The Billings Name
The family name "Billings" is said by some researchers to come from the location of their ancestral home at a site about 4 miles from Northampton, England. Descendants lived there for many years.
Others say the word "Billings" originally written as "de Billings" is a Saxon word meaning "a place by the meadow". Later the "s" was added to make the name "Billings". (In early years in Rowan Co., N.C., the German family of John Siegfried Billing gave their name also simply as "Billing", without the "s", which was added later.
This Billings family from Northampton, England, is said to go back as far as the time of Henry III (A.D. 1221), after which there is a gap in the knowledge of them until John Billing of Rowell, perhaps sometime around 1425. From that time, the line goes from John Billing of Rowell, Sir Thomas Billing, Nicholas, John, William, Roger, Richard, William, to William of Taunton, England, who came to America about the middle of the 17th century and is the ancestor of many of the New England Billing's, who have spread all over the United States.
William Billings of Taunton, England (1629-1713) arrived in Massachusetts about 1649. He later settled in Stonington, Connecticut, becoming one of its largest landed proprietors and married Mary (surname unknown) on December 5, 1657. Mary died sometime between 1713 and 1718.
Frederick Billings of Vermont, sometime in 1861, obtained the services of the renowned American genealogy, Mr. Henry (Horatio) Somerby, who resided in England at that time to do a study of his ancestry. This genealogist continued the line from John of Rowell through William of Taunton, England, and on through William, Joseph, Samuel, John, Oel to Frederick (4th son of Oel).
There are several family histories of early Billings families from the New England area. Most of these families can be traced to William of Taunton, England, and other members of the same line who came to America from England. There are now thousands of descendants, perhaps most in the New England area. Some of these were active in the building of the railroad system in the U. S., including Frederick Billings above mentioned, for whom the town of Billings, Montana is named. Their influence, along with that of the railroad, was spread all over the United States. Several of these New England Billinges were named Jasper, which because of the unusual name, first led us to a certainty that there was a close relationship between these Billings men in Pittsylvania Co., Virginia, and the groups in New England. One source states that some relatives from the New England area disappeared after an uprising, and while the worst was expected, they may have gone to the south and failed to return. For whatever reason, it does appear that some of this Virginia group are descendant of those in New England. Just how remains to be found.
Location of English Ancestry
Taunton; (pop 35, 300), the county town of Somerset and a flourish market centre, lies in the beautiful valley of Taunton Deane famous for its apples and cider.
History; Founded c 705 by Ine, king of the West Saxons, to guard the river crossing against the Celts, Taunton remained a fortified seat of the Bishops of Winchester for more than a thousand years. The castle dates from the early 12c. In 1497, the unsuccessful rebel Perkin Warbeck was examined here by Henry VII, the castle withstood three sieges by Royalist forces in 1644-45; much of the town was destroyed by fire. On 20 June 1685, James, Duke of Monmouth, was proclaimed king in the market place. After the battle of Sedgemoor swift retribution fell on the inhabitants, who suffered the cruelties of 'Kirke's Lambs' and Judge Jeffrey's Bloody Assize. The later prosperity and character of Taunton's merchant class are reflected int he town's surviving 18c buildings and Dissenting chapels; Queen's College (1843) and Taunton School (1847) are both important Dissenting foundations.
The much restored 12c Castle now housing the Somerset Co., Museum, has a good prehistoric collection and a portrait of Judge Jeffreys.
Northampton (pop 162, 000), located on the North bank of Nene, is known mainly as a shoemaking town.
History: The castle which Simon de Senlis, First Earl of Northampton, built this ancient Saxon town soon after the Norman Conquest became a favorite resort of kings and site of several great councils and parliaments. St. Thomas Becket was tried at the castle in 1164, and Shakespeare laid the first scene of "King John" in the great hall. A decisive battle (1460) in the War of the Roses was fought outside the town walls. Northampton sided with Parliament during the Civil War, and one of Charles II's first acts was to raze its castle and walls. It suffered a disastrous fire in 1675.
3 ½ miles from Northampton on the road to Peterborough is Great Billing, with 1700 monuments by Bushnell in the church. Little Billing is 1 miles Southwest.