Juveniles of Plymouth

On this day before Thanksgiving one does look to the first Thanksgiving with those who traveled on the Mayflower ship for a new life and a new land. You should also remember it is the 400th anniversary of the landing of the Mayflower ship. There were 102 plus the crew on the ship to come ashore at Plymouth.

Two of the passengers were John Billington Jr, born about 1604 in Lincolnshore, England and his brother Francis Billington, born about 1606 in Lincolnshire, England, both young boys. Their parents were John Billington Sr and Eleanor Billington. There was a total of 33 youngsters on the ship. These two young boys caused their share of headaches for the rest of the passengers even while still on the voyage.

It was Francis Billington, youngest of the two brothers, who almost blew up the Mayflower ship, the crew and passengers. This information was based on the journal by William Bradford and Edward Winslow, fellow passengers. Before landing on the Plymouth shore, Francis had gotten some gun powder and shot off a musket causing sparks and made small fireworks that discharged in his father’s cabin on the ship. Luckily nothing caught fire and no one hurt.

Francis also after the passengers had come ashore at Plymouth climbed a tree and claimed to have seen ‘a great sea’ in the distance. It turned out to be a small pond that was later named “Billington’s Sea”. Later Francis does marry in July 1634 to Christian Penn Eaton and they had nine children. Francis lived until December 1684 and there are many descendants of this Billington family.

Then months later in 1621, William Bradford wrote in his journal that John Billington Jr. had wandered off into the woods. Miles Standish, William Bradford and ten men went out to find John. The boy was lost for five days. He had to survive by eating berries. The search party found him 50 miles away from the Pilgrim settlement and with the Nauset tribe of Indians in the Cape Cod area. The boy was turned over to Bradford. Unfortunately, John Jr. died young about 1628, but was married to Maria but had no children.

Francis and John’s father, would later be the first person of the Mayflower passengers to kill a fellow settler of Plymouth, John Newsomen, who were bitter enemies. John Billington Sr stood trial and found guilty of the murder. He was hung on September 30, 1630, the first hanging in New England.

Photos: Mayflower ship; Listing of the Billington family, Billington’s Sea and son John Billington Jr. returned by the Nauset tribe of Indians.

Related FamilyTree.com Blogs:

Finding Any Mayflower Ancestors

Descendants of the Mayflower Passengers

Hardships of Those on the Mayflower

< Return To Blog Interesting (typical kids) and sad. Francis lost his brother, then 2 years later he loses his dad. How did he handle his dad's murder conviction? Was his dad a violent man or did he just lose it one day?
Sara N Martin 25/11/20

Thank you for writing. It is a forgotten yet interesting aspect of those who came on the Mayflower. It appears the father had been feuding with the other man for sometime, not sure over what. The father had been a respected member of the colony, even signing the Mayflower Compact. But he was a bit of an independent thinking and not a conformist, so that can generate problems getting along with others. The mother did remarry a few years later after her husband was hung, which created overall a more settled household. Happy Thanksgiving.
alice 25/11/20

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