Bill Williamson


Things are different now, John. Now, I'm in charge! No more Dutch, and no more you!

Bill Williamson first appeared as a secondary antagonist in the 2010 video game Red Dead Redemption and returns as a supporting character in Red Dead Redemption 2, where he is a member of the Van der Linde Gang. Bill Williamson is playable in Red Dead Redemption multiplayer with the Liars and Cheats DLC.

Meta Information

Bill Williamson is voiced by Steve J. Palmer, an American actor.

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History

Born in 1866, Bill is 45 years old during the events of Red Dead Redemption (though he looks much older). Prior to joining the Van der Linde Gang, Bill served in the military before becoming an outlaw. Drawn to the idealistic views of Dutch, he became deeply invested in the gang leader's vision for the West. After a job went awry in 1906 and the gang left one of their own behind (John Marston), Dutch grew increasingly unhinged until the gang ultimately disbanded. Bill remained in New Austin and started his new gang, a band of vicious outlaws fuelled by his own violent tendencies created by his disappointment in Dutch.

Early Life

Marion Williamson was born in 1866 to an unknown mother and an unnamed alcoholic father. Marion was supposedly an oft-used name in the family, however the boy disliked it and began calling himself "Bill" (which would imply that he was called "William Williamson"). Throughout his childhood Bill was afraid he'd end up just like his dad, who was slowly losing his mind and degrading his health with excessive drinking, primarily by mixing moonshine with whiskey.

To escape this fate, Bill joined the American Army after coming of age. During his service, he fought in various conflicts against Native Americans, but was dishonorably discharged in 1892 with deviancy and attempted murder listed as causes. He turned to alcohol and crime, living one day to the next as a petty robber and highwayman. Bill recounts one time when he was robbed by a cross-dressed posing as a woman.

Like many other members of the Van Der Linde gang, Bill was recruited after he attempted to rob Dutch in 1894. Bill wasn't particularly skilled at robbery, so the gang leader simply laughed at his attempt. Initially angry, Bill was later cheered up by his would-be victim and offered a spot on the gang, giving his life purpose and direction, and well as a group of allies and friends to rely on. During his time in the gang, Bill would suffer from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder due to his time in the army

Bill became one of the gang's gunmen, partaking in a series of crimes across the American frontier. He too was drawn to the idealistic views of Dutch, but didn't notice or care as over time those views were increasingly ignored, and the gang's crimes began including more murders alongside the robberies. This era lasted for 5 years.

In 1899, Bill was part of the Blackwater heist urged by newcomer Micah Bell which ended in disaster. Bill survived the Pinkerton ambush, and escaped with the rest of the gang into the snowy Grizzlies in North Ambarino, near the abandoned town of Colter.

Events of Red Dead Redemption 2

Bill first appears after the gang has settled into their temporary camp in Colter, where he gets into a heated argument with Micah. Right as the two men are about to come to blows, Dutch steps in, telling them that a nearby O'Driscoll camp has been discovered and that the gang will raid it. Bill is among those who assault the camp, and he is later seen looting an abandoned house for supplies that gang needs.

After raiding the camp, Dutch hatches a plan to rob the Cornwall train, which was what the O'Driscolls had originally planned. Bill and Arthur placed the dynamite at the train tracks, but the detonator malfunctioned forcing the gang to chase the locomotive. Bill wasn't able to board the moving train.

Sometime later, Bill is enjoying a drink with Charles, Javier and later Arthur while hanging around Valentine. Another patron at the saloon bumps into Bill, and the two get into a bit of a scuffle which then spreads across the entire bar resulting in a huge fight, which sees Arthur tossed out the window. After the fight clears up, Dutch scolds Bill for his aggression.

After an encounter with the O'Driscolls, a former member of the rival gang tries to defect, but Dutch and the others don't trust him. The deserter, Kieran, is interrogated, in which Bill partakes. Kieran reveals anything they ask of him, so the torture is belayed, and Bill accompanies John and Arthur when they investigate the hideout he directed them towards. There, they fight a group of O'Driscoll thugs. After the fight ends, Bill and John convince Arthur to let Kieran stay with the gang after he saved Arthur’s life, and Arthur reluctantly agrees. Bill and John take Kieran back to the camp.

Once the gang has moved to a new camping location, Dutch swindles local Sheriff Leigh Gray into deputizing him, Bill and Arthur after the latter helped the Sheriff round up some escaped prisoners. As deputies, Arthur and Bill team up with legitimate deputy Archibald MacGregor to shut down a moonshine operation run by another group of outlaws, the Lemoyne Raiders. Bill ends up in a large firefight with reinforcements sent by the Raiders.

