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Mayflower in Plymouth Harbor, by William Halsall
Mayflower in Plymouth Harbor by William Halsall (1882)

John Billington (c. 1580 – September 30, 1630) and his family were passengers on the Mayflower in 1620. He was one of the signers of the Mayflower Compact. Billington was hanged in Plymouth Colony in 1630.

The Billington family was from England. He had a wife, Elinor and two sons, John and Francis.

Mayflower Voyage

The Mayflower Compact 1620 cph.3g07155
Signing the Mayflower Compact 1620, a painting by Jean Leon Gerome Ferris 1899

Billington and his family left Plymouth England on 16 September 1620. There were 102 passengers and 30–40 crew. On 19 November 1620, the Mayflower saw land. They were supposed to land in the Colony of Virginia, but the ship was damaged so they landed at Cape Cod now called Provincetown Harbor. They wrote the Mayflower Compact, which made rules on how they would live and treat each other. Billington was a signer to the document.

Life in Plymouth colony

Shortly after they landed, Francis went exploring and discovered a large body of water that is now called Billington Sea. The family were Plymouth Colony's troublemakers. Billington's son, Francis, fired a musket on the Mayflower. In March 1621 Billington was punished because he did not to obey Myles Standish the military leader. He would do this many times. In May 1621 John Billington (the younger) became lost in the woods for many days and was returned home by some Native Americans. In 1625 Governor Bradford wrote a letter to Robert Cushman and said "Billington still says many things against you. He is a bad man, and always will be". In 1636, wife was punished and made to sit in the stocks for saying bad things about John Doane.

Death of John Billington

Billington was hanged for the murder of John Newcomen in 1630. He was about 50 years old. This was the first execution in Plymouth Colony. His burial place is unknown.

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