Man Overboard

One fateful day, John Howland was tossed into the sea from aboard the Mayflower during a fierce storm and bravely survived! Had he not, I’d hate to think where I’d be today . . . I would not.

Governor William Bradford (ancestor of my husband and children) described the incident as follows (1st in old English, 2nd in a modern translation):

“In sundrie of these storms the winds were so feirce. & ye seas so high, as they could not heare a knote of saile, but were forced to hull, for diverce days togither. And in one of them, as they thus lay at hull, in a mighty storme, a lusty yonge man (called John Howland) coming upon some occasion above ye grattings, was, with a seele of ye shipe throwne into (ye) sea; but it pleased God yet he caught hold of ye top-saile halliards, which hung over board, & rane out at length; yet he held his hould (though he was sundrie fadomes under water) till he was hald up by ye same rope to ye brime of ye water, and then with a boat hooke & other means got into ye shipe againe. & his life saved; and though he was something ill with it, yet he lived many years after, and became a profitable member both in church and common wealthe.”

“In many of these storms the winds were so fierce, and the seas so high, as they could not bear a knot of sail, but were forced to heave to [face into the wind to stop the ship], for many days together. And in one of them, as they thus lay hove to, in a mighty storm, a strapping young man (called John Howland) was, with a lurch of the ship thrown into the sea; but it pleased God that he caught hold of the ropes which hung overboard. He held his hold (though he was many feet under water) till he was hauled up by the same rope to the brim of the water, and then with a boathook and other means got into the ship again, and his life saved.”

John Howland profile

Read about the family connection here.

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About Carla Gade

Carla is a historical fiction novelist and webmaster. She is also a family historian and has been an adult education instructor of HTML and Genealogy Online. She lives in New England with her family.
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