From New England Magazine
Clarence E. Blake, Ph.D.
William Pynchon of Springfield, England, was one of the in corporators of the Massachusetts Bay Colony, landing at Salem in 1630. He seems to have been one of the moving spirits, being active in public affairs, a member of the General Court, and treasurer of the colony. He at once formed plans for trade along the coast and with the Indians. It is said that in 1635 he went west to the Connecticut River seeking a site for trading purposes. Be that as it may, in 1636, Pynchon, with a colony from Roxbury, made permanent settlement on the fertile meadows of the Indian Agawam. He called it Springfield, from the name of his English home. The Indians received the settlers in a
friendly spirit, and seemed to regard them as allies against the neighboring tribes. July 15, 1636, thirteen Indians deeded the land to the colony. Pynchon seems to have been a just man, and he often shielded the Indians from improper treatment by the Hartford and Springfield people. All parties trusted him. He was more liberal than his times. He was brought into various difficulties with his own people and with the Hartford authorities, and he finally became involved in theological controversy with the home colony at Roxbury. The opposition became so strong that he returned to England during the administration of Cromwell, and the remaining ten years of his life were spent in his native land. He died just as Charles II was beginning his reign, and his body lies in the little churchyard at Wraisbury on the Thames, close by Magna Charta Island.
In 1644, the Connecticut colony bought the fort, at Saybrook, which commanded the mouth of the Connecticut River. According to the terms of purchase, certain cargoes going out of the river paid duties for a term of years to the former owner, a Mr. Fenwick. Pynchon, who had become a large coast and river trader, refused to pay duty as his vessels went past the fort. He argued that defences at Saybrook could be of no advantage to Springfield; and he would not help buy forts for Connecticut. The case went to the General Courts of the two colonies. The Massachusetts Court sided with Pynchon; the Connecticut Court voted that the Saybrook fort was a protection to Springfield, and that Pynchon's vessels must pay for the privilege of going out. He flatly refused to comply. Boston had not laid duties on vessels from other colonies to support her forts. In retaliation, she now laid a tax on all cargoes coming from "Plymouth, Connecticut, or New Haven." This move had the desired result, and Pynchon's vessels sailed past the Saybrook fort untaxed.
Springfield in those early days had its share of controversies, religious and other. Salem is not the only New England town with a witch history. Hugh Parsons and Mary his wife were arrested at Springfield and taken to Boston for trial on the charge of witchcraft. The charge would seem to have been the result of neighbor-
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