Capt. Michael Pierce

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Michael Pierce

Nicknames: "Capt. Michael Pierce", "Michael J. Pearce", "Capt.", "Michael Pearce"
Birthdate:
Birthplace: England
Death: Died in (Present Cumberland), (Present Providence County), Colony of Rhode Island and Providence Plantations
Cause of death: Tortured to death by the Narragansett in the "Nine Men's Misery" event of King Philip's War.
Place of Burial: Cairn on the grounds of the former Our Lady of the Valley trappist monastery, Cumberland, Providence County, Rhode Island, United States
Immediate Family:

Son of Richard Pearce, of Providence and Martha Pearce
Husband of Persis Pierce
Father of Persis Pierce; Elizabeth Holbrook; Abigail Holbrook; Ephraim Pierce, Sr.; Benjamin Pierce and 7 others
Brother of John Pierce; Richard Pearce, of Portsmouth; Samuel Pearce; Hannah Pearce; Martha Pearce and 5 others
Half brother of Grace Tinsley

Occupation: Captain
Managed by: Private User
Last Updated:

About Michael Pierce

Listed as Captain Michael J Pierce (Fell in Rehoboth Swamp Fight battle.). (Ben M. Angel notes: the Great Swamp Fight was in the previous December. Capt. Pierce died in a wholly different incident, an ambush that took place some three months later. The ambush took place at Central Falls, but the victims were carried off to the site in Cumberland following their defeat. Refer to the English-language Wikipedia page on Nine Men's Misery.)

2nd Source lists birth and death alternate,

  • Birth Hingham, Norfolk, Kent, England.
  • Death in Cedar Falls, Pawtucket, Rhode Island, Or Middlesex in Massachusetts.
  • Alternate Death Location is Rehoboth, Plymouth Colony.

Another source lists the following. There were four Pierce brothers who made their mark on the new world. John Pierce (the Patantee), Robert Pierce, Captain William Pierce, and Captain Michael Pierce. All were grandsons of Anteress Pierce, and sons of Azrika Pierce and his wife Martha.

Another source list 1st marriage as 1642 in Charleston, Suffolk, Mass.

Alternate source list birthplace as Bristol, Somerset, England.

Moved from Hingham in 1676 to Scituate. Scituate is located ten miles north of the original Plymouth Colony. It was settles in 1628.

Michael Pierce resided on a beautiful plain near the North River and not far from Herring Brook. He assisted in erecting the first saw-mill. The mill was the first one erected in the colony.

He attained the Title from the colony court in 1669. He was first giv en the rank of Ensign under Captain Miles Standish. He perished in King Phillip's War, it remains one of the bloodist conflicts in American History.Battles Canonchet at Attleboro Gore during Knig Philip's War.

From His Will dated jan. 15, 1675, names Anna, children Benjamin, John, Ephraim, Abigail Holbrook, Mary Holbrook, Elizabeth, Sarah, Annah (wife), Abiah, Ruth and Persis, Grandchildren Elizabeth Holbrook and Abigail Holbrook, and "my brother Mark Jennes [Eames]" Mrs. Annah James married Michael James Pierce sometime soon after 1662. They had no children. Captain Michael Pierce remained married to Annah Pierce until his death. Annah Pierce is well provided for in his will.

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Capt. Pierce's will, dated Jan 15,1675, was proved Jul. 22, 1676. It provided as follows:

