Friday, 27 March 2015

Herodias Long (1623-1722), Puritan Non-Conformist (52 Ancestors #13) Theme: "Different"

Herodias Long, my 9th great grandmother, is one of my very favourite ancestors. Living in Puritan New England, she was definitely "different".

Our Victoria Genealogical Society Resource Centre has a sign posted that quotes Laurel Thatcher Ulrich: "Well behaved women rarely make history." Most of my female ancestors were frustratingly well behaved. They conformed to what society expected of them, married young and gave birth to a string of babies, looked after hearth and home, but were virtually absent in the histories of the towns in which they lived.

Herodias married (or at least co-habited) three times and gave birth to a string of babies, but unlike the other women in the community, she appears by name in a multitude of records. Separation and divorce were almost unheard of in this society and yet she did that twice. She was not one to remain silent and conform to what was expected of her. I like to think of her as a free-spirited woman far ahead of her time. Herodias was different.

I have represented Herodias in a small fibre art piece that I created in 2004 for my journal quilting group. In a black and white world, she was colourful. Her three relationships are represented by the three larger flowers - one upright for her one legal marriage and two drooping ones for her common-law relationships. If these flowers somewhat resemble the letter "A", it is perhaps appropriate. She was certainly criticized for these relationships outside of legal wedlock. The smaller flowers at the bottom represent her numerous descendants.

Fibre Art representation of Herodias Long

She started out in life with a very unusual given name. One has to wonder what her parents were thinking when they gave her this name when she was born in 1623. The only other woman with this name that comes to mind is Herodias in the Bible, and the connotations of that name are not positive. Sometimes she was called "Harwood", "Hored", "Hardwood", and "Odious". None of these have a very nice flavour either, and all were "different".

She first arrived in Weymouth, Massachusetts in the late 1630's as the teen-aged wife of John Hicks.  Later court records would indicate that after her father died, Herodias had been sent to London where at the age of 13 or 14 she married John Hicks on 14 March 1637 at Saint Faith's, the underchapel of Saint Paul's. (Marriage at such a young age was different too as most women at the time married in their early to mid-20's.) Shortly thereafter, to her "great griefe", he moved her across the Atlantic to New England.

Herodias and John moved to Newport, Rhode Island by 1640. The relationship was a stormy one. John's last record in Newport was in 1645 where he was bound for 10 pounds to keep the peace for having beaten his wife "Harwood" Hicks. The cause of the rift between them may well have been her developing relationship with my 9th great-grandfather George Gardiner. Hicks moved with the couple's two young children to Long Island and it wasn't until he wished to remarry some 10 years later that he sought a divorce. He also apparently took the entire estate that Herodias had been left by her parents (which was probably in keeping with English law at the time that had any property of a wife become that of her husband).

Document of divorce of Herodias and John Hicks

Swearing later that it was only because she was ill-equipped to support herself, Herodias moved in with George Gardiner. It is probable that their first child Benoni was actually born while she was still living with Hicks.

George Gardiner was a respected citizen of Newport, a landowner and a freeman of the town, constable and senior sergeant for the town as well as being an ensign in the militia. The couple appeared before friends in about 1645 and declared (in the Quaker manner) that they were husband and wife.  In this too, Herodias was different: living in predominantly Puritan New England, she was a Quaker.

In fact, she was a very enthusiastic Quaker. She was among those who went to Massachusetts Bay colony to challenge its anti-Quaker laws. Those laws said that any Quakers entering their territory would be whipped and, if they returned, they could be executed. (It always strikes me as very inconsistent that the Puritans who left England for religious freedom would deny that same freedom to others. Rhode Island was much more tolerant.) In 1658 she willingly walked over 50 miles from Newport to Massachusetts Bay "with a babe sucking at her breast" to stand up for her beliefs and was whipped 10 stripes by order of Governor Endicott. She didn't test the waters by returning to Massachusetts Bay after this episode.

She had a 21 year relationship with George Gardiner during which time at least 7 children were born, including my 8th great grandfather, another George Gardiner who was born in 1647. But this relationship also soured. According to Herodias, George refused to support her and their many children. She also claimed to have been having regrets about living with George without having gone through a proper form of marriage.

