John Tilley (Pilgrim)

John Tilley (1571 – 1620 or 1621) was one of the settlers who traveled from England to North America on the "Mayflower" but died shortly after arrival.


Tilley was christened in Henlow, Bedfordshire, England on 19 December 1571. He was the eldest child of Robert and Elizabeth Tilley. He had four sisters (Rose, Agnes, Elizabeth, and Alice) and three brothers (George, William, and Edward or Edmund). Research done by Robert Ward Leigh, using probate records, show that Tilley's paternal grandparents were William and Agnes Tylle, his great-grandparents were Thomas and Margaret Tylle, and great-great-grandparents were Henry and Johann [a] ? Tilly, all of Henlow.

On 20 September 1596 in Henlow, John married Joan Hurst Rogers, the daughter of William and Rose Hurst and the widow of Thomas Rogers of Henlow. Joan had had one daughter from her previous marriage. John and Joan had five children between 1597 and 1607. At least one child died young. Research by George Ernest Bowman shows that John was not the Jan Tellij that married Prijntgen Van den Velde in Leyden.

In September 1620, John and Joan embarked on the "Mayflower" along with their teenage daughter Elizabeth and John's brother Edward Tilley and his wife Ann or Agnes (Cooper) Tilley. Edward and Ann brought along Ann's relatives Henry Sampson and Humility Cooper. They left behind their older children, who were married by this time. They arrived at what would become Plymouth in November. John and brother Edward were amongst the men who signed the Mayflower Compact.

Unfortunately, the first winter after their arrival was extremely difficult and a number of the settlers died. Amongst these were John, wife Joan, brother Edward, and sister-in-law Ann. William Bradford reported, "...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..." This left daughter Elizabeth the only surviving member of the Tilley family in America. The orphan was taken in by John Carver but he and his wife both died that spring. Elizabeth later married John Howland, Carver's former servant, and left a numerous posterity.


off-topic Is this section ?
*Rose Tilley, baptized 23 October 1597 in Henlow, Bedfordshire, England, died young
*John Tilley, baptized 26 August 1599 in Henlow, Bedfordshire, England
*Rose Tilley, baptized 28 February 1602 in Henlow, Bedfordshire, England
*Robert Tilley, baptized 25 November 1604 in Henlow, Bedfordshire, England, served as an apprentice to a tailor, married Mary Hawkins on 1 November 1632 at St Paul’s Church, Bedford, Bedfordshire, England.
*Elizabeth Tilley, baptized 30 August 1607 in Henlow, Bedfordshire, England, sailed on the "Mayflower" in 1621, married John Howland presumably in Plymouth, Plymouth, Massachusetts, died 21/31 December 1687 in Swansea, Bristol, Massachusetts, will written 17 December 1686 and proved 10 January 1687/8.

In addition, Joan Hurst Rogers Tilley had a daughter, Joan Rogers, from her first marriage. She was christened on 26 May 1594 in Henlow, Bedfordshire, England and married Edward Hawkins on 27 June 1620 at St. Paul’s Church, Bedford, Bedfordshire, England.


*Marriage and christening records found on the International Genealogical Index (extracted from original source records by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints).
*Bradford, William, "Of Plymouth Plantation 1620-1647".
*Bowman, George Ernest, “Jan Tellij of Leyden was Not John Tilley of the Mayflower”, "Mayflower Descendant", Vol. 10, No2, April 1908. pgs. 65-67.
*Ward, Robert Leigh, “English Ancestry of Seven Mayflower Passengers: Tilley, Sampson, and Cooper”, "The American Genealogist", Vol. 52, pgs. 198-208.
*Bowman, George Ernest, “Elizabeth (Tilley) Howland’s Will”, "Mayflower Descendant", Vol. 3, No. 1, Jan 1901, pgs. 54-57.
*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.
*Bowman, George Ernest, “Elizabeth (Tilley) Howland’s Will”, "Mayflower Descendant", Vol. 3, No. 1, Jan 1901, pgs. 54-57.
*Anderson, Robert Charles. "The Great Migration Begins: Immigrants to New England, 1620-1633", vols. 1-3. Boston, MA: New England Historic Genealogical Society, 1995 (entry on John Howland).

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