Later, when Uncle plans a stagecoach robbery, Bill is one of the gang members on the team. He, Arthur and Charles engage the target vehicle, but things go awry as a vengeful Leviticus Cornwall has sent thugs to ambush them. After fighting through a throng of mercenaries, the trio hides out in an abandoned barn, but their opponents find them and light the building on fire, with the goal of either springing them out or killing them via incineration. Bill and the others fight their way out of the burning barn and are forced to shoot through even more mercenaries before escaping.

Karen joins up with Bill to plan a large scale robbery, with the Valentine Bank being the target. After they plan it out, Arthur and Lenny join up with them to execute the plan. Bill is among those members who storm the bank itself, and helps in the shootout with the law enforcement officers as they escape with the score.

With Uncle's stagecoach robbery ending in disaster, Bill takes it upon himself to plan another one, and he does so successfully. Accompanied by Tilly Jackson and Arthur, they manage to make off with a large amount of cash. While the other gang members were embroiled in various matters, Bill conducted a few solo robberies, including the looting of a homestead and the robbing of drunken soldiers.

Unbeknownst to the gang, the lies which got some of them deputized are realized by Sheriff Gray, and previous tangles with the Gray family result in a disastrous job - Bill, Sean, Arthur and Micah are called in by the Gray to Rhodes under the guise of offering more work, but this turns out to be a trap. Bill is captured, and in the ensuing large-scale firefight, Sean is killed. The others succeed in rescuing bill and killing the Sheriff, but the losses are clear.

In the aftermath, Arthur lays blame on Bill and Micah due to their impulsive and careless nature, and instructs Bill to give Sean a proper burial nearby. When the gang reunites at the camp, they mourn Sean but are only given little time to do so, as Jack Marston has been kidnapped by the Braithwaites. Bill joins up with the assault against the kidnappers' manor.

After Dutch and a few others meet Angelo Bronte about rescuing Jack, they return with the boy and the apparent alliance of the crimelord, who gave them an invitation to a party being held by the mayor of Saint Denis. Dutch plans on attending in order to gain some new leads on jobs. He takes Bill, as well as Hosea and Arthur with him to the party.

Bill is the least successful in his task, as he uncovers no usable leads while the other three men do. He is frustrated by this, and later expresses his hatred for the party. Meanwhile, Micah found a different lead, based on which he planned out a stagecoach robbery. To pull off the heist, he asked Arthur and Bill to accompany him. After planting some dynamite on the route of the stagecoach, they wait for it to arrive before detonating the explosives. This forces the vehicle to a halt, and after killing the guards, the trio divides the bounty between themselves.

When later Angelo Bronte's deception is revealed, Dutch brings Bill with him to attack the crime lord's mansion. Throughout the assault, Bill fights off guards and lawmen, covering the gang leader. A throwaway comment associating Native Americans with 'savagery' prompts Dutch to berate him.

Later on, the gang commits to a large-scale robbery, the target being the Saint Denis bank. Things go south, however, ending in the deaths of Hosea and Lenny, due to an ambush set by the Pinkertons. During the escape, he ends up in the group with Dutch, Javier, Micah, Javier and Arthur. They escape to the docks, where Charles provides a distraction allowing them to board a ship and strike a deal with the captain.

Their plans change when the ship is damaged in a storm and sinks off the coast of Guarma. After being washed ashore, he and the others are captured by the local soldiers and are put in chains. While being marched to prison, rebels who oppose the soldiers ambush the group, giving Arthur the chance to unlock their shackles, after which the gang fights alongside the rebels led by Hercule Fontaine. Javier, however, doesn't escape the soldiers.

Bill and the others return to the rebel encampment for rest, but it is attacked by soldiers in retaliation. Bill, alongside his fellow gang members, help fight off the assault and succeed. After they regroup and stage a rescue, Bill is tasked with staying behind, protecting an injured Javier. Following the ensuing battle, they find a way back to the mainland.

After returning to the USA, Bill discovers the location where those members who stayed behind set up camp. This allows the gang to reunite in Lakay, but that location is subsequently assaulted by the Pinkertons. Bill, alongside Sadie and Arthur, stage a defense and drive off the lawmen.

Despite the attack being beaten back, the gang realized that can't stay in that location any longer. The group packs up and moves to a new campsite in Beaver Hollow, where the friction between the members boils over. Dutch is clearly losing his grip, and Arthur and John are openly accusing him of leading the gang astray. Bill, alongside most of the other, sticks up for the gang leader and becomes suspicious of the two opposers, thinking in particular that John may be a traitor.

