Frederick Clifton Pierce.

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 online

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Online LibraryFrederick Clifton PiercePierce genealogy, no. IV : being the record of the posterity of Capt. Michael, John and Capt. William Pierce, who came to this country from England → online text (page 2 of 32)
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sold them in Boston at two pence a pound.

In 1633, Capt. Wm. Pierce brought the first cotton into New
England from West Indies.

In Winthrop's Journal, under date of Saturday (12th June, 1630),
we find the following: " About four in the morning we were near our
port. We shot off two pieces of ordnance and sent our skiff to
Mr. Pierce, his ship (which lay in the harbour and had been there
[blank] days). About an hour after Mr. Allarton came on board
us, in a shallop, as he was sailing to Pemaquid." Brave Allarton,
therefore, must have been the first person who welcomed Mr.
Winthrop and his associates to New England.

The muster of Capt. Wm. Pierce, June 23, 1624. He then re-
sided in James city, Virginia. It was as follows :

Capt. Wm. Pierce came in " Sea Venture."

Mrs. Jane Pierce, his wife, in the "Blessings."

Thomas Smith, se. 17 years, in the " Abigaill.""
Henry Bradford, ae. 35 years, in the " Abigaill,"
Esther Ederife, a maid-servant, in the "Jonathan."
Angelo, a negro woman, in the "Treasuror."
The rest of Capt. William's servants, provisions, armes, muni-
tion, etc., are at Mulberry Island.

The muster of the inhabitants at Mulberry Island, Virginia,
taken June 25, 1624:

Pierce Genealogy. 15

The Muster of Capt, Wm. Pierce's Servants.
Richard Attkins, se. 24, came in "London Marchamst."
Abigail, his wife, came in " Abigaill."
Wm. Barker, ae. 20, came in " Abigaill."
Robert Ashton, se. 29, came in the " Treasuror."
Hugh Wing, se. 30, came in "George," 1620.
Robert Lathoun, se. 20, came in "George," 1620.
Richard Aldon, se. 19, came in "George," 1620.
Thomas Wood, se. 30, came in "George," 1620.
Roger Ruce, came in "Charles."
Alexander Gill, se. 20, came in "Bonny Bess."
Samuel Morris, se. 20, came in "Abigaill."
Thomas Rose, ffi. 35, came in "Jonathan."

Robert Hedges, se. 40, came in the .

John Virgo, came in "Treasuror."

Susan, his wife, in the same ship.

John Gatter, came in "George," 1620.

William Richardson, came in " Edwine."

Richard Fine, came in " Neptune."

John Nowell, came in " Margaret and Jane."

Richard Downes, came in "Jonathan."

John Cranich, came in " Marygold."

Percevall Wood, came in " George."

Ann, his wife, came in " George."

William Raymont, came in " Neptune."

William Bullock, came in " Jonathan."

Anthony Baram, came in "Abigail."

Elizabeth, his wife, came in "William and Thomas."

Thomas Harwood, came in "Margaret and Jane," 1622.

Grace, his wife, came in " George."

Thomas Read, se. 65 years.

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

1 6 Pierce Genealogy.

place. He was the author of several practical treatises, the most
noted of which is entitled, " The Great Canaan, or a Serious
Warning to the Timely and Thorough Preparation for Death,"
etc., which was frequently distributed at funerals. It has been
reprinted about twenty times. He earnestly prayed, in his last
illness, that something of his might be useful after his decease.
" Which prayer," says Dr. Calamy, " was remarkably answered in
the signal success of his little book." He was born in 1633, and
died in 1673. There was another Edward Pearse, who was
author of " The Conformist's Plea for the Non-Conformists," who
has been confounded with the person above mentioned. I take
this to be the minister of Cottesbrook, in Northamptonshire;
whom the " Plea" really confirmed is apparent from South's " Ser-
mons," Vol. VI, p. -i^y, from Kennet's Register and Chronicle, p.
755, and from Neale's " History of the Puritans," Vol. IV, p. 508.

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.

