Henry Howland, of Fenstanton

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Henry Howland

Also Known As: "Henry Howland", "of Fenstanton"
Birthplace: England (United Kingdom)
Death: May 17, 1635 (65-74)
Fenstanton, Huntingdonshire, England (United Kingdom)
Place of Burial: Church of St Peter & St Paul, Fenstanton, Huntingdonshire, England
Immediate Family:

Husband of Margaret Howland
Father of Arthur Howland, of Marshfield; John Howland, "Mayflower" Passenger; Humphrey Howland; Simon Howland; Henry Howland, Jr. of Duxbury and 4 others

Occupation: Yeoman
MEMORIAL ID: 48356201 🪦
WikiTree: Howland-326
Managed by: Private User
Last Updated:

About Henry Howland, of Fenstanton

DO NOT merge any Holland lines into the Howland line. They NEVER changed names. There are groundless internet fantasies claiming that Henry Howland was descended from the noble family, Holland. This is 100% bogus, and due to the fact, people copy and paste the Holland-Howland pedigree from Ancestry.com; it contains no source. The Holland-Howland pedigree is NOT TRUE!

Yes, the Holland family was a royal, noble family in the 1300s through the 1500s at least. The royal line descended from Joan the Fair Maid of Kent, who was the mother of King Richard II of England, and whose husband was Sir Thomas Holland Earl of Kent, and she was the mother of the long lineages of Hollands, which are well-known in publications or online already. The older sources of the 19th century and early 20th century are very reliable because they never suggest that Holland had changed its surname at all.

As of September 2023, the Family TreeDNA confirms that a Holland male descendant of the noble or royal family, Holland, took the Big Y-700 test, and his results show his Y-DNA haplogroup is R-FGC71023. It proves the Howlands of Fenstanton are not directly descended from the noble family, Holland, because the Howlands of Fenstanton's Y-DNA haplogroup is R-A9708. It is a different Y-DNA haplogroup. It means the surname, Holland, had never changed to Howland in the 1500s. For comparison, look at two results at Family TreeDNA: R-A9708 and R-FGC71023. It shows that R-A9708 is not directly descended from R-FGC71023.


The current research shows that the parentage of Henry Howland of Fenstanton remains unknown.


Henry Howland of Fenstanton is the father of Mayflower passenger John Howland, as well as Great Migration immigrants Arthur Howland and Henry Howland. It had long been known that these three immigrants were brothers and they were the brothers of Humphrey and Simon Howland, based on the will of Humphrey Howland which named his brothers "Arthur, Henry and John, who are in New England." In 1937, it was discovered by researching the apprentice records of the Draper company of London, that the father of all these Howlands was Henry Howland of Fenstanton.[1]

The area around Fenstanton has been extensively searched, but no proof has been found to extend his ancestry. The parish registers for Fenstanton do not begin until 1612, with a few Bishop's transcripts beginning in 1604.[2]

In fact, no evidence has been found at all of a Howland family in Fenstanton before this Henry. The Howland families have been found in nearby Horningsea, Ely, Great and Little Shelford all in Cambridgeshire. All these families used the name Henry, making it impossible to attach Henry Howland of Fenstanton to any of these families with certainty.[3]


Orthographic variations found in Cambridgeshire as follows: Howland, Hawlan, Howlin, Howlen, Howlyn, Howlat, Howlet, Howlett, Houlet, Howlyng, Howlleyng, Howllinge, Howling, Howlinge, Holeng, Holyng and Howling.[3]

In one of the few surviving manorial records for Fenstanton, a view of frankpledge held by court baron William Compton on 7 October 1614. Henry Howland is referenced twice. The first reference in the frankpledge says, "Henry Hawlan," and later in the same frankpledge, the second reference says, "Henry Howlin."[4]

Henry Howlin is also mentioned twice in the churchwarden accounts for the parish church of Fenstanton, taken in 1630, the year after his wife's burial.[5]

Finally, the two burial entries of the Fenstanton registers show his name was either "Henry" or "Henrie," and also one baptism entry of his son shows his name was "Henry."

His name is currently known as Henry Howland of Fenstanton.


The date is a rough estimate based on his estimated marriage date of about 1590; he could have been born a few years before or after this date. Fenstanton is his only known residence, though a careful search has failed to prove the presence of any Howland family in Fenstanton before this Henry. It is more likely he was born in one of the nearby parishes in Huntingdonshire and Cambridgeshire where there were Howlands.

