52 Ancestors #24: Zoeth Howland, Quaker rebel

Zoeth Howland

My eighth great grandfather was born January 31, 1635 in Plymouth, Massachusetts and died January 21, 1676 in Tiverton, Rhode Island.

Born the son of Henry Howland and Mary Sarah Newland from Fen Stanton, England.

Henry Howland is listed as follows:
REMOVES: Duxbury 1636
FREEMAN: In the “1633” list of Plymouth freemen Henry Howland appears immediately before those admitted on 1 January 1632/3 [ PCR 1:4]. In the 6 March 1636/7 list of Plymouth Colony freemen [PCR 1:52]. In the Duxbury section of the 1639 and 1658 lists of Plymouth freemen (with his name erased from the 1658 list)

Zoeth’s sister – Abigail – was born in 1629 in England. Zoeth was born in January and his sister Elizabeth in December of 1635 in Plymouth, Massachusetts. Mary in 1637, Nicholas in 1639, Sarah in 1645, Samuel in 1646 and Joseph in 1653 all in Duxbury, Massachusetts.

Zoeth married Abigail October in October 1656, according to the Friends’ records at Newport, Rhode Island.

Abigail gave him eight children. Nathaniel (1657-1723), Benjamin (1659-1727), Daniel (1661 – 1714), Mary (1665-1743) [my 7th great grandmother] , Sarah (1668 – 1768), Nicholas (1670 – 1722), and twins Abigail (1672 – 1700) and Henry (1672 – 1729).

Zoeth Howland House - Silverbrook Farm - Chase Rd - Dartmouth MA

Zoeth Howland House – Silverbrook Farm – Chase Rd – Dartmouth MA

“Sometime around 1656, Henry and his wife Mary became Quakers as did his recently married son Zoeth, and Zoeth’s wife Abigail, and Henry’s older brother Arthur Howland and Arthur’s wife. And so began a series of conflicts with the townsfolk of Duxbury…”

“About a fortnight before the date hereof, being at the house of Zoeth Howland, hee said hee would not goe to meeting to hear lyes, and that the diuill [devil] could teach as good a sermon as the minnisters; and that a 2cond time being att the house of the said Zoeth Howland, and his brother, John Hunt, and Tho Delano being with him, hee questioned with the said Zoeth Howland whether hee would not goe to the meeting, because the minnesters taught lyes, and that the diuill could teach as good a sermon as the minnesters; and hee said hee denied it not. Also, Tho Delano questioned him whether the minnesters taught lyes, and hee said yes, and lett him looke in teh Scriptures and hee should find it soe.”
For this audacious utterance, Zoeth was arraigned at the term of Court in March 1657-58 “for speaking opprobriously of the minnesters of Gods Word,” and was sentenced to sit in the stocks. (Howland Heirs, p.4)

“By 1668, the persecution of Quakers had lessened, and Zoeth’s father Henry Howland was appointed surveyor again. Henry died in 1671, and his wife Mary died in 1674. Zoeth had left Duxbury about 1662, and settled in Dartmouth, MA, on land his father had purchased. Zoeth and his wife had nine children, beginning in 1659. Now we come to King Philips War, which was roughly 1675-76, and involved the settlers of Massachusetts and the Wampanoag Indians.

King Philip was the son of the famous Massasoit; Massasoit made a treaty with the pilgrims after they landed at Plymouth, and helped them through the first winter. After Massasoit’s death in 1661, his son Philip and the other Wampanoags felt the pressures as the settlements expanded and game retreated, and they fought back.

During that period, Zoeth was in Tiverton (then called Pocasset), Rhode Island, possibly en route to or returning from a Quaker Meeting. He was waylaid by a small group of hostile Indians, and was killed in March of 1676. The murder was retaliation for a previous attack by the colonists upon the Indians in Rhode Island.

Zoeth’s death caused great fear among the people in Tiverton. In July of 1678, Zoeth’s widow Abigail was granted all of his estate by the Plymouth Court, as “she having many Male children to bring up & the estate but small.” In December, she remarried to a Richard Kirby. ”
from “The Opprobrious Zoeth Howland” by Kathryn Wells.


