Capt. William Pierce, "the Mariner"

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Capt. William Pierce, "the Mariner"

Also Known As: "Peirse", "Peirce", "Pearce", "Pearse"
Birthdate: (50)
Birthplace: of, Ratcliff, Middlesex, England
Death: July 13, 1641 (50)
Providence Island, the Bahamas, at that time owned by, Colombia (Killed by Spaniards)
Immediate Family:

Son of Richard Pierce and Marguerite Pierce
Husband of Bridget Pierce
Father of William Pierce, of Boston
Brother of The Patentee John Pierce and Richard Pearce, of Providence
Half brother of Thomas Pierce

Occupation: Mariner, Captain of Mayflowers 2nd voyage, Sea Captain
Managed by: James Hutchison
Last Updated:

About Capt. William Pierce, "the Mariner"

Not the same as William Pierce, of Mulberry Island.

This is the Colonial Captain William Pierce (1591 to 1641), the captain of the ship that sailed many trips bringing many colonists to Plymouth. He crossed the Atlantic more times than any other bringing Settlers to the New World. He had homes in London, Bahamas, and Boston.

From The Great Migration Begins


  • ORIGIN: Ratcliffe, Middlesex
  • MIGRATION: 1632
  • OCCUPATION: Mariner.
  • CHURCH MEMBERSHIP: Admitted to Boston church as member #151, which would be in the late summer or early fall of 1632, prior to 14 October 1632 [ BChR 15]. "Robert Mascall one of our brother Mr. Willyam Pierc[e]'s family" joined the church at Boston 20 June 1640 [BChR 30].
  • FREEMAN: 14 May 1634 (as "Mr. Will[ia]m Peirce") [ MBCR 1:369].
  • EDUCATION: Contributed 20s. "towards the maintenance of a free school master," 12 August 1636 [ BTR 1:160].
  • OFFICES: Boston selectman, 1 September 1634 [BTR 1:1].
  • ESTATE: On 8 January 1637/8, in accordance with an order of 14 December 1635, "Willyam Peirce" was granted one hundred acres of upland and marsh at Pullen Point [BTR 1:30] (a grant which had already been noted on 4 June 1637 [BTR 1:18]). On 14 January 1647[/8] "Bridget Pierce and William Pierce, of Boston," sold to Mr. Deane Winthrop of Boston "all that their messuage and farm at Pullen Point (adjoining unto the farm of the said Deane Winthrop), containing one hundred acres" [ BBOP 1].
  • In the Boston Book of Possessions in 1645 a William Pierce held "one house and garden" [BBOP 22, 104]. (As will be argued below, this must have been the entry for the son of the immigrant.)
  • BIRTH: About 1591 (deposed in 1623 aged 32, of Ratcliffe, Middlesex, mariner [ English Adventurers 15]; deposed in 1624 aged 33, of Ratcliffe, Middlesex, sailor [English Adventurers 16]; deposed in 1635 aged 43, of Boston, New England, sailor [English Adventurers 44]).
  • DEATH: Providence Island 13 July 1641 [ BVR 11]. At the time Pierce was master of a vessel taking settlers to Providence Island, which had, unbeknownst to them, been recently captured by the Spanish. Winthrop reports that as they approached the island and became aware of the situation, "Mr. Peirce, a godly man and most expert mariner, advised them to return, and offered to bear part of the loss. But they not hearkening to him, he replied, Then I am a dead man. And coming to the Island, they marvelled they saw no colors upon the fort, nor any boat coming towards them, whereupon he was counselled to drop an anchor. He liked the advice, but yet stood on into the harbor, and after a second advice, he still went on; but being come within pistol shot of one fort and hailing, and no answer made, he put his bark a stays, and being upon the deck, which was also full of passengers, women and children, and hearing one cry out, they are traversing a piece at us, he threw himself in at the door of the cuddy, and one SAMUEL WAKEMAN, a member of the church of Hartford, who was sent with goods to buy cotton, cast himself down by him, and presently a great shot took them both. Mr. Peirce died within an hour; the other, having only his thighs tore, lived ten days" [ WJ 2:39-40].
  • MARRIAGE: By about 1624 Bridget _____. "Bridgett Peirce the wife of our brother Willyam Peirce" was admitted to Boston church 2 February 1633/4 [BChR 17]; she died after 14 January 1647[/8] [BBOP 1].
  • CHILD: i WILLIAM, b. say 1624; m. by 1656 Hester _____ (possibly Webb) (see COMMENTS below).