In the spring of 1665, Herodias petitioned for a separation from Gardiner. She called herself "Hored Long" and described her marital life from the time of her father's death in England. Her explanation of her years with Gardiner was that she had been forced to live with him to support herself and that she had repeatedly begged him to set her up in a separate house and "not to meddle with mee." This may be greeted with a certain amount of scepticism since she appears to have had a good deal of freedom to make her own decisions. Whether willing participant or innocent victim, when the General Assembly found that there had been no proper form of marriage between Herodias and George, it decreed that Gardiner cease to trouble her, that they pay a fine for living together without being married and then a new law was passed to prevent future occurrences of a similar nature.

HOWEVER, the true cause of her wish to free herself from Gardiner can be found in another petition to the same General Assembly. Margaret Porter, wife of John Porter, a wealthy Rhode Island landowner, complained to the court that her husband had deserted her and gone to Pettaquamscut leaving her without means of supporting herself. In her petition, Margaret said that her husband "is destitute of all congugall love towards her, and suitable care for her". She requested that Porter be required to support her from his large estate. Porter was a well-respected member of the community and was expected to behave accordingly. The General Assembly sided with Margaret and ordered Porter to support her, which he arranged to do within the month. As soon as that divorce occurred, Porter and Herodias moved in together and he then conveyed large tracts of his lands to her children. No record of a marriage between this couple has been found.

John Porter's Pettaquamscut lands showing transfers to Herodias's sons

No further mention of Herodias occurs in  any of the records so we must assume that she and John lived happily ever after. She died at the age of 99.


  • Archer, Richard, "Fissures in the Rock: New England in the Seventeenth Century", University of New Hampshire, 2001, pages 73-77
  • "Genealogies of Rhode Island, Volume 2", page 523
  • Moriarty, G Andrews, "Herodias (Long) Hicks-Gardiner-Porter, A Tale of Old Newport" from "Genealogies of Rhode Island, Volume 1", pages 599-607
  • "Some Notes on 18th Century Block Island", NEHGR Register, Volume 105, page 258
  • Wikipedia article for Horodias Long and John Porter accessed online 22 March 2015
  • Robinson, Caroline E, "The Gardiners of Narragansett, Being a Genealogy of the Descendants of George Gardiner the Colonist 1638", Providence Rhode Island 1919

Friday, 20 March 2015

John Bullen, Revolutionary War Soldier (1747-1824): 9 Men with the Same Name (52 Ancestors #12) Theme: "Same"

Although my family tree contains many instances of the same name occurring over and over again in a family, the one that has caused me the most confusion over the years is John Bullen. Nine men in my tree share the same name:
  1. John Bullen (1648-1702), son of Samuel Bullen and Mary Morse - my 7th great granduncle;
  2. John Bullen (1687-1757), son of Ephraim Bullen and Grace Fairbanks - my 6th great grandfather;
  3. John Bullen (1691-1741), son of John Bullen #1 and Judith Fisher - my 1st cousin 8X removed;
  4. John Bullen (1713-1778), son of John Bullen #2 and Sarah Underwood - my 5th great grandfather;
  5. John Bullen (1718-unknown), son of John Bullen #3 and Mehitable Fisher - my 2nd cousin 7X removed;
  6. John Bullen (1740-1741), son of John Bullen #4 and Abigail Greene - my 4th great granduncle;
  7. John Bullen (1747-1824), son of John Bullen #4 and Abigail Greene - my 4th great grandfather; 
  8. John Bullen (1783-1850), son of John Bullen #7 and Mary Whitcomb - my 3rd great granduncle; and
  9. John Bullen (1803-unknown), son of John Bullen #8 and Lucina Drake - my 1st cousin 4X removed.
The focus this week is on the seventh John Bullen listed above: my 4th great grandfather John Bullen (1747-1824).

John Bullen was born 08 August 1747 in South Brimfield (now Wales), Hampden County, Massachusetts to John Bullen and Abigail Greene. Like his father, young John had red hair. He was the second son of that same name; the first John (#6 above) born 1740 had died in 1741. It was not uncommon for families to use the same name again if an earlier child died.

