John Pontifex of West Wycombe, Bucks, died 1588/89
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Vance Mead
2013-08-09 11:16:42 UTC
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The family of Pontifex was researched by Claud Pontifex and published as “The family of Pontifex of West Wycombe, Co. Buckingham, 1500-1977”.

The earliest Pontifex in the direct line was John Pontifex of West Wycombe, Bucks, whose will is dated February 1588/89. His wife was Alice and he named two sons, William and Edward. Alice and William were the executors. No grandchildren were mentioned. I estimate that John Pontifex was born about 1535-1540.

A few earlier people named Pontifex have been found:

William Pontifex, a priest, of St Christopher's church, London, and chaplain of St Mary Magdalen, East Ham, Essex. Inducted the vicar of West Ham in 1511. Will proved July 1518. Consistory Court of London.

1523 William Pontifex, accidentally killed in Leighton Buzzard, Beds, 15 May 1523, while armed with a dagger, intervening between two burghers of that town who were quarreling. Patent Roll: grant of pardon given to Thomas Germyn.

I have found some other people with this surname in the plea rolls of the Court of Common Pleas, (more details at the end):

1505. John Pontifex, of Est Claydon, Bucks, carter
1505. John Ponfex, of Claydon, Bucks, husbandman
1505. John Pontifex, of Botyll Claydon, Bucks, husbandman
1551. John Pontifex of Huchendon, Bucks, cook
1552. John Pontifex, of Huchenden, cook
1553. John Pontyfex and Joan his wife of Hydgyndon (Hughenden)

I think it is likely that John Pontifex, of Hughenden, and Joan are the parents of John Pontifex of West Wycombe. These two parishes are adjacent. It is probable that there were two different John Pontifexes in 1505, one a carter in East Claydon and the other a husbandman in Botyll Claydon, Bucks. Possibly one of them is the father of John Pontifex, cook of Hughenden, which is about 12 miles away.

I wonder if anyone is interested in this family and if they have any information about them from before about 1560?

1505 Hilary/fronts 198
Bucks. John Johnson versus John Pontifex, of Est Claydon, carter; John Sumyter, of Est Claydon, carter; John Corser, of Est Clayton, carter. Plea of debt, 100 shillings from each.

1505 Hilary/fronts 895
Bucks. Thomas Parker versus William Stevyns, of Est Claydon, husbandman; John Ponfex, of Claydon, husbandman; Henry Cheyny, of Bot Claydon, husbandman; WilliamGorge, of Wynslowe, husbandman; and Richard Buckyngham, of Wolverton, husbandman. Plea of debt.

1505 Hilary/dorses 199
Bucks. John Barbour versus William Suthcote, of Hertwell, husbandman; Robert Glover, of Botyll Cleydon, husbandman; John Ball, of Botyll Cleydon, husbandman; John Pontifex, of Botyll Claydon, husbandman, plea of debt.

1551 Michaelmas/fronts a 944
Bucks. Thomas Tirry and Isabel his wife versus John Hawke, of Huchendon, smith; Christopher West, of Magna Marlow, husbandman; and John Pontifex of Huchendon, cook, on a plea of defamation. "Thomas Tirry and Isabel his wife have beaten, dispatched and killed one William Asshewell, their boy."

1552 Easter/fronts 363
Bucks. Thomas Wydmer, senior, versus John Pontifex, of Huchenden, cook; Richard Hawes, of Huchenden, husbandman; and Geoffrey Trye, of Huchenden, carpenter, on a plea of trespass: close at Hunchenden.

1553 Easter/dorses a 1481
Bucks. John Pontyfex and Joan his wife versus Geoffrey Trye, of Hydgyndon, carpenter, on a plea of trespass: close at Hydgyndon (Hughenden).
Vance Mead
2017-05-19 15:06:54 UTC
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Interest in the Pontifex family is an esoteric taste, but for the select few I would like to post the following.

There weren't a lot of them, just 60 or 70 each time in the census in the mid-19th century. They probably descended from a single source. In the 16th to 18th centuries they lived in Bucks, in West Wycombe, Iver, Burnham, etc. I don't know the origin of the family name. A couple of times I have seen "Bishop alias Pontifex" in Common Pleas records, but I think this may have been a scribal error.

I don't have proof of family connections, but arranged chronologically by approximate date of birth they are:

Born 1400-1410
Richard Pontifex, of Wingrave, Bucks, husbandman, found in Common Pleas 1432-1465. Possibly this is father and son, since they are over a period of 30 years.

Born 1410-1420
William Pontifex, of London, girdler, in the will of his uncle Roger Celle, of St Albans, Herts, chaplain, 1446.

Born 1440-1460
John Pontifex, of East Claydon, Bucks, carter or husbandman, in Common Pleas 1489-1512
William Pontifex, priest, of West Ham, Essex, in Common Pleas 1498-1505, will 1518

Born 1460-1480
Robert Pontifex, of East Claydon, carrier or husbandman, Common Pleas in 1505-1512
William Pontifex, of East Claydon, husbandman, Common Pleas 1509, died at Leighton Buzzard, Beds, 1523 (Letters & Papers, Henry VIII)

Born 1500-1520
John Pontifex, of Hughenden, Bucks, cook, wife Joan. Common Pleas 1551-1553

Born 1530-1540
John Pontifex, of West Wycombe, Bucks, will 1589, wife Alice, children William and Edward.