John Pynchon, ( Major):
On October 12, 1670 clearance was granted to John Pynchon of Springfield by the General Court of Massachusetts Bay Colony to settle Stoney Brooke Plantation on land purchased by Pynchon from the Indians.
John Pynchon and a committee of influential members met in January 1670 and drew up the basic guidelines for the establishment of this new town. They began granting land as well and laying out the order of the town by creating High Street and fixing a place for the meeting house to be built. They set rigid regulations that grantees had to abide by and fixed prices of goods for barter. By the end of 1674, thirty-seven families were established in Suffield. In 1675 settlers were forced to flee to Springfield during King Philip’s War. Houses and mills were burned, but settlement resumed in 1676. Suffield remained a Massachusetts town until 1749 when it became a part of Connecticut. Suffield was, for most of its history, primarily a small agriculturally based town. Tobacco put Suffield on the map economically. As in so many Connecticut valley towns, tobacco was an important crop almost right from the beginning. It was the primary crop in the 1800’s and through much of this century. The first cigar factory in the United States was built here in 1810.
From Wayne Olsen:
Info from genealogy of Lillian Hubbard Holch, listed in Compendium ofAmerican Genealogies, found at Mannheim Library.
Listed in LDS Ancestral File, AFN (8PH1-6F). Second listing as AFN(FK9H-SQ), lists him as (COL)"
From "History of Connecticut, Its People and Institutions", by George L.Clark, Putnam 1914.:
p. 121 - John Pynchon, the founder of Springfield, wrote a book in1650 on the Atonement, presenting a view which has since prevailed largely in New England, and the MA Legislature ordered it burnt, because it supposed it to be unfair to the Bible.
From "List of Officials of Connecticut and New Haven Colonies":
John PYNCHON (Maj) (d. 1703) Commissioner to NY. Apr 1677(Residency Springfield). Ref: Conn Col II. p. 490.
From unknown family history, section on Pynchons:
He was confirmed LT in the Springfield company, May 1653, andCaptain of the same, Oct 1657; Captain of the Springfield Company of Foot, June 1663, and in the Expedition against the Dutch 1664; Sergt-Major of the Hampshire County Regt., May 1671, and Major of the same during King Philip's War; and Colonel by 1691. After serving as Deputy 4 terms, he was elected Assistant to Massachusetts Bay Colony,1665 and re=elected to that office every year (except 1668) to 1686; and after being councillor under ANDROS, WAS AGAIN assistant, 1693 UNTIL HIS DEATH.
From: "The First Wife of Governor Wyllys of Connecticut, and Her Family". New England Historical and Genealogical Register. [New England Historic Genealogical Society, April 1899], 220.
COLONEL JOHN PYNCHON was born of Springfield, in the Parish of Chelmsford, County of Essex England, in about 1620. His parents were William Pynchon (1590- ) and Anna Andrew (1600-1630.)
John Pynchon died 17 January 1703, in Springfield, Hampden, Massachusetts, at about age 76.
He was brought to Roxbury, Massachusetts, at the age of four. When he was ten, his father moved the family to the settlement of Agawam in the Connecticut Valley. In 1641, Agawam was renamed “Springfield” in honor of John’s father.
During John’s youth, few in Springfield had much of an education at all. The town was created out of a virtual wilderness. He possessed a superior native intelligence, but to obtain a formal English education such as he received was remarkable. He was probably educated at the desks of his parents and the Rev. George Moxon, a graduate of Cambridge University. Rev. Moxon was a lifelong friend of his father and was installed in 1637 as the first pastor at the new settlement of Agawam.
John and his sister, Mary, were Springfield’s two most prominent children. Not much different than today, yesterday’s children of prominence would get a lot of “press” where possible.
Along with, and certainly as part of, his studies, John interacted with simple frontier farmers, tradesmen, and Indians of different tribes, obtaining a vast knowledge in the nuances of trade, working in his father’s fur-trading and mercantile businesses. He learned at least one Algonkian dialect. He was one of the very few Puritan officials to understand the nature and importance of intertribal rivalries and warfare. He led his own people along a middle road that ensured peace with the Pocumtuck Confederacy until 1675.