In spite of the tension, the group still needed to stage some robberies to fund itself. Bill and Arthur join to rob a stagecoach which is loaded with dynamite from the Van Horn Trading Post. Their plan is for Bill to act like a drunkard near the road as a distraction before attacking the vehicle, which Arthur then attacks from above. They seize the stagecoach and flee while fending off pursuing lawmen.

Later when the gang teams up with the Wapiti to attack a refinery, Bill is involved in the assault, though he is reluctant to take part. During the assault, he's part of the gang that leads the attack against the warehouse building. Following the refinery incident, Bill also takes part in the train robbery and rides after the locomotive with the rest of the gang after it fails to stop.

Back at camp, the tensions develop into a full-on standoff when Arthur reveals that Micah is the traitor, which Micah denies. Most of the gang, Bill included, side with Micah against Arthur, however the standoff is interrupted by the arrival of the Pinkertons. While most members chase a fleeing Arthur and John, Bill and Javier simply escape together.

Inter-Game Period

Following the collapse of the Van Der Linde gang, Bill manages to escape incarceration. He stays in contact with Javier, who is also at large but moves to Mexico. Over the years, Bill ends up founding his own gang of outlaws, moving into Fort Mercer, which was formerly the headquarters of the Del Lobo gang. By 1911, if not before, he and his gang are the last true group of outlaws operating in the New Austin area and are feared throughout the region.

Events of Red Dead Redemption

Bill in Red Dead Redemption

After John Marston arrives in Blackwater, he boards a train taking him to New Austin where he is to confront and arrest Bill Williamson. Bill, now the leader of his own gang, was operating out of Fort Mercer. John approached the Fort and attempted to persuade Bill to give himself up without a fight, but the disillusioned outlaw refused, mocking John for what Bill saw as turncoat betrayal. Several of Bill's men held John at gunpoint and shot him when he reached for his revolver.

Thinking John dead, Bill and his men left him out in the wilderness, however the former outlaw was merely wounded, and later Bonnie MacFarlane and Amos happened upon him. They took him to the doctor in Armadillo who removed the bullet from his torso for $15 which Bonnie paid. To settle his debt, John started working at Bonnie's ranch, but upon learning he had survived, Bill sent his men to burn the ranch down. They set the barn on fire but John manages to save the horses.

After the attack on the MacFarlane ranch, Bill and his gang attacked and plundered the Ridgewood Farm, killing most residents. John and Marshal Johnson ride to the Farm to clear out the gang members and save the survivors. The Marshal's men, with John's help, wipe out the gang members but Bill manages to flee back to Fort Mercer. His second in command, Norman Deek, is captured alive.

Soon after, a member of Bill's gang informs the Marshal that they hold Bonnie MacFarlane hostage and will kill her if Deek is not returned to them in Tumbleweed. Upon taking the captured outlaw to the agreed location, Bill's gang ambushes John, killing Deek in the process while preparing to hang Bonnie. Her noose tightens at the side of her head preventing her neck from being broken, and John manages to kill the gang members and save Bonnie in time.

After saving Bonnie, John plans a raid on Fort Mercer to deal with Bill Williamson, and recruits seven townspeople to help in exchange for doing missions for them first. Eventually they are ready for the attack, which goes smoothly resulting in almost the entire gang being wiped out. Bill, however, escapes once more with the help of another former partner of John's, Javier Escuella. Bill flees to Mexico, to be dealt with later.

In Mexico, John gets mixed up with a local civil war and initially sides with Colonel Allende, however the Colonel ends up betraying him. Unbeknownst to John, Bill had allied himself with the Colonel. When the leader of the rebels who oppose Allende is captured, John goes to rescue him. After saving Reyes, the leader of the rebels, John goes after Bill and Allende, who are escaping together.

When the stagecoach of the two is disabled, Allende turned on Bill by dragging him out of the vehicle and offering him in exchange for being allowed to live. Should John hesitate to shoot the Colonel at this point, Reyes will do so instead. Bill then attempts to feint John by claiming to surrender and come with him to Blackwater willingly, but he quickly reaches for his pistol at which point either John or Reyes shoots him down. At this point, the Williamson gang had lost almost all of its members, its hideout and now its leader, essentially forcing them to disband. John is then required to return to Blackwater.

