Pinkethman overcame a weakness for overacting and playing to the crowd to become a steady performer. He is first heard of at the Theatre Royal, in 1692, in Thomas Shadwell's Volunteers, or the Stock-jobbers, in which he played Taylor, an original part of six lines. After the departure in 1695 of Thomas Betterton and his associates, Pinkethman was promoted to a better line of parts. In 1702 he was the original Old Mirabel in George Farquhar's Inconstant. He also recited what was known as "Pinkethman's Epilogue". He was known for his ad libs. It was at this period that Charles Gildon, in his Comparison between Two Stages, spoke of him as "a fellow that overdoes everything, and spoils many a part with his own stuff."
In 1703 Pinkethman created Squib in Thomas Baker's Tunbridge Walks, Maggothead (mayor of Coventry) in Thomas D'Urfey's Old Mode and the New, and Whimsey in Richard Estcourt's Fair Example. At the booth in Bartholomew Fair, which he held with William Bullock and Thomas Simpson, he played on 24 August 1703 Toby in Jephtha's Rash Vow, a droll. After the merger of the Haymarket and Drury Lane companies in 1708, fewer original characters came to Pinkethman, who, however, was assigned important parts in standard plays. On 4 April 1707, for his benefit, he spoke with Jubilee Dicky (Henry Norris) a new epilogue. The two actors represented the figures of Somebody and Nobody. At the Haymarket Theatre he created, on 12 December 1709, Clinch in Susannah Centlivre's Man's Bewitched, and on 1 May 1710 Faschinetti in Charles Johnson's Love in a Chest.
From 1698 Pinkethman also operated as a promoter and impresario of entertainments outside the major theatres. There was scope for these activities when the summer season closed the theatres, and he combined fairground booths, theatre and spectacle for the rest of his life, succeeding financially.
On 15 June 1710 Pinkethman opened a theatre in Greenwich, where he played comedy and tragedy. It lasted until September 1711. On 9 September 1717 he acted Old Merriman in a droll called Twice Married and a Maid still, given at his booth taken with George Pack, at Southwark Fair.
On 19 February 1718 Pinkethman was, at Drury Lane, the first Ringwood in John Breval's The Play is the Plot. On 14 February 1721 he was the original Sir Gilbert Wrangle in Cibber's The Refusal. This appears to have been practically his last original part. On 9 January 1723 he was Pyramus in the burlesque scene from Midsummer Night's Dream fitted into Love in a Forest, an alteration of As you like it. On 23 May 1724 he appeared in Epsom Wells (Thomas Shadwell), for his benefit. At an uncertain date he played Judge Tutchin in Lodowick Barry's Ram Alley, or Merry Tricks.
Pinkethman then disappeared from stage records. He died before 1727, leaving a good estate.
Pinkethman, described as a bachelor of St. Paul's, Covent Garden, married, on 22 November 1714, at Bow Church, Middlesex, Elizabeth Hill, of St. Paul's, Shadwell. Pinkethman's booth was handed on to his son, who also acted. At the opening of Covent Garden Theatre, 7 Dec. 1732, he played Waitwell in The Way of the World, was Antonio in Chances at Drury Lane, 23 November 1739, and died 15 May 1740.
- Also Penkethman, Pinkeman, Pinkerman, etc., and nicknamed Pinkey.
- Lee, Sidney, ed. (1896). "Pinkethman, William". Dictionary of National Biography. 45. London: Smith, Elder & Co.
- He was then the original Porter in Thomas Southerne's Maid's Last Prayer, and in 1694, in Edward Ravenscroft's Canterbury Guests, or a Bargain Broken, he played Second Innkeeper and Jack Sawce.
- In 1696, he played Jaques in the Third Part of Don Quixote, by D'Urfey; Dr. Pulse in Delarivier Manley's Lost Lover; Palæmon in Pausanias (Norton or Southerne); Sir Merlin Marteen in Afra Behn's Younger Brother, or the Amorous Jill; Nic Froth, an innkeeper, in The Cornish Comedy (George Powell); and Castillio, jun., in Neglected Virtue, or the Unhappy Conqueror (anonymous). Among his original parts, in 1697, were Tom Dawkins in Elkanah Settle's Man in the Moon, Amorous in Female Wits (Margaret Cavendish) in which also he appeared in his own character, Gusman in Triumphs of Virtue (anonymous), Major Rakish in Colley Cibber's Woman's Wit, Baldernoe in John Dennis's Plot and No Plot, First Tradesman, Quaint, and Sir Polidorus Hogstye in John Vanbrugh's Æsop, and Famine in James Drake's Sham Lawyer. He also played the Lieutenant in the Humourous Lieutenant of Beaumont and Fletcher. Min Heer Tomas, a fat burgomaster, in D'Urfey's Campaigners, or Pleasant Adventures at Brussels, Snatchpenny in John Lacy's Sauny the Scot, or the Taming of the Shrew, and Pedro in Powell's Imposture Defeated were in 1698; and Club in George Farquhar's Love and a Bottle, Jonathan in Love without Interest, Beau Clincher in Farquhar's Constant Couple, or a Trip to the Jubilee, in 1699. In that year he recited the prologue to the first part of D'Urfey's Rise and Fall of Massaniello, and probably played in both parts of the play. He was in 1700 the Mad Taylor in a revival of The Pilgrim (John Fletcher with Vanburgh and Dryden), and played the first Dick Addle in Courtship à la Mode, a play written by Crawford, and given, as were other comedies, to Pinkethman. Don Lewis in Love makes a Man, or the Fop's Fortune (Cibber's adaptation from Beaumont and Fletcher), Pun in Baker's Humours of the Age, Clincher, the Jubilee Beau turned into a politician, in Sir Harry Wildair (Farquhar's sequel to the Constant Couple), Charles Codshead in D'Urfey's Bath, were in 1701.