Henry Howland was born about in 1564 or "in the latter half of the sixteenth century."[10][11][12]


Henry Howland of Fenstanton married Margaret in about 1590. Her first name is known from the Fenstanton parish records; no hints have been found regarding her last name at birth. She was buried on 31 July 1629 at Fenstanton.

There is a possibility that Henry Howland had a first wife whose initial given name was "A."[6][7] Some believe her initial given name "A" was Anne or Alicia, but it is never a fact that she was Anne or Alicia. The noted Mayflower researcher, Caleb Johnson's current research suggests Henry Howland's son Humphrey Howland bequeathed to his daughter Anne all the pewter marked A.H. which had belonged to her grandmother. However, reading Humprey Howland’s will more closely, the initials “A.H.” were probably because he was giving the items to his daughter Anne Howland, and he himself had gone around and affixed an “A.H.” label on them to identify what belonged to her: it was probably not meant to suggest her grandmother’s initials “A.H.” had been engraved into the silver.[3]


Henry and Margaret Howland had 6 known sons and one daughter. All six sons were made apprentices in London. The birth dates are all estimates based on dates of marriage, dates of apprenticeships, and presumed order of birth from wills. They are the dates used by noted Mayflower researcher Caleb Johnson in his analysis of the family.[3]

They had seven children as follows:

  1. Arthur Howland. Born about 1591. The birth date is a very rough estimate based on the fact that he had a child by 1616. He was named in the will of his brother Humphrey Howland. He was still in London in May 1639 but appeared in Duxbury, Massachusetts, by 6 August 1640. He was buried on 30 October 1675 at Marshfield, Massachusetts. He married Grace, buried on 4 December 1635 at St. Giles Cripplegate, London. He married second, Margaret, a widow of Mr. Walker. She died on 22 January 1682/83 at Marshfield.
  2. George Howland. Born about 1593. The birth date is a rough estimate. He was buried on 10 February 1643/44 at St. Dunstan in the East, London, a merchant, and a single man.
  3. Humphrey Howland. Born say 1595, based on the apprenticeship of 1613. He was a draper. He married Margaret Calvert at St. Mary Matfellon, Whitechapel, on 21 November 1622. He married second, Anne _____, in October 1636. He was buried on 9 July 1646 within the churchyard of St. Swithin, London Stone, London, England. His will is dated 28 May 1646, proved on 10 July 1646. Anne was buried on 20 December 1653 at Barking, Essex, England.
  4. John Howland. Born say 1598, based on being old enough to sign the Mayflower Compact; being an apprentice in 1620 to John Carver; and marrying about 1623. He died on 23 February 1672/73 at Rocky Nook, Plymouth, Massachusetts. He married at Plymouth, about 1623, to Elizabeth, daughter of John and Joan (Hurst) (Rogers) Tilley.
  5. Henry Howland. Born say 1600, based on probable marriage around 1624, he married Mary, and he died on 1 January 1670/71, in Duxbury, Massachusetts.
  6. Margaret Howland. Born say 1602. She married Richard Phillips, a shoemaker, at Fenstanton, on 26 April 1623.
  7. Simon Howland. Baptized on 19 August 1604 at Fenstanton, Huntingdonshire, England. He was the only child whose baptism record existed. He was buried on 3 October 1636 at St. Mary Magdelen in Bermondsey, Surrey, England. He married Anne Weber [or Ulster?] on 1 April 1632 at St. Mary Magdelen in Bermondsey.

Life in Fenstanton

Using manorial, church, and probate records (in the absence of any available parish registers), there appears to be no evidence of any Howland family residing in Fenstanton prior to Henry. It would seem likely that Henry moved into Fenstanton from some other location.[3]

In one of the few surviving manorial records for Fenstanton, a view of frankpledge held by court baron William Compton on 7 October 1614. Henry Howland is referenced twice. First, as Henry "Hawlan," along with John Ashwood, he was presented for having taken "one scabious horse" to the common field on 7 May 1614, against the orders of the last manorial court, so he was fined 5s. A "scabious" horse might suggest a horse with mange, caused by mites; bringing it to the common field could potentially spread this disease to other horses. Later in the same frankpledge, Henry "Howlin," along with John Martyn, were asked to scour their streams (overflowings) leading from the street as far as the place called 'the Greene,' sometime before the feast of St. Martin. Failure to do so could result in a fine of 6s 8d.[4] Neither appears to have been fined in the subsequent manorial court, so presumably, they performed this required action.[3]

Three references in apprenticeship records of Drapers' Company on 19 March 1622/23, 1 October 1623, and 29 March 1629/30 show that Henry Howland of Fenstanton was a yeoman.

