Welcome! I really enjoy exchanging information with people and love that this blog helps with that. I consider much of my research as a work in progress, so please let me know if you have conflicting information. Some of the surnames I'm researching:

Many old Cape families including Kelley, Eldredge/idge, Howes, Baker, Mayo, Bangs, Snow, Chase, Ryder/Rider, Freeman, Cole, Sears, Wixon, Nickerson.
Many old Plymouth County families including Washburn, Bumpus, Lucas, Cobb, Benson.
Johnson (England to MA)
Corey (Correia?) (Azores to MA)
Booth, Jones, Taylor, Heatherington (N. Ireland to Quebec)
O'Connor (Ireland to MA)
My male Mayflower ancestors (only first two have been submitted/approved by the Mayflower Society):
Francis Cooke, William Brewster, George Soule, Isaac Allerton, John Billington, Richard Warren, Peter Browne, Francis Eaton, Samuel Fuller, James Chilton, John Tilley, Stephen Hopkins, and John Howland.
Female Mayflower ancestors: Mary Norris Allerton, Eleanor Billington, Mary Brewster, Mrs. James Chilton, Sarah Eaton, and Joan Hurst Tilley.
Child Mayflower ancestors: Giles Hopkins, (possibly) Constance Hopkins, Mary Allerton, Francis Billington, Love Brewster, Mary Chilton, Samuel Eaton, and Elizabeth Tilley.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

William Pontus Abt. 1583 to 1652 England to Plymouth, Mass.

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
13    me

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


  1. HI....I think I too am related to William Pontus thru Hannah marrying into the Churchill family and the line goes into the Harrisons in VA...Do you know if William was a Huguenot? Linda Peyman...best direct at ljp58172@verizon.net


  2. Hi Linda: I've never seen anything about William being a Huguenot, but I'm not sure. His daughter, Mary, married Philip Delano who is said to have been a Huguenot. Chris

  3. Hello, I too am a relative of William Pontus, through Mary, Wybra Glass and then Joseph Bumpas. William was my 10th great-grandfather. I have great identification with him as I am an ordained minister who has read many puritan writings with which I have affinity. Reading the biography of John Robinson by Ozora Davis gives you a great understanding of what William's life must have been like. Thanks for the work you have done, it is very interesting.

  4. I very much enjoyed your genealogical site. William Pontus and Wibra Hanson are my ancestors. Their daughter , Hannah, Pontus, married John Churchill of which I am a direct descendant. We are the Plymouth, New Eng. Churchills. Am Mayflower, DAR, Daughter of Rev. VII Century and back to Charlegagne. Frances Churchill , fhart0701@aol.com. Very awkward on Internet. Charlemagne sp

    1. Your Churchill family is certainly of historic significance! Chris

  5. Like a multitude of others, William and Wybra were some of my Great Grandparents x10 through their daughter Hannah and so on down the line. I am trying to locate information on William's parents, so far with no luck.
    I am greatly interested in Wybra and her life. I have found some documentation regarding her parentage, but, no record of her birth, baptism or much of anything beyond when she married. Do you have any clues as to who her parents were or anything to substantiate the oft repeated statement that she was imprisoned in the UK and fled to Holland to escape further religious persecution? Thanks for any help you can give me.

    1. Hi Donna, I haven't seen anything about Wybra being imprisoned but it isn't something I've looked for specifically. Jeremy Dupertuis Bangs' wrote in his book Strangers and Pilgrims, Travellers and Sojourners, Leiden and the Foundations of Plymouth Plantation, that William Pontus was a churchwarden at Mattersey (bordering Scrooby on the west and Lound on the south). He was presented at court, together with Barbara Jessop, for failure to take communion. He soon left for the Netherlands, where he was a member of John Robinson's congregation before emigrating to Plymouth Colony.
      He writes that Wybra was possibly from Austerfield or Scrooby. --Chris

  6. Thank you for your great research and for sharing it with those of us who are descended from William. He and Wybra are my 10th g.grandparents also.

  7. how was Wybra related to William Bradford?

    1. I'm not aware of any relationship to William Bradford. If anyone else knows, please chime in! Chris

  8. I am a direct blood descent of William and Wybra, their daughter, Hannah, married my direct Plymouth ancestor John Churchill, my ancestors stayed in Massachusetts until 1760 when they were located in the Mohawk Valley, Tribes Hill, in 1798 they removed to Canada. The males (my line) married into various Loyalist families throughout the 19th century. They also married native British from England before immigrating back to America (Cleveland) in 1930.

    1. Interesting story about your Churchill family, Justin. Thank you for sharing!


I'm now moderating comments on this blog. My apologies for any ensuing delays, but the large number of "spam" comments have made this necessary. ~Chris