I, Michael Pierce of Scituate, in the government of New Plymouth in America,being now by the appointment of God going out to war, against the Indians, doe make this my last will and testament: First I do committ myself and wayes unto the Eternal God; nextly concerning that estate which God has blessed me with, I thus dispose. First I give unto my beloved wife Annah Pierce, during her life, the westward end of my now dwelling house in Scituate aforesaid which I last built to dwell in, and the bed in it, with what appertenances to it, to use and dispose of, as she shall see cause, and the one half of my other household stuff for her use during her life, and then to be disposed of to my children as she shall see cause. Also my will is that for my wifes yearly maintenance, that my son Benjamin Pierce shall pay unto her twelve pounds per year, one half in money and the other half in provisions, and also sufficient firewood for her use in the house during her life; and I give unto my son Benjamin aforesaid my now dwelling house and barn in Scituate afroesaid, and all the land which I have in Scituate excepting that I bought of Benjamin Bates of Hingham, and that which I bought of William James of Scituate and excepting the abovesaid westerly end of my abovesaid house, during my wife's life as abovesaid, out of which abovesaid Estate in house and lands given to my son Benjamin, he shall pay unto my aforesaid wife for her maintenance twelve pounds a year, as abovesaid during her life, and sufficient firewood also as abovesaid. And I give unto my son John Pierce all my lands in Hingham, in the Massachusetts, and my land in Scituate which I bought of William James, of Scituate, paying out of it to my son Ephraim's two children Eserikum Pierce and Ephraim Pierce, to each of them fifteen pounds at the age of twenty and one years; provided that neither my son Ephraim aforesaid, nor either of his after him, or any by or under him, shall go about to molest my said John of or upon the attempt of the three or four acres of meadow land in Hingham aforesaid which my father gave unto my said son Ephraim which is not yet so fully confirmed to me as by my son Ephraim's promise it should have been.

Also I give unto my aforesaid son Benjamin all my movable estate in cattle and boats, and household goods, and such like, excepting that which I have disposed of to my wife as abovesaid, out of which said movable estate my said son Benjamin shall pay these legacies which I give to my children as followeth:

  • first I give unto my son Ephraim Pierce, five pounds.
  • 2 I give unto my daughter, Abigail Holbrook five pounds.
  • 3 I give unto my daughter, Elizabeth Pierce 30 pounds.
  • 4 I give unto my daughter, Sarah Pierce 30 pounds.
  • 5 I give unto my daughter, Anna Pierce, fifty pounds.
  • 6 I give unto my daughter, Mary Holbrook, 20 pounds.
  • 7 I give unto my daughter, Abiah Pierce, thirty pounds.
  • 8 I give unto my daughter, Ruth Pierce, thirty pounds.
  • 9 I give unto my daughter, Persis Pierce, 50 pounds.

Also I give unto my grandchild Elizabeth Holbrook five pounds to be paid her by my son Benjamin aforesaid at her day of marriage or 21 yers old.

Also I give unto my grandchild Abigail Holbrook five pounds, to be paid her by my son John Pierce aforesaid at her day of marriage, or twenty-one years of age.

Also my will is, that if it should please God that my beloved wife aforesaid should be afflicted with lameness or sickness so that the abovesaid 12 income be not sufficient to maintain her in comfortable manner, that then what shall be meet by my overseers to be added for her comfortable maintenance shall be equally payed her yearly by my son Benjamin Pierce and my son John of that estate which I have given them as aforesaid.

Also I make my abovesaid wife my executrix and my son Benjamin Pierce abovesaid my executor of my last will and testament, and also I the abovesaid Michael Pierce my truly and will beloved friends Cornett Robert Statson and Isaac __________ and my brother Mark Jennes and my brother Charles Stockbridge overseers or witnesses of this my abovesaid last will and testament. In witness wereof I set my hand and seal this fifteenth of January 1675.

Witnesses: Benjamin Woodworth Michael Pierce

Charles Stockbridge

  • --------------------

Captain Michael Pierce, the third prominent one of the brothers, was an Ensign under Captain Miles Standish. In 1669 he was made Captain. He was easily the greatest Indian fighter of the King Philip War. But close to Rehoboth, Mass., near the Pawtucket River, he was hemmed in by a host of red men, on March 26, 1676. He had only 52 white men with him and 11 friendly Indians. In the fearful massacre that followed only three of the sixty-three escaped. Thus dearly he sold his life on that Sabbath day's fight, so long ago. The family of Richard (his nephew) have his battle handed down in their memories, and tradition could be no more positive than theirs that they are nearly related to him. Richard Pierce's line was exceedingly proud of their near relationship to Captain Michael, and named after him for five generations.

