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Appleton's Cyclopedia of American Biography, edited by James Grant Wilson, John Fiske and Stanley L. Klos. Six volumes, New York: D. Appleton and Company, 1887-1889 and 1999. Virtualology.com warns that these 19th Century biographies contain errors and bias. We rely on volunteers to edit the historic biographies on a continual basis. If you would like to edit this biography please submit a rewritten biography in text form . If acceptable, the new biography will be published above the 19th Century Appleton's Cyclopedia Biography citing the volunteer editor





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William Pynchon

PYNCHON, William, colonist, born in Springfield, Essex, England, in 1590; died in Wraysbury, Buckinghamshire, 29 October, 1662. He came to New England with Governor John Winthrop in 1630. Prior to his emigration to this country he had been named by Charles I., in March, 1629, as one of the patentees in the charter of the colony of Massachusetts bay. In the same charter he was selected as one of the eighteen assistants, and was connected with the government of the company before its removal to New England, and its treasurer. He was active in founding Roxbury, Massachusetts, as well as in the organization of its first church. When the Massachusetts colony was in danger of being overstocked with people, in Nay, 1634, the general court granted leave to such inhabitants as might desire "to remove their habitations to some convenient place." In the spring of 1636 William Pynchon with his wife and children and a small party of attendants established a new plantation upon the Connecticut river, at the mouth of the Agawam, from which the settlement took its name. One of their first efforts was to obtain a minister, and in the year following they secured Reverend George Noxon, a personal friend of Mr. Pynchon and a graduate of Sidney college, Cambridge, who remained only as long as Nr. Pynchon. It was supposed at first that the new settlement was within the limits of Connecticut, and Mr. Pynchon sat in the legislature at Hartford, but he soon withdrew, in consequence of various differences, and received a commission from Massachusetts with authority to govern the colony, and subsequently it was shown that Agawam was included in the Massachusetts patent. In April, 1640, the inhabitants assembled in general town-meeting and changed the plantation name from Agawam to Springfield, as a compliment to Mr. Pynchon and his birthplace. Mr. Pynchon succeeded admirably in preserving friendly relations between the Indians and his colony by a conciliatory policy. One part of it was to treat them as independent, as far as their relations with one another were concerned. The Indians had confidence in him, and were ready to be guided by his wishes. In 1650 Mr. Pynchon visited London, and while there published his most famous work, entitled "The Meritorious Price of our Redemption "(London, 1650), which is now exceedingly rare. There is one copy in the British museum, one in the Congregational library of Boston, and one, elegantly bound, in the Brinley library, was sold for $205. The book, which opposed the Calvinistic view of the atonement, made a great excitement in Boston, and it was spoken of as erroneous and heretical. The author was received on his return with a storm of indignation. The general court condemned the book, ordered that it should be burned by the public executioner, and summoned the author to appear before them, at the meeting in Nay, 1651. Reverend John Norton was also deputed to answer the book. Mr. Pynchon acknowledged the receipt of their communication, and said that he had convinced the ministers that they had entirely misconceived his meaning. This letter was complacently received, and he was requested to appear before them again in October of the same year. Not appearing in October, he was requested to do so in the following May; but to this he paid no attention, and so the case ended. However, in consequence of this violent action of the authorities and the ill-treatment to which he had been subjected, he returned to England in September, 1652, leaving his children as permanent residents of New England. He established himself at Wraysbury on the Thames, near Windsor, where he spent the last ten years of his life in the enjoyment of an ample fortune, engaged in theological writing, and in entire conformity with the Church of England. His works include a revised edition of his book, entitled "The Meritorious Price of Man's Redemption, or Christ's Satisfaction discussed and explained," with a rejoinder to Reverend John Norton's answer (1655); "The Jewes Synagogue" (1652); " How the First Sabbath was ordained" (1654): and "The Covenant of Nature made with Adam" (1662). On 26 May, 1886, the 250th anniversary of the founding of Springfield by Pynchon and his associates was celebrated in that city. An historical oration was delivered by Henry Morris. The accompanying illustration is from a portrait that is now in possession of the Essex institute, Salem, Massachusetts It was painted in England after his return.