Henry Howlin is also mentioned twice in the churchwarden accounts for the parish church of Fenstanton, taken in 1630, the year after his wife's burial. He was paid 6d by churchwardens Edward Christian and John Woodward for "moweinge thistles in the greene." He was then also paid 8d for an unspecified reason, although it was enumerated under the subheading of "Willowes," so it may have been for trimming the church's willow trees.[3][4]

Death and Burial

Henry Howland died in May 1635 and was buried on 17 May 1635 in Fenstanton, Huntingdonshire, England.[2][8]

The entry for Henry Howland in the church registers of Fenstanton says, "Buryalls Anno Dm 1635... Henry Howland Maye the 17."[9]


  • Location: Fenstanton is the usual spelling for the parish. It can also be found commonly in older records such as Fenny Stanton and Fen Stanton.
    • Fenstanton is about 1-2 miles south of St. Ives, near Huntingdon, in the area northwest of Cambridge. Huntingdonshire county no longer exists.
    • In 1963, the John Howland Society of Plymouth, MA, erected a bronze tablet in the Fenstanton Church "In memory of HENRY HOWLAND who was buried in the churchyard of this parish on 17th May 1635 - Father of John Howland a pilgrim to America on the Mayflower 1620." Erected by the Pilgrim John Howland Society 17th May 1966.
  • Identification: The first origins theory came from a document a descendant brought from England over in the 1830s. This theory and document, widely accepted and unchallenged, said that John Howland, a citizen of London, baptized on 10 August 1541, married Emme, daughter of Nicholas Revell, citizen and grocer of London. And that it was his son John Howland who was the Mayflower passenger. This is still the source of many errors found on the internet.
    • This was finally disproved and repudiated in the NEHGR in 1880 when it was shown that the son John had died unmarried in London and so, of course, he was not the Mayflower passenger.[13]
      • From The Howland Homestead (Society of the Descendants of Pilgrim John Howland, of the Ship Mayflower, Boston, 1911) < Page 5 > "The Ancestry of John Howland of the 'Mayflower.'" "John3 of London, the second son, [of John Howland and Agnes Greenway] was baptized Aug. 10, 1541, and buried in the Church of St. Mary's, Middlesex. He married Emme, daughter of Nicholas Revell, citizen and grocer of London. His son John4 Howland, is the one who has always hitherto been supposed to be identical with John Howland of the "Mayflower," but Mr. Chester proves that the former died unmarried and was buried in England.
    • At this time, researchers were aware of the will of Humphrey Howland which is the key proof that Arthur, Henry, and John Howland of New England were his brothers. In 1937, it was discovered by researching the apprentice records of the Draper company of London, that the father of all these Howlands was Henry Howland of Fenstanton.[14][15]
  • Key Document: The will of Humphrey Howland is the important document that ties the Howland family of Fenstanton together.[16] Humphrey Howland made the will on 28 May 1646, and it was proved by his second wife on 10 July 1646. He names his heirs as follows:
    • Wife: Anne.
    • Daughters: Anne, Mary, and Sarah Howland.
    • Brothers: Arthur, John, and Henry Howland all (by inference) in New England.
    • Sister: Margaret Phillips.


Confirmed DNA results through the Big Y-500 (original Big Y) test, Big Y-700 test, and Y Elite test reveal that Henry Howland of Fenstanton's Haplogroup and SNP (single nucleotide polymorphism) is R-A9708. His haplotree line is R-M269 >> R-U106 >> R-Z8 > R-Z1 > R-Z344 > R-Z6 > R-A96 > R-S10415 > R-A9701 > R-A9703 > R-A9708.[17] For additional information, see The Howland (Y-DNA) page of the Mayflower DNA Project and The Howland DNA project.

At the R-S10415 level, the Howlands match with several other surnames, for example, Wing, Baldwin, Foate, Mayberry, Hadley, and Rogers. At the R-A9701 level, Howland, and Rogers separate themselves from all these other surnames because Howland, and Rogers share one mutation, A9701, but at the R-A9703 level, Howland separate themselves from Rogers. Also, the Howlands of Fenstanton and the Howlands of Kent share ten mutations in the haplogroup of R-A9703. Finally, at the R-A9708 level, the Howlands of Fenstanton separate from the Howlands of Kent because the Howlands of Kent test negative on one mutation, A9708.