Origin information for Capt. Michael Peirse from Bushwah Family Archives (research here is extensive):

http://www.bushwah.com/names/GardnerCaptMichaelPeirse.pdf

1. Captain Michael PIERCE[1],[2].

  • Born est. 1615 possibly in St. George, Fordington, Dorset, England (Or York, England?).
  • Michael died in Central Falls, RI (Pawtucket-Attleboro Gore), on 26 Mar 1676; he was 61.[3]
  • Spelling in early documents is seen as: Pearse, Peirce, Pierce, Pearce, Peirse, Purse, Peerse, Perce, and Peirse.
  • Michael Pierce came to Hingham, Mass from England in about 1645. He had been a resident at Hingham, before he came into Scituate. He had lands assigned to him at White Head at Cohasset (Litttle Hingham) and also bought from William James some Conihassett marshland that had originally been alloted to John Woodfield. [4]

Footnotes:

  • 1. Savage, James, A Genealogical Dictionary of First Settlers of New England before 1692., Boston 1860-62, Reprinted , elec. publ. Genealogical Publishing Co, Baltimore 1994., 1-4, www.usgennet.org/usa/topic/newengland/savage, 3:430.
  • 2. Myers, Florence Barthell “Patty”, Ancestors and Descendants of Thomas Rice Lyon and his wife Harriet Wade Rice with related families., self published, 2003, fmyers210@earthlink.net, International Standard Book Number: 0-9672230-2-4 Library of Congress Catalog Card Number: 00-109714, 2003, p. 507-513. Patty B. Myers, 15 Campden Circle, San Antonio, TX 78218-6053
  • 3. Schultz, Eric B., Michael J. Tougias, King Philip’s War, The Countryman Press, Woodstock, VT 1999, 57, 276-282, 286.
  • 4. Pratt, Harvey Hunter, The Early Planters of Scituate: a History of the Town of Scituate, MA from its Establishment to the End of the Revolutionary War., The Scituate Historical Society, 1929, 325-29.
  • ____________

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Capt. Michael and Persis (Eames) Pierce

Michael PIERCE - d. Mar. 26, 1676, Pawtucket, RI. No evidence has been found to indicate that Michael PIERCE was related to Ship Master William PIERCE or to John PIERCE of Dorchester and Boston. Michael settled first at Hingham, MA, then moved to Scituate, MA. Commissioned a captain by the Colony Court in 1669. Ambushed and killed with company by Canonchet at Attleboro Gore during King Philip's war. Will dated Jan. 15, 1675, proved Jul. 22, 1676, names wife Anna, children Benjamin, John, Ephraim, Abigail HOLBROOK, Mary HOLBROOK, Elizabeth, Sarah, Annah, Abiah, Ruth and Persis, grandchildren Elizabeth and Abigail HOLBROOK, and "my brother Mark JENNES [EAMES]". Married second in 1663 Anna (_____) ALLEN.

Persis EAMES - bap. Oct. 28, 1621, Fordington, St. George, Dorset, England; d. Dec. 31, 1662, Hingham, MA. Daughter of Capt. Anthony EAMES and Margery. The NEHGR of Oct. 1902, page 409, provides the following:

   In Mass. Bay Colony Records, Vol. IV., part 1, page 380, under date of May 28, 1659, is an answer of the Court to the petition of Anthony Eames, in which is named "his sonne in lawe Michaell Pearse." It would seem that the first wife of Michael Pierce was a daughter of Anthony Eames, of Hingham and Marshfield. Her death is recorded in the Journal of Rev. Peter Hobart, "Dec. 31, 1662, Michaell Perces wife dyed."

