Pearce/Pierce Surname Genealogy

The surnames Pearce and Pierce have the Biblical Peter (from the Greek Petros meaning “a rock”) as their
origin, although this name usually arrived in medieval England through
the French form Piers. Piers
Plowman was a narrative
poem written in England by William Langland in the late 14th century.

There were many different early
spellings of the surname. The first recorded was Gilbert Perse in
the London
pipe rolls of 1198. But two spellings emerged and stayed, Pearce and Pierce,
while an earlier spelling Pearse continued in some places.

Pearce/Pierce Resources on

Pearce/Pierce Ancestry

There is a north/south divide between Pearce and Pearson, with Pearson
stronger in the north and Pearce stronger in the south. Each have
their alternative spellings, Pearson with Pierson and Pearce with
Pierce. Pearce has outnumbered Pierce in England by about
seven to
one. Pierce has mainly cropped up in the southeast and in

SW England. Pearce
been a common name in SW England. It
ranked as the sixth most common surname in Cornwall in 1861. Early spellings were Pears and Pearse.

One Pearse family traces back to Plympton in
Devon in the 1550’s and another to Heddington near Devizes in Wiltshire
the year 1600. The latter Pearses were
clothiers in Wiltshire for several generations before moving to London.

John Pearse was a wealthy yeoman on his death
in Roche, Cornwall in 1732. Generations of
Pearces lived at
on the Cornish coast from the 17th century
The Pearces of

across the
border in Devon date from John Pearce, surgeon there in the
1650’s. Tom Pearce
featured in the Devon folk
song Widecombe Fair.

SE England. Pierce,
on the other hand,
been more a name of SE England. Adam
Pierce was recorded in the Sussex subsidy rolls of 1327. Pierces
have been at Newick in
Sussex from the 1650’s; and John Pierce was born at Jevington in the
county sometime in the 1630’s. The
Pierces of Mayflower fame who came to
New England at that time were from Higham in Kent. There has
been speculation
that some Pierces may have derived from the ancient Percy family of
Yorkshire. But there is no real evidence
to that effect.

Wales. Pierce in Wales
was from
the patronymic ap Piers (or Pirs or Pyrs) and was principally to be
found in north Wales. The early Pierces in America were
said to have had Welsh blood in them. Dr. Evan Pierce, mayor of
Denbigh in the 1860’s, is remembered in the
town by the memorial gardens which bear his name.

Ireland. From an English
Pearce family from Glynde in Sussex came General Edward Pearce who
settled late in his life in Dublin with his two sons – Thomas, Governor
of Limerick in 1715, and Edward, an architect whose vision lies behind
the face of Georgian Dublin today.

nationalist Patrick Pearse, executed after the Easter Uprising of 1916,
born in Dublin on what is now Pearse Street.
He was the son of an Englishman who had moved there in 1850.

America. Pierces
outnumber Pearces by four to one in America. John Pierce, the
‘patentee’ of the Mayflower,
and William
, his brother and its captain, may have helped set
the spelling. Other Pierces of this family settled in New

Pierces. Captain
Michael Pierce
, who was said to have built at Scituate the
first saw-mill of the new colony, died fighting the Indians in
1676. Subsequent Pierces
of this family were well-to-do landowners in Scituate.
A descendant was the writer and
jack-of-all-trades John Harwood Pierce.
He fought as a young man in the Civil War and settled in later
life in California.

Thomas Pierce, related to these Pierces, settled in Woburn. From
his line came US President Franklin Pierce and, later, First Lady
Barbara Bush (born Pierce).

Pearces. There
Pearces as well in America. Edward
Pearce, Scots Irish, came to Pennsylvania in 1737.
His grandson Cromwell was a colonel in the
War of 1812. The Pearce Company, one of the nation’s oldest
woollen blanket
makers, was begun in Harmony, Pennsylvania during the 1830’s by
Alfred Pearce,
an immigrant from Wiltshire in England.

Pearce Company, which remained family-owned until Joseph Pearce sold it
the 1960’s, produced blankets during the Civil War, carpeting for early
automobile manufacturers, and blankets again at the time of the Korean

line of Pearces began in Virginia with Stephen Pearce in the late
1600’s. He was followed by descendants who settled in North
Carolina and by William Pearce, an early pioneer in Rapides parish,
Louisiana in 1808. There
they were to remain for the next hundred years.

. John
Pierce, an Anglo-Irishman who had fought at Waterloo in 1815, came to
where he had been given a free grant of land.
He settled in 1822 with his wife Catherine in Goulbourn

A later arrival was the Pearce
family from Gloucestershire. They
arrived in New York in 1852 and then made their way by land to Aymer,
Ontario. Their family correspondence was
re-discovered in the 1960’s and published by David J. Porter in the
book From Almondsbury to Aymer: The Pearce

Australia. George
Pearce was convicted of housebreaking in Dorset and transported to
Australia in
1817. Ten years later he was a free man
and set off for virgin land in the valley along Cox’s river in the
vicinity of
Goulbourn, NSW. He started off as a
cattle duffer and later began to farm.
He left his name to Pearce’s Creek and Pearce’s Mountain in the

Pearce, a London laborer who emigrated to Australia in 1858, was the
father of
a remarkable Pearce rowing family
that was to compete over three generations in sculling at world
and Olympic levels.

Pearce/Pierce Miscellany

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

Pearce/Pierce Names

William Pierce was the sea captain
who brought the Mayflower to
New England in 1620.
Edward Lovett Pearce
was an early 18th century Irish architect,
called the father of Irish Palladian architecture and Georgian Dublin.
Franklin Pierce
was the 14th
President of the United States, serving from 1853 to 1857.
Sir William Pearce was the
British shipbuilder who made Govan on the Clyde the largest
shipbuilding place in the world in the 1880’s.

Select Pearces/Pierces Today

  • 60,000 in the UK (most numerous
    in London)
  • 55,000 in America (most numerous in Texas)
  • 39,000 elsewhere (most numerous in Australia)




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