John Churchill, "The Colonist"

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John Churchill, "The Colonist"

Also Known As: "John Churchill of Plymouth Colony", ""The Colonist""
Birthplace: Perhaps , Devon , England
Death: Died in Plymouth, Plymouth, Massachusetts
Place of Burial: Plymouth, Plymouth County, Massachusetts, United States
Immediate Family:

Son of unknown father of John Churchill of Plymouth Colony and unknown mother of John Churchill of Plymouth Colony
Husband of Hannah Rickard
Father of Hannah Harrison (Churchill) of Cabin Point; Joseph Pontus Churchill; Eleazer Churchill; Mary Doty; William Pontus Churchill and 1 other

Occupation: Arrive in Massachusetts 1632, Planter
Managed by: Elizabeth Reed
Last Updated:

About John Churchill, "The Colonist"

Parents unidentified. Not Rev. John Churchill & Sarah who had only daughters. DNA testing reveals I-1 haplotype & suggests possible distant cousin relationship to Josiah Churchill of Wethersfield, but cannot be brothers.


John Churchill was born about1613 in England. married Hannah Pontus December 18, 1644 in Plymouth, Massachusetts. He died January 1, 1662.

Our John Churchill of Plymouth may have emigrated to the New World to escape a civil war breaking out in England in 1642. . He was not deeply religious like the Pilgrims. Anyhow, we do know that he was in Plymouth by 1643, more than 20 years after the first Mayflower, ready to marry and be a farmer.

At 30, Hannah Pontus was rather old in 1644 when she married John Churchill. However, she was related to Governor Bradford, so John was politically well-connected by marrying Hannah. Despite her age, Hannah provided John with six children.

John bought Richard Higgins’ farm August 18, 1645, probably with help from Governor Bradford. The deed written out by Mr. Higgins says that the buyer was "John Churchwell."

John Churchill (or Churchwell) was propounded a freeman June 4, 1650, and "admitted" to vote on June 5, 1651. He was doing well financially, because a man who was poor would not have been allowed to vote in those days.

John bought 10 acres of upland on October 20, 1652, after his father-in-law died, using money his wife Hannah had inherited from her dad.

The occupation of John Churchill was listed as that of a "planter." His home was located in Plymouth at a place known locally as "Hobbs Hole." He died in 1662, leaving behind six young children, the oldest being only 16.


Hannah Pontus, John’s wife, was born in about 1614 in Leyden, Holland. Her father was William Pontus of Dover, England. Her mother was Wybra Hanson Pontus. Both of them were Pilgrims, or political dissidents, who complained about the Church of England. They had to stay away from England so they wouldn’t be hanged for their radical political views.

[NOTE: There is a family tree diagram about the Churchills of Nova Scotia, which says that Hannah Churchill died in 1690 at age 67. I suspect this is a mistake; I think she was 76 when she died, not 67.]

Hannah became a widow when John Churchill died in 1662. She remarried. Her second husband was Giles Rickard, whom she married on June 25, 1669, as his third wife. Giles died in 1684.

Hannah Pontus Churchill Rickard died December 22, 1690 (or December 20) at Hobbs Hole, in Plymouth.


William Pontus was born in Dover, England. He went to Leyden, Holland, near Amsterdam, to be with the rebellious Pilgrims. That is where he met his future wife. He married Wybra Hansen on December 4, 1610, in Leyden.

William Pontus worked as a "fustian worker." He made cloth. He was a political hot potato, and joined the rebellious Pilgrims in Leyden, Holland, so that he could help publish a political newsletter called "Pilgrim Press" complaining about the Church of England. If they had published that material back home, they could have been hanged.

William Pontus was in Plymouth with his wife and two daughters by 1633 and may have arrived even earlier than that. William was a landowner in Plymouth and a "member of the court" from 1636 to 1638. One reason for his prominent status in the Plymouth colony may have been his marriage to Wybra, who was related to Governor William Bradford.

William Pontus died February 9, 1653, or in 1652.


Wybra Hanson was born in about 1589 or 1590 near Austerfield, England.

She came from a prominent family, and was related to William Bradford, the governor of the Plymouth colony.

Wybra’s home town in England was a hotbed of religious activity, because so many Pilgrims lived there, affected by the Protestant Reformation. Wybra Hanson attempted to leave England while a teenager and was probably arrested more than once for her "Pilgrim" political views. When she was about 17, she managed to escape England, going to live in Holland with William Brewster, her relative William Bradford, and other prominent Pilgrim leaders.

