William Pynchon
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William Pynchon (1590 - 1662)

William Pynchon aka Pinchon
Born in Springfield, Essex, Englandmap
Ancestors ancestors
[sibling(s) unknown]
Husband of — married about 1618 in Englandmap
Husband of — married 1630 in Dorchester, Massachusetts Bay Colonymap
Descendants descendants
Died at age 71 in Wraysbury, Buckinghamshire, Englandmap
Profile last modified | Created 28 Apr 2011
This page has been accessed 6,947 times.
The Puritan Great Migration.
William Pynchon migrated to New England during the Puritan Great Migration (1621-1640). (See Great Migration Begins, by R. C. Anderson, Vol. 3, p. 1536)
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Puritan Great Migration
William Pynchon immigrated to New England between 1621 and 1640 and later departed for Wraysbury, Buckinghamshire, England


William Pynchon was born at Springfield, Essex, England about 27 December 1590, the eldest child of John Pinchon of Springfield, gent. and his wife Frances Brett.[1][2][3]

William immigrated from his origin, Essex, in about 1630 and was the first person admitted in 1632 to the Roxbury Church at Roxbury, Massachusetts; he then removed to Springfield in 1636.[3]


William married twice.

  • William married by about 1618 at England, to Anne Andrew.[3][4] She died during the winter of 1630/1.[3] Note: The name "Andrew" was not spelled with an s; her father was William Andrew. Anne died in 1630, the same year of their immigration to Roxbury, Massachusetts.[2]
  • William married by late 1632, as his 2nd, to Frances (Unknown) Smith Sanford. She died on 10 October 1657 at Wraysbury.[3][5] Frances had a son by her first marriage, Henry Smith. He was remembered in William Pynchon's will as "my son Master Henry Smith." Henry was not only step-son but also a son-in-law, as Henry married to his step-sister, Anne Pynchon, the daughter of William Pynchon and his first wife, Anne (Andrew).[3]


Children of William Pynchon and Anne Andrew (All: Anne, Mary, John and Margaret - born in Springfield, England).[2]

  1. Anne Pynchon, m. about 1658, Henry Smith, d. after 1682
  2. Mary Pynchon, m. 20 Nov 1640, Elizur Holyoke, d. 25 Oct 1657
  3. Margaret Pynchon, m. 6 Dec 1644, Capt. William Davis, d. 3 Jul 1653
  4. John Pynchon, b. about 1625, m. 6 Nov 1645, Amy Wyllys, d. 17 Jan 1702/3

The children above are the only known children of William and Anne. Some claim the child below (without evidence).[citation needed]

Part of the Great Migration, 1630, Winthrop Fleet

"Mr Pynchon was one of the Patentees of the Charter granted by King Charles I to the Colony of Massachusetts Bay, 18 Mar. 1628/9." [2][6] He left Springfield, Essex, England in 1630, with his wife Anne, and their three daughters. There is some question as to whether William's son John was with the family on this journey. [7]

The Pynchon family were certainly aboard one of the ships which made up the Winthrop Fleet, probably one of the Arbella's three escorts; exactly which ship is unknown. There are no actual passenger lists. The Shipboard Journal of John Winthrop is probably our best record, and this entry was written on Friday, 23 April 1630:

About eleven of the clock, our captain sent his skiff and fetched aboard us the masters of the other two ships, and Mr. Pynchon, and they dined with us in the round-house, for the lady and gentlewomen dined in the great cabin.[8]

Some contend that the Pynchons sailed aboard the Arbella/Arabella, flagship of Governor Winthrop's Fleet,[9] [10][11] but evidence is lacking.

Founder Roxbury 1630

William settled in Roxbury, Massachusetts, a new village less than two miles from Dorchester. "In founding Roxbury, Massachusetts in 1630, Pynchon settled land near a narrow isthmus, which was necessary to cross in order to reach the Port of Boston — thus all of Massachusetts' mainland trade needed to pass through his town." [12] The family attended First Church in Dorchester, because Roxbury had not yet built a church. John Eliot, who eventually became minister of the church in Roxbury, wrote in his journal of how the congregation from Roxbury would, if the weather permitted, take a winding path through the woods to Dorchester to attend services. [13] William married the widow Frances Sanford (formerly Smith) in Dorchester in 1630.[13]

