Billingsworth was born in 1844 in Preston, Lancashire to a labourer. Throughout his life, he was obsessed with death, executions and torture, and he worked for the British government as a hangman for a time, before being fired due to an "excessive taste for sadism". He measured the necks of his victims to see how long their "gullets" could be stretched, and competed with himself his entire life to beat his own records.
Finding private employ for people in need of his skills, Billingsworth became the chief warder at a private prison in Deptford in 1888. In the deep-sea port near London, large old navy ships were converted to house prisoners in horrifying conditions. Billingsworth came to serve the serial killer and former Assassin known as Jack the Ripper, believing his work to be "right and necessary" to "rip the filth" from London. At the prison hulks, Jack's prisoners were kept as hostages and starved and tortured until they wrote the Ripper's demands to their families.
In the fall of 1888, the Master Assassin Evie Frye, sister of Jack's tutor Jacob, returned to London to end the Ripper's terror over the city. Learning of the prison hulks, she traveled there to find Jack. With the latter nowhere to be seen, she decided to kill Billingsworth before he could hang any more prisoners. After distracting the guards by freeing a group of captives, Evie infiltrated the warder's quarters. She jammed the pulley to the gallows and waited for the galley assistant to fix it, after which she activated it, hanging Billingsworth by his leg. She then stabbed him in the throat with her Hidden Blade. In his final moments, Billingsworth claimed that his death changed little about the Ripper's work, which he claimed was Jacob's vision for London. Before Evie could extract Jack's location from him, Billingsworth succumbed to his wounds.