Man Overboard!

How many personal stories have been lost to time and history? Far too many if you ask me. Fortunately, there are some that survive – like this one from yet another ancestor who lived among those in the Plymouth colony:

John Howland, the 10th great-grandfather of my daughter-in-law, sailed on the Mayflower. Apparently he had quite the eventful crossing. It is recounted at some length by Mrs. Sophia Martin who, in 1903, compiled The John Mack Genealogy.

“In a mighty storm, John Howland, a Passenger, a stout young man, by a keel of ye ship, was thrown into ye sea. But it pleased God, he caught hold of ye Topsail Halilards which hung overboard and run out yer length; yet he kept his hold, tho several Fathoms under water, till he was drawn up by ye same Rope to ye surface and by a Boat Hook and other means got into ye ship: and tho somewhat ill upon it, lived many years and became a useful member both in Church and Commonwealth.”

He was the 13th of the 41 principal men to sign the Mayflower Compact. Soon afterwards, he married Elizabeth Tillie. She was the daughter of John Tillie who also arrived on the Mayflower only to die along with his wife during that first harsh winter. The orphaned Elizabeth was then adopted by Governor John Carver for whom Howland served, first as indentured servant and then later as executive assistant and personal secretary.

John and Elizabeth ultimately had ten children – children who would never have been born had he been taken by the sea during that perilous journey.

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