When he was ten, his mother died in childbirth with twins who also died the same day. He grew up at South Brimfield where his grandparents had homesteaded; the site has now reverted to forest with just a few scattered foundation rocks to mark the site.

Bullen homestead site at Wales, Massachusetts; photo taken 1999
John moved to Ware, Massachusetts sometime in early manhood. He married Mary Whitcomb on 18 July 1772 and together they raised a family of eleven children. Although most often referred to as a farmer, he also owned a tavern at "Bullon's Corners" on the turnpike at Ware (Hampshire), Massachusetts. I wish I had a picture of the tavern, but it and Bullon's Corners are both long gone. The oldest building we could find in Ware was the old Meeting House.

Old Meeting House at Ware MA

John's main claim to fame was through his participation in the American War of Independence. (He wasn't the only "John Bullen" to serve; at least 5 other men with the same name, not in my family tree, also served.) According to the State Historical Society of Wisconsin in letter dated 14 February 1936, John served first as a private in 1776, then as a sergeant in 1777. He was listed in the 1780 Descriptive List of men raised to reinforce the Continental army for the town of Ware for a term of 6 months. When he signed up, he was 32 years old, 5 feet 8 inches tall and had a ruddy complexion. Arriving at Springfield, Massachusetts on 13 July 1780, he marched to camp that same day under the command of Captain Thomas Pritchard. He was discharged on 08 December 1780. It isn't clear what action he saw during that time.

Like so many other Western Massachusetts men who had served in the Continental army, he became embittered by their treatment after the war. By the time they received their back pay for service, it had been heavily discounted so that they had essentially no money to show for their service. On top of this, they were heavily taxed to cover what they saw as the extravagant administration of the new government. On 22 August 1786 he was sent as a delegate to plead against the excessive land taxes, but to no avail. This led to his involvement in Shay's Rebellion in which he apparently served as a captain in the affair and is thereafter often known as "Captain John". After the suppression of the rebellion, he fled in 1787 (with a price on his head) to the safety of Kirkland, NY (later renamed as Clinton). During their escape, wife Mary gave birth to daughter Pamela under some bushes (or, according to another source, in a bush hut that had been hastily erected).

The Bullens were among the earliest settlers in Kirkland, NY. Each family was given two acres of land on a street running north and south. The settlers cleared the land and farmed it. The nearest mill was at Whitestown, about 6 miles away. The Nelson/Dunlop Papers quote Grandson Lathrop Bullene who said that "the entire country west of Albany at that time would have been little else than a wilderness, and I have heard my father tell of grandfather's making a trip from Utica or Whitesboro to the farm on foot through the dense forest, and cutting a path and blazing the trees to enable him to retrace his footsteps on his return."

In 1790, there is a John Bullen of Whites Town, Montgomery County, NY listed in the census with 3 free males aged 16+ and 3 white males under 16 plus a total of 9 white females. The family had no slaves. That same year, John Bullen was chosen constable of the town.

In the 1820 US Federal Census for Paris Co., NY, John Bullen is listed with 1 free white male between 26-45 and one free white male 45+, 1 free white female between 26-45 and 1 free white female 45+. Both men were involved in agriculture.

John was considered a stern but just man. Neighbours frequently came to him to help settle their differences. He would give each man a hoe and as they worked, they would discuss the matter and then John would arrive at a decision which the others accepted. He really was no fool: I often wonder how much of his crop or garden he was able to get cultivated this way!

He died intestate at the age of 77 and is buried at the old Water Street Cemetery in Clinton (Paris) NY where his original tombstone read: "Capt. John Bullen, died June 17, 1824. ae. 77 yrs."  That stone has apparently now disappeared but his grave location and name are marked on the informational memorial in the center of Clinton Cemetery. In addition, he is listed in a monument honouring the Revolutionary Soldiers buried in the cemetery. John Bullen's name appears as a Private about half-way down the left-hand column.