Wybra was living in a place called "Stink Alley" in Leyden, Holland, when William Pontus came to their doorstep to join the Pilgrims. She married William Pontus on December 4, 1610, with their friend William Brewster as a witness. While living in Leyden, they had their two children, Mary, born in about 1612, and Hannah, born in about 1614.

Wybra’s husband was a "fustian worker" and apparently made a good living manufacturing cloth. The Pontus family did not go to America on the first Mayflower in 1620. Their friend William Bradford went, with his wife, but left their young son with Wybra. The Pontus family went to America more than 10 years later, in 1633. Even the Bradford boy went sooner than Wybra, making the trip in 1627.

The Pontus children were as follows:

1. Mary Pontus, born in about 1612. She was married on October 31, 1645, to James Glass. On Aug. 9, 1649, their daughter Wybra Glass was born. [NOTE: according to a book about the Churchills in America, Mary Pontus married Phillipe Delano as his second wife. Phillip had arrived in the New World in 1621, married, and had nine children before he took Mary Pontus as his second wife.]

2. Hannah Pontus. Born in about 1614 in Leyden, Holland. She was in Plymouth as early as 1633. She married John Churchill on December 18, 1644, and had six children.


  • **Please note: this section may not apply to the origins of John Churchill of Plymouth Colony****

His ancestors came from Dorset County in Muston, a town which no longer exists. It may have been located near the present day town of Winterbourne Kingston.

An ancestor of Sir Winston Churchill also came from Muston, a William Churchill in the 1530’s. It is possible that this William Churchill is the same ancestor for both the famous prime minister of England, and for the John Churchill who went to Plymouth, Massachusetts.

Here is one theory about the Dorset line to John Churchill of 1643 in Plymouth Colony, but please note it may not be entirely correct. For one thing, this lineage gives the wrong birthdate for John Churchill, who was born in 1613, not 1620.

disproven - if you work through this pedigree, there is no possible ancestor

William Churchill (b 1531 Dorset, England) = Mary Crense or Cruese (b 1535) John Churchill (b 1561 d 31 May 1621 Muston, Dorset, Eng.) = Eleanor Meller (b 1565 Muston, Dorset, Eng). Bought Muston Manor in 1609. John Churchill (b 1603 d 23 May 1682 Steeple, Dorset, Eng) = Sarah ?? (b 1602 d 23 Oct 1678 Steeple, Dorset, Eng) note: 3 daughters, no sons. John Churchill (b abt 1620 d 1 Jan 1662/3 Plymouth, Plymouth, Ma.) = Hannah Pontus (b 1614 d 22 Dec 1690 Plymouth, Plymouth, Ma.) This is the John Churchill who first appeared in the records of Plymouth Colony in 1643.



  1. [S407] Massachusetts, Plymouth, Plymouth - Vital Records to 1850, Lee Douglas van Antwerp (Main Author), Ruth Wilder Sherman (Added Author), (Camden, Me. : Picton Press, c1993), 663 (Reliability: 3).
  2. [S311] Mayflower Descendant, (Wheat Ridge, CO: Search & Research Publishing Corporation, 1996), v18 (Reliability: 3).
  3. [S407] Massachusetts, Plymouth, Plymouth - Vital Records to 1850, Lee Douglas van Antwerp (Main Author), Ruth Wilder Sherman (Added Author), (Camden, Me. : Picton Press, c1993), 655 (Reliability: 3).
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John Churchill, "The Colonist"'s Timeline

Devon , England
December 18, 1644
Age 31
Plymouth, (Present Plymouth County), Plymouth Colony (Present Massachusetts), (Present USA)
Age 34
Plymouth, Plymouth, Massachusetts, USA
February 13, 1651
Age 38
Wakefield, Surry, Virginia
April 20, 1652
Age 39
Plymouth, Plymouth Colony
August 1, 1654
Age 41
Plymouth, Plymouth, Massachusetts, USA
Age 43
Plymouth, Plymouth, Massachusetts, USA
Age 44
Plymouth, Plymouth , Massachusetts
January 1, 1662
Age 49
Plymouth, Plymouth, Massachusetts
Age 49
Duxbury, Plymouth, Massachusetts