The administration of the estate of William Pierce, mariner of
Boston, was granted to his widow, Esther Pierce, 31st January,
1661. He left four sons and one daughter, most of them being
very small. The estate was divided 3d June, 1672, by agreement
of Esther Pierce, William Pierce, Nathaniel Pierce, Roger Clapp,
guardian to Moses Pierce, Joseph Webb, guardian to Ebenezer
Pierce, Phineas Upham, guardian to Esther Pierce. The estate
was valued at ;!^228, and approved by John Martin, Joseph Webb.
The house and land on the "backside of Boston," being worth
;^i8o. Ch. — Esther, b. . She d. unm. In 1679, Oct. 30th,
she sold land to Nathaniel Pierce of Boston, bounded on the south
with the alley leading into the land of Esther Pierce, the elder;
on the east with land of Ebenezer Pierce. The witnesses were
Nathaniel Thayer, Moses Pierce and Esther Pierce. At this time
she was called a spinster and of Boston. William, b. ; m.

Elizabeth . They resided in Boston a short time, and a

Pierce Genealogy. 17

son, William, was born, and died Jan. 4, 166 1. They subse-
quently removed to Newport, R. I. From the Boston records, we
learn that William Pierce of Newport, R. I., eldest son of William
Pierce of Boston, mariner, deceased, and his wife, Elizabeth, re-
lease to Thomas Carter of Boston, his interest in land in Boston.
The father died intestate leaving Esther his relict widow and five
children his estate. The estate was afterward divided. This is
dated 14th Dec, 1688, and is witnessed by Christian Peirse.
William, Jr. resided in Boston, and later Newport, R. I. Nathan-
iel, b. ; m. Christian Stoddard; res. Boston. She was b.
Mar. 22, 1657; the dau. of Anthony Stoddard. Moses, a Moses
Pierce m, EHza, and had Moses, b. May 23, 1709; John, b. Mar.
27, 17 13; EHzabeth, b. Nov. 11, 1714; John, b. Mar. 4, 1726; Ed-
ward, b. Oct. ID, 1728; Elizabeth, b. Mar. 30, 1730; Edward, b.
Apr. 27, 1734. Ebenezer, b. Mar. 16, 1661, unm., d. before. As
per agreement of William, his brother, " Ebenezer died intestate
and without issue." Mary. Martha, b. May 16, 1659, both d.
young. Mary, b. Dec. 10, 1656, d. young.


Captain * Michael Pierce, who was born in England, emigrated
to America not far from 1645. Locating first in Higham in 1646,
the following year he removed to Scituate, where he resided when
he met his untimely death. Savage says of Higham, 1646. Farmer
locates him in Scituate in 1647.

In Scituate he purchased land in the Conihassett in 1647. His
house was on the Cohasset road, one mile from the present North
Meeting-house, at the well-known place formerly owned by Elijah
Pierce, of the sixth generation that has possessed it. There is no
record of Captain Pierce's family in Scituate. Hobart's Journal
records, "Persis, daughter of Michael Pierce, baptized 1646,"
also, "Michael Pierce's daughter born 1662, and Michael Pierce's
* Michael Pierce was commissioned captain by the Colony court in 1669.

1 8 Pierce Genealogy.

wife died 1662." His first child may have been born at Higham.
Persis married Richard Garrett, 3d, 1695. Abigail married Sam-
uel Holbrook, 1682. He had a son Ephraim, who removed.
Benjamin married Martha, daughter of James Adams, 1678, and
succeeded to his father's residence. His children, Martha, Je-
rusha, Benjamin, Ebenezer, Persis, Caleb, Thomas, Adams, Jere-
miah, Elisha, born from 1679 to 1699. John (also son of Captain
Michael), settled north of the Conihassett burying-ground. He
married Patience, daughter of Anthony Dodson, 1683; his children,
Michael, John, Jonathan, Ruth, Jael, David, Clothier, born from
1684 to 1698. Hay ward Pierce, Esq., late of Scituate, descended
from Captain Michael, through Benjamin (who married Martha
Adams), Benjamin (who married Mary Cowen and Elizabeth
Perry), Benjamin, who married Charity Howard, and Jane How-
ard of Bridgewater, 1742 and 1750, daughters of Thomas. The
sons of Hayward, Esq., were Hayward, of New Orleans; Waldo
and Bailey, of Frankfort (Maine); Elijah of Scituate (on the
paternal residence); Silas of Boston, — and his daughters, the
wives of Mr. Lincoln of Cohasset, Mr. Nathaniel Cushing, and
Mr. Walter Foster of Scituate. Benjamin and Jonathan, brothers
of Hayward, Esq., removed to Chesterfield. Captain Michael
has left evidence on record, in the town of his usefulness in public
affairs. But his memory is to be forever honored for the brave
manner in which he fell in defense of his country.