The haplogroup of R-A9708 belongs to the patrilineal descendants of Henry Howland of Fenstanton, Huntingdonshire who share just one mutation, so the haplogroup of R-A9703 belongs to the two groups: the patrilineal descendants of Henry Howland of Fenstanton and the patrilineal descendants of the Howlands of Kent because both groups are sharing same mutations at the R-A9703 level. The age of R-A9703 haplogroup is older than the age of R-A9708 haplogroup. R-A9708 is a subclade of R-A9703 clade.

The R-A9703 haplogroup's two earliest known ancestors are Henry Howland of Fenstanton (abt. 1564 - 1635) and James Howland of Charing (1764 - 1847) in Kent County, England. However, James Howland of Charing is not the direct patrilineal descendant of Henry Howland of Fenstanton, but James Howland of Charing is descended from one of Henry Howland of Fenstanton's patrilineal ancestors at some level, perhaps his father or grandfather. James Howland of Charing's patrilineal ancestors are unknown, and his ancestral home is in Charing, Kent, but we are still researching on his ancestry.

The parentage of Arthur Howland, John Howland, and Henry Howland, Jr. has been confirmed by SNP testing by five descendants of Arthur Howland, two descendants of Henry Howland, Jr., and two descendants of John Howland which shows that they share one unique Y-DNA SNP and are therefore all-male lineal descendants of Henry Howland Sr. They have tested positive for one Y-DNA SNP which is identified as A9708 on the R-A9708 block level on the Y haplotree.[18]

This unique SNP, R-A9708 occurs sometime before the birth of Henry Howland of Fenstanton, and it is passed to his sons and their male descendants; however, there are more unique SNPs that occur sometime after the births of Arthur, John, and Henry Howland individually in their descendants' Y-DNA.

More DNA tests can discover other SNPs that are unique to the descendants to trace the Y-DNA to one of three Howland sons in America. We hope to recruit additional Howlands for further SNP testing. Anyone interested in submitting their Y-DNA should review the information at Howland (Y-DNA) under the Mayflower DNA project and Howland DNA project under Family Tree DNA.

Common Errors to Avoid

Incorrect parents: Henry Howland of Fenstanton is not the son of John Howland and Emma Revell as is sometimes said. All the wills of John Howland, his wife, Emme Howland, his mother, Mrs. Agnes Quarles, and his four brothers disprove Henry Howland's parentage because they only mentioned three surviving known children between 1585 and 1612 as follows: John Howland, Margaret (Howland) Catesby, and Nicholas Howland. Sadly, this Howland branch of Essex ended in 1655 because John and Emme Howland's son, John Howland's will shows he died without a male issue and did not produce any male line to this day. His armorial achievement came to an end in 1655, and it did not pass to any surviving armiger to bear it.

Henry Howland of Ely: Henry Howland of Fenstanton is not identical to Henry Howland of Ely as is sometimes said. This Henry Howland of Ely married Alice Ayers on 26 April 1600 in Ely, Cambridgeshire. They had two known children as follows: John was baptized in 1603 and Henry was baptized in 1604. The names and dates made them good candidates to be the parents of the New England immigrants for many years. However, it has been shown that this was an entirely different Henry Howland who was buried on 27 May 1621 in Ely.[3]

Incorrect marriage date: The marriage date of 26 April 1600 previously on this profile comes from the mistaken belief that Henry Howland of Fenstanton was the same person as Henry Howland of Ely.[3]

Incorrect marriage date: The marriage date of 26 Apr 1590 previously on this profile comes from the erroneous combination of the estimated marriage date of 1590 and the marriage date of 26 April 1600 from the registers of St Mary's Church in Ely. It becomes a mistaken belief. Also, see more information just above at "incorrect marriage date" regarding 26 April 1600.