Family comments

did he marry Margaret Gibbs 1st?

Life Summary

Source not yet identified

Of Captain William Peirce, her Master, more particulars are known. He had sailed to Plymouth in 1623 as Master of the Anne of London, bringing the last lot of passengers to the Pilgrim settlement.

He was then a resident of Ratcliffe, parish of Stepney, London, and at that date was about thirty-one years old. He made a voyage to Salem in 1629 as Master of the Mayflower (not the Pilgrim ship) and thereafter he was in constant traffic in passengers and merchandise across the Atlantic. He took up his residence in Boston in 1632 and was admitted freeman May I4, 1634. His wife, Bridget, joined the church February 2, 1632/3; perhaps a second wife, as a William Peirce, mariner of Whitechapel, was licensed in 1615 to marry Margaret Gibbs. Whitechapel and Stepney are adjoining parishes. He became a Town and Colony official and was engaged In coastwise shipping thereafter. He compiled an Almanac for New England which was the second issue in 1639 from the Daye press at Cambridge. In 1641 he was killed by the Spaniards while on a voyage to the island of New Providence, Bahamas Group, whither he was taking passengers for settlement.


Source not yet identified

"The captain of the Mayflower (on its first voyage), named Jones, had agreed to take them (the Pilgrims) only across the Atlantic. He is said to have been bribed by Virginian and Dutch colonists not to bring the Pilgrims to Virginia or New Amsterdam. Capt. William Pierce would have landed them where they wished, and if he had commanded the Mayflower on that voyage New England might have been settled in Virginia or New York. The Pilgrims had planned to go to the Hudson river."

"Although it was not until her second voyage that he was captain of the famed Mayflower, Capt. William had more than his share of "firsts". He brought the first cattle to New England from England (ship Charity, 1624). He brought from the West Indies to New England the first cotton (1633) and the first sweet potatoes (ship Desire in 1636). He published the first bound book in English to be printed in North America - Pierce's (Peirse's) Almanac of 1639 calculated for New England and printed by Stephen Day, "an exceedingly illiterate printer," on a press brought to Boston in 1638 by the Rev. Mr. Glover, English clergyman."

"Although the first Thanksgiving Day is commonly considered to have been the celebration following the first Pilgrim harvest in 1621, it has been suggested that Captain William Pierce was instrumental in bringing about the first real Thanksgiving observance ten years later!"

"The winter of 1630-31 was severe, game was scarce, the corn supply was nearly gone, even acorns and ground nuts were concealed by heavy snows. Women of the Colony were set to digging clams; a ration of five kernels of corn a day for each person was ordered. The Colonists were on the verge of starvation and had designated Feb. 22, 1631, as a fast day of prayer."

"Governor Winthrop, anticipating a hard winter, had sent Captain Pierce to England for provisions in the ship Lyon the previous fall. Pierce was delayed when he came upon the ship Ambrose, dismasted, and towed her home to Bristol. The Colonists had about given up hope of his return when the Lyon was spied, in the words of Cotton Mather, "just as Winthrop was distributing the last handful of meal in the barrel."

"The Lyon was loaded with beef and pork, wheat, peas, oatmeal, cheese, butter, suet and lemon juice. The scheduled fast day was joyfully turned into a Thanksgiving day. Mary Lowe in Thanksgiving, edited by Robert H. Schauffer, calls this "the first Thanksgiving day of which any written record remains in the Colonial records of Massachusetts" and adds, "We may justly claim this as the origin of Thanksgiving day." Lincoln writes: "This appears to have been the origin of Thanksgiving day." W. deLoss Love, Jr., in Fast and Thanksgiving Days of New England, calls the 1621 celebration "a harvest festival....not a Thanksgiving at all....not a day set aside for religious worship, but a whole week of festivity." Mary Lowe agrees, stating many deny the 1621 celebration was the first Thanksgiving day and pointed out the lack of any religious service during this week of feasting."

