The Many John Bullock’s in My Family Tree

I am descended from Mayflower Pilgrim John Billington (1579-1630) through his son and daughter-in-law Francis and Christian (Penn) Billington.

Francis and his wife Christian had a daughter named Elizabeth Billington (1635-1710) who married Richard Bullock (1622-1667), and they in turn had a son named John.

After looking at their family tree, I noticed there were a lot of “John Bullock’s” in that family – four in a direct line, to be exact. So, I decided to search for these men in GenealogyBank’s Historical Newspaper Archives to see what I could discover about this line.

This family of Bullock’s lived in Bristol County, Massachusetts, many of them in the town of Rehoboth, so I used the keyword “Rehoboth” to narrow my search down to the John Bullocks in the latter part of this line.

A screenshot of GenealogyBank's search page showing a search for John Bullock and "Rehoboth"
Source: GenealogyBank

The first result in this search was an obituary for a John Bullock who was born in Rehoboth and died in Bristol, Rhode Island. After comparing the listed birth and death information to my tree, I was able to match this obituary to the fourth (and last for several generations) John Bullock (1769-1876) in the line. This John Bullock was the 4th-great-grandson of Francis Billington.

An obituary for John Bullock, Salem Register newspaper article 6 January 1876
Source: GenealogyBank, Salem Register (Salem, Massachusetts), 6 January 1876, page 2

The most fascinating part about John Bullock’s obituary was his age at death – an astounding 106 years old! Not a lot of people live to that advanced age.

Google puts the average lifespan for a person born between 1750 and 1800 at only 36 years old, meaning John Bullock’s long life was extraordinary, even by today’s standards.

Photo: grave of John Bullock (1769-1867), North Burial Ground, Bristol, Bristol County, Rhode Island
Photo: grave of John Bullock (1769-1867), North Burial Ground, Bristol, Bristol County, Rhode Island. Source: Find A Grave

Next, I refined my search by removing the keyword “Rehoboth” and restricting my search to just newspapers in Rhode Island and Massachusetts.

This search turned up an 1869 Sun article announcing the 100th birthday of this same John Bullock. This article gave me a few more interesting details about John in his old age, such as the fact that he:

“…never drank a glass of alcoholic liquor in his life, and never had any need of or used spectacles. The old gentleman can see to pick up a pin or a needle from the floor as well as any young person.”

An article about John Bullock, Sun newspaper article 19 August 1869
Source: GenealogyBank, Sun (Pittsfield, Massachusetts), 19 August 1869, page 2

But what about the rest of the John Bullock’s? This time I searched again for “John Bullock” in only Massachusetts and Rhode Island newspapers and restricted the years to 1750-1800.

This search returned a notice from the Providence Gazette about the estate of John Bullock (1714-1788).

An article about John Bullock, Providence Gazette newspaper article 3 January 1789
Source: GenealogyBank, Providence Gazette (Providence, Rhode Island), 3 January 1789, page 4

Discover interesting details about your own family trees – over generations – by searching in GenealogyBank’s Historical Newspaper Archives.

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5 thoughts on “The Many John Bullock’s in My Family Tree

  1. Thomas, I am sure this is my line as well. Are you on Ancestry? If so, have you had your DNA tested? My grandmother was a Bullock and born in Bristol, MA. In fact, in my direct ascendancy through my grandmother, THE only male names are John and Jabez.

  2. I was researching the Bullock line just before going to a Veteran Memorial Celebration honoring my Uncle Pat Harrison Bullock WW11 New Guinea. Philippines Campaign. I notice this site and tears started flowing down my face. My Uncle, born and raised in MS. Never spoke about the war other than his best buddy, friend John Billington from N.J. who was killed just a few days before the war was over. My Uncle lived to his eighties and left many written stories hidden away, also photos. I inherited this trunk of treasures. Some of his stories are on the Kilroy Was Here site. It is a possibility that his best buddy BIllington may have been a distant relative.

  3. My husband’s grandmother was Margaret Trudell Bullock Jarvis.

    John Hix Bullock has been a stonewall to my husband’s side of the family for many, many years. We cannot confirm the link to the Billington line because of him. His age was really not 106 years old; it has been verified three times that he changed his birth date so that he could win the Post Cane Award given to the oldest person in town. Several articles have been written about him one in which it was told that he was quite the storyteller. In one article he stated that he was born in Rehoboth and his parents as well as most church members moved to Nova Scotia to avoid high tariffs and then his parents moved to New York where his father died in October 1777 in the Battle of Saratoga. I found a John Bullock who was in that battle but unfortunately as of this date no further information has been found on him other than that name, it stated to keep checking back to the website to see if further information has been found by volunteers.

    We thought the John Bullock who married Mary Carter were his parents (he stated his mother’s name was Mary) but they weren’t his parents.

    If you have found information that confirms his parents this information would be appreciated more than you know along with your source.

    Deb Jarvis

    Thank you in advance either way.

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