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John Howland

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~~~~All that is essential for the triumph of evil is that good people do nothing~~~~

Rose, Small

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John was born about 1592 to Henry and Margaret Howland of Fenstanton, nine miles northeast of Cambridge, England. Elizabeth Tilley was the youngest of several children born to John and Joan (Hurst) Tilley. She was baptized in 1607 in Henlow, Huntingdonshire, England. John Tilley and his family, and the family of his brother Edward Tilley and wife Ann (Cooper), were members of John Robinson's congregation in Leiden.

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From William Bradford
In sundry of these storms the winds were so fierce and the seas so high, as they could not bear a knot of sail, but were forced to hull for divers days together. And in one of them, as they thus lay at hull in a mighty storm, a lusty young man called John Howland, coming upon some occasion above the gratings, was, with a roll of the ship, thrown into sea; but it pleased God that he caught hold of the topsail halyards, 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. In all this voyage there died but one of the passengers, which was William But ten, a youth, servant to Samuel Fuller, when they drew near the coast.

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John Howland

 Mayflower passengers John Howland and Elizabeth Tilley were married in 1623/4. John was about thirty-one and Elizabeth was about sixteen. They spent their entire lives in Plymouth, and between them participated in every aspect of the Pilgrim experience from its beginning in Leiden up to the merger of the Bay and Plymouth colonies.

March 27, 1634 (PCR 1:26-28) *According to an order in court held the 2d of Jan., in the ninth yeare of the raigne of our sov. lord, Charles, by the grace of God king of Engl., Scotl., Fr., & Irel., defendr of the faith, &c, the psons heerunder menconed were rated for publick use by the Govr & Mr Tho. Prence, Mr Will Bradford, Capt Myles Standish, John Howland, Stephen Hopkins, John Done, Will Gilson, Will Collier, Joh. Jenny, Rob & Heekes, Jonathan Brewster, Kenelm Wynslow, & Stephen Deane, to be brought in by each pson as they are heerunder written, rated in corne at vjss p bushell, at or before the last of Novbr next ensuing, to such place as shall be heerafter appointed to receiue the same; and for default heerof, the value to be doubled, & accordingly levied by the publick officer for that end.

 The second case involving John Howland's family occurred in 1664 when Ruth Howland (b. 1646), his youngest daughter, was the subject of a morals case brought before the Court of Governor's Assistants. Sexual mores, including chastity before marriage, were issues about which were strict codes of conduct. Ruth Howland fell in love with Thomas Cushman, Jr. (1637-1726), the first son of Plymouth's Ruling Elder Thomas Cushman (1607-91), and Mary (Allerton) Cushman (1616-1699), a Mayflower passenger. In 1664/5 Thomas Jr. was fined five ponds by the Court for carnal behavior "before marriage, but after contract." Once again John Howland was Deputy to the General Court for Plymouth and not involved personally in sentencing. Twenty-five years earlier punishment could have been severe, e.g. excommunication, fines, stocks for women and whipping for men. However, in 1664 harsh physical sentencing had been relaxed, and the social meeting of the parties became a factor in sentencing. In 1664 Thomas Jr. and Ruth were married. In addition to John Howland's embarrassment, Thomas Cushman, Jr. squandered the opportunity to be considered to succeed his father as Ruling Elder. In 1694, Thomas' younger brother Isaac was chosen to succeed his father as Ruling Elder. Thomas Jr. and Ruth remained in Plymouth. Ruth died as a young woman sometime after 1672, and Thomas Jr. married Abigail Fuller in 1679.

John Howland was born in Fenstanton, Huntingdonshire, England, about 1592/3. He died at Plymouth Colony, Massachusetts, February 23, 1672/3. Plymouth Colony records state:

The 23th of February Mr. John Howland Senir of the Towne of Plymouth Deceased; Hee lived until hee attained about eighty yeaes in the world;and was the last man that was left of those that Came over in the ship Called the May flower, that lived in Plymouth hee was with honor Intered att the Towne of Plymouth on the 25 of February 1672;

*These sheweth, that on Jul the 22cond, 1648, wee, whosse names are vnderwritten, were sworne by Mr Bradford, gouerner, to make inquiry of the death of the child of Allis Bishop, the wife of Richard Bishope.