"Described as the most celebrated master of ships to come into the water of New England during the Colonists' early history, Captain William was an intimate and confidant of both Gov. William Bradford and Edward Winslow, a founder of the Colony, thrice governor and later commissioner of the United Colonies of New England."

"According to Lincoln, Captain William was master of the Mayflower on nine different voyages. He certainly was captain was these ships: Paragon, 1622, (owned by brother John); Anne, 1623, third ship to arrive from England; Charity, 1624, carrying Winslow and the first cattle from England; Jacob, 1625; Mayflower, 1629: Lyon, 1630, with Roger Williams and wife; Lyon, 1631, with John Elliot and Governor Winthrop's wife; Lyon, 1632, with Winthrop; Rebecca, 1634; Narragansett, 1634."

"He was in the West Indies in 1635 and the same year rescued refugees from the Connecticut Valley. He sailed to Block Island in the Desire in 1636 and the next year took supplies from Boston to soldiers fighting in the Pequot war. He sailed the Desire from London to Boston in 1638 and the next year sailed her back to London in a record 23 days. In 1641 in the same ship he commanded an expedition carrying dissenters to the West Indies. The Spaniards were hostile and he turned back, stopped at New Providence, an island in the Bahamas, to bring away a congregation there."

"Says Colonel Pierce in his Pierce Genealogy: "Though finding the Spaniards already in possession he stood gallantly in, hoping to rescue his countrymen. When the enemy opened upon him with cannon, he sent his people into the hold for safety, retaining on deck but one man to aid in working the ship. While lying in the caboose watching the sails, the captain and this sailor were fatally wounded by the same shot (July 13, 1641). The Desire headed for home, her noble master finding a fitting grave in the blue sea upon which so much of his life had been spent. His death was much lamented in the two colonies, which had so long known him as a skilful navigator and a Christian gentleman.""

"One of the "two colones" referred to certainly was Massachusetts, and the other may be Virginia. Lincoln states that Pierce lived briefly (1623-4) at James City, Va., with his wife Jane and 34 servants and that he served as Burgess from James City to the Virginia general assembly, later moving to Boston. Colonel Pierce, however, gives as William's addresses only Bristol, England, Boston, and Providence in the Bahamas."

Genealogy Comments

From The Great Migration Begins

COMMENTS: James Savage argued strongly that there were two men by the name of William Pierce in Boston by 1633, one being the celebrated mariner, and the other being the passenger on the Griffin in the fall of 1633 [WJ 1:129-30; Savage 3:432]. Savage's position is based largely on his interpretation of the Boston church admissions: Prince, enumerating the principal members of Boston church, ... has mistaken him [i.e., the 1633 passenger] for the master of the Lyon, as I infer from finding in the Records but one of the name, and being satisfied, that he could not be honored with such office in the civil line, unless in full communion with the brethren. Yet Prince may be correct; for the admission to our church was several weeks before the dismission of Charlestown people. The name of William Peirce does not appear in the record of Boston first church except as next to those of Rev. Mr. James and his wife, and so the very latest before the formation of Charlestown church. It might therefore be thought, that this fellow passenger with Cotton went to some other church, perhaps that of Cambridge or Watertown. But as it is apparent, that our record, in its few earliest pages, is not original, but copy, I presume the fact of admission of this gentleman was omitted by the scribe supposing the former mention of the other W.P. applied to him [WJ 1:129].

We argue here that there was only one William Pierce in Boston in the 1630s. With regard to Savage's line of reasoning above, we first note that although the earliest portions of the Boston church records are a copy (made in the 1630s), they have been found in the course of the research for these volumes to be quite complete and accurate. Close attention to the comings and goings of William Pierce the shipmaster will show how all these records might apply to one man.

On 16 September 1632 the Lyon arrived at Boston with Mr. William Pierce, master, he and the ship making their fourth trip in a space of three years [WJ 1:107]. On 27 October 1632 Winthrop reports that Pierce had set sail for Virginia [WJ 1:120]. As Savage notes, "Willyam Peirce" was the last person admitted to Boston church before the 14 October 1632 dismission of those who were to form the new church at Charlestown [BChR 15], precisely the right time for the shipmaster.