He was in the Narragansett fight in Dec, 1675, and es-
caped with his life, but to fall in a more terrible conflict in
Mar. following. His will is dated 1675, and the preamble is in
these impressive words: "Being, by the appointment of God,
going out to war against the Indians, I do ordain this my last will
and Testament: and first, I commit my ways to the Eternal God,"
&c. He then gives " to wife Ann [she was a second wife] the
house which I last built, &:c. To son Benjamin my present dwell-
ing-house. To son John all my lands in Higham; to son Ephraim,
jT^^; to daughter Abigail Holbrook, ^5; to daughters Elizabeth,
Deborah, Ann, Abiah, Ruth, Persis, ^50 each." [Deane's History
of Scituate.]

Pierce Genealogy. 19

Captain Michael Pierce of Scituate was a brother of Captain
William Pierce of London. [Drake's Indian Chronicle, pp. 307,
in News from New England, 1676.]

In 1666, the military of Scituate elected their officers, and made
return to the Colony Court for ratification, viz.: Jas. Cudworth,
Captain ; Michael Pierce, Lieutenant. The Court returned an
answer as follows: " As to Mr. Cudworth, it is directly against the
advice of the Court, and as to Mr, Pierce, he is a stranger to us,
therefore Sergt. John Daman is directed to take the command till
further orders." The matter was adjusted in 1669, and the Court,
having become better acquainted with Mr. Pierce, commissioned
him Captain.

In 1673, the Colony Council ordered that, when a town shall be
in distress, the chief officer of the next town shall send such aid
as they may think proper; and that power be given them to press
men. Toward the latter part of the year (Dec, 17) this Court was
called together, on an " extraordinary occasion," on account of
the war with the Dutch. Taking into consideration the repeated
demonstrations of hostility on the part of the enemy, their intended
invasion of Long Island, their large army of armed vessels, which
were very prejudicial, they determined to endeavor to undertake
this removal, thinking all this a just ground for war; and notwith-
standing the lateness of the season, hearing that the Dutch would
have recruits early in the spring, they judged it best to make an
immediate attack. Though they considered that they were " appa-
rently overrated," in the proportion of the Confederate colonies,
they determined to raise their quota by one hundred men, if suffi-
cient provision could be obtained for their voyage and march.
Their officers on the expedition were Captain, James Cudworth
(pay per day, six shillings); Lieutenant, John Gorham (five shill-
ings); Ensign, Michael Pierce (four shillings).

The Narragansetts early in the spring of 1676 had committed
ravages in Rhode Island; parties had even penetrated to Plymouth
and killed a number of inhabitants. On this alarm, Capt. Michael
Pierce of Scituate, with a company of fifty Englishmen and twenty
friendly Indians from Cape Cod, was ordered to pursue the Indians

20 Pierce Genealogy.

toward Rhode Island. He proceeded without any rencounter near
to Pawtucket, in that part which has been called Attleboro Gore,
when he discovered that there were Indians near him, but not
suspecting that Canonchett was there. He, therefore, ventured to
cross the river and commence the attack, but soon found himself
in the presence of an overwhelming force. To fly was impossible,
and to retreat in order, before such an enemy, was equally des-
perate. His only resource was to fall back to the river's bank, in
order to avoid being surrounded, and make the sacrifice of himself
and of his brave men as costly as possible to the foe. But the
Indians, having a large force, soon sent a party across the river to
attack in the rear. This surprise only induced the captain to change
the front of his company, and place them back to back ; and in this
position they fought until nearly every man fell, and with a bravery
like that at Thermopylge, and deserving of as great success.

Capt. Pierce fell earlier than many others; and it is due to
the honor of one of his friendly Indians, called Amos, that he con-
tinued to stand by his commander and fight, until affairs were
utterly desperate, and that then he escaped by blacking his face
with powder as he saw the enemy had done, and so passing through
their army without notice.

Mather and others relate also pleasing anecdotes of two or three
other of Capt. Pierce's friendly Indians, who escaped by equally
curious artifices and presence of mind. One who was flying and
closely pressed by a hostile Indian sought the shelter of a large
rock. Thus the two waiting in awful suspense to shoot each other.
Capt. Pierce's Indian putting his cap on the end of a stick or his
gun, gently raised it to the view of his enemy, who immediately
discharged his gun at the cap, and the next moment was shot dead
by the friendly Indian, Another in his flight pretended to pursue
an Englishman, with hostile demonstrations, and thus escaped; this
was a disastrous blow to Scituate. It was generally believed that
every Englishman was killed, but such was not the case.