Sin and Flesh Brook (where Zoeth's body was tossed)

Sin and Flesh Brook (where Zoeth’s body was tossed)

According to Franklyn Howland, Daniel, one of Zoeth’ sons, “was the proprietor of Howland’s ferry at the place where the present Stone Bridge now crosses to Portsmouth, RI. At the east end of the ferry he kept a tavern in which he lived, and in the same building the town-meetings were held for years. It was the custom then to hold the town-meetings in a room of a dwelling-place.” (page 80)



Zoeth Howland (1635 – 1676) is your 8th great grandfather
Mary Howland (1665 – 1743) daughter of Zoeth Howland
Abigail Freeman (1693 – 1737) daughter of Mary Howland
Abigail Freeman Smith (1718 – 1793) daughter of Abigail Freeman
Jesse Eldredge (1742 – 1788)  son of Abigail Freeman Smith
Elijah Eldredge (1778 – 1856)  son of Jesse Eldredge
William Hunt Eldredge (1826 – 1889)  son of Elijah Eldredge
Willard Holt Eldredge (1882 – 1957)  son of William Hunt Eldredge
Lester Fremont Eldredge (1909 – 1991)  son of Willard Holt Eldredge
Charles Sherwood Eldridge (1938 – 2013) son of Lester Fremont Eldredge

About T.K. Eldridge

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51 Responses to 52 Ancestors #24: Zoeth Howland, Quaker rebel

  1. Marion Thayer says:

    Zoeth Howland is my 8th gr grandfather through his youngest son Henry. Marion great60@gmail.com

  2. Joan says:

    He is my 8th great grandfather through Nicholas. So I guess we are all cousins!

  3. Terri Works says:

    What fun – I am descended from Zoeth through his son Benjamin. Thank you for this great page.
    Terri Works, Jackson California

    • T.K. Eldridge says:

      I’m so glad you liked it! Nice to meet you, Cousin!

    • Vicki Perry says:

      I am descended from Zoeth Howland through king.is son Benjamin and through Benjamin’s daughter Abigail that married Jonathon Ricketson, the son of William Ricketson and Elizabeth Mott.

      • Vicki Perry says:

        I am descended from Zoeth Howland through king.is son Benjamin and through Benjamin’s daughter Abigail that married Jonathon Ricketson, the son of William Ricketson and Elizabeth Mott.

      • Vicki Perry says:

        I am descended from Zoeth throug his son. Benjamin. and through Benjamin’s daughter Abigail Howland that married Jonathon Ricketson, the son of William Ricketson and Elizabeth Mott. Does anyone know who Benjamin’s wife, Judith Sampson/,Samson real parents were. I have gotten different information.

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  6. Jo Duhaime says:

    My 9th great grandfather. I am wondering if he was a Sabbath keeper. (7th day) even though he was “officially” a quaker. He was in an area of RI where 7th day sabbath keepers were active.

    • T.K. Eldridge says:

      Considering he died on the way home from a meeting…I’d assume he was Quaker – but who knows?

  7. Don in Dartmouth says:

    Hi. Just a bit of historical fact. The Zoeth Howland house was not his. I live on Chase Road a short distance away. Dartmouth Assessor’s Records list this house as being built ca. 1714. That would be about 38 years after Zoe’s death. There is no record of where he lived in Dartmouth nor is there a record of who the original owner/builder of this house was. Zoe was my 9th ggf through son Nathaniel.

    • T.K. Eldridge says:

      Hey Don, thanks for the info. When I was doing the research, there were conflicting reports about the house but more that said it was possibly his than those that said it was not.

      • Don in Dartmouth says:

        Rudolphus Howland and his family once lived in that house through the mid-1800’s, as can be shown on the historic maps of the period and census of 1850. He very likely was born there and was the son of Daniel. He, in turn, was the son of Daniel, Sr. who was the son of Nicholas, youngest son of Zoeth.
        It is very likely Daniel, Sr. who built the house on land that his father owned which stayed in the family for several generations. The location of the house is about 1 mile from where Nicholas is stated to have had his homestead. The house has been restored and well maintained by the current owners of Silverbrook Farm where they grow very fine produce and sell at farmers markets throughout the area.
        Let me know if you have any questions.

