Welcome! I really enjoy exchanging information with people and love that this blog helps with that. I consider much of my research as a work in progress, so please let me know if you have conflicting information. Some of the surnames I'm researching:

Many old Cape families including Kelley, Eldredge/idge, Howes, Baker, Mayo, Bangs, Snow, Chase, Ryder/Rider, Freeman, Cole, Sears, Wixon, Nickerson.
Many old Plymouth County families including Washburn, Bumpus, Lucas, Cobb, Benson.
Johnson (England to MA)
Corey (Correia?) (Azores to MA)
Booth, Jones, Taylor, Heatherington (N. Ireland to Quebec)
O'Connor (Ireland to MA)
My male Mayflower ancestors (only first two have been submitted/approved by the Mayflower Society):
Francis Cooke, William Brewster, George Soule, Isaac Allerton, John Billington, Richard Warren, Peter Browne, Francis Eaton, Samuel Fuller, James Chilton, John Tilley, Stephen Hopkins, and John Howland.
Female Mayflower ancestors: Mary Norris Allerton, Eleanor Billington, Mary Brewster, Mrs. James Chilton, Sarah Eaton, and Joan Hurst Tilley.
Child Mayflower ancestors: Giles Hopkins, (possibly) Constance Hopkins, Mary Allerton, Francis Billington, Love Brewster, Mary Chilton, Samuel Eaton, and Elizabeth Tilley.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Mayflower Ancestors Pt. 6: John Tilley and Joan Hurst

John Tilley and Joan Hurst brought their daughter Elizabeth on the Mayflower voyage, leaving their other four children behind. If they planned to send for the rest of them after they were settled, they never had the chance. Both John and Joan died during that first difficult winter in Plymouth, leaving young Elizabeth as an orphan in a strange land. John’s brother Edward Tilley was also a Mayflower passenger, dying in that first sickness that claimed so many lives. 

The Tilleys were “saints,” having left England for Leiden for religious freedom years earlier. In Holland John was a silk weaver. They were originally from Henlow in Bedfordshire. John was born about 1571, the son of Robert and Elizabeth Tilley. Joan was born circa 1568, daughter of William and Rose Hurst. They were married at Henlow on 20 December 1596. Joan had married first Thomas Rogers, unrelated to the Mayflower passenger of the same name.

Caleb Johnson found that unlike most Mayflower families, the Tilleys and Hursts had significant land, social status and inheritances. See his article in The Mayflower Quarterly, Vol 76, No. 2, June 2010. 

The Pilgrim John Howland Society has constructed a Shallop named after John and Joan's daughter Elizabeth Tilley Howland. 
Shallop Elizabeth Tilley

Read more about the shallop at http://www.pilgrimjohnhowlandsociety.org/shallop_elizabeth_tilley.shtml

The society's Elizabeth Tilley Mission Statement:
To provide outreach and education on John Howland, maritime history, and the Pilgrim story throughout New England. To allow people to experience "living history" when they sail on the Elizabeth Tilley. To be an ambassador to other Mayflower families and the general public for increased knowledge of the 1620's.

I descend through Elizabeth Tilley and John Howland. I posted my line of descent on Monday's post, which can be seen here: http://massandmoregenealogy.blogspot.com/2011/07/mayflower-ancestors-pt-5-john-howland.html.


  1. I am also a descendant of John and Elizabeth. If you would like to have a copy of the photo I took of Elizabeth's memorial gravestone, let me know!

    Midge Frazel

  2. Hi Midge: I would love a copy of your photo of Elizabeth's memorial stone. I haven't been there in person. I'll email you directly. Thanks!

  3. Ancient Little Neck Cemetery in Riverside RI in the Brown plot [RI cemetery #5]


  4. I was just going back over the information I have of Elizabeth Tilley- she fascinates me-- not just for the fact she lost her parents and uncle and aunt at such a young age- but that she seems to have such a strength of character to keep going on. I went back over her will & it was so interesting because she bequeaths her bibles, but also 2 books-- when I looked up those books, it made me think she must have also been a very intelligent woman. How common was it for a female in those days to read- and not just read, but read learned books? Interesting thoughts!
    I like most of my ancestors whom I meet in my tree-- but there are some who are just a bit more special to my heart- and I think Elizabeth Tilley is one of those special ancestors.

    1. What a wonderful post Anjuli! I like to think that Elizabeth could read and that the books weren't something she kept from her husband. I'm not a scholar of the period, but I don't think a lot of women were taught to read.

  5. Have you seen evidence of Joan Hurst being related to George (or Gorge) Hurst, who was allegedly the Cook on the Mayflower? I’m hitting a dead end in trying to prove or disprove family legend that we’re related to “the cook”, who died that first Winter and doesn’t seem to have much written on him.

    1. Hello, I haven't seen anything connecting Joan Hurst Tilley to a member of the Mayflower crew. Chris

    2. My father found out while in the navy that we were related to the cook as well but little information can be found

    3. Best of luck finding out more!


I'm now moderating comments on this blog. My apologies for any ensuing delays, but the large number of "spam" comments have made this necessary. ~Chris