Pearson Surname Genealogy

The given
name Piers was adopted by the English from the Old French
“Pierre” and “Piers,” introduced by the Normans after the Conquest in
1066. In England, because of the
Biblical association with the apostle Peter, it was an early favorite. Piers Plowman, for instance, was a narrative
poem written by William Langland in the late 14th century.

Pierson, Peirson, and finally Pearson emerged
as surnames. The given name Piers to the surname Pierson seems a
natural progression. But some dispute this association.
Pierson’s origins in the northeast of England suggest a Viking
inheritance. Could there have been a hidden Viking name behind

Pearson Resources on

Pearson Ancestry

Scotland. The Pearson name was
thought to have originated
in Northumberland and migrated northwards. Wautier
Pieresoune, a landowner in Berwickshire, appeared in the
Ragman’s Roll of 1296. One hundred years
later, David Perisone and his brothers Alexander and John were recorded
as Comptollers
of the Customs for North Berwick.

Scottish branch of this family was said to have been founded about 1400
Christopher Peirson left that area for Wanlockhead near Dumfries. The family, spelt in various forms, was
later to be found in Dunfermline and Perthshire.

Thomas Pierson, who died in the early 1500’s,
was the forebear of the Pearsons
near Dunblane in Perthshire.
Their family history was covered in David Pearson’s 1891 book Pearson of Kippenross.

The 1881 census distribution of the Pearson name was:

  • Yorkshire 24%
  • Lancashire 16%
  • Durham 7%
  • and Staffordshire 5%.

has the largest number of Pearsons. Some
have argued that the Yorkshire place-name Persen
vanished) near Beverly
in the East Riding was in fact the source of the
name. In 1452 Thomas
Peirson was recorded as the sheriff of Yorkshire. He died in 1490
and was buried in York Minster. A line as Peirson or Pierson
appeared in Howden parish in the East Riding in the mid 1500’s.
And John Peirson lived at Lowthorpe nearby in the 1640’s.

The late 1600’s saw Pearsons in north Yorkshire, where William Pearson was rector of
Bolton Percy and chancellor of York Minster, and
in south Yorkshire, particularly around Rotherham.

By the 19th century, the Pearson presence had shifted to the
West Riding where the industry and the jobs were. Two examples of
Pearson enterprise then were:

  • In 1840 James Pearson began cloth manufacture in the village of
    near Huddersfield. He crammed all his
    relatives in the village to help him and Golcar soon had the highest
    concentration of Pearsons in the county.
  • Around the same time Samuel Pearson started a small engineering
    and construction business in Bradford. The business was
    transformed at the turn of the century into a large construction
    company by his grandson Weetman. The Pearson Group was then
    transformed again over the course of the 20th century into a
    conglomerate best known in recent years for its publishing arm.

The geography of the Pearson name probably stretched from
Durham in the north through Yorkshire and Lancashire into
Staffordshire. Anthony Pearson of Ramshaw Hall in Durham was an
early Quaker in the 1660’s. And the Pearson name was appearing in
the records of Kingswinford, Staffordshire near present-day Birmingham
by the 1670’s.

Ireland. Pearsons or Piersons in Ireland probably had a
past English connection. The
Pearsons at Kilmore in Armagh arrived in the 1600’s at
the time of Cromwell. Many of them were Quakers. Later,
from a family in north Yorkshire, came the Pearsons of Mountcross in
county Cork. Pearson in
Donegal possibly
derives from Pearsane.

America. Two of the early Piersons in America were
related and both came from the same family in Howden, Yorkshire:

  • The first – Henry born in Buckinghamshire – arrived in
    Lynn, Massachusetts on the Mayflower
    1639. Two related Piersons, the Rev. Abraham Pierson and
    Bartholomew Pierson, were on the same ship. A year later, Henry
    moved to Southampton, Long Island.
  • The second – Thomas from Dewsbury in Yorkshire – came in
    1661 and joined his uncle the Rev. Abraham Pierson in
    Branford, Connecticut. In
    1666 they left Branford to found the new town of Newark, New
    Jersey. Abraham’s son, also named Abraham, in 1701 became
    rector of what became Yale University.

These and other early Pearson lines in New England, as
well as their antecedents in England, were described in Richard
Pierson’s 1997 book Pierson

There were Quaker Pearsons. Thomas Pearson and his brother
John came from Cheshire to Philadelphia in 1683. Samuel Pierson from Yorkshire was
there by 1699. Another
immigrant with Quaker roots was Peter Pearson in
Cumberland. He sailed to Virginia in 1701. He was a
shoemaker by trade, but left his local Quaker community when he married
a non-Quaker. His descendants settled in Perquimans county,
North Carolina. Meanwhile another Quaker, Joshua Pierson from Armagh,
came with his son to Chester county, Pennsylvania in 1760.

Pearsons in America included
Pearsons from England, Scotland, and Ireland, a number from Sweden, and
a few from Germany.

Swedish. The
Swedish-American name could be Person, Persson, or Pearson or even
possibly Peterson.

Many Pearsons settled
in Iowa
in the early 1900’s. Louis Person
arrived in Colorado at that time with his four brothers, Andrew, Nels,
Sam, and Peter. Interestingly, Nels, Sam and Peter kept the
Person spelling; while Louis changed his name to Peterson and Andrew to
Pearson. There was also a case of a Per Mortenson who changed his
name to Martin Pearson.

Many of the Pearsons living in Québec are
descended from Charles Pearson. Charles
Pearson, born in London, came to Quebec on a ship on which he was
forcibly detained
in 1808. He settled in the area of
Rivière-Ouelle and became the town’s miller. René Lévesque, the
former Premier
of Québec, was a descendant of one of Charles Pearson’s daughters.

Prime Minister Lester B. Pearsons’s roots were in Ireland and the
Methodist church. His grandfather, the Rev. Marmaduke Pearson,
had arrived from Ireland in the 1870’s and was the Methodist minister
at Collingwood, Ontario. His father Edwin was an itinerant
preacher and would move his family around southern Ontario a great deal.

Pearson Miscellany

If you would like to read more, click on the miscellany page for
further stories and accounts:

Pearson Names

Weetman Pearson expanded his family’s firm
in Yorkshire into one of the world’s largest construction companies in
early 1900’s. He was ennobled as Lord

Karl Pearson
been credited with establishing the discipline of mathematical
statistics. He founded the world’s
first university
statistics department at University College London in 1911.
Lester B. Pearson
was Canada’s Prime Minister from
1963 to 1968 and the man who introduced universal health care there.

Pearsons Today

  • 63,000 in the UK (most numerous
    in Yorkshire)
  • 41,000 in America (most numerous in California)
  • 22,000 elsewhere (most numerous in Australia)




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