--His son, John, statesman, born in Springfield, Essex, England, in 1621; died in Springfield, Massachusetts, 17 January, 1703, was brought to New England by his father, and, on the latter's return to England in 1652, succeeded him in the government of Springfield, and in the management of the affairs of the Connecticut river valley, the greater part of which, for himself and his friends, from Enfield and Suffield in Connecticut up to the northern line of Massachusetts, he purchased from the natives, and on which he laid out the towns of Northampton, Hadley, Hatfield, Deerfield, Northfield, and Westfield. As colonel of the 1st regiment of Hampshire county, he was in active service during King Philip's and the first French wars, and was noted for his skill in the management of the Indians, by whom he was greatly beloved. Besides going on many other similar missions, in 1680 he made a treaty with the Mohawks. The Indians gave him a written answer, which was originally drawn in the Dutch language, but was translated into English, and recorded in the colony records. He was appointed one of the commissioners to receive the surrender of New York by the Dutch in 1664, and a deputy to the general court of Massachusetts front 1659 till 1665. From 1665 till 1686 he was an assistant under the first Massachusetts royal charter. In 1686 he was named one of the councillors under the presidency of Dudley; from 1688 to 1689 he was one of the councillors under Sir Edmund Andros, and under the new charter he was annually elected a councillor from 1693 till 1703, and died in office. In 1660 he built the first brick house in the valley of the Connecticut, which was occupied by the family until 1831. It was known as the Old Fort (see illustration), in consequence of furnishing a refuge to the inhabitants of Springfield when that town was attacked and burned by the Indians in King Philip's war, 16 October, 1675, and sustaining a siege while Pynchon himself was absent in command of the troops at Hadley. He visited England several times in connection with his father's estates, and left an immense landed property.--John's great-grandson, Charles, physician, born in Springfield, 31 January, 1719; died there, 9 August, 1783 was a surgeon in the Massachusetts regiments engaged in the French and English wars in 1745 and 1755, was present at the capture of Louisburg by the provincial troops, and engaged in the expedition against Crown Point. He was an intimate friend of Colonel Ephraim Williams, the founder of Williams college, and was with him when he fell at the first fire at the battle of Lake George. Dr. Pynchon was one of the two surgeons who treated Baron Dieskau when he was wounded and taken prisoner by the English in the same battle.--Another great-grandson, William, lawyer, born in Springfield, 12 December, 1723; died in Salem, 14 March, 1789, was graduated at Harvard in 1743, and became an eminent lawyer and advocate and a well-known instructor in jurisprudence. He was the author of a diary of remarkable interest, covering the entire period of the American Revolution.--William's brother, Joseph, merchant, born in Springfield, 30 October, 1737; died in Guilford, Connecticut, 23 November, 1794, was graduated at Yale in 1757, and was one of the projectors of the settlement of Shelburne, Nova. Scotia. During the latter part of his life ha was devoted to scientific pursuits.--Joseph's son, Thomas Ruggles, physician, born in Guilford, Connecticut, in 1760; died there, 10 September, 1796, was educated in New York, and during the Revolution pursued his medical studies in the hospitals of the English army in that city. After the war he returned to Guilford, where he became celebrated as a physician and surgeon. Dr. Pynchon and his father and uncle were loyalists, and strongly opposed to the dismemberment of the British empire, but, after the war, became zealous supporters of the present constitution of the United States. His death was caused by a fall from a horse.--Thomas Ruggles's grandson, Thomas Ruggles, educator, born in New Haven, Connecticut, 19 January, 1823, was educated at the Latin-school, Boston, and graduated at Trinity in 1841. He was classical tutor and lecturer on chemistry in the college from t843 till 1847, received deacon's orders at New Haven, 14 June, 1848, priest's orders at Trinity church, Boston, 25 July, 1849, and served as rector in Stockbridge and Lenox, Massachusetts, from 1849 till 1855. He was elected professor of chemistry and the natural sciences in Trinity in 1854, and studied in Paris in 1855-'6. He received the degree of D.D. from St. Stephen's college, New York, in 1865, and that of LB. D. from Columbia in 1877. In the latter year he resigned the chair of chemistry, and was appointed professor of moral philosophy, which post he still (1888) occupies. On 7 November, 1874, he was elected president of Trinity, and, in addition to the duties of his professorship, he administered that office till 1883, during the period that followed the sale of the original college site to the city of Hartford for a state capital, necessitating the selection of a new site, the designing and erection of the buildings, and the transference of the library, cabinet, and other property. He is a fellow of the American association for the advancement of science, the Geological society of France, and other learned bodies, and the author of a "Treatise on Chemical Physics" (1869), and of various addresses.

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