Monday, November 17, 2014


John Howland born 1671 in Fenstanston, Huntingdon, England is my 9th Great Grandfather.

I am continuing the connection to the Mayflower and my family tree.

This week I will tell the story about John Howland's incident on the Mayflower as told by Nathaniel Philbrick in "Mayflower".

William Bradford, another Mayflower passenger wrote of this incident a decade later (1630) in his "Of Plymouth Plantation".

In the fall of 1620 the Mayflower was at sea in a gale wind. As the ship turned into the wind it was finally peaceful on the ship. At this time, John Howland a young indentured servant apparently grew restless down below. He saw no reason why could not venture out for just a moment. After more than a month as passenger ship, the Mayflower was no longer a sweet ship, and John Howland wanted some air. So he climbed a ladder to one of the hatches and stepped on deck.

John Howland was from the inland town of Fenstanton, England and he quickly discovered that the deck of a tempest-tossed ship was no place for a landsman. The Mayflower lurched suddenly in the towering waves. John Howland staggered to the ship rail and tumbled into the sea.

That should have been the end of him but dangling over the side and trailing behind the ship was the topsail halyard, the rope used to raise and lower the top sail. John Howland was in his mid twenties and strong, and when his hand found the halyard, he gripped the rope with desperation and never let go. Several sailors took up the halyard and hauled John Howland back up onto the deck.

If it wasn't for his quick thinking and fortitude my family wouldn't be here today.

The next blog will tell about his life after landing in Plymouth, Massachusetts.

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