As part of the Mayflower 400 project we have been working with Tom Bartlett, a member of the Pilgrim John Howland Society (PJHS) of America.
John Howland was a passenger on the Mayflower that sailed from England to America in August 1620. Tom is a direct descendant of John Howland and has lived in England for the last 25 years. His home town in America is Plymouth, Massachusetts.
The PJHS was established in the USA in 1897. It owns and maintains Howland House in Plymouth, Massachusetts which the Society purchased in 1913. The house has been restored and is open to the public during the summer months. The Society also maintains the home of John and his wife Elizabeth at Rocky Nook, Kingston, Massachusetts. This is where John and Elizabeth lived in their later years.
We are working with Tom to find out more about John, his early life in England and how he became an identured servant of John Carver who was a leader of the Separatists that sailed to America. It has been fascinating to find out more about what was happening in Cambridgeshire and East Anglia at that time, his likely meeting with Dutch and other overseas traders and business people visiting St Ives for the annual St Michaelmas Fair (started in the 13th Century and still happening every year) and his possible involvement in the wool and linen trade in London.
We recently filmed Tom in Fenstanton Church talking about his plans to create a DVD about John and his early years in England.
John was probably born in Fenstanton in Cambridgeshire in the 1590’s. His parents are buried in the local Churchyard. A number of his siblings names are listed in the Church Register of Births but as the earliest entries date from the early 1600’s John and his older brothers are not listed.