John Tilley and Joan Hurst

John Tilley was baptized 19 December 1571 in Henlow, Bedfordshire, England, the son of Robert Tilley and Elizabeth —.

John married Joan Hurst 20 September 1596 in Henlow, Bedfordshire, England. Joan was baptized 13 March 1568 in Henlow, Bedfordshire, England, the daughter
William Hurst and Rose —. Joan had married first Thomas Rogers 18 June 1593 in Henlow, Bedfordshire, England.

John, Joan, their daughter Elizabeth, John’s brother, Edward, and Edward’s wife, Ann, were passengers on the Mayflower in 1621. John and Edward both signed the Mayflower Compact. John, Joan, Edward, and Ann died shortly after their arrival in Plymouth. Of the Tilley family who came to the New World, only the daughter, Elizabeth, survived.

Thomas and Joan's child is:

  1. Joan Rogers, baptized 26 May 1594 in Henlow, Bedfordshire, England, married Edward Hawkins 27 Jun 1620 at St. Paul’s Church, Bedford, Bedfordshire, England.

John and Joan's children are:

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


  1. International Genealogical Index (extracted from original source by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints), Marriage records:  (Thos Rogers & Jn Tylly:  Batch # M003861, Dates: 1559 – 1809, Source Call #Q942.565 B4E V.26, Type: Book, Printout Call #6905927, Type: Film & Batch # M003861, Dates: 1813 – 1876, Source Call #0826473, Type: Film) and (Joan Rogers (Hawkins) & Robt. Tille:  Batch # M062023, Dates: 1568 – 1639, Source Call #1041500, Type: Film, Printout Call #6906202, Type: Film); Christening records:  (Batch # P003861, Dates: 1558 – 1812, Source Call #Q942.565 B4E V.26, Type: Book, Printout Call #6905926, Type: Film).
  2. Bradford, William, Of Plymouth Plantation 1620-1647.
  3. Bowman, George Ernest, “Jan Tellij of Leyden was Not John Tilley of the Mayflower”, Mayflower Descendant, Vol. 10, No2, April 1908. pgs. 65-67.
  4. Ward, Robert Leigh, “English Ancestry of Seven Mayflower Passengers: Tilley, Sampson, and Cooper”, The American Genealogist, Vol. 52, pgs. 198-208.
  5. Bowman, George Ernest, “Elizabeth (Tilley) Howland’s Will”, The Mayflower Descendant, Vol. 3, No. 1, Jan 1901, pgs. 54-57.
  6. 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.


Map of the English homes of the Pilgrims:
Photos of St. Mary Church, Henlow, the Church Records (with Elizabeth Tilley's baptism), a memorial plaque, and a replica of the Howland spoon (from the excavation), etc.:
Photos of the Pilgrim Sarchophagus in Plymouth (many of the remains of those buried in an unmarked mound during the first winter were placed inside):

Parish Records

Extracted Marriage Records

Spouse:      JOAN HURST
Marriage:   18 JUN 1593
                  Henlow, Bedford, England

Spouse:      JOAN ROGERS
Marriage:   20 SEP 1596
                  Henlow, Bedford, England

Spouse:      EDW. HAWKINS
Marriage:   27 JUN 1620
                  Saint Paul, Bedford, Bedford, England

Spouse:      MARY HAWKINS
Marriage:    01 NOV 1632
                  Saint Paul, Bedford, Bedford, England

Extracted Christening Records

Christening:  13 MAR 1568
                    Henlow, Bedford, England
Father:         WILLIAM HURST

Christening:  19 DEC 1571
                    Henlow, Bedford, England
Father:         ROBERT TILLYE

Christening:  26 MAY 1594
                    Henlow, Bedford, England
Father:         THOMAS ROGERS

Christening:  23 OCT 1597
                   Henlow, Bedford, England
Father:         JOHN TILLY

Christening:  26 AUG 1599
                   Henlow, Bedford, England
Father:         JOHN TYLLYE

Christening:  28 FEB 1602
                   Henlow, Bedford, England
Father:         JOHN TYLLYE

Christening:  25 NOV 1604
                   Henlow, Bedford, England
Father:         JOHN TYLLY          Mother:  JOAN

Christening:  30 AUG 1607
                   Henlow, Bedford, England
Father:         JOHN TILLY           Mother:  JOAN

Source:  International Genealogical Index (records above extracted from original source by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints).