Character

Personality

During Bill’s time in the Van der Linde gang, he was extremely loyal to Dutch and the gang, and was a respected member. Bill was a skilled rifleman and explosives expert due to his military service. Since Dutch gave him a sense of purpose, Bill supported his every decision even after Dutch started to go insane. Bill’s loyalty to Dutch is partially motivated by fear; not of Dutch himself, but of being alone, and what the future holds for him should he leave the gang. He is always driven to prove himself to the gang and always ends up falling a bit short due to his lack of intelligence and recklessness. During Bill’s time with the gang, he was much softer. He empathized with low morale of the gang after the failure in Blackwater. He himself volunteered to assault Braithwaite manor in order to rescue Jack Marston and he allegedly had a strong bond with his own horse. He didn’t approve of Micah taunting Arthur for his illness.

He was good friends with Javier Escuella, likely due to the fact that they both had a standing and experience in the gang's hierarchy, and both of them look up to Dutch greatly. The friendship is shown and was evident when Javier rescues Bill from the bounty hunters when he is captured. In another instance, Bill shares his thoughts with Javier on who he thinks is the “rat” in the gang, and Bill chose to look after the wounded Javier during the Guarma chapter. It was presumed that Bill ran off with Javier after the standoff, which further shows their friendship. They both sided against John and Arthur, but neither of them joined Dutch, Micah, Cleet and Joe in chasing them. In 1911, Javier helps Bill to escape to Mexico, knowing that John can be drawn towards him too, putting his life in danger.

Bill didn't change too much after the collapse of the gang, solely in the sense that he was no longer being controlled by a figure of authority and thus more open about his violent tendencies. Though a skilled gunman and explosives expert, he's one of the least educated members of the gang in Red Dead Redemption 2, and is prone to violence and aggression. He isn't particularly cautious or mindful of his actions. By the time he left the gang, his personality took a bleaker and much darker turn. Bill became ruthless, power-hungry, greedy, self-serving and amoral. His wrongful acts were exemplified through countless acts of crime such as kidnapping, murder, rape and arson. He also became a disloyal coward, which is likely due to being paranoid. Bill always sent his own men to fight John and never directly fought him. He tried to escape death whenever he got the chance.

Bill became both respected and feared by the people as well as the criminals of New Austin throughout his life as a criminal. Bonnie calls him the "worst bandit in the county”. Many criminals also decided to follow Williamson, which made him one of the most dangerous and powerful criminals in the area. One of the bandits who followed Williamson was Norman Deek.

Dutch gave him a purpose in life after his discharge from the military, which Bill repaid with complete and utter loyalty. Even when Dutch was already very clearly losing his grip, Bill remained unshaken in his support of the gang leader. Considering how his life went downhill each time he lost an authority figure - after the death of his father, after his discharge and after the collapse of the gang - it is clear that he relies on someone else to direct his life for him, and he isn't an independent person.

Even though he manages to lead a gang after 1907, he is highly violent and embodies precisely what both he and Dutch aimed to avoid - a ruthless and cruel criminal who is driven solely by greed and aggression.

Appearance

Bill is a heavy set, muscular mand. By 1899 he has taken on some weight. He has brown hair and a bushy beard. He seems to be missing some teeth and although he is not bald, he has receding hair. His regular outfit includes grey trousers, either a plain or a checked shirt and boots. He sometimes wear a long brown jacket along with a hat pinned on one side. During the Saint Denis bank robbery, he wears a square-patterned grey suit, and during his time in Guarma, his jacket is missing and he wears a white shirt with braces with the same grey-patterned trousers. By 1911, Bill is shown as being mostly bald, with a little bit of hair left along with a bushy beard having patches of grey. He also seems to have lost a lot of weight.

Mission Appearances

Red Dead Redemption

  • “Exodus in America”
  • “Spare the Rod, Spoil the Bandit”
  • “An Appointed Time”

Red Dead Redemption 2

  • “Outlaws from the West”
  • “Old Friends”
  • “Who the Hell is Leviticus Cornwall”
  • “Eastward Bound”
  • “Americans at Rest”
  • “Paying a Social Call”
  • “American Distillation”
  • “An Honest Mistake”
  • “Sodom? Back to Gomorrah”
  • “A Short Walk in a Pretty Town”
  • “Blood Feuds, Ancient and Modern”
  • “The Battle of Shady Belle”
  • “The Gilded Cage”
  • “Revenge is a Dish Best Eaten”
  • “Banking, The Old American Art”
  • “Welcome to the New World”
  • “Hell Hath No Fury”
  • “Paradise Mercifully Departed”
  • “Fleeting Joy”
  • “That’s Murfree Country”
  • “The Delights of Van Horn”
  • “My Last Boy”
  • “Our Best Sleeves”
  • “Red Dead Redemption”