Children of Michael and Persis Pierce

   Persis - bap. Jan. 7, 1645/6, Scituate, MA; d. 1646.
   Benjamin - b. 1646, Scituate, Plymouth Co., MA; d. May 3, 1730, Scituate, Plymouth Co., MA. Executor of father's estate. Benjamin was married first on Feb. 5, 1678 in Scituate, Plymouth Co., MA to Martha ADAMS (b. about 1665; d. Dec. 29, 1717, Scituate, Plymouth Co., MA, daughter of James ADAMS. Benjamin was married second on Jul. 23, 1718 in Scituate, Plymouth Co., MA to Elizabeth (ADAMS) PERRY. Children of Benjamin PIERCE: Martha; Jerusha; Benjamin married first Mary COWEN, and second Elizabeth PERRY; Ebenezer; Persis; Caleb; Thomas; Adams; Jeremiah; and Elisha.
   Ephraim - b. 1647, Scituate, MA; d. Sep. 29, 1719, Warwick, RI. Lived at Weymouth, MA, and moved to Warwick, RI about 1673. Freeman of Providence Plantation May 3, 1681. Married in 1670 Hannah HOLBROOK (d. 1719, Warwick, RI), daughter of Capt. John and Sarah HOLBROOK. The following paragraph is contained in the will of Capt. John HOLBROOK, Jul. 12, 1699, Weymouth, MA: "I give to my daughter, Hannah Pierce, £50 in money, to be at her disposal as she shall see cause. Also, I give unto my grandson, Azarikum Pierce, £15 in money. Also, I give to Ephraim Pierce, jun., £15 in money. I give to my granddaughter, Rachel Peck, £5 in money. All which legacies are to be paid by my executors within one year after my decease, which shall be in part payment of a bond under the hands and seals of Ephraim Pierce and Azarikum Pierce, bearing date June 14, 1697." Children: Azrikim married first Sarah HEYWOOD (or HOWARD), and second Elizabeth ESTEN; Ephraim married Mary LOW; Michael; Rachel married Mr. PEET; Hannah married William MARTIN; Experience married Samuel WHEATON; John married Hannah MILES; Benjamin; and Mial married Judith (or Joanna).
   Elizabeth - b. about 1649, Scituate, MA. Married Mr. HOLBROOK.
   Deborah - b. about 1650, Scituate, MA.
   Sarah - b. about 1652, Scituate, MA.
   Mary - b. 1654, Scituate, MA; d. Apr. 26, 1735. Married Samuel HOLBROOK.
   Abigail - b. about 1656; d. Sep. 29, 1723, Scituate, Plymouth Co., MA. Married about 1670 John HOLBROOK, son of Capt. John and Sarah HOLBROOK. Capt. John HOLBROOK mentions grandchildren John, Abigail and Elizabeth in his will dated Jul. 12, 1699. Children of Abigail and John HOLBROOK: Thomas; Abigail married Thomas PORTER; Elizabeth married James SMITH; Experience; Hannah married Josiah TURNER; Sarah; Deborah married Joseph BRIGGS; and John married Sarah CRITTENDON.
   Anna - b. about 1657, Scituate, MA.
   Abiah - b. about 1659, Scituate, MA. Married Andrew FORD.
   John - b. about 1660, Scituate; d. Jun. 28, 1738. Married on Dec. 12, 1683 in Plymouth Co., MA, Patience DODSON, daughter of Anthony DODSON. Children of John and Patience PIERCE: Mial married Mary WOOD; John married Abigail VINTON; Jonathan; Ruth married Stephen CORNELL; Jael married Hezekiah CHACE; David; Clothier married Hannah SHERMAN; Mary married Mr. NORTON; and Samuel married Polly BARBER.
   Ruth - b. about 1661, Scituate, MA.
   Persis - b. about 1662, Scituate, MA. Date of death and date of marriage both reported as Dec. 3, 1695 in different sources. Married Richard GARRETT (b. 1659).

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Captain Michael Pierce Genealogy of John Harwood Pierce: 1st Generation

[See also Carole Gardner's Capt. Micheal Peirse document attached. Gardner has done extensive recent genealogical research. Some of her findings conflict with the information presented on these pages and shed new light on the Micheal Pierce genealogy.]

Captain Michael Pierce was born in 1615 and died in1676. He and his descendants form the first American generation of Pierces in our family tree. Michael Pierce immigrated to the New World in the early 1640s from Higham, Kent, England to Scituate, in what later became Massachusetts. The ten year period from 1630 to 1640 is know as The Great Migration. During this period, 16,000 people, immigrated to the East Coast of North America.