John Pynchon was reared in, and maintained throughout his life, the old-school concept of an almighty God. During the ministry of George Moxon, as a youth, he took notes, in a kind of shorthand, the leading points in the sermons, which are now in possession of the City Library. His shorthand was only recently decoded. He believed in and observed the Puritan resignation to the will of God, never questioning His ways or His means. God’s Hand was to be seen in every moment of the day. The Lord’s ultimate responsibility for everything comforted and sustained him in all situations. He believed, for instance, that King Philip’s War was God’s means of punishing a sinful New England, the Indians being divinely appointed to chastise the white sinners.
John Pynchon actually became much more important to the Massachusetts Colony than was his father. He was considered, even up to the time of his death, the “chief man in all the west.” He fit no mould, nor did he conform to any of the familiar colonial types. John Pynchon had style, what we would today call “panache.” There were none other like him; he stood alone in the select company of frontier builders. He chose a public life because it was the function proper to a gentleman.
He married Amy Wyllys 20 October 1645, in Hartford.
The powerful Pynchon’s—William and his son, Major John Pynchon—were the first of the Connecticut Valley “River gods,” a title given to the men of wealth and influence whose vision and ambition shaped the future of the country. The town records style him “The Worshipful Major Pynchon,” and later, “The Worshipful Colonel.”
John Pynchon, the only son of the founder of Springfield (William Pynchon,) was 26 years old when his father returned to England. Inheriting the lands his father had acquired here and his store of goods, and the special privileges which had been granted to him in the way of trade with the Indians, the son at once entered upon a prosperous career, and was placed at the front of every undertaking leading to the development of the country, and to the acquisition of wealth. He had from the start opportunities that came to no other inhabitant, and he possessed the ability to make the most of favoring circumstances. In both private and public concerns he was the leading spirit. He was chosen Selectman in 1650. Town Clerk in 1652, appointed Magistrate to try small causes in 1653, elected Deputy to the General Court in 1662, and soon afterward Assistant in the Council, or Upper House, which position he held until 1701, almost to the close of his life.
Before his father departed for England, on 28 September 1651, he quietly conveyed to him, all his lands (about 280 acres) and buildings, and all his business enterprises. After his father left he was known as Major Pynchon in Springfield, sometimes called the Worshipful Major, who was long chief magistrate, a ruler and a man of extensive knowledge of the affairs of the colony. He was appointed by the General Court on the committees to establish the boundaries of the new towns within the vicinity of Springfield. He, with others, laid out the bounds of Northampton, Hadley, and what afterwards became Hatfield (purchasing the lands of the Indians), Westfield, Suffield, and Enfield. In short there was no movement of a public nature in which he was not concerned. Even the names of some of the new localities suggest his practical and unsentimental nature. For instance, Westfield was so named from the fact that it was a field west of Springfield; Suffield was originally Southfield, from its direction from Springfield, but the English habit of contracting the prefix to "suf” for south curtailed it to Suffield, Enfield was sometimes written Endfield, suggesting that it was a field at the end of the town, it being supposed at the time that it was within the sphere of Massachusetts. It might, however, have derived its name from Enfield, in England. Then, at a much later date, came the naming of Brimfield, suggested perhaps from the fact it was on the brim of the settlement. Brookfield, in which Pynchon had a hand, was probably named from its numerous brooks. Going north, though Pynchon was not concerned in its beginning, Northfield received its name from its geographical position to the older settlements, and Deerfield, from the fact that its meadows made a good feeding place and were frequented by deer. Sunderland was originally in the Pynchon vernacular Swampfield. The Stony brooks of Suffield and up the Connecticut, received their names from Pynchon. These localities had something about their position sufficient to suggest to his practical mind the names which they received and continue to beat at the present time.
He entered early into the military spirit which had come across the ocean as an inheritance. He was confirmed by the General Court in 1653 Lieutenant of the training band, in 1657 Captain of the company, and at a later date was made a Major of the troop, the local cavalry company, with the command of the military forces in this region.
John made his first trip to England in 1656, by this time thirty years of age He resided either in London or Wraysbury, Buckinghamshire, from September 10, 1656, until November 3, 1657.