  8. T.K. Eldridge says:

    Don: You cool with me adding this as a note to the post? – Kessa

    • Don in Dartmouth says:

      Sorry for the late reply, Kessa. Yes, please post.
      I see you still have the Silverbrook Farmhouse listed as being Zoeth’s? Sad. As I have stated above, it is not Zoeth’s house. Not even close. Please end what is becoming false information and a myth.
      For those who want to read more of Arthur, Henry and John Howland, they can access this link to read Franklyn Howland’s book.

      • Wow, Don, many thanks for that link! Gives me a chance to investigate the Howlands much more extensively than I’d thought possible. I love those old family traces.

      • Don in Dartmouth says:

        You are welcome, Chris. Remember to use this as a source of information which can be further verified when using familysearch.org or ancestry.com

      • Yup, I use FamilySearch a lot; tho’ most of my time is now spent over on WikiTree. I haven’t gotten into our Howland connections yet on the tree, but this exchange will encourage me to do so. So, my thanks to both you and Kessa!

      • T.K. Eldridge says:

        Don, I got your information, but still need to do my own research on this and just haven’t got to it yet. Just moved house two weeks ago and still unearthing boxes 😀

      • Don in Dartmouth says:

        Let me know if I can help with any questions. When you are ready.

  9. This is fascinating stuff. I came upon your blog while trying to research my family’s ties to Mayflower Pilgrims John & Elizabeth (Tilley) Howland [did John and Zoeth/Henry Howland have any known common ancestor?] — after finding that Zoeth’s daughter Mary married Nathaniel Freeman, whose sister Mercy is an ancestress of mine about nine generations back up my maternal (Jones) family line. So if I have this right (I’m not that great at genealogical numbers), Mary Howland is my eighth great aunt. And you and I would thus be… ninth cousins??

    Our (known) Quaker ties have previously been on my father’s side; he was descended from Quaker martyr Mary Dyer. Only very recently did I get into family genealogy — previously I was happy to leave it to others! — and realize there were Quaker connections (largely via Martha’s Vineyard) on my mother’s side; this one is particularly interesting.

    We live in Saint Paul but I grew up in Massachusetts; a while back, we were actually in South Dartmouth visiting friends who have a very old house quite similar to, and not far from, the house at Silverbrook Farm — if I’d known about our connection to Zoeth then, we’d have gone to take a look at it!

    BTW — noting your comments elsewhere about Salem — we, too, have a connection to the Salem trials, something nobody in the family seems to have known about until I came across it about a week ago: we’re descended from witch trial victim Susannah North Martin. That’s one ancestress on each side of the family unjustly hanged by the Puritan authorities (some of whom were undoubtedly also ancestors) of the late 17th Century; this would I suppose make us, as Garrison Keillor might say, “above average”. A dubious sort of distinction. :oP

  10. Lisa Sielert says:

    Is Zoeth Howland the son of Pilgrim John Howland or John’s younger brother, Henry? John Howland was the Mayflower passenger who fell overboard recorded in https://blog.genealogybank.com/man-overboard-mayflower-pilgrim-john-howlands-story.html and depicted in the Mike Haywood painting. I’m trying to figure out if I’m descended from John or Henry. Thank you!

  11. T.K. Eldridge says:

    Nice to ‘meet’ you, cousin! :grins: Which of Zoeth’s children do you descend from?

    • Lisa Sielert says:

      I’m descended from Nathaniel Howland. I discovered this recently while researching my (Wilber, Wilbore, Wildboar) ancestry. David Wilbor was Nathaniel’s grandson.

      • Susan Huff says:

        I too am descended from Zoeth Howland through Nathaniel Howland –> John Howland I –> Nathanial Holland I –> Nathaniel Holland II –> William Holland –> Orange Ferris Howland –> Orange F Howland –> Joseph Lee Howland (my paternal grandfather) –> Glenn Irwin Howland Morris (my father). Dad’s mother (Susan Howland, nee Gierhart) died when dad was born. Consequently, Dad went to live with his mother’s aunt and uncle (Edward J and Filena “Lena” nee Rose Morris. When he went to enlist in the Navy he was adopted by Uncle Ed and Aunt Lena so she could sign for his enlistment, since he was not of age to enlist without parental permission. Nice to see I have so many “cousins”!

