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Date of birth: circa 1580, England, perhaps Lincolnshire
Baptized: date and place unknown
Marriage: Elinor (maiden name unknown) in England by 1604
Children: Two (2)
1. John b. circa 1604, never married
2. Francis b. circa 1606 or 1609, married Christian (Penn) Eaton
Death: September 1630, hanged for murder, at Plymouth, MA
Burial Site: unknown

 

What a Pilgrim house may have looked like.

  • At the time he was recruited by the promoters of the Mayflower venture, Billington, of uncertain occupation, was living in London; he and his family were not among the ranks of those emigrants who professed a separatist Puritanism, (the so-called "Saints") but belonged instead to the majority group of at least nominally Anglican passengers (known to colonial history as the "Strangers".)
  • The names of those which came over first, in the year 1620, and were by the blessing of God the first beginners an din a sort the foundation of all the Plantations and Colonies in New England; and their families... "John Billington and Ellen his wife, had two sons, John and Francis."
  • In the course of the Mayflower's voyage to the New World, the unruliness of the Billingtons became plain to the Pilgrim company. John Billington Sr. was probably one of those mixed up in the mutinous speeches on the Mayflower, which was resolved on November 11, 1620 by the adoption of the Mayflower Compact, under which the settlers bound themselves to submit to a civil body politic to be governed by just and equal laws. Billington was one of the signatories and thereby forswore the aim of the dissidents to break free of the Separatist leadership.
  • "The fifth day of December, (1620) we, through God's mercy, escaped a great danger by the foolishness of a boy, one of Billington's sons, who in his father's absence, had got gunpowder, and had shot off a piece or two, and made squibs; but there being a fowling-piece charged in his father's cabin, shot her off in the cabin; there being a little barrel of gunpowder half full, scattered in and about the cabin, the fire being within four foot of the bed between the decks, and many flints and iron things about the cabin, and many people about the fire; and yet, by God's mercy, no harm done." – William Bradford, Of Plimoth Plantation.
  • John Billington was the 26th signer of the Mayflower Compact.
  • 1620-1621 During the first winter at Plymouth the terrible epidemic that halved the settlers' population to about 50 left only the Billington, Brewster and Hopkins families intact.
  • March 1621 "The first offence since our arrival is of John Billington who came on board at London, and is this month convented before the whole company for his contempt of the captain's lawful command with opprobrious speeches, for which he is adjudged to have his neck and heels tied together; but upon humbling himself and craving pardon, and it being the first offence, he is forgiven."  – Thomas Prince's New England Chronology.
  • 1623 Division of Land – the lands of John Billington were among those designated as "their grounds which came first over in the May Floure, according as thier lotes were case" and described in this way "these lye on the South side of the brooke to the baywards."
  • In 1624, Billington became a follower of the Reverend John Leyford who was banished from Plymouth Colony in 1625 for being a danger to the community. Though Billington was nearly convicted as Lyford's accomplice, he was permitted to remain in Plymouth Colony, but Billington's anti-government agitation continued unabated.
  • The 1627 Division of Cattle  – "The seauenth lott fell to Stephen Hopkins and his companie Joyned to (2) him including (11) John Billington Senor (12) Hellen Billington (13) ffrancis Billington."

  • "This year (1630) John Billington the elder, one of those who came over first, was arraigned, and both by grand and petty jury found guilty of willful murder by plain and notorious evidence, and was accordingly executed. This, the first execution among them was a great sadness to them. They took all possible pains in the trial, and consulted Mr. Winthrop, and the other leading men of the Bay of Massachusetts recently arrived, who concurred with them that he ought to die, and the land be purged of blood. He and some of his relatives had often been punished for misconduct before, being one of the profanest families among them. they came from London, and I know not by what influence they were shuffled into the first body of settlers. The charge against him was that he waylaid a young man, one John Newcomin, about a former quarrel, and shot him with a gun, whereof he died."
  • "John Billington, after he had been here ten years, was executed for killing a man."

REFERENCES
General Society of Mayflower Descendants
Mayflower Families Through Five Generations (Silver Books)
Pilgrim Hall Museum
Of Plymouth Plantation 1620-1647, William Bradford
Caleb Johnson's MayflowerHistory.com
Plymouth Colony Records