The following is a letter from Rev. Noah Newman of Rehoboth,
dated the day of the battle, to a friend, the Rev, John Cotton of

Pierce Genealogy. 21

Reverend and Dear Sir. — I received yours, dated the 20th of
this instant, wherein you gave me a doleful relation of what happened
with you, and what a distressing Sabbath you had past. I have
now, according to the words of your letter, an opportunity to
retaliate your account with a relation of what yesterday happened
to the great saddening of our hearts, filling us with an awful
expectation of what further evils it may be antecedaneous to, both
respecting ourselves and you. Upon the 25th of this instant,
Capt. Pierce went forth with a small party of his men and Indians
with him, and upon discovering the enemy, fought him, without
damage to himself, and judged that he had considerably damnified
them. Yet he being of no great force, chose rather to retreat and
go out the next morning with a recruit of men; and accordingly
he did, taking Pilots from us, that were acquainted with the ground.
But it pleased the Sovereign God so to order it, that they were
enclosed with a great multitude of the enemy which hath slain
fifty-two of our Englishmen and eleven Indians — 18 from Scitu-
ate, encluding Capt. Pierce; Marshfield, 9; Duxbury, 4; Sandwich,
5; Barnstable, 6; Yarmouth, 5; Eastham, 4. Thomas Mann is
just returned with a sore wound. Thus, sir, you have a sad
account of the continuance of God's displeasure against us; yet
still I desire steadfastly to look unto him who is not only able but
willing to save all such as are fit for his Salvation.

It may be pleasing to the reader to be informed that Canonchett
was taken prisoner a few days after by Capt. Denison of Stonington.
A young soldier of the company, Robart Staunton, put some ques-
tions to the Sachem, when he received this proud and disdainful
answer: "You too much child — no understand matters of war —
let your captain come — him I will answer," and when he was
informed that it was determined to put him to death, he said: " I
like it well — I shall die before my heart is soft, or before I have
spoken any thing unworthy of myself." Canonchett was son of
the famous Miantonomoh, Chief Sachem of the Narragansetts.

July 15, 1653, Michael Pierce of Higham, receives John Read
as an apprentice for nine years. Witness, Samuel Norten and
Nathaniel Sarther.

22 Pierce Genealogy.

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 Cap-
tain Pierce of Scituate in Plymouth Colony, having intelligence in
his garrison at Seaconicke, that a party of the enemy lay near Mr.
Blackstone'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 above five hundred Indians, who
in very good order, furiously attacked them, being as readily re-
ceived 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, whom 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 disadvan-
tages 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 (not
counting women and children), 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 hun-
dred.* [Drake's Indian Chronicle, pp. 220-2.]
* See Bliss' History of Rehoboth, and Daggett's History of Attlebro.

Pierce Genealogy. 23

1676, March the 26th. We had news of the defeat of Captain
Pearse with about forty English and eleven of our Indian friends
near Seconck alias Rehoboth, who were surrounded with a great
party of the Indians and overpowered; yet God was pleased to
rescue several of them, who made a safe escape. [Same, p. 253.]

Captain Pierse, brother of Captain Pierce, of London, with
fifty-five men and twenty Christian Indians went to seek out their
enemies, the Indians whom according to their intelligence they
found rambling in an obscure wood ; upon his approach they drew
into order and received his onset with much difficulty, being in the
end forced to retreat, but it was so slowly that it scarcely deserved
that name, when a fresh company of Indians came into their assist-
ance, beset the Christian friends, killed Captain Pierce and forty-
eight of his men, besides eight of the Christian Indians. The
fight continued for two hours, the enemy buying the victory very
dearly, but at last obtained it so absolutely that they deprived us
of all means of learning of their loss. This was one of the most
desperate fights of the war, arid perhaps the most bloody.* [Same,
pp. 307-8.]

The Indians having carried their whirlwind of war to the very
doors of Plymouth, causing the sending out of Capt. Pierce (or as
his name is uniformly in the records, Peirse) to divert them from
these ravages, and destroy as many of them as he was able. He
had a large company, consisting of seventy men, twenty of whom
were friendly Indians. With these, no doubt, Peirse thought him-
self safe against any power of the Indians in that region.