On January 12, 1659, he placed an order for 50,000 bricks to be burned at Northampton for his new mansion, the bricks to be completed by the 12th of December. The house was intended to be a fortified house and was known as the “Old Fort.” During King Philip’s War, John was in Hadley with his troops on October 16th, 1675, when the Indians attacked and burned the town. The Pynchon “fort” became a refuge during the attack and subsequent burning of the town.
The Colonial authorities appear to have had great confidence in his ability and the General Court appointed him on many important committees relative to boundary lines, and in 1680 he was sent to Albany to confer with Sir Edmund Andros, then Governor of New York, concerning the depredations that the Mohawks were making upon some of our outer settlements, and he succeeded in establishing friendly relations with the Indians for which our General Court voted him £12.
The same year he was appointed with Joseph Dudley to establish the boundary line between Massachusetts and Connecticut. In 1685 he was one of the committee to make the final settlement of the boundary line between Springfield and Northampton. During his long service in the General Court there was scarcely an important question concerning boundaries or where tact and diplomacy were needed, that he was not given opportunity to bring about a peaceful settlement.
He was zealous in upholding the religion of his time, but he does not appear to have had any of the polemic, or controversial spirit of his father. He was too eminently practical to enter into the discussion of the different points in theology—possibly from the fact he was deeply concerned in trade, and in the accumulation of wealth. Whatever success came to him he evidently regarded as God given. He took part in the religious observances of the town and at times conducted Sunday services, sometimes by reading and sometimes from his own meditations. During the ministry of George Moxon he wrote in a kind of short-hand the leading points in the sermons which are now in possession of the City Library, but it was constructed on no known system of the present.
The great calamity which befell Springfield October 5, 1675, the burning of the town by the Indians, occurred while he was at the head of his troops in Hadley, and his desponding letters concerning it, written to Rev. John Russell of Hadley, and to the Governor, indicate that he was greatly affected and despaired of the ability that had fallen upon it, but his fears proved greater than the reality and prosperity came to it in the subsequent years in the continued up-building of the town.
Springfield, October, 1675
Dear Son Joseph: [who was in England]
The sore contending of God with us, for our sins unthankfulness for our former mercies, and unfaithfulness under our precious enjoyments, hath evidently demonstrated that He is very angry with this Country. God having given the heathen a large commission to destroy this People—And exceeding havock have they made in this Country, destroying two or three small places above Northampton and Hadley, and lately they have fallen upon Springfield, and almost ruined it by burning the Houses. About 30 or 32 dwelling Houses are burnt down, and some 25 Barns full of corn and hay. The Lord hath spared my dwelling house, but my barns and outhousing are all burnt down, and all my corn and hay consumed, and not anything have I left of food either for man or beast. All my mills, both corn and saw mills, are burned down. Those at home in this Towne and also those I had in other places and four of those houses and barns to them, were burnt down in this Towne, belongeth to me also, so that God hath laid me low. My farmers also undone, and many in Towne that were in my debt, entirely disabled. So that I am really reduced to greate straites. But it is the Lord’s good pleasure it should be so. And he is most just and Righteous, yet in very faithfulness hath he done it, for the good of my Soule. I have not the least cause to murmur and repine, at the wise dispose of a Gracious God and loving father, but desire to acquiesce in his good pleasure, and to lye at his foote in holy submission to his blessed will. This Providence and the unsettled state of this country in reference to this Indian War affords matter for consideration, in reference to your coming over, which I have much desired, and wrote to you for—but now shall leave you to your liberty, not having ground, or seeing cause to put you upon it, further than you shall yourself see reason for it. Though I and your mother should be exceeding glad to see you, yet as tymes are, question whether it be best to come over yet (I mean now) and how God may dispose of us I know not. We are yet here in Springfield, my house garrisoned with soldiers and full of troubles and hurrys. The Lord help us to remember our peace and quietness, and to lament our abuse thereof and heartily and really turne to himself, by unfeigned repentance. The Lord is in good earnest with us, and truly expects our being in good earnest with Him in returning to himselfe. Oh dear Son, how sweete is an interest in Christ Jesus, in these distracting tymes, and it is good knowing in whom we have believed. Treasure in Heaven is abiding, when the greatest worldly enjoyments may soon fail us, and come to nothing. Let us therefore, while we have them, so use them, as not using them—setting loose from them, and being contented to part with all, when God calls for it. In the improving of the creature, to set loose from it, is a sweete and blessed frame, for I know it is a duty to look after and mange what God hath given us, and in that respect I may call on you to doe your best (in away of prudence) to settle your Estate in England and in it to advise with Mr. Wichens and Bro. Smith, who I know will afford the best help they can, and doe as you are able. I am not able to afford you any helpe, but by the prayers I am always putting up for you, and as God shall enable shall be ready to do my utmost for you.