  12. Thanks to both of you for clearing up that relationship between the Howland branches of John and Henry. Still not sure if I did the genealogical arithmetic correctly in my earlier comment, but we would be cousins of some sort down Henry & Zoeth’s line; and also, it turns out, “step-cousins” because John’s granddaughter Mercy (Chipman) Skiffe became stepmother to my multiply-great grandfather Benjamin. Anyway, whatever the numbers, Happy post-Thanksgiving!

    • Well, in the interests of accuracy, I have to offer a correction to something in my previous posts: after some extensive effort by two of us in my family, I regret to report that we have disproved the line back from my mother’s family to William and Mary Brewster. The parentage of Lt. James Shaw of Martha’s Vineyard, offered in various secondary sources as John Shaw and Brewster descendant Mercy Knowles, is not correct; we’ve traced their son James Shaw — born in CT — to Wilbraham, MA… but the last residence of my ancestor Lt. James was certainly Edgartown, and he was lost at sea. Who his actual parents were, despite extensive research, we have not yet been able to determine.

      So, Kessa, we’re not cousins via that line on my maternal side; but are still “step-cousins” via the Howlands. And today, reading your very recent post on George Vaughan, I was slightly startled to see the name of Joanna Dyer; the Dyers are the family of my paternal grandmother, Grace Marion (Dyer) Childs, descended from Quaker martyr Mary (Barrett) Dyer, the only woman ever hanged on the Boston Common. So — if my admittedly hasty trace, via Find A Grave, of Joanna’s husband James Dyer’s line is accurate — we would be cousins on my father’s side. (And this time, I’m at least pretty certain of my own line; in 1959, we were among the invited descendants present at the dedication of the statue of Mary Dyer that sits before the east wing of the Massachusetts State House.)

      You might like to take a look at the chain on Find A Grave; I suspect you might be able to offer a few corrections to dates… and biographical insights.

      • (Just to clarify: our link to Zoeth — as, I believe, a 9th great uncle — would have been via his connection to our once-assumed line back through the Knowleses and Freemans to the Brewsters. So, with our link to the Knowles family disproven, only our “step-link” to the Howland family remains.)

      • T.K. Eldridge says:

        Well, we ARE related via the Barrett/Dyer line. I have read a good bit about Mary Barrett Dyer – and I really REALLY wish we knew who her parents were!

        Mary Barrett (1612 – 1660) 11th great-grandmother
        Samuel Dyer (1635 – 1678) son of Mary Barrett
        William Dyer M.D. (1663 – 1738) son of Samuel Dyer
        William M. Dyer (1690 – 1764) son of William Dyer M.D.
        Isabella Dyer (1729 – 1828) daughter of William M. Dyer
        Ephraim Roberts (1745 – 1808) son of Isabella Dyer
        John Allen Robbarts (1779 – 1859) son of Ephraim Roberts
        John Allen Roberts (1802 – ) son of John Allen Robbarts
        Hiram Hills Roberts (1827 – 1863) son of John Allen Roberts
        John Milton Roberts (1858 – 1939) son of Hiram Hills Roberts
        Hazel Pearl Roberts (1900 – 1990) daughter of John Milton Roberts
        Helen Adalaide Reynolds (1920 – 2003) daughter of Hazel Pearl Roberts (Helen is my maternal grandmother)

      • Kessa — à propos of our Dyer connection — are you familiar with Beth Powning’s novel based on the life of Mary Dyer, “A Measure of Light”? I just read it, and exchanged emails with her, and I was moved and deeply impressed by what she has created. I’m also wondering if you’re aware of Johan Winsser’s soon-to-be-published biography of Mary; his blog is at (Beth Powning credits him with significant assistance in the creation of her book).

      • Whoops… Johan’s blog can be found at dyerfarm (dot) com…

  13. Henry Howland and Mary Sarah Newland are my 8x great grandparents on my maternal side of the family. So hello cousin!

  14. Daniel Johnson says:

    Zoeth Howland is my 9th great-grandfather through Nicholas. Thank you for your research.

