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Sunday, October 9, 2011

Mayflower's Indentured Servant


John Howland (c. 1591 – February 23, 1672/3) was a passenger on the Mayflower. He was an indentured servant who accompanied the separatists, also called the Pilgrims, when they left England to settle in Plymouth, Massachusetts. John was one of the first ten men to set foot on Plymouth Rock. He signed the Mayflower Compact and helped found Plymouth Colony.

Having outlived John Carver, the first governor of the Plymouth Colony, to whom he was indentured, Howland became freeman in 1621 and perhaps inherited some of Carver's estate. In 1626, Howland was one of eight settlers who agreed to assume the colony's debt to its investors in England in exchange for a monopoly of the fur trade.[3] He was elected deputy to the General Court in consecutive years from 1641–1655 and again in 1658.

Howland married fellow Mayflower passenger Elizabeth Tilley, and together they had ten children and 88 grandchildren. The couple founded one of the three largest Mayflower progenies and their descendants have been "associated largely with both the 'Boston Brahmins' and Harvard's 'intellectual aristocracy' of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries."

John Howland died February 23, 1672/3 at the age of 80, having outlived all other male Mayflower passengers except John Cooke, who died in 1695. The location of his grave is unknown, but it presumed that he is buried on Burial Hill in Plymouth, Massachusetts. Elizabeth Tilley outlived her husband by 15 years. She died December 21, 1681, in the home of her daughter, Lydia Brown, in Swansea, Massachusetts, and is buried in a section of that town which is now in East Providence, RI.

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