The following spring Winthrop received reports that Pierce had been shipwrecked on an island near the Chesapeake, but had eventually made his way back to England [WJ 1:120; WP 3:110, 116, 118]. Thus William Pierce, formerly master of the Lyon, was back in England in the summer of 1633, having lost the vessel on which he had made several crossings but, on the evidence of his joining the Boston church, having made a commitment to settle in Boston. There is no reason to suppose, then, that he would not have been the passenger on the Griffin in 1633, returning to take up residence in Boston (although he would continue to spend more of his time aboard ship than on dry land). The existence of only one admission for a William Pierce to Boston church makes perfect sense, then, and this William Pierce would therefore be available to become a freeman on 14 May 1634, and to be one of the Boston selectmen on 1 September 1634. Furthermore, if he brought his wife Bridget with him in the fall of 1633, then her admission to Boston church in February 1633/4 would be understandable as well.

During the eight years from his landing in Boston in 1633 until his death at Providence Island in 1641, the name William Pierce appears frequently in Winthrop's diary, in the Winthrop correspondence and in the Massachusetts Bay records, and with somewhat less frequency in Boston town records and in Lechford. If Savage were correct that there were two William Pierces in Boston during these years, we should see some hint of it in these many records. There should be a mark of distinction between the two men (both of whom, in Savage's version, were called "Mr."), such as Senior and Junior, or "mariner" and whatever the occupation of the "other" William was. Or there should be a clear physical discrepancy in which William Pierce the shipmaster is known to be on a voyage to England or the Caribbean, but the name William Pierce appears in Boston or Massachusetts records in such a way that we must conclude that he was physically present in New England.

Examination of dozens of entries in the records and preparation of an item-by-item chronology reveal no such distinction or discrepancy. The records simply call the man "Mr. Pierce" or "Mr. William Pierce." Whenever he was away on a voyage, there was no William Pierce active in Boston.

Furthermore, virtually every time we do see William Pierce in New England, other than as a shipmaster, he is engaged in something of a related nature, something for which a man of his experience would be well-suited. For example, on 3 September 1635 William Pierce was appointed to a committee on the fishing trade [MBCR 1:158]. On 28 June 1636 he was an arbiter in a master-servant dispute in Boston, the master being "Will[iam] Lomice of Redrise near London" [WP 3:267-69]. On 1 September 1640 he was appointed to a committee "to examine the books about the goods that came in the Charles" [MBCR 1:299]. (See also MBCR 1:120, 122, 161, 168, 225, 256; WJ 1:230.)

William Pierce has the distinction of being the author of the first item to come off the Cambridge press other than the Freeman's Oath: An Almanack for the Year of our Lord 1639. Calculated for New England. By Mr. Wm. Pierce, Mariner (Cambridge: Printed by Stephen Day 1639) [Sabin #62743]. This meshes with a report set down by Winthrop on 5 November 1635, regarding a voyage to the Narragansett by JOHN OLDHAM, who was accompanied by "Mr. Peirce [who] took the height [latitude] there, and found it forty-one degrees, forty-one minutes, being not above half a degree to the southward of us" [WJ 1:175].

For the period from 1633 to 1641, therefore, there is no reason to hypothesize more than one William Pierce in Boston. What about the years after the death of the shipmaster at Providence Island? After 1641 the appearance of the name William Pierce in Boston and Massachusetts records becomes much less frequent, and we will endeavor to show that they all apply to someone other than the alleged "other" William Pierce of Boston.

From 1642 through 1655 only five references to a William Pierce in Boston have been found:

  • 1) In 1645 Boston Book of Possessions held one house and garden [BBOP 22];
  • 2) On 20 May 1645 listed as an abutter to a piece of land sold by Valentine Hill [ SLR 1:59] (and analysis of the land records shows that this must refer to the holding of William Pierce in the Book of Possessions noted immediately above);
  • 3) On 14 January 1647[/8] "Bridget Pierce and William Pierce, of Boston," sold to Deane Winthrop one hundred and twenty acres at Pullen Point [BBOP 1] (the same as the land granted on 8 January 1637/8 to "Willyam Pearce" [BTR 1:30]);
  • 4) On 14 August 1650 William Pierce witnessed a deed [SLR 1:129; and
  • 5) On 24 November 1651 William Pierce was fined for entertaining a stranger [BTR 1:106].

