First Convicted Killer
John Billington was a passenger on the Mayflower in 1620. Billington was about 40 years old and like everyone else had signed the Mayflower Compact. This compact was created to keep the peace between the colonies of the New World. It is believed that Billington was one of the “grumblers” of the Mayflower. Those who signed the document, but didn’t like it, so they signed it under Puritan rule. For Billington, the grumbling did not stop with signing the document. He was one of the least well-liked passengers onboard the Mayflower. He was known for being foul-mouthed and rude.
However, his rude speaking was the least of worries for several passengers. Religiously, Billington was a Catholic, which was not part of the Puritan’s style. Furthermore, Billington became involved in a rebellion against authorities. While uncertain what exactly Billington tried, we do know he challenged the Captain’s authority through a series of speeches. This rebellion was unsuccessful and made Billington even less popular during the 66-day voyage. But the troubles caused by Billington did not end at sea.
Once on land, Billington was punished for the speeches he gave aboard the Mayflower. However, this did not stop Mr. Billington. He further acted out against the Puritan Church through an uprising. But once the uprising was discovered, Billington stated he was innocent and was considered to be. Before this, Billington had wondered off and was taken by the Nauset, Native Americans from Cape Cod. In response, the Puritans had to send out a party in order to get him back.
After all the disturbing behavior that John Billington was causing the colony the Governor, William Bradford, spoke up. Bradford did not like Billington or his family, stating that the whole family was one of the most disrespectful families of the colony. The Governor also wrote a letter to Robert Cushman. In this letter, Bradford told Cushman that Billington still rails against Cushman. The Governor further wrote that this would not change, stating that Billington would live and die that way.
Eventually, an end would come to John Billington’s reign of terror upon the Puritans. A decade after landing in North America, Billington got into an argument with John Newcomer. While the details of this argument are not certain, we know that Newcomer was Billington’s neighbor. It is also stated that these two were enemies and arguments occurred often. We also know that it was in 1630 that Billington shot Newcomer and killed him. After the murder, Billington received a trial. After being found guilty, Billington was sentenced to hang in September of 1630.