  15. Susan Huff says:

    I have traced the Howland name from my grandfather, Joseph Lee Howland. The earliest Howland name (in my history) is John Howland born 1414. He has no father listed, but a mother of Joan Holland which could mean the father (possibly Thomas Holland?) had the name Holland but it was changed to Howland. However, there is a date discrepancy with Joan’s date of death being prior to John’s birth. A bit of research details some interesting history on Joan Holland, however, I’m not certain it is the same Joan. If the connection between Joan Holland and John Howland (born 1414) is correct, Joan Holland’s father was Prince of England Edmund Plantagenet Earl Of Kent, linking the Howland lineage to British Royalty. The stories I located indicated that Joan married Thomas Holland when she was 12 years old, without consent of the Royal Family. When Thomas left for the Crusades, the royal family forced her to marry another man. Later, when Thomas returned to England, Joan managed to appeal to the Pope and the second marriage was annulled. Does anyone have further information on this branch of the Howland family. The information I find traces back from Zoeth Howland –> Henry Howland –> Henry Howland –> Lord John Howland III –> Sir John Howland II –> John Howland I –> Richard Howland –> and to the final Howland, another John. Nicholas (mentioned here by Daniel Johnson) would have been the son of either Sir John Howland II or Lord John Howland III. The Howland family was fond of the name John, perhaps because of the connection to John Lackland King Of England, father of Henry III, who reigned from 1199-1216.
    Coincidently, the lineage of my dad’s great aunt’s husband Ed Morris (related to me by marriage only) also traces back to the same royal family.
    I’ve always wondered about my great-grandfather’s name, Orange (though he apparently went by his middle name, Ferris); Orange Ferris was also his father’s name. A couple of Illinois census records show him as a miler and a farmer, but I can’t imagine they would grow oranges in Illinois. Anyone have a clue to the origin of this?

    • Daniel Johnson says:

      The Nicholas I mentioned was the son of Zoeth Holland. I believe there is a Nicholas Holland (1568-1612), brother of Henry Howland Sr (1564/65-1635) that shows up as a 12 great-uncle to me.
      I’ve seen several links to Sir/Lord John Howland as well.

  16. Shirley M Johnson says:

    Zoeth Howland is my 9th great grandfather. Family history is a work in progress for me and am discovering new things every time I work on it and have enjoyed every minute of it with great surprises along the way.

  17. Beverly Holbrook Treen says:

    I’ve known since childhood that my 8th great grandfather was John Howland. He gets all the attention of course with all his shenanigans on the Mayflower. Recently I’ve been looking into his brothers Arthur and Henry and got an inkling of possible Quaker ties (Rhode Island for one thing) A search brought up this fascinating story about Henry’s son Zoeth. Thank you!

    • T.K. Eldridge says:

      Glad you found it! I’m also a descendant of Mary Barrett Dyer (1612-1660) my 11th gr.grandmother on my mother’s side – while Zoeth is my 8th grgrandfather on my father’s side. Looks like I come from a long line of rebels 😀

  18. Alan Fjerstad says:

    I’m late to the party just looking at the Howland side. Been busy with, oh shinny! My 8th great grandfather is son Nicholas. Pretty darn interesting. Thank you for all the work.

  19. Donald Plant says:

    To all descendants of Zoeth, son of Henry.
    As I have stated above regarding what is being mislabeled as the Zoeth Howland House, recent research has found that it was probably built by Zoeth’s son, Henry, ca. 1718. The owners are celebrating the 300th anniversary of the house this year. To keep this note short, the Dartmouth Historical and Arts Society, of which I am on the Honorary Board of Directors, is hosting the first House Tour of 6 historic houses, including the Henry Howland House. If you have the time and want to see this house (and 5 others) and learn the facts and stories, go to the link here: http://www.dartmouthhas.org
    Date: Saturday, Dec 1
    Time: noon to 4:00 PM.
    Tickets are limited.
    I will be present as captain with several docents and will be sharing the facts as regards to this house.
    Remember, Zoeth had nothing to do with this house or property. It was son, Henry.
    Don in Dartmouth

  20. Brad Howland says:

    Is the house you all have been referring to a museum or just a privately owned house? Zoeth is my 11 times G grandfather and I come from his son Henry. As I understand it, Henry built that house. I’d love to visit.


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