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Ancestors on the maiden voyage of the Mayflower 1620. Taken from

Francis Cooke

Francis Cooke FamilySearch ID LZ2F-MM7

BIRTH:  About 1583.
MARRIAGE:  Hester le Mahieu, 20 July 1603 at Leiden, Holland.
CHILDREN:  John, an unnamed child buried in Leiden, Jane, Elizabeth, Jacob, Hester, and Mary.
DEATH:  7 April 1663 at Plymouth.

Francis Cooke was born about 1583. His origins have not been discovered, but it is probable he was born in England, perhaps from the Canterbury or Norwich areas. He married Hester le Mahieu on 20 July 1603 in Leiden, Holland; she was a French Walloon whose parents had initially fled to Canterbury, England; she left for Leiden sometime before 1603. Francis Cooke and Hester le Mahieu’s marriage occurred in Leiden, Holland six years before the Pilgrim church made its move there, so he was living there long before their arrival and must have met up with and joined them afterwards.  What brought Francis to Holland in the first place is unknown: religious persecution of Protestants in England did not really begin until after King James took power in 1604. In 1606, the Cookes left Leiden and went to Norwich, co. Norfolk, for a time (for what reason is not known), but returned to have their first son, John, baptized at the French church in Leiden, sometime between January and March, 1607. In Holland, Cooke took up the profession of wool-comber.

Francis, and his oldest son John, came on the Mayflower to Plymouth in 1620. He left behind his wife Hester and his other children Jane, Jacob, Elizabeth and Hester. After the Colony was founded and better established, he sent for his wife and children, and they came to Plymouth in 1623 onboard the ship Anne.

Francis lived out his life in Plymouth. Although he kept a fairly low profile, he was on a number of minor committees such as the committee to lay out the highways, and received some minor appointments by the Court to survey land. He was a juror on a number of occasions, and was on the coroner’s jury that examined the body of Martha Bishop, the 4-year old daughter who was murdered by her mother Alice. He received some modest land grants at various times throughout his life. He lived to be about 80 years old, dying in 1663; his wife Hester survived him by at least three years and perhaps longer.

John Billington

John Billington FamilySearch ID LYTM-KVW

Ancestors on the maiden voyage of the Mayflower 1620. Taken from

BIRTH:  Probably around 1580, likely in the vicinity of Spalding or Cowbit, co. Lincoln, England.
MARRIAGE:  Eleanor, probably around 1603, likely in or around Spalding or Cowbit, co. Lincoln, England.
CHILDREN:  John and Francis.
DEATH:  Hanged for murder, September 1630.

The Billington family appears to have originated from in or around Cowbit and Spaulding, co. Lincoln, England, where Francis Longland named young Francis Billington, son of John Billington, as an heir.  A manorial survey taken in 1650 indicated that Francis Billington was then in New England.  Research in the records of the region has yet to turn up any additional details of the family, however.

Every community seems to have its troublemakers, and for Plymouth Colony it was the Billingtons.  Shortly after arriving in Plymouth Harbor and still onboard the Mayflower, young Francis Billington got ahold of his father’s musket and shot it off inside, showering sparks around an open barrel of gunpowder and nearly blowing up the ship.  A few months later, in March 1621, John Billington was brought before the Company and charged with “contempt of the Captain’s lawful command with opprobrious speeches,” and was sentenced to have his neck and heels tied together: “but upon humbling himself and craving pardon, and it being the first offence, he is forgiven.”  Two months later, his son John wandered off and was taken by the Nauset to Cape Cod: Plymouth was forced to send out a party to retrieve the boy.  In 1624, Billington was implicated in the Oldham-Lyford scandal, which was a failed revolt against the authority of the Plymouth church–but he played ignorant of the plot and was never officially punished.  In 1625, William Bradford wrote a letter to Robert Cushman saying “Billington still rails against you, … he is a knave, and so will live and die.”

In 1630, John Billington shot and killed John Newcomen, over an old quarrel, they having been enemies for some time.  Billington was tried by jury, and sentenced to death by hanging, which was carried out in September 1630.  Billington’s wife was sentenced by the Plymouth Court in 1636 to sit in the stocks and to be whipped for a slander against John Doane.