The Lord in many other ways be good to you and us. How he may deal with us I know not. Where his Providence may cast me, whither to Boston or further, or whether I may live to get out of this place, it is with himself and on that strong Rock I desire to depend for Salvation, here and hereafter. I am in straites and hurrys, and may only add mine and your mothers endeared Love and Affection, to you, and with hearty wishes and prayers for you, commend you to the grace of God in Christ Jesus, and am your afflicted and loving Father,
Dear Son: I should not have troubled at these sad losses which I have met with. There is no reason for a child to be troubled when his Father calls in that which he lent him. It was the Lord that sent it to me, and he that gave it hath taken it away; and blessed be the name of the Lord. He hath done very well for me, and I acknowledge his goodness to me, and desire to trust in him and submit to him forever, and do you with me, acknowledge and justify Him.
Letter to Rev. John Russell of Hadley:
We came to a lamentable and woeful sight. The town in flames, not a house nor barn standing, except old Goodman Branch’s, till we came to my house and then Mr. Grover’s, John Hitchcock’[s, and Goodman Stewart’s burnt, some with barns, corn, and all they had…. They tell me 32 houses and the barns belonging to them ae burnt, and all the livelihood of the owners, and what more may meet with the same stroke the Lord only knows.
His penmanship was strong and clear, entirely unlike that of his father, but he lacked that thorough training that his father had received, which could hardly be otherwise considering he was place under entirely different conditions in his youth. His recorded transactions lack system and an orderly arrangement in statement, but there is a certain picturesqueness that gives them the color of the times, a freshness that better trained minds sometimes lack. In entering the accounts in his ledger he frequently accompanied them with bits of conversation, or statements that enliven a very commonplace transaction, even to describing his leather breeches made for him by John Barber.
He was granted at various times large tracts of land. The Island in the Connecticut just north of the railroad bridge at Warehouse Point, in Connecticut, was given to him in 1681 by our General Court. He acquired many grants from the town as gifts, or for services in the erection of mills, or for other work done by him. The grain mill and the saw mill were built and conducted in consideration of receiving grants of land.
His mercantile transactions extended up and down the Connecticut in the early years, having purchasers at Northampton and Hadley on the north, and at Windsor, Hartford, Wethersfield, and even New Haven on the south. His store probably had the largest stock of goods for many years of any within many miles of Springfield. Beaver skins bought of the Indians, or of those who traded with them, were shipped to England, and they enabled him to purchase goods for his store. Grain was sent down the Connecticut and around to Boston, but there is nothing to indicate here that it was shipped to England.
He also had some trade with Barbados. His store was the medium of exchange,--goods for labor and produce, and his shipments abroad enabled him to keep up the supply which was so much needed in this frontier settlement.
John’s father, William, died at Wraysbury, Essex, England, on October 29th, 1662. Around October of 1663, John sailed to England again, where he remained until December 30th, 1664, settling his father’s estate of which he was the principal beneficiary.
Life changed on the frontier even during John’s lifetime. The deer and beaver were gone, most of the Indians moved west into New York. Now the farmers were producing corn, wheat, and lumber. The life of the frontier, created more by Pynchon’s than anyone else, was gone forever. From his point of view, he was the agent of God in this process.
RESIDENCE: Came to America in 1648 on the Arbella of Gov. Winthrop's fleet. First to Dorchester, Massachusetts, then Roxbury, Massachusetts, then settled in Springfield, Massachusetts. Built first brick house in the valley.
