Mayflower Passenger Elizabeth Tilley was baptized 30 August 1607, Henlow, Bedfordshire, England, the daughter of John Tilley and Joan Hurst (Rogers). I wrote about them here. She was the fifth and youngest child. Elizabeth is my 11th great-grandmother on my grandfather Arthur Washburn Davis’ side of the family.
|St. Mary's Henlow where Elizabeth Tilley was baptized|
At age 13 Elizabeth went with her family to Leiden, Holland, where they were part of the Separatist group. Elizabeth was a Mayflower passenger with her parents who both died in the first difficult Plymouth winter, leaving her as the only family member to survive. The rest of Elizabeth’s siblings must have died young or stayed behind in Leiden. It is presumed that on the voyage the girls had chores to do but also played with the younger children. 17th century games included naughts and crosses (tic tac toe), draughts (checkers), knickers (marbles), hopfrog (leapfrog), lummelen (keep away), skipped rope (jump rope), and stickball. Elizabeth's future husband, John Howland, was also on board, as a manservant to John Carver. Historians believe Elizabeth went to live with the Carvers when she was orphaned. John Carver died the first spring, his wife the first summer and their children had already died when they were in Leiden. It is possible John Howland inherited part of Carver’s estate. What a tremendous amount of loss Elizabeth witnessed in her young life.
Most of the Pilgrims felt girls were not strong enough to make the voyage or to survive hardships afterward, so many left their daughters in England or Holland and send for them later. Despite this belief, 11 girls did make the voyage. They proved to have the strongest bodies of all. That first winter 75 percent of the women died, 50 percent of the men, 36 percent of the boys and only 18 percent (2) girls died.
In March 1623 Elizabeth married John Howland when she was not quite 16 years of age and he was about 15 years her senior. They had 10 children together.
Elizabeth survived her husband and is mentioned in his will. She never remarried and lived at times with two children, including her son Jabez in Plymouth 1674 until he sold his house (which is still standing and open to public) in 1680. Prior to that it is believed Elizabeth and John spent winters with Jabez. She then lived with her daughter Lydia Brown in Swansea. The Howland's Rocky Nook farm in what is now Kingston burned in 1675 during King Philip's War.
In her will dated 17 Dec 1686, signed by her mark, Elizabeth named her sons John, Jabez, Joseph and Isaac, her son-in-law James Browne, her surviving daughters Lydia Browne, Elizabeth Dickason, and Hannah Bosworth, her granddaughters Elizabeth Bursley, Dorothy Browne and Desire Cushman, and her grandsons Nathaniel Howland and James and Jabez Browne. She charged her children to "walke in ye Fear of ye Lord, and in love and peace toward each other." So many women of Elizabeth’s era are invisible to us today, but this sentence in her will tells me so much about her.
In ye Name of God Amen I Elizabeth Howland of Swanzey in ye County of Bristoll in ye Collony of Plymouth in New Engld being Seventy nine yeares of Age but of good & perfect memory thanks be to Allmighty God & calling to Remembrance ye uncertain Estate of this transitory Life & that all flesh must Yeild unto Death when it shall please God to call Doe make constitute & ordaine & Declare This my last Will & Testament, in manner & forme following Revoking and Anulling by these prsents all & every Testamt & Testamts Will & Wills heretofore by me made & declared either by Word or Writing And this to be taken only for my last Will & Testament & none other. "And first being penitent & sorry from ye bottom of my heart for all my sinns past most humbly desiring forgivenesse for ye same I give & Comitt my soule unto Allmighty God my Saviour & Redeemer in whome & by ye meritts of Jesus Christ I trust & believe assuredly to be saved & to have full remission & forgivenesse of all my sins & that my Soule wt my Body at the generall Day of Resurrection shall rise againe wt Joy & through ye meritts of Christs Death & passion possesse & inheritt ye Kingdome of heaven prepared for his Elect & Chosen & my Body to be buryed in such place where it shall please my Executrs hereafter named to appoint And now for ye settling my temporall Estate & such goodes Chattells & Debts as it hath pleased God far above my Deserts to bestow upon me I Do Dispose order & give ye same in manner & forme following (That is to say) First that after my funerall Expences & Debts paid wc I owe either of right or in Conscience to any manner of person or persons whatsoever in Convenient tyme after my Decease by my Execrs hereafter named I Give & bequeath unto my Eldest Son John Howland ye sum of five pounds to be paid out of my Estate & my booke called Mr Tindale's Workes & also one pair of sheetes & one prof pillowbeeres & one pr of Bedblanketts, Item I give unto my son Joseph Howland my Stillyards & also one pr of sheetes & one pt of pillobeeres Item I give unto my son Jabez Howland my ffetherbed & boulster yt is in his Custody & also one Rugg & two Blanketts yt belongeth to ye said Bed & also my great Iron pott & potthookes Item I give unto my son Isaack Howland my Booke called Willson on ye Romanes & one pr of sheetes & one paire of pillowbeeres & also my great Brasse Kettle already in his possession Item I give unto my Son in Law Mr James Browne my great Bible Item I give & bequeath unto my Daughter Lidia Browne my best ffeatherbed & Boulster two pillowes & three Blanketts & a green Rugg & my small Cupboard one pr of AndyIrons & my lesser brasse Kettle & my small Bible & my booke of mr Robbinsons Workes called Observations Divine & Morrall & allso my finest pr of Sheetes & my holland pillowbeeres, Item I give unto my Daughter Elisabeth Dickenson one pr of Sheetes & one pr of pillowbeeres & one Chest Item give unto my Daughter Hannah Bosworth one pr of sheets & one pr of pillowbeeres, Item I give unto my Grand Daughter Elizabeth Bursley one paire of sheets and one paire of Pillowbeeres Item I give & bequeath unto my Grandson Nathanael Howland (the son of Joseph Howland) and to the heires of his owne Body lawfully begotten for ever all that my Lott of Land with ye Meadow thereunto adjoyning & belonging lying in the Township of Duxbury neare Jones River bridge, Item I give unto my Grandson James Browne One Iron barr and on Iron Trammell now in his possession, Item I give unto my Grandson Jabez Browne one Chest Item I give unto my Grand Daughter Dorothy Browne My best Chest & my Warming pan Item I give unto my Grand Daughter Desire Cushman four Sheep, Item I give & bequeath my wearing clothes linnen and Woollen and all the rest of my Estate in mony Debts linnen or of what kind or nature or sort soever it may be unto my three Daughters Elisabeth Dickenson, Lidia Browne and Hannah Bosworth to be equally Devided amongst them, Item I make constitute and ordaine my loving Son in Law James Browne and my loving son Jabez Howland [p. 14] Executors of this my last Will and Testament, Item it is my Will & Charge to all my Children that they walke in ye Feare of ye Lord, and in Love and peace towards each other and endeavour the true performance of this my last Will & Testament In Witnesse whereof I the said Elisabeth Howland have hereunto sett my hand & seale this seventeenth Day of December Anno Dm one thousand six hundred Eighty & six.
The mark of Elisabeth E H Howland (sigittu)
Signed Sealed & Delivd
in ye prsence of Us Wittnesses
Know all men that on ye tenth Day of Janry Anno Dm 1687/8 Before me Nathanl Byfield Esqr Judge of his Majties Inferiour Court of Plea's for ye County of Bristoll, present Jno Walley Esqr one of ye Members of his Majties Councill in New England & Capt Benjam Church Justice of Peace The abovewritten Will of Elizabeth Howland was proved approved & allowed And ye Administracon of all & singuler ye goodes Rights and Creditts of ye said Deced was Committed unto
James Browne & Jabez Howland Execrs in ye same Will named well & truly to Administer ye same according to the Will of ye Deced In Testimony whereof I have hereunto Sett ye Seale of ye Office for Probate of Wills & granting Lettrs of Admincon ye yeare & Day by me abovewritten
(Sigittu officij) Nathanael Byfield
Thus Entred & ingrossed this 26: of Janry Anno Dm 1687/8 pr Steph Burton
It is interesting she owned books. I do wonder if they were her own or belonged to her husband. If it was the latter I think she would have already given them to her sons. It was rare for women of that era to read.
No inventory is on file.
Elizabeth died in Swansea 21 or 31 December 1687, at 80 years of age, in the home of her daughter Lydia Browne. Three of her daughters, Desire Gorham, Hope Chipman and Ruth Cushman had already died, leaving heirs. She is buried at Little Neck Cemetery, E. Providence, RI, her headstone erected by descendants in 1949.
|Elizabeth Tilley Howland's gravestone source: findagrave.com|