We’ve finally arrived at my Billings immigrant ancestor, Roger Billings, Sr.! Thanks to some online books and a trip to the New York Public Library, I’ve gathered more information on him than on his son.
Roger was born circa 1618-1620 in England (I suspect more toward the 1618 side). Some online sources indicate who his parents are, but I’ve read that those parents had been disproven.
Roger arrived in the New World (probably directly to Dorchester, Massachusetts) sometime between 1635 and 1640. He went on to become a carpenter and a farmer.
On June 19, 1640, Roger was admitted as a member of the First Church of Dorchester, which still exists today as the First Parish Church. The minister at the time was Richard Mather, father of Increase Mather and grandfather of Cotton Mather. Roger married his first wife, Mary _____, who was admitted to the church on March 8, 1644. Roger went on to become a freeman on May 10, 1643.
One interesting bit of information I found about Roger was that on May 13, 1646, he signed a petition against Anabaptists (what Baptists were back then) from entering the colony. This makes me think that he was quite the Puritan!
Mary died and it wasn’t long before Roger married my other ancestor, Hannah _____. I know barely anything about her apart from Roger. She was admitted as a member of the church on October 14, 1655, and she was the mother of some (or maybe most) of Roger’s children, particularly my ancestor, Roger, Jr. (The authored sources that I’ve looked at ascribe a different mix of children to each of his wives, but Roger, Jr. is always ascribed to Hannah.) Sadly, Hannah died on March or May 1662, just four days after her last child, Zipporah, was born.
In the 1650’s, Roger and Hannah made their home on the part of Dorchester that is now North Quincy. Some Descendants of Roger Billings of Dorchester, Massachusetts pinpoints where Roger’s farmhouse was: “on the east side present East Squantum Street at the bend in the road just south of the present Quincy Shore Boulevard crossing”.
Once again Roger found another spouse in Elizabeth Pratt, who did outlive him. In the later part of Roger’s life (between 1674 and 1682), he served several appointments; as “Commissioner for Country Rate” (I have no idea what this is) and as a tithingman (which was a church office that ensured people paid their proper tithes and modeled proper behavior in church).
Roger made out his will on February 2, 1680 and made a codicil on November 13, 1683, just two days before he died. (In fact, his codicil stated that he was “senceible of bodily weakeness and decay of body”.)
I don’t know where any of his wives are buried (though I suspect that Mary and Hannah may be buried closer to the church in Dorchester), but Roger is buried in Hancock Cemetery in Quincy. His clearly carved gravestone still stands.