Fun Facts about John Howland and Review of The Boy Who Fell Off the Mayflower

Disclosure: I was sent a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.

I am way behind in my sharing of books with you and wanted to share this great book before Thanksgiving. I'm a little late, but made it before. The book is suggested for 7 to 10 year-olds. While reading I began thinking about fun facts, so I am going to share fun facts about the pilgrim, John Howland and then review a book based on his story.

Fun Facts about John Howland

  1. John Howland was born around 1599. He was the son of Margaret and Henry Howland.
  2. He was the manservant of John Carver and came with the Carver family on the Mayflower. In later years he served as the executive assistant and personal secretary to Governor John Carver. He would have helped with making the treaty with Massasoit and the Wampanoags.
  3. He fell overboard the Mayflower during a storm.
  4. Both Presidents George Bush and First Lady Mrs. Theodore Roosevelt are descendants of John Howland as well as millions of other Americans.
  5. He signed the Mayflower Compact. He was the thirteenth signer (even though he was called a manservant).
  6. When Governor John Carver died in 1621 and his wife died shortly after, John Howland became a freeman.
  7. He married Elizabeth Tilley, daughter of John and Joan Tilley in Plymouth around 1624. In 1624 John Howland was considered the head of house for what was once the Carver household. He was granted an acre of land for each member of the household, which included himself, Elizabeth Tilley Howland and Desire Minter, and a boy named William Latham.
  8. John Howland House
    John Howland House by Walter F. Wheeler [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

  9. They built a house on First Street. He acquired land including four acres on Watson’s Hill in Plymouth and a considerable amount in Duxbury. On February 2, 1638(9) he bought Rocky Nook Farm (now in Kingston) from John Jenny. In 1632 Howland went to Maine with Edward Winslow to scout out natural resources and possibly for fur trading sites.
  10. They had ten children.
  11. In 1626 he was one of the eight settlers who agreed to assume the colony’s debt to its investors in England in exchange for a monopoly on the fur trade.
  12. He had several brothers who followed him to America. Henry Howland is ancestor to Presidents Richard Nixon and Gerald Ford and Arthur Howland who is ancestor to Winston Churchill.
  13. He died on February 23, 1672(3). He was recorded at his death that he was the last man from those who came over on the Mayflower.
  14. He served in the General Court of Plymouth as Committeeman and as Deputy.
  15. In 1670 their son, Jabez, bought a house at Plymouth and John and Elizabeth wintered there. In 1675 Rocky Nook Farm burned down (during King Philip’s War), so Elizabeth lived with Jabez until he sold the house in 1680. Then she lived with her daughter, Lydia Brown, and her family. Elizabeth is buried in the Brown Family plot when she dies in 1687.


Now onto our book! The book is The Boy Who Fell Off the Mayflower or John Howland's Good Fortune by P.J. Lynch. This book tells a personalized view of what could have happened in John Howland's life. It starts in London as they prepare for the Mayflower voyage. It is not known that John Howland was there with John Carver, but P.J. Lynch puts him there to share the tale. It talks about John's job as a manservant to John Carver. The book shares about how crowded the decks would have been for the travelers and the smell. It also talks about the storms and harsh conditions the Mayflower went through and of course how John fell overboard.

The story goes from the departure in London to beyond the first Thanksgiving and the Fortune arriving in Plymouth. This book is a wonderful, fictional view of the history of Plymouth and how it all happened. The illustrations are beautiful and realistic. The story is told in a way that pulls the reader in to hear the history of New England. It is truly the perfect story to catch a glimpse of the first Thanksgiving. In the end there is a bibliography and an author's note. In the author's note it shares about John's future and how he married Elizabeth Tilley (who is in the book) and they go on to have ten children and eighty-eight grandchildren! I hope you will check out this tale and give your kids a look at how life was for the Pilgrims.