Wee declare, yt coming into the house of the said Richard Bishope, wee saw at the foot of a ladder wh leadeth into an vpper chamer, much blood; and going vp all of vs into the chamber, wee found a woman child, of about foure yeares of age, lying in her shifte vppon her left cheeke, with her throat cut with diuers gashes crose wayes, the wind pipe cut and stuke into the throat downward, and a bloody knife lying by the side of the child, with wh knife all of vs judg, and the said Allis hath confessed to fiue of vs at one time, yt shee murdered the child with the said knife.







Rachell, the wife of Joepth Ramsden, aged about 23 yeares, being examined, saith that coming to the house of Richard Bishope vppon an erand, the wife of the said Richard Bishope requested her to goe fetch her som buttermilke at Goodwife Winslows, and gaue her a ketle for that purpose, and she went and did it; and before shee wente,shee saw the child lyinge abed asleep, to her best deserning, and the woman was as well as shee hath knowne her att any time; but when shee came shee found her sad and dumpish; shee asked her what blood was that shee saw at the ladders foot; shee pointed vnto the chamber, and bid her looke, but shee perseiued shee had kiled her child, and being afraid, shee refused, and ran and tould her father and mother. Morouer, shee saith the reason yt moued her to thinke shee had kiled her child was yt when shee saw the blood shee looked on the bedd, and the child was not there.

Taken vppon oath by mee, WILLIAM BRADFORD,

The day and year aboue written.

At a Court of Asistants holden at New Plymouth, the first of Aguste, 1648, before Mr Bradford, Gouer, Mr Coliar, Captain Miles Standish, and Mr William Thomas, gent, Assistants, the sd Allice, being examined, confessed shee did comite the afforsaid murther, and is sory for it.

October 4, 1648 (PCR 2:134) Att this Court, Allice Bishope, the wife of Richard Bishope, of New Plymouth, was indited for felonius murther by her comited, vppon Martha Clark, her owne child, the frute of her owne body.

John Howland Will

Transcribed from the original records,

John Howland died at Plymouth, on the twenty third of February 1672 - 3 and his will and inventory were recorded in the Plymouth Colony Wills and Inventories, Volume III, Part I, pages 49 to 54.

The Last Will and Testament of mr John howland of Plymouth late Deceased, exhibited to the Court held att Plymouth the fift Day of March Anno Dom 1672 on the oathes of mr Samuell ffuller and mr Willam Crow as followeth
Know all men to whom these prsents shall Come That I John howland senir of the Towne of New Plymouth in the Collonie of New Plymouth in New England in America, this twenty ninth Day of May one thousand six hundred seaventy and two being of whole mind, and in Good and prfect memory and Remembrance praised be God; being now Grown aged; haveing many Infeirmities of body upon mee; and not Knowing how soon God will call mee out of this world, Doe make and ordaine these prsents to be my Testament Containing herein my last Will in manor and forme following;
Imp I Will and bequeath my body to the Dust and my soule to God that Gave it in hopes of a Joyfull Resurrection unto Glory; and as Concerning my temporall estate, I Dispose therof as followeth;

Item I Doe give and bequeath unto John howland my eldest sonne besides what lands I have already given him, all my Right and Interest To that one hundred acrees of land graunted mee by the Court lying on the eastern side of Taunton River; between Teticutt and Taunton bounds and all the appurtenances and privilidges Therunto belonging, I belonge to him and his heires and assignes for ever; and if that Tract should faile, then to have all my Right title and Interest by and in that Last Court graunt to mee in any other place, To belonge to him his heires and assignes for ever;

