I was listening to a random podcast today and came across an interesting topic. It was about the first recorded murder in American history. The murderer was John Billington and the man he shot was John Newcomen. They were both of Plymouth colonists who came over on the Mayflower.
Apparently John Billington and his entire family were troublemakers, at least that is the way recorded history colors them. Unlike the other passengers, Billington wasn’t seeking escape from religious oppression, but rather escape from creditors. According to wikipedia one of his sons also set fire to a powder keg aboard the Mayflower but luckily nothing was damaged.
Before the murder charge, Billington was also charged with other minor crimes. He was convicted of “contempt” for insulting Captain Myles Standish in 1621 and was nearly convicted of being an “accomplice” to Reverend John Lynford who was banished for being a danger to the community. From what I’ve read it seems that Reverend Lynford, Billington and some others were unhappy with current leadership at Plymouth Colony and held secret meetings where they discussed their discontent. That’s worth a banishing I guess!
At any rate, on Sept 1630 Billington got into an argument with a long time rival of his John Newcomen and shot the other man in the shoulder. The man later died from his wound and Billington was hanged on the orders of Governor William Bradford.