Incorrect name of wife: The name of his wife as Alice Ayers comes from the mistaken belief that Henry Howland of Fenstanton was the same person as Henry Howland of Ely.[1][19]


  1. Howland Quarterly Magazine, The Pilgrim John Howland Society, vol. 1 no. 3 (January 1937): 1. Ancestry of the Pilgrim John Howland.
  2. Parish registers of Fenstanton, Huntingdonshire, covering baptisms, marriages, and burials, 1612-1739, Huntingdon Archives HP 27/1/1/1 [hereafter Fenstanton Parish Registers]. Also available on FHL #1040984, It. 10.
  3. Johnson, Caleb H. Henry Howland of Fenstanton, Huntingdonshire: Father of Mayflower Passenger John Howland. Available at The Pilgrim John Howland Society website (2015). Link to online PDF.
  4. Manorial Court Roll for Fenstanton, 1614, Huntingdon Archives, HMR7. Howland was not found referenced in the Fenstanton rentals of 1591 or 1616, nor the manorial court rolls of 1617-1621. He was also not listed in the terriers for townlands 1632-1644 (HP27/25/2/1), nor on the receipt of inhabitants for 1633 (HP27/25/2/2); nor in any apprenticeship records (HP27/14/1-2).
  5. Churchwarden accounts for Fenstanton, 1630. Huntingdon Archives HP27/5/2. No record of Howland was found in the 1627 churchwarden accounts which also survive.
  6. Cherry, Lina Vandegrift Denison. Ancestry of My Three Children: Lewis Williamson Cherry, George Denison Cherry, Carolyn Vandegrift (Cherry) McDonnell. United States, n.p, 1945, p. 315.
  7. Gilbert, Hilah Scott. Ancestors of Heather J. Gilbert, Susan Scott Gilbert and Allyn Ellsworth Gilbert, Jr. Chrisman, IL: unknown, 1963, p. 29. [Ancestry.com: subscription required.] (no free image available).
  8. Huntingdonshire: Fen Stanton: St Peter and St Paul: Register of unspecified type: "Parish Register" database, FreeREG (https://www.freereg.org.uk/search_records/58180251e93790ec75a7aa38: viewed 19 Nov 2022) burial Henry Howland 17 May 1635.
  9. "England, Huntingdonshire Parish Registers", database, FamilySearch (https://www.familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:WQC6-WP2M: 11 February 2021), Henry Howland, 1635.
  10. Davis, William Goodwin. The Ancestry of Annis Spear, 1775-1858, of Litchfield, Maine. (1945), p. 103. Text: Henry Howland of Fenny Stanton, co. Huntington, was born in the latter half of the sixteenth century.
  11. Christensen, Grace Hildy Croft. The Benson Family: Descendants of Isaac Benson and Mary Bumpas, and Allied Families: Archer, Bumpas, Howard, Knapp, Lewis, Luce, Meech, Milks, Potter, Reynolds, Waite, Whipple, Williams, Et Al. 2d Ed. United States, n.p, (1973), p. 681. Text: Henry Howland, b. abt. 1564.
  12. "The Connecticut Nutmegger," Volume 14, (1981), p. 445. Text: Henry Howland b.... ca. 1564.
  13. New England Historical and Genealogical Register, vol. 34, no. 2 (April 1880): pages 192-194. A Sketch of the Howlands, by L.M. Howland.
  14. The Howland Quarterly, The Pilgrim John Howland Society, vol. 1, no. 3 (January 1937): 1. "Ancestry of the Pilgrim John Howland."
  15. Torrey, Clarence Almon. "The Howland Ancestry," in The American Genealogist, vol. 14, (1937-8): pages 214-215.
  16. Davis, Walter Goodwin. The Ancestry of Annis Spear, 1775-1858, of Litchfield, Maine. (Portland, Me.: Southworth-Anthoensen Press, 1945): pages 103-107.
  17. General Society of Mayflower Descendants. “Mayflower: Official Project of General Society of Mayflower Descendants (GSMD).” FamilyTreeDNA, FamilyTreeDNA.com, 2019, www.familytreedna.com/groups/mayflowersociety/about. Mayflower DNA Project - Y-DNA Colorized Chart.
  18. Family TreeDNA. Howland DNA Project. (https://www.familytreedna.com/groups/howland/about: accessed 25 Feb 2020).
  19. The Howland Quarterly, The Pilgrim John Howland Society, vol. 28, no. 1. (October 1963), p. 4.
  20. Institute of Historical Research. “Event Details of Humphrey Howland.” Records of London's Livery Companies Online, Institute of Historical Research, 2018, https://www.londonroll.org/event/?company=drp&event_id=DREW8576.
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Henry Howland, of Fenstanton's Timeline

May 17, 1564
Fenstanton, Huntingdonshire, England
Of Fen Stanton,Huntingshire,En
Of Fen Stanton, Huntingshire, England
of Fen Stanton, Huntingshire, En
Of Fen Stanton, Huntingshire, En
Of Fen Stanton, Huntingshire, En
England (United Kingdom)