Trivia

  • Williamson fits the textbook description of a typical Wild West bandit or outlaw. He is described as an utterly ruthless and violent man driven by greed and ambition. His lack of morals seemingly contradicts his being drawn to Dutch's idealistic world view, and his personality seems to be completely at odds with what Dutch wanted to originally achieve. However it is possible he too became as violent and jaded as he is after the fall of the Van der Linde Gang.
  • Prior to the gang being disbanded, the relationship between John and Bill had already deteriorated. In spite of having what once was true camaraderie and friendship between them, the two began to vie for Dutch's attention, leading to a rivalry which devolved into open hatred.
  • Bill Williamson is seemingly the least educated member of the former Van der Linde Gang, often bringing up John's low opinion of his intelligence ("You always did think I was an idiot.") and mocking him whenever he used non-standard parlance.
  • Bill can be seen taking offense at John’s larger vocabulary on their first encounter at Fort Mercer in Red Dead Redemption; the word was “Implore”.
  • In Red Dead Redemption, Bill is partly bald it can be seen during the final appearance, when Allende shoves him out fo the wagon, his hat falls off, revealing his baldness. The baldness can also be seen by shooting off his hat, or by playing Poker or Liar’s Dice with him in Multiplayer.
  • In Red Dead Redemption Multiplayer, most of the quotes by Bill seems to be directed towards John.
  • In an interview with Retroplayer, Steve J. Palmer, the voice actor of Bill Williamson, compared the relationship between John Marston and Bill Williamson to that of siblings, with Dutch being more of a “parental figure”. Palmer also stated that Bill was jealous of Abigail’s relationship with John. He was bitter due to the fact that she chose John over him. This basically added on to his already present insecurities. Palmer added that John was once a positive influence for Bill but that was diminished once John left the gang which caused Bill to “tailspin out of control” without John’s moral support. As we already know by now Bill always depended on someone and always looked up to someone. He was never truly independent until he formed his own gang.
  • During each encounter with Bill in Red Dead Redemption, he almost never attempts to confront John himself, sending his goons instead, and in all cases where his life is threatened, he immediately turns tail or begins to bargain.
  • Bill's birth name being Marion may be a reference to iconic Western actor John Wayne, whose birth name was Marion Mitchell Morrison.
  • In addition to that, both Bill in the game and “John Wayne” in real life considered their names to be the source of embarrassment. It could possibly a reference to one of the Dalton brothers, William Marion Dalton, who is better known as Bill Dalton.
  • Bill tells the reason for joining Dutch’s gang and his cause is that he saw what power could do to people while he was in the army. This is a foreshadowing of his own fate, as 12 years later Bill becomes the most violent and ruthless bandit and a leader of his own gang.
  • Adding more to Bill’s lack of intelligence, he doesn’t know that the sun rises in the east and sets in the west.
  • In Red Dead Redemption the pin which holds Bill’s hat up is a symbol of the Freemasons (The square and the compasses), but in Red Dead Redemption 2, the pin is a U.S Cavalry Isignia.
  • In Red Dead Redemption 2, Bill prefers rifles to pistols. Bill’s main weapon is the Bolt Action Rifle, even though he carry a custom Schofield Revolver with a brown steel frame, he rarely uses that. In Red Dead Redemption, Bill uses Winchester Repeater and doesn’t carry any sidearm at all. His preference of rifles most likely originates due to his time spent in the army where rifle was his primary weapon, and since he did not use revolver a lot, he would have less experience with it.
  • If the player annoys and makes the members of the camp angry, Bill may punch Arthur and throw him out of the camp. Lenny, Charles, John and Javier do the same thing.
  • Often, some bounty hunters may capture Bill. Javier then asks Arthur to go help free him.
  • Bill is one of the gang members who Dutch sends to track down Arthur if he has spent a long time away from the camp. Once Bill finds Arthur, the player has the option to fast travel back to the camp with him.
  • While having a conversation with Micah, Bill reveals to him that his birth name was Marion, but he changed it to “Bill” since he found it embarrassing.
  • In the Red Dead Redemption: Undead Nightmare DLC, there are some writings on the walls of the buildings in Blackwater. One of the writing says ‘Things are different now”. These are some of the words that Williamson said to John before wounding him at Fort Mercer.
  • Although, Bill doesn’t appear in the undead nightmare physically, he is mentioned by John while he is talking to Mother Superior.

Matt Stone

Ever since the original Red Dead Redemption was released back in 2010 and swiftly completed by Matt he has been eagerly anticipating another return to the Wild West. In Matt's totally non-biased opinion the story told in the sequel, Red Dead Redemption 2, is one of the best ever (at least as far as games go). And while some story DLC would be great, Matt isn't counting on it! Matt is on Twitter (but not really active).