Apprentice Record

…I therefore visited Bedford Record Office and checked their printed index to the apprentice records. There to my delight was the record for Robert Tilley the son of John Tilley of Henlow being apprenticed to a Bedford tailor named John Jones for the term of eight years in October 1617. So the reason Robert did not travel to America with his parents was that he was already serving an apprenticeship in Bedford…

Source:  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.

Bradford's Of Plymouth Plantation

Above (from list of Mayflower passengers):  "Edward Tillie, and Ann his wife; and 2 childeren that were their cosens; Henery Samson, and Humillity Coper
John Tillie, and his wife; and Eelizabeth their daughter"

    …Mr 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 common Infection. Desire Minter returned to her freind & proved not very well, and dyed in England. His servant boy Latham after more than .20. years stay in the country went into England; and from thence to the Bahamy Ilands in ye West Indees; and ther with some others was stavred for want of food. His maid servant maried, &c dyed a year or tow after here in this place. 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 doughter hath .4. children And ther .2. doughter, one, all living and other of their Children mariagable. so .15. are come of them…
    …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; and their daughter Elizabeth maried with John Howland and hath Isue as is before noted…

Source:  Bradford, William, Of Plymouth Plantation 1620-1647.

The Mayflower Compact

"In ye name of God, Amen. We whose names are underwritten, the loyall subjects of our dread soveraigne Lord, King James, by the grace of God, of Great Britaine, Franc, and Ireland king, defender of the faith, etc.
Haveing undertaken, for ye glorie of God, and advancemente of ye Christian faith, and honour of our king & countrie, a voyage to plant ye first colonie in ye Northerne parts of Virginia, doe by these presents solemnly & mutualy in ye presence of God, and one of another, covenant & combine our selves togeather into a civill body politick, for our better ordering & preservation & furtherance of ye ends aforesaid; and by vertue hearof to enacte lawes, ordinances, acts constitutions, & offices, from time to time, as shall be thought most meet & convenient for ye generall good of ye Colonie, unto which we promise all due submission and obedience. In witnes wherof we have hereunder subscribed our names at Cap-Codd ye 11th. of November, in ye year of ye raigne of our soveraigne lord, King James, of England, France, & Ireland ye eighteenth, and of Scotland, ye fiftie fourth. Ano: Dom. 1620."
John Carver,                  Edward Tilly,              Digery Priest,
William Bradford,          John Tilly,                   Thomas Williams,
Edward Winslow,          Francis Cooke,          Gilbert Winslow,
William Brewster,          Thomas Rogers,         Edmund Margeson,
Isaac Allerton,               Thomas Tinker,          Peter Brown,
Miles Standish,              John Rigdale,             Richard Bitteridge,
John Alden,                   Edward Fuller,           George Soule,
Samuel Fuller,               John Turner,               Richard Clark,
Christopher Martin,       Francis Eaton,            Richard Clark,
William Mullins,             James Chilton,           John Allerton,
William White,               John Craxton,           Thomas English,
Richard Warren,            John Billington,          Edward Doten,
John Howland,              Moses Fletcher,         Edward Leister
Stephen Hopkins           John Goodman,

Source:  Bradford, William, Of Plimoth Plantation (Bradford recorded the text and Nathaniel Morton, nephew of Bradford, recorded the names).