This list of achievements spread over a decade and a half hardly seems consistent with Savage's description of the "other" William Pierce as "a gentleman of high repute in Boston" [WJ 1:129].

Of the five items noted above, the third is the most important. The presentation of the two grantors, in which Bridget Pierce precedes William Pierce (with, unfortunately, no relation stated), suggests that they are mother and son, rather than wife and husband. If this interpretation is accepted, then all five of the records above may be taken as applying to William Pierce, son of William and Bridget (_____) Pierce, still a young man in 1645, perhaps born in England in the early 1620s. This sale in 1648 is the last time Bridget is seen. Savage attempted to support the existence of the "other" William Pierce by attaching him to a probate record of 1669 "by which we find his estate much reduced, the inventory amounting only to 85 2s." (actually 35 2s.) [WJ 1:129, citing SPR 7:2]. (Savage noted also another William Pierce estate, for a man dying in 1661 [SPR 4:66, 7:213].)

Beginning in 1656 the appearance of the name William Pierce becomes much more common, and we find that there were during the late 1650s two men of the name living in Boston, of about the same age, who may be matched with the two estates cited above.

A William Pearse appears dozens of times as a witness to Boston deeds from the mid-1650s to 1669, and after a few years he signs as "William Pearse scr[ivener]" [e.g., SLR 4 passim]. In one instance he is joined as a witness by "Elizebeth Pearse," who made her mark [SLR 4:177]. On 6 December 1669 administration was granted on the estate of "William Pearse late of Boston deceased" to "Eliz[abeth] Pearse the relict widow of the said Wm. Pearse in behalf of herself & daughter Ann Michell" [SPR 7:2]. Thus, the probate which Savage thought belonged to the "other" William Pierce, supposedly resident of Boston from the 1630s, applies instead to William Pearse, scrivener, first seen in Boston in the 1650s, and perhaps the same as the William Pierce admitted as an inhabitant of Boston on 31 March 1656 [BTR 1:130].

More interesting is a William Pierce with wife Esther, who have children recorded as born in Boston in 1656, 1658 and 1661 [BVR 55, 69, 71, 79]. This William is the decedent of 1661, for the second probate record noted by Savage is for "William Pierce, mariner, formerly of Boston," who died intestate leaving widow Esther, along with four sons and a daughter [ NEHGR 32:319-21, citing SPR 7:215-17]. Several deeds indicate that this William Pierce owned land which was very close to, if not the same as, that ascribed to William Pierce in the Boston Book of Possessions [SLR 3:144-45, 479-81, 4:291, 11:251]. (See also NEHGR 10:360, citing SPR 4:66, and SCC 80.) Given the occupation of mariner and the location of his land, we conclude that this William Pierce is the son of the immigrant. His wife is in some sources given the maiden surname Webb.

Frederick Clifton Pierce, whose genealogical conclusions are generally of little value, has further muddied the water by claiming that Mr. William Pierce of Ratcliffe and Boston was the same as Captain William Pierce of James City, Virginia [Pierce Genealogy No. IV, Being the Record of the Posterity of Capt. Michael, John and Capt. William Pierce, Who Came to This Country From England (Albany 1889), p. 14]. This William Pierce had wife Jane, which is the origin of the misconception that the Boston William Pierce had a wife of that name. Examination of a modern account of Captain William Pierce of Virginia demonstrates conclusively that he was quite a different man from the shipmaster of New England [Virginia M. Meyer and John Frederick Dorman, eds., Adventurers of Purse and Person, 3rd ed. (Richmond, Virginia, 1987), pp. 475-78].

Frederick Clifton Pierce, does, however, perform a useful service by compiling the most complete list in print of the many voyages of Mr. William Pierce [pp. 11-13].

Finally, with regard to the tragic ending of the career of Mr. William Pierce, we must point out that Savage and nearly all the older authorities misplaced Providence Island, or Old Providence, thinking it the same as New Providence in the Bahamas. Old Providence was an island off the coast of Nicaragua, intended as another Puritan colony, but lost to the Spaniards in 1641, thus leading directly to the demise of Pierce. Karen Ordahl Kupperman has produced an excellent history of the brief life of this colony, which had many connections to New England [Providence Island, 1630-1641[:] The Other Puritan Colony (Cambridge, England, 1993)].

