Saturday, November 8, 2014


In January 2014, Amy Johnson Crow of the Ancestry blog No Story Too Small issued the 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks Challenge.


The premise: write once a week about a specific ancestor. It could be a story, a biography, a photograph, a research problem — any that focuses on that one ancestor. The next week, write about a different ancestor. In 52 weeks, you’ll have taken a closer look at 52 people in your family tree… and maybe learned a little bit more about them in the process.

This month as we celebrate the first Thanksgiving and the arrival of the Mayflower to Massachusetts in 1620, I will blog about the passengers on the Mayflower that I am related to.  I have already written about ELIZABETH TILLEY HOWLAND in July 2014 in #27 of 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks.  This week I’ll give you the little bit I have found about her father JOHN TILLEY.

JOHN TILLEY was baptized on December 19, 1571 at Henlow, County Bedford, England. He was the eldest child of ROBERT TILLEY and his wife ELIZABETH. John had a younger brother, Edward, who also came on the Mayflower with his wife. Both John Tilley, his brother Edward and their wives all perished that first winter in Plymouth. JOHN TILLEY is my 10th Great Grandfather.

There are few records of John Tilley’s life in England. His name appears in the will of George Clarke of Henlow, dated September 22, 1607 which notes that Thomas Kirke, then residing with Tilley, owed money to him. There is a record of a John Tilley, yeoman, residing at Wooton, Bedfordshire, who made a disposition on April 7, 1613 with his age stated as 40 years, which would probably make him the Mayflower passenger of that name. There is little information about the lives of John Tilley and his wife Joan. John Tilley was documented as a member of the Leiden Separatist congregation as well as his brother Edward. Edward’s ward Henry Samson may also have been a member.

JOHN TILLEY married JOAN (HURST) ROGERS, widow of Thomas Rogers (no relation to the Mayflower passenger of that name) on September 20, 1596 at Henlow in Bedfordshire, England. JOAN HURST was baptized on March 13, 1567/8 at Henlow, England making her a little older than John. Joan came to the marriage with a daughter Joan, born of her marriage to Thomas Rogers, whom she married on June 18, 1593. Her daughter Joan was baptized May 26, 1594, and Thomas Rogers seems to have died shortly afterwards.


  • JOAN ROGERS was baptized on May 26, 1594. There is no further record and she may have died young, likely sometime after her mother’s 1596 marriage to John Tilley.

Children of JOHN AND JOAN TILLEY – all baptized in Henlow, Bedfordshire, England.

They had five children baptized in the parish of Henlow between 1597 and 1607. Of their children, only Elizabeth, baptized August 30, 1607, and who accompanied them on the Mayflower, is a survivor of all their children. The fate of the others is unknown.

  • Rose Tilley (1) was baptized on October 23, 1597 and may have     died young. No further record.

  • John Tilley was baptized on August 26, 1599 and may have died young. No further record.
  • Rose Tilley (2) was baptized on February 28, 1601/2 and may have died young. No further record.
  • Robert Tilley was baptized on November 25, 1604 and may have died young. No further record.
  • Elizabeth Tilley was baptized on August 30, 1607 and died in Swansea, MA on December 22, 1687. She married John Howland in Plymouth Colony about 1624 and had ten children.

JOHN TILLEY and his wife JOAN HURST both died in the winter of 1621 and are buried in Coles Hill Burial Ground, Plymouth, MA.




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