Thursday, September 22, 2011

The Howland Spoon

When I was in Plymouth last week, one of my goals was to visit the Jabez Howland House to see if I could purchase one of their reproductions "Howland Spoons".  We found free time between meetings and fortunately, it was during the operating hours of this historic home.  It is the only house in Plymouth that is the former home of a Mayflower passenger, all of the others have succumbed to fire, destruction or removal.  

Jabez Howland was the son of Mayflower passengers John Howland and Elizabeth Tilley.  John Howland lived downtown, and there is a marker on the sidewalk in front of #16 Leiden Street showing the location of his home.  He and his family removed to Rocky Nook, Kingston, Massachusetts, in 1638/9 and lived there until 1672 when he died at his son Jabez's home in Plymouth.  The home in Rocky Nook burned to the ground in 1675. The land belonged to three generations of Howlands until 1725.  It was bought by the Pilgrim John Howland Society in 1920. 

For more than ten years the Pilgrim John Howland Society, which owns the Rocky Nook site of his home and the Jabez Howland House, has had archaeological digs to learn more about the lives of Howland family.  The artifacts are displayed inside the Jabez Howland house.  One item is a complete pewter spoon, which has survived intact.  Most of the other items found are fragments.  This spoon exactly matches a 1690 spoon mold from the collection of a pewterer, who now produces reproduction spoons for the Society.  It has been my goal to see the original spoon from the excavation, and to purchase a newly poured copy from the original mold.  

There is one of these reproduction "Howland" spoons on display at St. Mary's church, Henlow, Bedfordshire, England, where the Tilley family worshipped before coming to the New World, and where their family baptism records can be found in the church registers. 
just a small sample of the artifacts on display

This is an exact copy in all respects to the original spoon, except for the quality of the pewter (no lead!)   It is dishwasher safe, and fun to use.  I don't think I'll keep it in a silver chest, but use it daily, just like my ancestors!  I'm so happy with the spoon that I think it will make nice wedding and baby gifts for other family members.  You can see that the spoon has many fine details, including a portrait of King William (1689 - 1702) on the handle, and fine details on the back of the bowl.  Anyone interested in the colonial time period, antiques, or pewter would love this spoon!

portrait of King William

The Pilgrim John Howland Society (contact them to purchase one of these reproductions spoons)

The Rocky Nook Excavation Blog

Copyright 2011, Heather Wilkinson Rojo


  1. You have me longing (for the umpteenth time) for New England ancestors. This is so lovely!

  2. I want one! Hey you and I are cousins - I am descended from Henry Howland, John's brother!

  3. Leslie Ann and Susan, we are closer than cousins. I have a John Howland line on both my maternal and paternal side, and a lineage from Arthur Howland (another brother).

  4. I'm a John Howland descendant myself.