“Hee was a godly man and an ancient professor in the ways of Christ. He was one of the first comers into this land and was the last man that was left of those that came over in a Shipp called the Mayflower that lived in Plymouth.”        Plymouth Records

It is fitting to remember a Pilgrim on this, our Thanksgiving. The gravestone of John Howland is a replacement stone and it is presumed that he is buried in the Burying Ground at Plymouth as the first grave markers were made of wood and did not survive.


John Howland was born in Fenstanton, Huntingdonshire, England, in or around 1592. He was the son of Yeoman Henry Howland and Margaret Howland. John Howland came over on the Mayflower as an indentured servant of Mr. John Carver, who later became the first Governor of Plymouth. Howland’s trip across the Atlantic was a harrowing experience. During a harsh storm, while standing on a deck, a huge wave crashed over the ship and washed Howland into the icy cold waters of the sea. He was able to catch hold of a topsail halyard and hung on until his shipmates fished him back onto the deck to safety.

The Mayflower II, in Plymouth Harbor

The Mayflower II, in Plymouth Harbor

John Carver died and John Howland is thought to have won his freedom upon Caver’s death. John married his fellow passenger, Elizabeth Tilley on New Year’s Day (March 25, 1623—Old Style).

Pilgrim woman statue in Plymouth

Pilgrim woman statue in Plymouth

Elizabeth came over with her parents John Tilley and Joan Hurst Tilley. Her parents died during that first winter in the New World and she became the ward of the Carver’s who died the year after. John and Elizabeth had 10 children—Desire, John, Jabez, Hope, Lydia, Ruth, Hannah, Joseph, Isaac, and Elizabeth.

The only house still standing in Plymouth, in which a Pilgrim lived, is the Jabez Howland House. After, John Howland died, his wife, Elizabeth went to live the rest of her life as a resident in her son’s home.

Jabez Howland House, Plymouth

Jabez Howland House, Plymouth

I have recounted the story of John Howland’s crossing and rescue every Thanksgiving for my children. If Howland had not been pulled up on deck and saved, I wouldn’t be here because I can be counted among his “Numerous posterity” now numbering in 12 and 13 generations.


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