Item I give and bequeath unto my son Jabez howland all those my upland and Meddow That I now posesse at Satuckett and Paomett, and places adjacent, with all the appurtenances and privilidges, belonging therunto, and all my right title and Interest therin, To belonge to him his heires and assignes for ever,

Item I Give and bequeath unto my son Jabez howland all that my one peece of land that I have lying on the southsyde of the Mill brooke, in the Towne of Plymouth aforsaid; be it more or lesse; and is on the Northsyde of a feild that is now Gyles Rickards senir To belonge to the said Jabez his heires and assignes for ever;

Item I give and bequeath into Isacke howland my youngest sonne all those my uplands and meddowes Devided and undivided with all the appurtenances and priviliges unto them belonging, lying and being in the Towne of Middlebery, and in a tract of Land Called the Majors Purchase neare Namassakett Ponds; which I have bought and purchased of Willam White of Marshfeild in the Collonie of New Plymouth; which may or shall appeer by any Deed or writing that is Given under the said Whites hand all such Deeds or writinges Together with the aformensioned prticulares To belonge to the said Isacke his heires and assignes for ever;

Item I give and bequeath unto my said son Isacke howland the one halfe of my twelve acree lott of Meddow That I now have att Winnatucsett River within the Towne of Plymouth aforsaid To belonge to him the said Isacke howland his heires and assignes for ever,

Item I Will and bequeath unto my Deare and loveing wife Elizabeth howland the use and benifitt of my now Dwelling house in Rockey nooke in the Township of Plymouth aforsaid, with the outhousing lands, That is uplands [p. 50] uplands and meadow lands and all appurtenances and privilidges therunto belonging in the Towne of Plymouth and all other Lands housing and meddowes that I have in the said Towne of Plymouth excepting what meadow and upland I have before given To my sonnes Jabez and Isacke howland During her naturall life to Injoy make use of and Improve for her benifitt and Comfort;

Item I Give and bequeath unto my son Joseph howland after the Decease of my loveing wife Elizabeth howland my aforsaid Dwelling house att Rockey nooke together with all the outhousing uplands and Meddowes appurtenances and privilidges belonging therunto; and all other housing uplands and meddowes appurtenances and privilidges That I have within the aforsaid Towne of New Plymouth excepting what lands and meadowes I have before Given To my two sonnes Jabez and Isacke; To belong to him the said Joseph howland To him and his heires and assignes for ever;

Item I Give and bequeath unto my Daughter Desire Gorum twenty shillings

Item I Give and bequeath To my Daughter hope Chipman twenty shillings

Item I Give and bequeath unto my Daughter Elizabeth Dickenson twenty shillings

Item I Give and bequeath unto my Daughter Lydia Browne twenty shillings

Item I Give & bequeath to my Daughter hannah Bosworth twenty shillings

Item I Give and bequeath unto my Daughter Ruth Cushman twenty shillings

Item I Give to my Grandchild Elizabeth howland The Daughter of my son John howland twenty shillings

Item my will is That these legacyes Given to my Daughters, be payed by my exequitrix in such species as shee thinketh meet; Item I will and bequeath unto my loveing wife Elizabeth howland, my Debts and legacyes being first payed, my whole estate: viz: lands houses goods Chattles; or any thinge else that belongeth or appertaineth unto mee, undisposed of be it either in Plymouth Duxburrow or Middlbery or any other place whatsoever; I Doe freely and absolutly give and bequeath it all to my Deare and loveing wife Elizabeth howland whom I Doe by these prsents, make ordaine and Constitute to be the sole exequitrix of this my Last will and Testament to see the same truely and faithfully prformed according to the tenour therof; In witnes wherof the said John howland senir have heerunto sett my hand and seale the aforsaid twenty ninth Day of May, one thousand six hundred seaventy and two 1672

Signed and sealed in the John howland prsence of Samuell ffuller And a seale Willam Crow