Revolutionary Soldiers in Old Clinton Cemetery
Photo courtesy Richard Stauff from

In a letter dated October 1935 descendant Josephine Brooks describes a visit she had made to the cemetery:
"Captain John lies in a little cemetery with ancient dates at Parish Hill just out of Clinton, New York. The ground is covered with myrtle. The brick tombs are covered with marble slabs of inscription. On his grave is also engraven, "Honest, industrious, temperate; the poor he sent not empty away."


  • Nelson, Myrtle Bullen and Dunlop, Ruth, "Source Book for the Bullen Family" collected and compiled in the 1930's (often referred to as the "Nelson/Dunlop Papers")
  • Train, May Philips, "Samuel Bullen and Some of His Descendants", Privately printed 1941
  • United States Federal Censuses from 1790 and 1820
  • "Warren Marriages", Massachusetts, Town and Vital Records, 1620-1988 for John Bullen, accessed at on 26 February 2015
  • entry for John Bullen in the Old Clinton Cemetery, contributed by Richard Stauff (another of John Bullen's descendants)
  • Fredsall, Evelyn Claire Johnson, "Ouimette Family Heritage", 1976 accessed at 19 March 2015 

Saturday, 14 March 2015

Mary Green (1812-1907) - Not Irish (52 Ancestors #11) Theme: "Luck of the Irish"

Let's get this straight at the outset: Mary Green was not, as far as I know, Irish. I can't find any Irish ancestors in my family tree. Nor were any of my ancestors particularly lucky. I do, however, have several ancestors with the last name "Green" and writing about one of them is as close as I can come to this week's St Patrick's Day theme.

Mary Green was my 3rd great grandmother. Her life was long and varied, and although opportunity may have knocked at her door, it never seemed to be accompanied by much luck.

Mary was born to Ezekiel Green and (possibly) Esther Ann Whitacre on 04 September 1812 in Muncy Twp, Lycoming Co, Pennsylvania.

1830 US census of Plumcreek, Armstrong County, PA listing families of Ezekiel Green (one of the teen-aged daughters likely Mary Green) and Christian Hoover Sr. (the male between 20 and 30 most likely Mary's husband-to-be Christian)
When she was 20, she married Christian Hoover at her father's home in Armstrong County, Pennsylvania. From the census record a couple of years earlier (shown above), it can be seen that the families were close neighbours. Mary and Christian would have 11 children between 1835 and 1849, including my 2nd great grandmother Barbara Hoover. As in the case of Barbara, my knowledge of Mary Green came through the research conducted by Alice Hoyt Veen as part of her professional genealogist accreditation; for all of her work in uncovering this branch of my tree I remain deeply appreciative.

After about 20 years in Plum Creek, Mary and Christian sold their property there on 17 May 1854 and started a very itinerant life of moving from place to place. Most likely there was a desire for more land that was opening up in newly formed states. Their migration to Kansas coincided with the anti-slavery movement to prevent that newly-formed state from becoming a "slave" state and there is certainly some evidence that the family were staunch abolitionists. Whatever their motivation may have been, their moves took them to Illinois in about 1854; possibly to Decatur County, Iowa in 1855; Emporia, Kansas Territory in 1858; Henry County, Illinois in 1860; What Cheer, Keokuk County, Iowa in 1865 and finally to Burlingame, Osage County, Kansas in 1877.

It isn't clear whether Mary supported Christian's decision to enlist in the American Civil War. They would both pay a huge price for this decision. He enlisted  in Unit C 11th Illinois Cavalry on 30 November 1861. He was 54 years old but shaved a full 10 years off his age when he first enlisted. There is some evidence that he had strong feelings against slavery and this may have served as his motivation. While participating in the Battle of Shiloh, Tennessee, he contracted rheumatism, chronic diarrhoea and piles which caused him excruciating pain for the rest of his life. He received a Certificate of Discharge dated 30 June 1862 as unfit for duty but didn't apply for his invalid pension until twenty years later when he was confined to bed and almost completely disabled by his illness. In his pension application, we learn that Christian was a physician of the eclectic school and was his own doctor throughout his illness. Census records also list him as a doctor and a physician. Wife Mary was one of several witnesses who swore affidavits in support of his pension; in hers, she swore that she and Christian had been married for 53 years and that she had nursed him throughout his lengthy illness which had afflicted him since his discharge.