Deane Winthrop House

This e-mail was sent to me recently and I wanted to share it with you Pierce researchers as you may be very interested:

  • Dear Ms. Strouse, I congratulate you in concern to your WebSite. Your site is informative as well as creative. I am writing to thank you for the information you posted in concern to the Pierce Family history. My name is George Desaulniers and I am a member of the Winthrop Historical Commission and the Winthrop Improvement and Historical Association. I have been researching Captain William Pierce for approximately seven years. The commission is presently in the process of erecting a historical sign in front of a historical landmark called the" Deane Winthrop House". This sign will, in part, involved Captain William Pierce's history. The "Deane Winthrop House" was built between 1637 and 1650. The association which has preserved and maintained the house is called "The Winthrop Improvement and Historical Association". The association believes the original portion of the house house was built by Captain William Pierce. The material you posted on your Web page agrees with the material I have researched. It might be interesting for anyone researching Captain William Pierce to be aware that this house exist. This house is situated on the original land, granted to Captain William Pierce in 1637. Winthrop is a small town less than two square miles situated at the mouth of Boston Harbor. Captain William Pierce also had a house in Boston which once stood near the Old State House on what is now Pierce Alley. I have many more details in concern to Captain William Pierce. I would like to share the information I have as well as receive more information. I have maps and pictures that might be of interest to anyone pursuing this fascinating Mariner. You can reach me at: Winthrophistoric Congratulations again on your WebSite.
  • Dear Ms. Strouse,
  • A great deal has transpired since I last sent you this e-mail. The Winthrop Historical Commission is in the process of erecting a historical sign in front of the Deane Winthrop House. The sign acknowledgs both european and African American history associated with the house. The Winthrop Improvement and Historical Association, an organization dedicated to preserving the Deane Winthrop House is opposed to the sign. The sign has been made and its future lies in the hands of the selectman.The sign reads as follows:
  • Captain William Pierce, renowned mariner and early Puritan slave trader was allotted this land in 1637. Governor John Winthrop was granted the adjoining plantation, which included most of Winthrop Beach and Point Shirley. He kept Native American slaves on the nearby Governors Island, which is now, part of Logan Airport. In his journal dated February 26, 1638, Winthrop wrote that Pierce returned from the West Indies on the Salem ship Desire "and brought some cotton, and tobacco, and Negroes, etc" Later both Capt. Pierce and Gov. Winthrop's plantations were acquired by Governor Winthrop's son Deanne, who also used slave labor. Slavery was essential to the economy in this era. "Marrear", "Primas", and a child named "Robbin" were slaves of African decent whose names appeared in Deane Winthrop's Will of 1702. It is assumed that these slaves were interred in a nearby "Negro Burying Ground" not far from the northerly end of Winthrop Street.
  • The controversy surrounding the resistance of the sign by the Winthrop Improvement and Historical Association made the headlines in local paper,the page of the Boston Globe, NPR radio and the 5 PM news. The following documents and newspaper articles may help you further understand the controversy. See Attached
  • There is a great deal more information available if you are interested. The Pierce family's support of the sign would be welcomed.
  • Thank you,
  • George Desaulniers
  • 106 Bowdoin Street
  • Winthrop MA 02152


In Old Pedigrees

Capt. William PEARCE, b. abt. 1595, Bristol, England; d. 16 July 1641, Providence, the Bahamas; m. (1) Bridget /--?--/; m. (2) Margaret GIBBS, 1615.

Richard Pierce resided in Bristol, England. He came to America on the ship "Lyon." His brother, William, was Master of that ship.

In The Planters of the Commonwealth, Banks introduces his passenger list:

LYON, William Peirce, Master, sailed from London June 22 [1632] and arrived September 16 [1632] at Boston. 'He brought one hundred and twenty three passengers, whereof fifty children, all in health. They had been twelve weeks aboard and eight weeks from Land's End.'