Meanwhile this most valiant chief captain of the Narragansetts,
Nanuntenoof learning, we presume by his spies, the direction the
English were taking, assembled his warriors at a crossing place on
Pawtucket river, at a point adjacent to a place then called Attle-

* See Hubbard, and the notes 1, 173-8.

+ That Nanuntenoo commanded in person in the fight with the force under Capt.
Peirse has been a question ; indeed, our only authority is not very exphcit upon
the matter (Hubbard Postscript, 7), who observes that when Dennison surprised
him he "was, at that moment, diverting himself with a recital of Capt. Peirse's
slaughter; surprised by his men a few days before."

24 Pierce Genealogy.

borough-Gore, and not far distant from Pawtucket Falls. It is
judged that Nanuntenoo was upon an expedition to attack Ply-
mouth, or some of the adjacent towns, for his force was estimated
at upwards of three hundred men.

On arriving at this fatal spot some of Nanuntenoo's men showed
themselves retiring, on the opposite side of the river. This strata-
gem succeeded — Peirse followed.* No sooner was he upon the
western side than the warriors of Nanuntenoo, like an avalanche
from a mountain, rushed down upon him; nor striving for cov-
erts from which to fight, more than their foes fought them face to
face with the most determined bravery.

A part of Nanuntenoo's force remained on the east side of the
river to prevent the retreat of the English, which they most effect-
ively did, as in the event will appear. When Capt. Peirse saw
himself hemmed in by numbers on every side, he drew up his
men upon the margin of the river in two ranks, back to back,f
and in this manner fought until nearly all of them were slain.
Peirse had timely sent a messenger to Providence for assistance, and
although the distance could not have been more than six or eight
miles, from inexplicable cause, no succor arrived; and Mr. Hubbard J
adds, " as Solomon saith, a faithful messenger is as snow in

This dreadful fight was on Sunday, 26 March, 1676, when as
Dr. Mather says : " Captain Peirse was slain and forty and nine
English with him and eight (or more) Indians, who did assist the
English." The Rev. Mr. Newman of Rehoboth wrote a letter to
Plymouth, dated the day after the slaughter, in which he says:
" Fifty-two of our English and eleven Indians " were slain. § The
company was, no doubt, increased by some who volunteered as they
marched through the country, or by such as were taken for pilots.

* Dr. Mather (Brief Hist. 24) says: "A small number of the enemy who, in des-
perate subtlety, ran away from them, and they went limping to make the English
believe they were lame," and thus effected their object.

+ Deane's History of Scituate, p. 121.

\ Hubbard's Narrative, 64.

§See the letter giving the names of the company in Deane's Scituate, 122-3.

Pierce Genealogy. 25

Nanuntenoo's victory was complete, but, as usual on such occa-
sions, the English consoled themselves by making the loss of the
Indians appear as large as possible. Dr. Mather says that some
of the Indians that were afterward taken confessed they lost one
hundred and forty, which, no doubt, is not far from the truth.*

An Englishman, and perhaps the only who escaped from this
disastrous fight, was saved by one of the friendly Indians in this
manner. The friendly Indian being taken for a Narragansett, as
he was pursuing, with an uplifted tomahawk, the English soldier,
no one interfered, leaving him to pursue an unarmed English-
man at such great advantage. In this manner, covering them-
selves in the woods, they escaped.

A friendly Indian, being pursued by one of Nanuntenoo's men,
got behind the roots of a fallen tree. Thus screened by the earth
raised upon them, the Indian that pursued waited for him to run
from his natural fort, knowing he would not dare to maintain it
long. The other soon thought of an expedient, which was to
make a port-hole in his breast-work, which was easily done by
digging through the dirt. When this was done he put his gun
through and shot his pursuer and then fled in perfect safety.
-. Another escaped in a manner very similar. In his flight he got
behind a large reck. This afforded him a good shelter, but in the
end he saw nothing but certain disaster, and the longer he held
out the more misery he must suffer. In this deplorable situation
he bethought himself to try the following device: Putting his cap
upon his gun, he raised it very gradually above the rock, as though
to discover the position of the enemy; it had the desired effect —
he fired upon it. The one behind the rock now rushed upon him,

Online LibraryFrederick Clifton PiercePierce genealogy, no. IV : being the record of the posterity of Capt. Michael, John and Capt. William Pierce, who came to this country from England → online text (page 2 of 32)