OCCUPATION: One of the wealthiest and most influential men in New England. Had extensive interests in Barbados. A merchant, inherited the business from his father.
MILITARY SERVICE: Military hero in King Phillip's War, saved the inhabitants of Hadley, Massachusetts. Lt. in Springfield Co., 1653; Capt. 1657; Capt. Hampshire Co. troop 1663; Capt. expedition against the Dutch, 1664.
PUBLIC SERVICE: Magistrate 1652-1665. Commissioner to New York April 1677. Commissioner to the Mohawks 1680, established friendly relations with them. Appointed to establish boundary between Massachusetts and Connecticut in 1680. Councillor 1686-89. Judge of Court of Common Pleas and Probate Court 1692-1703.
The Honorable Colonel John Pynchon, esquire, was sick and died in the 77th year of his age. He died in Springfield, about sun-rise on January 17, 1703. He had outlived most of his contemporaries, being characterized by one diarist as “an old man and full of days.” His only surviving child was John Pynchon Jr, who had become a merchant in Boston and later removed to Springfield.
His lengthy funeral sermon was delivered by a well-known Northampton minister named Solomon Stoddard. One passage provides a fitting eulogy:
“Observe, That God has removed on that has been along while Serviceable. That has been improved about Publick Service for above Fifty Years; he has been Serviceable unto the Country in General, and in special among our selves. He hath had the principal management of our Military Affairs, and our Civil Affairs; and labored much in the settling of most of our Plantations, has managed things with Industry, Providence and Moderation. He has been careful in time of War and as there has been occasion, has been a Peace Maker among us, and helpful in composing differences: he has discountenanced Rude and Vicious Persons, bearing his Testimony against Them.”
Inscription: “In Memory of ye Hon John Pynchon, Esq. who died Jan 17th, 1702-3 aged 76 Years. Also Mrs. Amy, his wife died Jan 9th 1698-9 aged 74 years. Also William, their son, died June 15th, 1654, aged 1 year.”
Portrait of King Philip, by Paul Revere. In 1675, Springfield became one of the two major settlements burned to the ground during the New World’s first major Indian War, King Philip’s War. (The other major settlement burned was Providence, Rhode Island.) King Philip’s War permanently ended the harmonious relations that had existed between the Natives and Springfield’s settlers. Thousands of New England settlers and Native Americans died in King Philip’s War, which to this day remains the most violent war per capita in American History (800 settlers and approximately 8,000 Natives were killed.) The carnage resulted in the clearing of the Native populations from southern New England and the unopposed expansion of the New England colonies. It also became the ruthless model on which the United States based its dealings with its native peoples.
(Source: William Pynchon, in Anderson, Robert Charles. The Great Migration Begins: Immigrants to New England, 1620-1633. (Boston: New England Historic Genealogical Society, 1995), 3:1538.
AMY (AMMIE) WYLLYS was born 1 July 1625, in Fenton Compton, Warwickshire, England, to Governor George Wyllys, one of the first colonial governors of Connecticut, (1590-1644) and Bridget Young (1590-1629.) She was the last child of four. Her mother died 11 March 1629, in Fenny Compton, England, when Amy was about 8; her mother was 39. Her father died 8 March 1644, at age 54. Amy came to America with her father.
She married Colonel John Pynchon, 20 October 1645, in Hartford, Hartford, Connecticut.
The only women’s signature in a collection of Massachusetts is Amy Wyllys Pynchon’s. She was the wife of the most prominent man of that day in Western Massachusetts, and also had the best specimen of women’s handwriting among the papers of the time. Probably not half a dozen women in Springfield in the early years of the town’s history could write their names, and those who attempted to do so were usually inferior to their brothers and husbands in the use of the quill.
The following is from Springfield, Massachusetts, Vital Records: “Mrs. Amy Pynchon the wife of the worshipful Colonell John Pynchon who lived with him in the state of marriage aboute 53 yeares and about the 74th yeare of her age departed this life January the 9th 1698/99.”
Amy Wyllys passed away 9 January 1699, in Springfield, Hampden, Massachusetts, at age 73.