Brother of famous Colonial Sea Captain, William Pierce. Captain Michael Pierce was the brother of the famous Colonial sea captain, William Pierce, who helped settle Plymouth Colony. Captain Michael Pierce played a significant role in the Great Migration. Historical records show that this one sea captain crossed the Atlantic, bringing settlers and provisions to the New World more frequently than any other. He had homes in London, the Bahamas and Rhode Island. He played a central role in the government of the early colonies. He was killed at Providence, one of the Bahama Islands, in 1641.

There were actually four Pierce brothers who made their mark on the New World: John Pierce (the Patentee), Robert Pierce, Captain William Pierce, and Captain Michael Pierce. All were grandsons of Anteress Pierce, and sons of Azrika Pierce and his wife Martha.

Marries Persis Eames. In 1643, Michael Pierce married Persis Eames of Charleston Massachusetts. His wife was born in Fordington, Dorsetshire England 28 October 1621. She was the daughter of Anthony Eames and Margery Pierce.

Pierce Family Moves to Scituate. Michael and Persis Pierce's first child, a daughter, was born in 1645 and named Persis in honor of her mother. Unfortunately, their first child died in 1646 at one year of age. The new family settled first in Higham, but moved in 1676 to Scituate, where the Pierce family continued to reside for most of the next century. Scituate is located some 10 miles north of the original Plymouth colony. It was settled as early as 1628 by a group of men from Kent, England.

In 1646, Benjamin Pierce, their second child, a son and heir, was born. This son, Benjamin Pierce, fathered the second Pierce generation in this family tree. Twelve other children were born over the coming years: Ephraim, Elizabeth, Deborah, Sarah, Mary, Abigail, Anna, Abiah, John, Ruth and Peirsis.

Erected First Saw-Mill. Michael Pierce resided on a beautiful plain near the north river and not far form Herring brook. He assisted in erecting the first saw-mill. The mill was the first one erected in the colony. It is believed that Samuel Woodworth (1784-1842) wrote the song, "The Old Oaken Bucket," concerning this river and mill in Scituate. Samuel Woodworth's grandfather, Benjamine Woodworth, witnessed the signing of Captain Michael Pierce's will, on January 1675. The lyrics to this classic American folk tune are given below:

   How dear to this heart are the scenes of my childhood,
   When fond recollection presents them to view,
   The orchard, the meadow, the deep tangled wildwood,
   And ev'ry lov'd spot which my infancy knew.
   The wide spreading stream, the mill that stood near it,
   The bridge and the rock where the cataract fell.
   The cot of my father, the dairy house by it,
   And e'en the rude bucket that hung in the well.
   The old oaken bucket, the ironbound bucket,
   The moss-covered bucket that hung in the well.
   The moss-covered bucket I hail as a treasure,
   For often at noon when returned from the field,
   I found it the source of an exquisite pleasure,
   The purest and sweetest that nature can yield.
   How ardent I seized it with hands that were glowing,
   And quick to the white pebbled bottom it fell.
   Then soon with the emblem of truth overflowing,
   And dripping with coolness it rose from the well.
   The old oaken bucket, the ironbound bucket,
   The moss-covered bucket that hung in the well.
   How soon from the green mossy rim to receive it,
   As poised on the curb it reclined to my lips,
   Not a full flowing goblet could tempt me to leave it,
   Tho' filled with the nectar that Jupiter sips.
   And now far removed from the loved situation,
   The tear of regret will intrusively swell.
   As fancy reverts to my father's plantation,
   And sighs for the bucket that hung in the well.
   The old oaken bucket, the ironbound bucket,
   The moss-covered bucket that hung in the well.

Captain in the Local Militia Fighting the Indians. Unlike his famous brother, Captain William Pierce, Michael Pierce was not a sea captain. He attained the title, Captain, from the Colony court in 1669. Historical records show that he was first given the rank of Ensign under Captain Miles Standish, then later, in 1669, he was made Captain. These titles reflects his role as a leader in the local militia formed to protect the colony from the Indians.