Affidavit of Mary Green Hoover in support of her husband's pension application;
her original signature is highlighted in pink

Between 1885 and 1892, Mary herself is listed as physician for the births of 22 babies and for two deaths. She had been a midwife as early as 1860. There is no evidence that either she or Christian had any formal medical training but at that time there was no requirement for attendance at medical school. People could learn from others or from books or simply hang out a shingle. Mary and Christian were both listed in "Kansas Physicians and Midwives Registered with the Kansas Board of Health, 1887-1900."

The couple celebrated 50 years of marriage on Wednesday 15 August 1883. The Burlingame Herald newspaper report said that the occasion was celebrated by a quiet family reunion and the couple received many useful and valuable presents including gold pieces in denominations of $1 to $5 in honour of their golden wedding. "The Herald hopes Uncle Christy and his wife will live very many years yet."

However, health issues were plaguing both Mary and Christian. They were suffering financially from his inability to work and attempted to get special increases in the pension claim.  One affidavit from 23 January 1893 indicated that the $17/month pension was insufficient to keep them in medicine and incidental expenses. He was affiliated with the veterans group G.A.R. (Grand Army of the Republic) and local members rallied to provide some aid.

Christian's illness eventually got the best of him and depression set in. On 15 December 1897 he ended his life by shooting himself in the head with a 32-calibre pistol.

After the death of her husband, Mary was left destitute. She was also blind. She applied for her widow's pension in 1897 for Christian's service in the Civil War, but her application was at first declined because he had committed suicide. Because of her blindness, her signature was now replaced with an "X" on her affidavit. Twelve citizens of Burlingame supported her claim by a joint affidavit in which they swear that they believed that Christian had been "suffering from such intense pain, that he became insane and shot himself which was the cause of his death."  She did finally receive a widow's pension of $8/month commencing in June of 1898.

She was living with daughter Hannah and son-in-law Maurice Kelleher  at the time of the 1900 US census. At that time, she was 87 years old and her birth date was given as September of 1812 in Pennsylvania. By 1904 she was living with her son Samuel A Hoover in Missouri. He was her only surviving child by that time.

Mary Green Hoover died 10 October 1907 in Warrensburg, Johnson County, Missouri. Her obituary appeared in the Burlingame Enterprise a week later:
"Mrs Christian Hoover Dead
The death of Mrs. Christian Hoover occurred at Warrensburg, Mo, last Thursday night, at the home of her son, Prof. Samuel Hoover, with whom she had lived for the past six years.
Mrs. Hoover had reached the venerable age of ninety-five years and one month. For more than ten years the old lady had been almost blind, but aside from this affliction enjoyed excellent health, and was only ill for two days prior to her death. She had been a member of the Christian church for many years and was a lady known and beloved by many people in Burlingame.
Mary Green was born in Armstrong County, Pa., September 4, 1812. She was married to Christian Hoover on August 15, 1833. In 1856 they came west to Illinois, in '58 to Kansas, returning to Illinois two years later. In 1877 they again came to Kansas and remained. Mr. Hoover, or "Uncle Christy," as he was familiarly known, died about ten years ago. The deceased was the mother of eleven children, of whom but one survives. Mrs. Maurice Kelleher of this city, who died about four years ago, was a daughter. The son, Prof. Samuel Hoover, is a teacher in the Missouri Agricultural College, teaching chemistry, botany and practical farming. Funeral services were held at Warrensburg and the remains brought here for interment, accompanied by the son. Short funeral services were held at the grave, Saturday, conducted by Rev. Flanagin." 

The life of Mary Green does not appear to have been an easy one. She had lived to 95 years of age, but ending her life blind and in poverty, having an invalid husband who ultimately committed suicide and being predeceased by all but one of her eleven children does not sound like a lucky life. She was buried (probably in the same grave) with her husband in Burlingame, Kansas.