From 1629 (in England) to 1630-1636 in Massachusetts, William was Assistant to Massachusetts Bay, and also Treasurer from 1632-1636. [2] In Roxbury, besides working as one of the principals in the Massachusetts Bay Colony, he was trading for pelts of beaver, mink and other furs, with the Indians. [14]

Founder Springfield 1636

In 1634 William, with some companions, explored up the Connecticut River to discover a likely place to plant a new settlement. The next year one of the company built a house at the place they chose. [15] It was "just north of the Connecticut River's first large falls, the Enfield Falls, which was the river's northern terminus navigable by sea-going ships. By founding Springfield where Pynchon did, much of the Connecticut River's traffic would have to either begin, end, or cross his settlement." [12]

From May 14 through 16, 1636, William Pynchon and his associates drew up and signed the Articles of the association at Agawam, since renamed Springfield. [16] The beginning of the Articles are reproduced on page 14 of The First Century of the History of Springfield. Among other things, they were concerned about 'the killing of wolves, the scouring of ditches, and the training up of children in some good calling'. [17] "Our Plural History, Springfield, MA-Colonial Period, William Pynchon"

"In founding "The Great River's" northernmost settlement, Pynchon sought to enhance the trading links with upstream Native peoples such as the Pocumtucks, and over the next generation he built Springfield into a thriving trade town..." [12] "Pynchon built a warehouse in what was once Springfield, but is present-day East Windsor, Connecticut, known as Warehouse Point — and to this day, it still bears the name. In the years 1636-1652, Pynchon exported between 4,000 to 6,000 beaver pelts a year from that location, and also was the New World's first commercial meat packer, exporting pork products. The profits from these endeavors enabled him to retire to England as a very wealthy man."[12]

Authored First Book Burned in Boston

After a life full of responsibilities, honors, and prosperity, William Pynchon wrote and published a book, The Meritorious Price of Christ's Redemption,[12] which ended up being the first book burned in Boston.[18]

Returned to England, 1652

The basic principle of William's Book, "The Meritorious Price of Our Redemption", caused him to be labeled a church heretic, have his book burned in Boston's public market place, and forced him to return to England.

The authorities in Boston wished to punish him for what they considered heretical views, so William transferred his properties to his only son, John Pynchon. William and his wife Frances, sailed back to England about 1652, accompanied by William's daughter Anne, her husband Henry Smith - son of Frances, and the minister, Mr. Moxon.[14]

"After Pynchon's return to England, his son John extended his father's settlements in the Connecticut River Valley northward, founding Northampton, Westfield, Hadley, and other towns." [12] In England, William was an advocate for Springfield and the Massachusetts Bay Colony.

Death and Legacy

William died on October 29, 1662 at at his comfortable country home at Wraysbury, County Buckinghamshire, England.[3][9][12]