“Jan Tellij” of Leyden  was Not John Tilley of the Mayflower

The accompanying illustration presents the record of the betrothal at Leyden, on 13 February, 1615, of “Jan Tellij” and “Prijntgen Van den Velde.” This record is found in the “Kerkelicke Huwelycke Proclamatie Boeck”, folio 48 verso, with other betrothals of the same date. The marriage took place on 3 March, 1615.

The betrothal record reads as follows:

(The Dutch Record)
Jan Tellij Saeywercker Jongman van Leyden vergeselschapt met Paulus Telly zyn vader met Prijntgen Van den Velde Jonge dochter mede van Leijden vergselschapt met Maeychen Tay haer moeder
(The English Translation)
John Telly, say weaver, single man, of Leyden, accompanied by Paul Telly his father, with Pryntgen Van den Velde, single woman, also of Leyden, accompanied by Maeychen Tay her mother.

The use of the terms “Jongman”, meaning single man, or bachelor, and “Jonge dochter,” meaning single woman, proves that neither “Jan Tellij” nor “Prijntgen Van den Velde” had ever been married before.

Elizabeth Tilley came in the Mayflower with her father, John Tilley, and later married John Howland. The date of her marriage is unknown, but her son John2 Howland, born 24 February, 1626/7,
[1] and her daughter Desire2 Howland, whose birth date is unknown, were both living on 22 May, 1627.[2] Unless these children were twins, which seems unlikely from the meager data obtainable, Desire2 must have been born as early as February, 1625/6. Whether or not they were twins, it is certain that on 24 February, 1626/7, Elizabeth (Tilley) Howland was the mother of two children. In her will, dated 17 December, 1686, she called herself “Seventy nine yeares of Age but of good & perfect memory”,[3] thus fixing her own birth date as about 1607, or 1608. As the statement of the will is supported by the known facts regarding her children, and nothing has been found which casts any doubt upon it, we must accept it as correct. But even if we did not have the statement of the will by which to fix the age of Elizabeth Tilley, it is evident that she must have been born before 3 March, 1615 otherwise she would have become the mother of two children before she was twelve years of age. Since Elizabeth (Tilley) Howland was born before 3 March, 1615, she could not have been a daughter either of “Jan Tellij” or of “Prijntgen Van den Velde” who were married on that date, neither having been married before.

The only known contemporary references to the parentage of Elizabeth (Tilley) Howland are found in Bradford’s History. In the list of the Mayflower Passengers he mentions her three times, as follows:

    “John Tillie, and his wife; and Eelizabeth their doughter”
    “John Howland maried the doughter of John Tillie, Elizabeth, and they are both now living;”
    “John Tillie, and his wife both dyed, a little after they came ashore; and their daughter Elizabeth maried with John Howland”[4]

These statements were written by Governor Bradford while John Howland and his wife were still living in Plymouth, where all three had lived for more than thirty years, and Bradford must then have had his own manuscript “register…recording some of the first deaths, marriages and punishments”, which Rev. Thomas Prince obtained from the Governor's grandson, Major John Bradford, and referred to so frequently in his New England Chronology, published in 1736. Governor Bradford was in a position to know the facts. Therefore, as no evidence has yet been produced to controvert his statements, we must accept them as they have come down to us in his own handwriting.

It has been shown that Elizabeth (Tilley) Howland was not the daughter of “Jan Tellij”, the Leyden bridegroom of 1615; and on the other hand it has been shown that she was the daughter of John Tilley of the Mayflower. It is evident, therefore, that “Jan Tellij” and John Tilley were not identical, but were two entirely distinct individuals.

Source:  Bowman, George Ernest, “Jan Tellij of Leyden was Not John Tilley of the Mayflower”, Mayflower Descendant, Vol. 10, No2, April 1908. pgs. 65-67.

[1] Sewall's Diary.
[2] Ante, I: 150.
[3] Ante, III: 54.
[4] Ante, I: 10, II, 14.

Return: HomeTilley 

Author: Michelle A. Boyd


Last updated 28 Jun 2004