Monday, June 6, 2011

The Wicked Bible

John Bill was born about 1576 in Much Wenlock, Shropshire, England and died 3 May 1630 in London, England. He was twice married, first to Anne Mountford, daughter of Thomas Mountford and Agnes Unknown. She died 3 May 1621. She was the author of “Mirror of Modesty”. He married second to Joan Franklin. John Bill published bibles and religious books with Christopher Barker, including the infamous “Wicked Bible” of 1631 which left the word “not” out of the Seventh Commandment. Most of these “Wicked Bibles” were immediately recalled and destroyed, yet some survived, including one at the New York Public Library. Barker & Bill were fined about 300 pounds (equivilant to over 30,000 pounds or $50,000 dollars today!). In 2010 a copy of the “Wicked Bible” was offered at an online auction for $89,500.

Today, there are few copies of the "Wicked Bible" on display.  Besides the one mentioned above at the New York Public Library, there are also copies at the British Museum, the Bible Museum in Branson, Missouri, and at the Houston Baptist University Bible Museum.  A copy will be on display at the Cambridge University Library until June 18, 2011 (the 400th Anniversary of the Kings James Version of the Bible).

There was another John Bill, born about 1593 in London, England and died 10 December 1638 in Boston Massachusetts. It is unknown exactly how this John Bill is related to the publisher John Bill. It is also not clear how John Bill was related to William Bill, DD (1505 – 1561) the Dean of Westminster Abbey (of whom I wrote in this link:   In the book Genealogy of the Bill Family by Ledyard Bill, 1867, the relationships are not spelled out with definitive sources.

John Bill, the immigrant, married Dorothy Tuttle about 1612, daughter of Symon Tuttle and Isabel Wells. The first mention of the name Bill in any of the Boston records is his death in the records of “The Town of Boston” which states “John Bill died 10 mo. 1638”. On January 21, 1638/9 Richard Tuttell (Tuttle) became responsible for “one Dorthie Bill, Widdowe, sojourner in his house” and “for anything about her” [Drake’s History of Boston, p. 245]

John and Dorothy had at least five children. One boy named John Bill, aged 13 came on the Hopewell in 1635, and Mary Bill, aged 11, came in the Planter also in 1635, in the company of the Tuttles. Dorothy was living with her son James, following her husband’s death [Drake’s History of Boston, p. 260] when Robert Mears sold Dorothy and her son James his house and garden. Of the following children, we only know for certain that James was a son.

Assumed order of the children:

1. James, born in England about 1615

2. Thomas, born in England about 1618 m1. Elizabeth (Sargent) Nichols, m2. Abigail Willis

3. John, born in England about 1622

4. Mary, born in England about 1624.

5. Phillip, born in England about April 1629, m. Hannah Waite on 8 July 1689 in Groton, Connecticut (my 7x great grandparents)

For more information about the Bill Family and Genealogy:

History of the Bill Family, by Ledyard Bill, 1867 (available on line at Google Book Search), with corrections available in the manuscript collection at NEHGS.

The American Genealogist, Volume 60, pages 193 -201


Copyright 2011, Heather Wilkinson Rojo


  1. LOL. I need a copy of that Bible! Thanks for the morning laugh. It will be a great day at a3Genealogy.

  2. Very interesting. Got a good giggle out of the not being left out :)