  1. Jacobus calculates on page 723: about 27 Dec. 1590.
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 2.4 Jacobus, Donald Lines, (1952) Hale, House and Related Families: Mainly of the Connecticut River Valley. Hartford: Connecticut Historical Society, HathiTrust.org (Pages 721-26).
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 3.3 3.4 3.5 3.6 Anderson, Robert Charles, (1995) "William Pynchon," Featured name. The Great Migration Begins ... Volumes I-III. NEHGS AmericanAncestors.org (Volumes I-III, Pages 1537-8).
  4. Anderson cites Hale House p 724 with the caveat, "no evidence provided"
  5. Sanford, Carlton, Elisha, (1911) Thomas Sanford, the emigrant to New England ... Archive.org (Pages 70-71).
  6. "William Pynchon was among the original 12 Puritan leaders who met in Cambridge, England, in August of 1629 to form the Massachusetts Bay Company. He invested 25 pounds in the venture" Mass Moments. William Pynchon buys land in Springfield. July 15, 1635 (https://www.massmoments.org/moment-details/william-pynchon-buys-land-for-springfield.html)
  7. J. Gardner Bartlett, "Leaders in the Winthrop Fleet, 1630," The New England Historical and Genealogical Register, July 1921 database, Google Books, July 2008: page 236.
  8. Winthrop, John, (1630) Shipboard Journal of John Winthrop. The Winthrop Society. [Wayback Machine, Archived page 25 Jan 2022]
  9. 9.0 9.1 A Genealogical Dictionary of the First Settlers of New England: Showing Three Generations of Those who Came Before May, 1692, on the Basis of Farmer's Register, Orrando Perry Dexter, database, Google Books: (accessed 20 Nov 2013), entry for Pynchon, John, extracted from James Savage, John Farmer, Orrando Perry Dexter, book of the same name (Little, Brown, 1861), (Volume 3, K-R, pages 497-98).
  10. Topographical dictionary of 2885 English emigrants to New England, 1620-1650, database, HathiTrust.org (accessed 20 Nov 2013) Entry for Pynchon, William; extracted from Charles Edward Banks, book of the same name (Philadelphia, Pennsylvania: The Bertram Press, 1937), page 52.
  11. "New England, The Great Migration and The Great Migration Begins, 1620-1635" Ancestry.com.
  12. 12.0 12.1 12.2 12.3 12.4 12.5 12.6 William Pynchon, database, Wikipedia.org, (accessed 5 Dec 2013), Creative Commons Attribution ShareAlike License
  13. 13.0 13.1 History of the First Church in Roxbury, Massachusetts 1630-1904, database, Internet Archive: (accessed 5 Dec 2013), entry for William Pinchon, extracted from Walter Eliot Thwing, book of the same name, (Boston, Massachusetts, W.A. Butterfield, 1908), page x, xi, 45.
  14. 14.0 14.1 King's handbook of Springfield, Massachusetts, database, Internet Archive: (accessed 20 Nov 2013), extracted from Moses King, book of the same name, (J.D. Gill, Springfield, Massachusetts, 1884, page 15.
  15. Our County and its people, A History of Hampden County, Massachusetts, database, FamilySearch.org (accessed 13 Nov 2013), extracted from Alfred Minot Copeland (Editor), book of the same name, (The Century Memorial Publishing Company 1902), page 29, 33-37, 41.
  16. New England Families, Genealogical and Memorial: A Record of the Achievements of Her People in the Making of Commonwealths and the Founding of a Nation, database, Google Books: entry for Edward Holyoke; extracted from William Richard Cutter, book of the same name (New York, New York: Lewis historical publishing Company, 1913), Volume 2, page 596-597.
  17. The First Century of the History of Springfield: The Official Records from 1636 to 1736, database, FamilySearch.org, (accessed 13 Nov 2013), extracted from Henry M. Burt, book of the same name, (Springfield, Massachusetts, self-published, 1902), Vol 2, page 2, 14, 29.
  18. While some web sources mistakenly refer to Pynchon's book as "the New World's first ever banned book" that distinction belongs to a satire of the New England puritans entitled "The New English Canaan" by Thomas Morton. "The book's first printing was seized by agents of the Massachusetts Bay Colony before distribution, but a second publication in Amsterdam (1637), found a somewhat larger audience. In 1643, Morton made a final trip to North America, where he was again arrested ..." (https://quod.lib.umich.edu/c/clementsead/umich-wcl-M-19mor?id=navbarbrowselink;view=text)

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Comments: 6

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I don't know if you want to add to the see also section but he is featured in the recent book The Ruin of Witches by Malcolm Gaskill


posted by Kerry (Paris) Wallis
Thanks, Kerry. I added it to the see also section. Its on my list to read. I've heard good things. Have you thought about making a Free Space Page with links to the WT Profiles that get mentioned? Might be fun.
posted by M Cole
I removed the 17th Century Category, as its not used for profiles of people. Perhaps Thomas Pynchon belongs in the Famous People of the 17th Century?


posted by M Cole
Marie, please read the narrative of Frances' profile. Sanford was her married name. If you have sources that prove otherwise, please discuss them here. Thanks.
posted by Jillaine Smith
Almost all various references show the birth to be Name William Pynchon

Birth 11 Oct 1590 Death 29 Oct 1662

posted by George Kellogg
If you all come across any profiles in this era/timeframe of those that settled new England, let me know so I can protect the profile. Also, add the template of
The Puritan Great Migration.
William Pynchon migrated to New England during the Puritan Great Migration (1621-1640).
Join: Puritan Great Migration Project
Discuss: pgm
to those profiles so they can be linked to the project data base. Thanks!
posted by [Living Lockhart]