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Mayflower, Day by Day - Sunday, 6 June 1621

6 Jun 2021 2:55 AM | Soule (Administrator)

The Billington family

The Billington family was one of the few families not touched by death in the first winter.  John and Ellinor (whose maiden name is unknown) had two sons: Bradford’s 1651 list of increasings notes that John Billington (the father) was “executed for killing a man,” and we know that this took place in 1630.  Bradford indicates that the elder son (whom we know to be John Billington, the younger -- the boy who yesterday got lost in the woods) died before his father.  This John Billington was included in the division of cattle in 1627, so we know that he must have died between June 1627 and September 1630.  He was born about 1604, so this would mean that he was between 23 and 26 at the time of his death.  Bradford notes that Billington’s second son (Francis) married and had children; the fact that he did not mention this about John as well would lead to the conclusion that John Billington (the younger) died unmarried and without issue.

Francis Billington did his best to make up for that.  He married Christian Penn, who arrived on the Anne in 1623; Christian had married Francis Eaton as her first husband and had three children by him.  My favourite quandary about the original manuscript of Bradford’s Of Plimmoth Plantation has to do with the number of children Francis and Christian Billington had.  There is smudge to the left of the number “8”, so that it appears that Bradford recorded that they had 18 children, which, when the 3 Eaton children are added, would mean there were 21 -- a veritable colony of their own.  Upon closer inspection, however, the smudge is, in fact, a smudge, and we can verify that there were only nine children of this union, one of whom was born after Bradford compiled his list.  11 children in this blended family is a big enough number.

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