William Pontus was a member of the Separatist group that went from England to Leiden, Holland, for religious freedom. He did not come to Plymouth on the Mayflower, but came some time later. His birth year of about 1583 is based on his likely age at marriage.
|Map of Holland|
He married Wybra Hanson at Leiden, Holland on 13 November 1610. Mayflower passenger William Brewster was a witness. They had two daughters: Mary and Hannah.
Mary was born in Leiden by October 1622. She married 1st James Glass in 1645 and had four daughters. She married 2nd Philip Delano by 1654 and may have three children (it is unclear which children were born to which of Philip's wives). Hannah was born about 1624. She married 1st John Churchill in 1644 and had seven children. She married 2nd Giles Rickard in 1669.
It does seem unusual that William and Mary did not have children until they were married for 12 years or so. Perhaps they had other children who did not survive.
My line of descent from William and Wybra.
1 William Pontus 1583 - 1651/52
+Wybra Hanson - 1640
2 Mary Pontus 1624 - 1689/90
+James Glass 1620 - 1652
3 Hannah Glass 1651 - 1704
+Isaac Billington 1644 - 1709
4 Lydia Billington 1677 - 1716
+John Washburn 1672 - 1750
5 John Washburn 1699 - 1768
+Abigale Phillips 1699 - 1782
6 Seth Washburn 1738 - 1826
+Deborah Wright 1749 - 1812
7 Ephraim Washburn 1794 - 1870
+Mary Lucas 1792 - 1860
8 Seth Washburn 1828 - 1921
+Mary Briggs Bumpus 1840 - 1916
9 Charles Francis Washburn 1857 - 1941
+Hattie Maria Benson 1861 - 1914
10 Carrie Clyfton Washburn 1896 - 1974
+George Brewster Smith 1895 - 1913
11 Arthur Elmer Washburn Davis 1913 - 1976
+Mildred Louise Booth 1917 – 1999
12 my parents
Exactly when William came to Plymouth is not known, but it was likely in 1629 or 1630. He was in Plymouth by 1633 when he was on a list of freemen.
|Depiction of the Pilgrims leaving Leiden, by JB Hunt, 1880|
William was living in the Marendorp near Douven at the time of his marriage, when he was listed as a fustian maker, which I’ve read is similar to corduroy. By October 15, 1622, he was a wool-carder living in the Zevenhuysen district with his wife and daughter (presumably Mary) and too poor to be taxed.
He was not on the 1633 and 1634 Plymouth tax lists, which may indicate he was still too poor to be taxed. He also did not appear on the 1643 list of men able to bear arms, which may mean that he was then over 60 years of age.
William’s name is not often seen in Plymouth Colony records. He served on a trial jury three times and in 1638/9 and 1640 was one of the men who undertook to repair the herring weir for the town. He received multiple land grants.
|Herring Weir, climatide.wgbh.org|
In 1644 and 1648 William wintered one of the cows kept for the poor and also owned cattle as he registered his ear mark.
In his 9 Sept 1650 will, which he signed with a mark, William leaves bequests to his daughters Mary and Hannah, with Mary being called his oldest daughter she received his house, land and all material goods except for 20 shillings sterling he left to his daughter Hannah. He mentions that he had already given her “her portion” as he had given land to her and her husband John Churchill. He named his son-in-law James Glass executor of his estate. Joshua Pratt, James Hurst and John Dunham were witnesses to William’s will.
The inventory of his estate was taken 20 Feb 1652 and included house, land and a humble list of household items, totaling 12 pounds 17 shillings, 8 pounds of which was real estate.
William died at Plymouth 09 February 1651/52. Wybra died after 15 Dec 1633, when she was named as a creditor in the estate of John Thorp for taking care of his sick wife, but before William’s 9 September 1650 will.
Sources not noted above:
Eugene Stratton, Plymouth Colony, Its History and People 1620-1691, 1986
Robert Charles Anderson, Pilgrim Village Families Sketch: William Pontus, NEHGS website
Robert Charles Anderson, The Great Migration Begins, 1995