Honored for Heroism in King Phillip's War. Captain Michael Pierce's memory is well-documented in American history. He is honored for the brave manner in which he died in defense of his country. The exact manner in which he died is repeated in more than 20 books and letters detailing the military history of the King Phillip's War. This war took place between 1675 and 1676, and remains one of the bloodiest conflicts in American history. It was also a pivotal point in early American history. Although the English colonists were ultimately victorious over the Indians, it took the colonies over 100 years to recover from the economic and political catastrophy brought about by this conflict.

The battle in which Captain Michael Pierce lost his life is detailed in Drakes Indian Chronicles (pp. 220-222) as follows:

   "Sunday the 26th of March, 1676, was sadly remarkable to us for the tidings of a very deplorable disaster brought into Boston about five o'clock that afternoon, by a post from Dedham, viz., that Captain Pierce of Scituate in Plymouth Colony, having intelligence in his garrison at Seaconicke, that a party of the enemy lay near Mr. Blackstorne's, went forth with sixty-three English and twenty of the Cape Indians (who had all along continued faithful, and joyned with them), and upon their march discovered rambling in an obscure woody place, four or five Indians, who, in getting away from us halted as if they had been lame or wounded. But our men had pursued them but a little way into the woods before they found them to be only decoys to draw them into their ambuscade; for on a sudden, they discovered about five hundred Indians, who in very good order, furiously attacked them, being as readily received by ours; so that the fight began to be very fierce and dubious, and our men had made the enemy begin to retreat, but so slowly that it scarce deserved the name, when a fresh company of about four hundred Indians came in; so that the English and their few Indian friends were quite surrounded and beset on every side. Yet they made a brave resistance for about two hours; during which time they did great execution upon their enemy, who they kept at a distance and themselves in order. For Captain Pierce cast his sixty-three English and twenty Indians into a ring, and six fought back to back, and were double - double distance all in one ring, whilst the Indians were as thick as they could stand, thirty deep. Overpowered with whose numbers, the said Captain and fifty-five of his English and ten of their Indian friends were slain upon the place, which in such a cause and upon such disadvantages may certainly be titled "The Bed of Honor." However, they sold their worthy lives at a gallant rate, it being affirmed by those few that not without wonderful difficulty and many wounds made their escape, that the Indians lost as many fighting men in this engagement as were killed in the battle in the swamp near Narragansett, mentioned in our last letter, which were generally computed to be above three hundred."

Today, in Scituate, there is a Captain Pierce Road.

In Cumberland, Rhode Island, there is a monument called Nine Men's Misery. A tablet near the monument reads:

   NINE MEN'S MISERY
   ON THIS SPOT WHERE
   THEY WERE SLAIN
   BY THE INDIANS
   WERE BURIED
   THE NINE SOLDIERS
   CAPTURED IN
   PIERCE'S FIGHT
   MARCH 26, 1676

The monument is located in a dark, place in the woods, near a former monastery. The monastery is now a public library. The monument consists of little more than a pile of stones cemented together by a monk and marked with a plaque. However, this site is of major historical significance because it is concidered to be the oldest monument to veterans in the United States.

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Capt. Michael Pierce's Timeline

1615
1615
England
1642
1642
Age 27
Charlestown, Suffolk County, Massachusetts Bay Colony, (Present USA)
1645
January 7, 1645
Age 30
Scituate, Plymouth Colony
1646
1646
Age 31
Scituate, Plymouth, Massachusetts, United States
1646
Age 31
Hingham, Suffolk County, Massachusetts Bay Colony
1650
1650
Age 35
Scituate, (Present Plymouth County), Plymouth Colony (Present Massachusetts, (Present USA)
1651
1651
Age 36
Scituate, Plymouth Colony
1652
1652
Age 37
Scituate, Plymouth, Mass., USA
1654
May 6, 1654
Age 39
Scituate, Plymouth, Massachusetts
1654
Age 39
Hingham, Plymouth, Massachusetts