This the Colonial Captain William Pierce the captain of the ship that sailed many trips bringing many colonists to Plymouth. He crossed the Atlantic more times than any other bringing Settlers to the New World. He Had homes in London, Bahamas, and Rhode Island.

Killed by Spaniards on a voyage to the island of New Providence, Bahamas Group while taking passengers to that area.

  • Pearce genealogy, being the record of the posterity of Richard Pearce, an early inhabitant of Portsmouth, in Rhode Island, who came from England, and whose genealogy is traced back to 972. With an introduction of the male descendants of Josceline de Louvaine .. (1888) page 36
  • From the foregoing historical sketch of the English branch of the Percies it will be seen that Peter17 Percy* was son of Ralph16 Percy; he (Peter17) was born in 1447 and his descent is as follows from the first ancestor: Galfred1, William2, Alan3, William4, William5, Agnes6, Henry7, William8, Henry9, Henry10, Henry11, Henry12, Henry13, Henry14, Henry15, Ralph16.
  • Peter17 Percy had a son Richard18. The father was standard bearer to Richard the Third at the battle of Bosworth Field in 1485.
  • Richard18 founded Pearce Hall in York, England, where he lived and died leaving an eldest son Richard19, Jr.
  • Richard19, Jr. resided on the homestead of his father and had two sons Richard20, Jr., b. 1590, and William20. It was at this time that the spelling of the name in this branch was changed from Percy to Pearce.
  • Richard20 Pearce, Jr. (Richard19) b. 1590 m. in England Martha ---- .
  • He resided in Bristol, England, and came to America in the ship "Lyons" from that place. His brother, Capt. William Pearce, was master of the ship. Children:
    • 1. i. Richard21, b. 1615; m. Susannah Wright.
    • 2. ii. .... etc.
  • Capt. William Pearce20 (Richard19) b. in Bristol, England about 1595 ; m. ----.
  • He d. July 13, 1641 (Boston Town Records). Res. Bristol, England, Boston, Mass., and Providence, Bahama Island. page 37
  • Farmer has this:
  • "William Peirse, the captain of the ship 'Lyon,' wrote his name Peirse; he was the author of the first almanack for 1639 published in North America. He was Killed at Providence, one of the Bahama Island, in 1641, Savage ii. Winthrop Index. Prince ii., Annas 69, who erroneously regards him as a member of the Boston Church, says we was ancestor of Rev. James Perice, a well known writer and England divine, who died in 1730."
  • Copy of Order of Council when the trouble of Charles 1st. commenced with his Parliament. From the original books of the Privy Council:
  • 1638. "Ordered the twentieth [of April, 1638.] Order for the Desire to passe to New England, with passengers and provisions, upon certificate, etc.:"
  • " Upon the humble petition of William Piers, master of the shippe called the Desire, that the Petitioner, with diverse others inhabiting in New England, did lately arryve in the Port of London, in the said shippe being wholly built in New England, whither the said master doth nowe desire to return in the same, and did therefore desire the leave of the board, according to his Majesties' late Proclamation, and to transport such Passengers and their necessary provisions of Howshold, as by this certificate shall be gratified according to the Tenor of his Magesties' former Proclamation. Theyr Lordships did this day give leave that the said master and shippe should retorne to New England, together with such passengers and theyr necessary provisions as is desyred and their goods to passe as formerly. Provided that the said certificats of the Passengers be first brought to the Clarke of the Council attendant, to be by him allowed, and that they doe transport noe other passingers or Provisions but such as shall be allowed [Charles I., Vol. 15, #41.]
  • 1. Richard21 Pearce (Richard20, Richard19,) b. 1615 in England; m. in Portsmouth, R. I., in 1642, Susannah Wright, who was born in 1620. He died in Portsmouth in 1678 and she was deceased at that time. .... etc.


  • Peirce genealogy: being the record of the posterity of John Pers, an early ... By Frederick Clifton Pierce Pg.xvi
  • William, Boston, a distinguished shipmaster, made more voyages than any other person in the same years to and from Boston, was killed by the Spaniards at Providence in the Bahamas July 13, 1641. Winthrop II., 33. Prince says in Annals II., 69, he was the ancestor of Rev. James, a distinguished theologian of Exeter, Eng., who d. 1730.


