John Pynchon was an exceptional leader during the early days of American settlement. As a successful businessman, he provided capital that enabled settlers to expand and build more towns.
He was an accomplished diplomat, helping to maintain peace in Springfield, Massachusetts and its surrounding areas. As such, he played an influential role in establishing the town’s name: Springfield – after his birthplace in England.
Early Life and Education
John Pynchon was born around 1625, likely in Springfield, Essex County, England. He immigrated to Dorchester, Massachusetts with his father William Pynchon in 1630.
He moved his family to Springfield, a bustling settlement along the Connecticut River, and opened a mercantile business. In marriage he wed Amy Wyllys – daughter of George Wyllys of Hartford.
He developed an interest in history, literature and science during his teenage years. Additionally, he wrote short stories and contributed articles to the school newspaper with enthusiasm.
He later worked as a technical writer at Boeing, an aerospace company specializing in aircraft and spacecraft manufacture. It was his time there that inspired many of his later novels such as V and Gravity’s Rainbow. A MacArthur Fellow and National Book Award recipient, he is widely considered one of America’s foremost contemporary writers.
John Pynchon held a variety of positions in the New York City area during his early career. He was involved with several mining ventures, worked as a stock broker and owned an ironworks in Windsor.
He served as assistant to the magistrate and on town committees. Furthermore, he held a position on the General Court but was only appointed to certain committees.
He has written numerous essays, introductions and blurbs for books and records. His 1984 introduction to the Slow Learner collection of early stories is notable for its autobiographical candor. Additionally, he has contributed blurbs for books on topics ranging from missile security to Watts Riots protests, Luddism theory to Donald Barthelme’s work.
Achievements and Honors
Pynchon’s most acclaimed work is Gravity’s Rainbow, a novel that examines the connections between historical events and characters. This work earned Pynchon the National Book Award and enjoyed immense success.
Pynchon also wrote Mason & Dixon, an influential novel that examines the interrelationships between religion and politics during the Age of Reason. It is widely considered to be an archetypal example of historiographic metafiction.
Pynchon was a successful businessman and one of the wealthiest men in Massachusetts. While he was often accused of possessiveness and tyrannical behavior, he was actually quite decent; his strict sense of ethics and discipline set him apart from others. Although not always popular, Pynchon lived by his own rules with integrity.
Pynchon was an acclaimed entrepreneur and held many public offices. His vast estate included large tracts of land located largely in Springfield, Westfield, and Northampton.
He also established several trading posts throughout the Massachusetts Bay Colony, such as Westfield, Northampton, Hadley and Hatfield.
In addition to his business activities, he served as magistrate in Springfield and member of several town committees. These bodies dealt with matters ranging from town rates and lands to accounts of selectmen, settlement of county government disputes and Indian claims.
John was a devout Christian who believed in the Old Testament principle of obedience to God’s will. This belief and the idea that the Almighty’s Hand was present throughout everything brought comfort to him.
Pynchon was among the earliest of the Puritans to settle in Massachusetts Bay and had an eye for business. He chose to settle near Enfield Falls, the northernmost trading post on the Connecticut River, and soon opened a warehouse and general store for himself.
He traded with the local Indians, providing them with beaver pelts and wampum. Negotiating on their behalf, he allowed them to continue their traditional hunting and gathering activities on land he “sold” to them.
At the time, he was one of Massachusetts’ richest and most influential men. His disillusionment with Puritanism, then dominant religion in his time, drove him to pen The Meritorious Price of Our Redemption in 1650 which would become the first New World book ever banned after publication in London in 1650.