John Tilley & Family
John Tilley (c.1571- winter of 1620/21) John Tilley and his family were passengers on the historic 1620 voyage of the Mayflower. He was a signatory to the Mayflower Compact, and died with his wife in the first Pilgrim winter in the New World. Both he and his brother Edward signed the Mayflower Compact.
John Tilley was baptized on December 19, 1571 at Henlow, co. 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 the New World. 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. Joan Hurst was the younger daughter of William Hurst, and was baptized on March 13, 1567/8 at Henlow 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. Joan was baptized May 26, 1594, and Rogers seems to have died shortly afterwards.
Both John Tilley and his brother Edward were involved in the early exploring expeditions of the Cape Cod area in November and December 1620, with both suffering the effects of being ill-clad and wet in freezing temperatures. Edward, and it may be that John also died from the effects of the exploration weather One such extensive exploration in which the John and Edward Tilley are named as having taken part began on Wednesday, December 6, 1620 in freezing weather using the ship’s shallop – a light, shallow-water boat with oars and sails navigated by two pilots and crewed by a master gunner and two sailors. The Pilgrims on board for this expedition, in addition to John Tilley and his brother Edward, were John Howland, Stephen Hopkins and his servant Edward Doty. Senior members on the expedition included John Carver, William Bradford, militia captain Myles Standish and Edward Winslow. The number of persons on this exploration was less than half of a prior expedition due to many having been felled by illness, the English facing freezing weather wearing unsuitable clothing due to not planning for the severity of the New England winter. As recorded – “..very cold and hard weather..in which time two were sick.. the gunner also sick unto death..” This exploration would not turn out well for the English in their first encounter with Indians as they found that slow-firing muskets were no match for rapid-fire arrows. This Indian challenge to the Pilgrims was later known as the First Encounter. John Tilley and his wife Joan both died the first winter as did his brother Edward Tilley and wife Ann. The only Tilley surviving from the Mayflower was John’s thirteen-year old daughter Elizabeth.
John Tilley and his wife Joan were my 10th great grandparents. See Relationship Chart
For more information see Wikipedia.
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