By Joan Reed Miller



Date of birth: unknown Date of birth: unknown
Baptized: 19 December 1571, Henlow, Bedford, England Baptized: 27 May 1588, Henlow, Bedford, England
Marriage: Joan (Hurst) Rogers 20 Sep 1596 Marriage: Agnes Cooper, 20 Jun 1614, England
Children: Five (5)
1. Rose baptized 23 Oct 1597, died young
2. John baptized 26  Aug 1599
3. Rose baptized 28 Feb 1602
4. Robert baptized 25 Nov 1604
5. Elizabeth baptized 30 Aug 1607, married John Howland
Children: none recorded
Death: 1620/21 first winter at Plymouth Death: 1620/1 first winter at Plymouth
Burial Site: unknown Burial Site: unknown


St. Mary the Virgin Church in Henlow, Bedfordshire, England

  • John Tilley was christened in Henlow, Bedfordshire, England on 19 Dec 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.
  • 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 Samson and humility Cooper.
  • John and brother Edward were amongst the men who signed the Mayflower Compact.
  • John was the 16th signer and Edward was the 15th.
  • During the first winter many Pilgrims died including John, wife Joan, brother Edward and his wife 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 England, and dyed the But the youth Henry Sampson, is still liveing, and is married, & hath 7 children. John Tilley and his wife both dyed, a litle after they came ashore..."
  • Daughter Elizabeth was the only surviving member of the Tilly family in Plymouth. Her brother Robert, in October 1617 was apprenticed to a Bedford tailor named John Jones for a period of eight years, so he could not travel with his family to the new world in 1620.
  • As an orphan, Elizabeth was taken in by John Carver but he and his wife both died that spring.
  • Elizabeth would later marry John Howland, Carver's former servant.
  • John, Joan, Edward, and Ann were secretly buried with the others that died the first winter. They are remembered by the Sarcophagus on Coles Hill, Plymouth overlooking the harbor.
  • Some famous individuals that are descendants of John Tilley's daughter, Elizabeth and husband John Howland are Franklin D. Roosevelt (32nd President of the United States); Presidents George H. W. Bush and George W. Bush; brother Actors, Alec and Stephen Baldwin; Actor, Humphrey Bogart; Actor, Christopher Lloyd who played "Doc" Brown in the Back to the Future trilogy; Sarah Palin, 2008 Republican VP Candidate, Governor of Alaska; Joseph Smith, Mormon founder and leader, and Dr. Benjamin Spock, Pediatrician and author of the influential childcare book, Baby and Child Care (1946) just to name a few!

General Society of Mayflower Descendants
Mayflower Families Through Five Generations (Silver Books)
Pilgrim Hall Museum
Of Plymouth Plantation 1620-1647, William Bradford
Caleb Johnson's