- Also Will Fanlove in William Burnaby's Modish Husband, Lopez in Vanbrugh's False Friend, Trim in Steele's Funeral, Trappanti in Cibber's She would and she would not, and Subtleman in Farquhar's Twin Rivals.
- Playing Thomas Appletree in The Recruiting Officer, he was asked his name by Robert Wilks, as Captain Plume; he replied, "Why, don't you know my name, Bob? I thought every fool had known that." "Thomas Appletree", whispered Wilks, in a rage. "Thomas Appletree! Thomas Devil!" said he; "my name is Will Pinkethman", and asked gallery if that were not the case. In the end he was hissed.
- Philip H. Highfill; Kalman A. Burnim; Edward A. Langhans (1991). A Biographical Dictionary of Actors, Actresses, Musicians, Dancers, Managers & and Other Stage Personnel in London: 1660-1800. SIU Press. p. 96. ISBN 978-0-8093-1526-0. Retrieved 8 July 2013.
- In this year also the company was at Bath. Storm in the Lying Lover (Richard Steele) followed at Drury Lane on 2 December 1703, and Festolin in Love the Leveller on 26 January 1704. He also appeared in Young Harfort in the Lancashire Witches (Thomas Heywood and Richard Brome), giving his epilogue on an ass. His Humphry Gubbin in Richard Steele's Tender Husband was first played on 23 April 1705; and Chum, a poor scholar, in Baker's Hampstead Heath on 30 October 1705.
- He was, on 14 December 1708, the first Knapsack in Baker's Fine Lady's Airs, and on 11 January 1709 Sir Oliver Outwit in Rival Fools, an alteration of Wit at several Weapons, by Beaumont and Fletcher.
- Mares, F. H. "Pinkethman, William". Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (online ed.). Oxford University Press. doi:10.1093/ref:odnb/22302. (Subscription or UK public library membership required.)
- He appeared as First Witch in Macbeth. On 7 April 1711 he was, at Drury Lane, the original Tipple in Injured Love; on 7 November 1712 the first Sir Gaudy Tulip, an old beau, in the Successful Pyrate; on 29 January 1713 Bisket in Charles Shadwell's Humours of the Army; and, 12 May, Franklyn in John Gay's Wife of Bath. On 23 February 1715 he was the first Jonas Dock in Gay's What d'ye call it? In Joseph Addison's Drummer, or the Haunted House, he was, on 10 May 1716, the first Butler, and on 16 January 1717 Underplot in the ill-starred Three Hours after Marriage (Gay, Breval and others).
- Among characters, not original, which were assigned him in the latter half of his career were Dr. Caius, Sir William Belfond in Thomas Shadwell's Squire of Alsatia, Day in The Committee (Robert Howard), Nonsense in Richard Brome's Northern Lass, Hearty in Brome's A Jovial Crew, Crack in Sir Courtly Nice (John Crowne), Antonio in The Chances (Beaumont and Fletcher), Daniel in Oroonoko,’ Old Brag in Love for Money (Thomas D'Urfey), Antonio in Venice Preserved, Gentleman Usher in King Lear, Abel Drugger, Costar Pearmain, Snap in Love's Last Shift (Colley Cibber), Scrub, Old Bellair in Man of the Mode (George Etherege), Calianax in the Maid's Tragedy (Beaumont and Fletcher), Ruffian and Apothecary in Caius Marius (Otway), Thomas Appletree in The Recruiting Officer, and Jerry Blackacre in The Plain Dealer (William Wycherley). As Lacy in The Relapse (Vanburgh) he succeeded Thomas Doggett, and eclipsed him in the part. He made a success as Geta in The Prophetess (Beaumont and Fletcher), and Crack in Sir Courtly Nice.