Children of John Pynchon and Amy Wyllys:
1.Joseph Pynchon, b. 26 July 1646, Springfield; d. 30 Dec. 1682, Boston.
2.John Pynchon was born 15 October 1647, Springfield, Hampden, Massachusetts, at daybreak and baptized. His parents were Colonel John Pynchon (1620-1703) and Amy Wyllys (1625-1699.) He married Margaret Hubbard, 1 July 1672. John Pynchon died 25 April 1721, in Springfield, Hampden, Massachusetts, at about age 74.
3.Mary Pynchon, b. 28 Oct 1650, Springfield; d. 1675, Springfield.
4.William Pynchon, b. 11 Oct 1653, Hartford; d. 15 Jun 1654, Hampden.
5.Mehitabel Pynchon, b. 22 Nov 1661, Hartford; d. 24 July 1663, Massachusetts.
6.Joseph Pynchon, b. abt. 1663, Springfield.
From Wayne Olsen: Info from genealogy of Lillian Hubbard Holch, listed in Compendium of American Genealogies, found at Mannheim Library.
Listed in LDS IGI, AFN (8PH1-7L). First name listed as either Amy or Ammie.
Amy (Ammie) Wyllys, was born was born 1 July 1625, in Fenton Compton, Warwickshire, England, to Governor George Wyllys, one of the first colonial governors of Connecticut, (1590-1644) and Bridget Young (1590-1629.) She was the last child of four. Her mother died 11 March 1629, in Fenny Compton, England, when Amy was about 8; her mother was 39. Her father died 8 March 1644, at age 54. Amy came to America with her father. She married Colonel John Pynchon, 20 October 1645, in Hartford, Hartford, Connecticut. Amy Wyllys passed away 9 January 1699, in Springfield, Hampden, Massachusetts, at age 73.
(Source: “Our Wyllys Family,” by Sheldon Whiting.)
Amy, born about 1625, was a daughter of George Wyllys, of Fenny Compton, Warks, and his 1st wife Bridget Young. Her mother died when she was about 4. Her father married Mary Smith (widow of Alexander Bisbie) and the family emigrated to New England.
In about 1638 they relocated to Hartford, CT. George was a founder of that town and served as Governor of Connecticut.
Amy married Major John Pynchon 6 Nov. 1645 at Hartford. They lived at the "Pynchon Fort" in Springfield, Mass.
They had three sons, Joseph, John, and William, and two daughters, Mary and Mehitable. 
Joseph b. 26 July 1646; d. in Boston 30 Dec 1682
John b. 15 Oct 1647; m. Margaret, d/o Rev. William Hubbard
Mary, b. 28 Oct 165; m. 5 Oct 1669, Joseph Whiting. She d. 1675 or 6
William b. 11 Oct 1653; d. young
Mehitabel, b. 22 Nov 1661; d. young
Amy died on 9 January 1698/9; her husband survived her by 4 years.
[ The First Wife of Governor Wyllys of Connecticut, and Her Family. New England Historical and Genealogical Register. [New England Historic Genealogical Society, April 1899], 220]
Amy Pynchon formerly Wyllys
Born about 1625 [location unknown]
Daughter of George Wyllys and Bridget (Young) Wyllys
Sister of George Wyllys, Hester (Wyllys) Harding and Samuel Wyllys [half]
Wife of John Pynchon — married 26 Oct 1645 in Springfield, Hampden, Massachusetts
Mother of Joseph Pynchon, John Pynchon and Mary Pynchon
Died 9 Jan 1698 in Springfield, Massachusetts
Douglas Richardson, Magna Carta Ancestry: A Study in Colonial and Medieval Families, Royal Ancestry series, 2nd edition, 4 vols., ed. Kimball G. Everingham, (Salt Lake City, Utah: the author, 2011), volume I, page 86-87; volume IV, page 387-388.
Richardson, Douglas: Plantagenet Ancestry, 2nd edn. (2010), 3 vols, Volume 3, page 547, WYLLYS.
Saemann-Nickel website: Wyllys Family, 6 Amy.
Same site, John Pynchon.
Descent from Henry III.
Ancestral File Number: 3233-7L
Revised: February 19, 2018