Christian Hoover's headstone
Burlingame, Kansas
Photo provided courtesy Jean Pinick


  • Jennings, Arlene V, "Mary (Green) Hoover, Physician of Armstrong County", Pennsylvania Genealogical Magazine Vol 45 (2007), pages 6-17
  • Veen, Alice Hoyt, of Prairie Roots Research, Genealogy Report dated December 17, 2009
  • American Civil War Pension Application for Christian Hoover and Widow's Pension Application by wife Mary (Green) Hoover 
  • 1830, 1850, 1880, 1900  United States Federal Censuses
  • Kansas Historical Society website:

Friday, 6 March 2015

John Howland: Mayflower Man Overboard (52 Ancestors #10) Theme: "Stormy Weather"

John Howland was, fortunately, my 10th great grandfather. I say "fortunately" because he almost didn't survive his crossing from England to America on the Mayflower in 1620. Had he drowned, I certainly wouldn't be here, nor would thousands of his other descendants scattered across North America and around the world.

Mayflower II replica ship in Plymouth Harbour 1999
Whenever my sailor husband has suggested that we sail across the Atlantic, I always demur, pointing out that my ancestors weathered many storms and difficulties to get me to North America and I don't intend to dishonour their memory by reversing the trip. That is undoubtedly an excuse to cover my trepidation at the prospect of a perilous voyage, partially because of what happened to John Howland on his crossing.

Born about 1591 in Fenstanton, Huntingdonshire, England, John was in his late 20's when he left for the new world. This is inland and I don't think John had grown up on the water. Although we don't know much more about his English background or motivation, John Howland accompanied Governor Carver as his manservant on the voyage.

The Mayflower's voyage had been planned for the balmy days of summer, but various problems had caused so many delays that they didn't actually leave Plymouth, England until 6 September 1620 on a two month voyage that didn't land them on the shores of Cape Cod until late in the season in November.

This was not a lovely cruise in balmy weather. The only first-hand account of the journey was written by William Bradford who later became the colony's governor. He said: "After they had enjoyed fair winds, and weather for a season, they were encountered many times with cross winds, and met with many fierce storms, with which the ship was soundly shaken, and her upper works made very leaky." Storms lashed the ship and water soaked the passengers and their belongings. (It has been speculated that the terrible conditions may have been one of the causes of the deaths later that winter of about half the Mayflower passengers.)

During one of the many storms that battered the Mayflower during its journey, the ship lay ahull, meaning it had very little or no sail up and was allowed to drift at the mercy of the storm. John Howland went on deck for some fresh air and was pitched overboard by one of the big swells. William Bradford's description of the incident follows: "In sundry of these storms, the winds were so fierce and the seas so high, as they could not bear a know of sail, but were forced to hull for divers days together. And in one of them, as they lay thus at hull in a mighty storm, a lusty young man called John Howland, coming upon some occasion above the gratings was with a seele of the ship, thrown into the sea; but it pleased God that he caught hold of the topsail halyard which hung overboard and ran out at length. Yet he held his hold (though he was sundry fathoms under water) till he was hauled up by the same rope to the brim of the water, and then with a boat hook and other means got into the ship again and his life saved. And though he was something ill with it, yet he lived many years after and became a profitable member both in church and commonwealth."

Notwithstanding the after-effects of this near-tragedy and his seemingly menial position as servant, he was a signer of the Mayflower Compact on 11 November 1620 and then took part in an early exploration of the Cape Cod area in early December. It was this exploration party that found the Plymouth site that the company moved to and settled. The Mayflower Compact set out the principles governing the new colony.

Monument with text and signatories of Mayflower Compact 1620
including John Howland and Elizabeth's father John Tilley (other of my ancestors listed are John Alden, William Mullins and Peter Brown)

In 1623 he married Elizabeth Tilley, a fellow passenger aboard the Mayflower. Elizabeth had been baptized 30 August 1607 in Henlow, Bedfordshire, England and had also come to America aboard the Mayflower with her parents John Tilley and Joan (Hurst) Tilley, both of whom died the first winter in Plymouth, leaving 16 year-old Elizabeth alone in the new world. In the 1623 Division of Land, John Howland received four shares - one for himself, one for wife Elizabeth and two for her deceased parents.