  • The New England historical & genealogical register, Volume 6 By New England Historic Genealogical Society Pg.277
  • According to some accounts, Capt. William Pierce was master of Mr. John Pierce's vessel.
  • In 1623, early in June, arrived in Plymouth the ship Ann, Captain William Pierce, and he appears to have been connected with the colonies for the remainder of his life. In 1641, he was appointed by Government to command an expedition against the Bahamas, and was shot at Providence, one of the Bahama Islands, in 1641.


  • American ancestry: giving name and descent, in the male line, of ..., Volume 4 edited by Thomas Patrick Hughes, Frank Munsell Pg.97
  • PEARCE, WALDO A. of Boston, Mass., b. at Warren, R. I., Mar. 14, 1837 (m. Nov. 29, 1864, Emma C. Webster); son of Abner T. of Santiago, Chile, South America, b. at Llittle Compton, R. I., Oct. 4, 1811, d. at Valparaiso, Chile, Dec. 3, 1864 (m. Sept. 1, 1831, Sarah R. Briggs); son of Thomas of Little Compton, R. I., b. there Sep. 6, 1784, d. there (m. Feb. 26, 1810, Eliphal Tompkins); son of Wright of Little Compton, b. there July 27, 1750, d. there Apr. 8, 1829 (m. 1771 Antrace Sawyer); son of James of Little Compton, b. there Sep. 24, 1719, d. there Sep. 14, 1767 (m. Sep. 14, 1749, Sarah Simmons); son of James of Little Compton, b. there Sep. 4, 1691, d. there Sep. 24, 1755 (m. 1712, Martha Wilbur); son of George of Portsmouth, R. I., b. at Little Compton, July 10, 1662, d. at Portsmouth Aug. 30, 1752 (m. Apr. 7, 1687, Alice Hart); son of Richard of Portsmouth, R. I., b. in England 1615, d. at Portsmouth 1678 (m. 1642, Susannah Wright); son of Richard of Bristol, Eng., who came to America in the ship Lyons commanded by his brother, Capt. William Pearce. At that time the spelling of the name was changed from Percy to Pearce and the record follows back to Peter Percy, b. 1447, son of Ralph.


  • Pierce genealogy, no. IV : being the record of the posterity of Capt. Michael, John and Capt. William Pierce, who came to this country from England (1889) page 11
  • Born in England abt. 1590, m. Jane ___ , res. Boston,* Salem, Mass. He was killed in the Bahamas, at New Providence, July 13, 1641.
  • Captain William Pierce in the early history of the colonies was the most celebrated master of ships that came into the waters of New England. He was on very intimate terms with all the leading colonists, and was a warm friend of Winslow and Bradford. He was first noticed in the early records of the colony in 1622, when he was master of the "Paragon," the owner of which ship was his brother John Pierce of London. In 1623, Capt. Pierce brought over to Plymouth the "Anne" with her noteworthy company. In 1624, he came in the "Charity," conveying Winslow, with his cattle which were the first brought into New England. In 1625 he was at Plymouth in the "Jacob," again bringing Winslow and more cattle.
  • In 1629, he commanded the renowned "Mayflower," and in her he took a company from Holland as far as the Bay on their way to Plymouth; and in the next year, Feb., 1630, he came with the "Lion" from Bristol, England,t which was a part of Winthrop's fleet. Owing to the destitution at the Bay, he was hurried back for provisions, with which he returned November 22, J just as ....

page 15

  • Children.
    • Edward, b. 1633, d. 1673. Edward Pearse, who Dr. Calamy styles "a most affectionate and useful preacher," was ejected from St. Margaret's, Westminster, when the "Act of Uniformity " took ....
    • James, b. and d. in England.
    • William, b. in England, m. Esther Webb. She was the daughter of Richard Webb, who died in Boston in July, 1659. In his will he says, I give to Esther Pearce, and mentions her two children, Moses and Esther. He d. January, 1661. Res. Boston, Mass. ....



Disconnected from Peter Percy & Catherine Percy as parents June 2016

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Capt. William Pierce, "the Mariner"'s Timeline

Ratcliff, Middlesex, England
Age 33
July 13, 1641
Age 50