Plaque representing the signing of the Mayflower Compact
By 1626, John Howland was one of the men who bought out existing shareholders in the joint-stock company that had funded the new colony.  Arriving as a manservant, he had become one of the prominent men of the community within a half dozen years. Whether his new-found wealth resulted from an inheritance from Elizabeth's parents or from his former employer John Carver who had died in 1621. no one knows for sure. In any event, he was elected assistant governor from 1632-1635.

His appointment as head of Plymouth's trading post on the Kennebec River marked a tragic turning point in his life. The Plymouth company had been granted exclusive trading rights on the Kennebec and the right to defend this territory against illegal incursions. A group of men from Piscataway settlement led by one John Hocking had taken a small boat up the river to trade with the Indians, interfering with this trading right. John Howland approached Hocking and suggested they depart, but Hocking's response was  a refusal to do so given in foul language. Unable to persuade the Piscataway men to leave, Howland sent three of the Plymouth men to cut their anchor cables so that the current would take them out to sea. This resulted in guns being drawn, at which Howland again tried unsuccessfully to defuse the situation. Hocking shot one of the Plymouth men in the head and then Hocking in turn was shot in the head.  This incident caused quite a controversy throughout Massachusetts Bay and Plymouth colonies. It doesn't appear that there were any legal ramifications, but John Howland, obviously very affected by the tragedy, stepped out of public life for several years.

John and Elizabeth had 10 children including my 9th great grandmother Lydia Howland born about 1633.

By the 1640's, John resumed his participation in the life of the community. He was deputy for the Plymouth Court for many years.

John died 23 February 1672/3 and was buried two days later on Burial Hill in Plymouth. Elizabeth survived him  by 15 years.

Burial Hill, Plymouth
The inventory of John Howland's estate was taken 3 March 1673/4 and lists his possessions on a room by room basis. The outer or fire room contained a musket, long gun, cutlass, belt, chimney iron, pot hangers, frying pan, fire shovel, woodworking tools, cow bells, old chain, sheep sheers, knives and scissors, pots and kettles, candlesticks, several books and 3 beer vessels. His bedroom contained his wearing apparel including 3 hats, homespun suit and waistcoat, coats, stockings, shirts and caps, jackets and mittens, silk neck cloths, a pair of boots and 2 pairs of shoes, fabric and buttons. It also contained his bed and table linens, chair and pots, wineglasses, spectacles, feather bed and bolster, 5 pillows and 5 blankets, ammunition and an ink horn. The upper chamber had another feather bed and bolster, a wool bed, wool, feathers, corn, malt, rye, wheat, peas, bacon, beef, tallow and candles, butter and lard, sugar, tobacco (6 pounds of it!), beans and a grindstone. Livestock included 2 mares, one colt, 4 oxen, 4 cows, 4 heifers, 2 steers, 2 yearling calves, 13 pigs and 45 sheep. He also had a canoe.

All ten children survived to adulthood and married; it has therefore been said that John and Elizabeth have more descendants living today than any other Mayflower passengers. This gives one pause. Had John Howland not survived his trip overboard during that stormy day on the Mayflower, picture a world where the following people would have never been born:
  • US Presidents Franklin D Roosevelt, George H W Bush and George W Bush
  • Actors Chevy Chase, Humphrey Bogart,  and the Baldwin brothers (Alec, Stephen, William and Daniel), Lillian Russell, Anthony Perkins, Christopher Lloyd
  • Mormon Church founder Joseph Smith
  • Poets Ralph Waldo Emerson and Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
  • Sarah Palin
  • Doctor Benjamin Spock
  • me (and perhaps you too?)


  • Roser, Susan E. "Mayflower Increasings", 2nd Edition, Genealogical Publishing Company, Inc., 1997
  • Lainhart, Ann Smith and Wakefield, Robert S (comp). "Mayflower Families Through Five Generations", Volume 23, Part 1: John Howland", General Society of Mayflower Descendants 2006
  • Philbrick, Nathaniel. "Mayflower: A Story of Courage, Community and War", Penguin Group 2006
  • Johnson, Caleb H. "The Mayflower and Some of Her Passengers", Xlibris Corporation 2006
  • Bradford, William. "Of Plymouth Plantation 1620-1647", Morison, Samuel E (ed) NY 1952
  • Wikipedia article for John Howland accessed online 24 February 2015