John Pearce

John PEARCE (1588 – 1661) was Alex’s  11th Great Grandfather, one of 4,096 in this generation of the Shaw line. His name has been spelled Pearce, Pierce, Peirce, and Pers.

John Pearce – Coat of Arms

John Pierce was born 8 Apr 1588 in Norwich, Norfolk, England. His parents were Richard PIERCE (1540 – 1641) and Marguerite CONEY (1550 – ???). He married Elizabeth TRULL on 22 Apr 1610 in Norwich, Norfolk, England. He was among the passengers on either the John & Dorothy of Ipswich with William Andrews the Master or the Rose of Yarmouth with William Andrews, Jr. the Master. These two vessels sailed from Ipswich, England and arrived in Boston 8 June 1637. Listed as passengers were “John Pers”, aged 49, weaver of Norwich, wife Elizabeth, aged 36, children John, Barbre (Barbara), Elizabeth, and Judith, and a servant, John Gednay (Gedney), aged 19.  John died 19 Aug 1661 in Watertown, Middlesex, Mass.

Elizabeth Trull was born 1591 in Norwich, England.  Elizabeth died 12 Mar 1666/67 in Watertown, Mass. at age 80.  Alternatively, her maiden name was Hart or Stoker.

Children of John and Elizabeth:

Name Born Married Departed
1. Robert PEARCE c. 1612  Norwich, Norfolk, England Abigail SYMONDS about 164 21 Mar 1678/79 Ipswich, Mass
2. Anthony Pearce 1611
Norwich, England
Mary [__?__]
Ann [__?__]
Watertown, Mass
9 MAY 1678
Watertown, Middlesex, Mass
3. Esther Pearce 6 Aug 1612
Norwich, England
Joseph Morse
Watertown, Mass
4 May 1694
Watertown, Mass
4. John Pearce 19 Mar 1617
Norwich, England
Elizabeth Smith
5. Barbara Pearce 1621
Norwich, England
After 1637 trip to New England
6. Elizabeth Pearce 11 Apr 1624
Norwich, England
John Ball
Watertown, Mass
7. Judith Pearce 8 Feb 1627
Norwich, England
Francis WYMAN
(our ancestor thru his 2nd wife)
30 Jan 1644/45
Watertown or Woburn, Mass
Before 1650
8. Mary Pearce 1625
Norwich, England
Clement Coldman 26 Jan 1704/05
Gloucester, Mass.

John Pierce was a weaver.

John Pierce was a man of very good estate. He settled at Watertown, where he was the grantee of one lot and purchaser before 1644 of three lots, one of which was his homestead of 12 acres. He was a freeman at Watertown in March 1638.

His will of March 4, 1658 was probated October 1, 1659. In it he provides for his wife, Elizabeth, his eldest son, Anthony, and his other children without naming them. His widow, in her will made March 15, 1667, names her children: Anthony; John; Robert; Esther Morse, wife of Joseph Morse; and Mary Coldham; and her grandchildren: Mary Ball, another Ball, Esther Morse, and the children of Anthony and Robert Ball.

John Peirce, a weaver, of Wat., Admitted. freeman, Mar., 1637-8. His will, not naming his children., was dated Mar. 4, 1667-8 and he d. Aug 19, 1661.

His Widow, Elizabeth, d. Mar 12, 1666/67. Her will, dated Mar 5, approved Apr , 1667, mentions son Anthony (sole Executor), son Robert (Admitted. freeman, May 13, 1642), son John, daughter Esther Morse (wife of first Joseph Morse, of Wat.), daughter Mary Coldman, grand Daughters. Mary and Esther Ball, children. of her daughter Elizabeth. It is probable that her son Robert settled in Woburn. Perhaps her son John was the one Admitted. freeman, 1652, and the one who, by wife Elizabeth, had John, b. in Boston, June 16, 1643. It is however more probable that he was an early settler of Westhersfield, Connecticut. Among the gleanings of Judge Savage for new England History (Mass. Hist. Coll., 4th Series, Vol. I., p. 96), is the following extract from an ancient document, lately found in the English Exchequer. “April th 8th, 1637. The examination of John Pers of Norwich in Noff (Norwich in Norfolk) weaver aged 49 years and Elizabeth his wife aged 36 years with four children John, Barbre, Elizabeth and Judeth and one servant John Gedney aged 19 years are desirous to passe to Boston in New England to inhabit.” The name, age, occupation, and date of the embarkation of the father of this family, favour the idea that he was the John Peirce, who settled in Watertown If so, either Elizabeth was his 2d wife, or there was a mistake in her age; and he must have come to America some years after the arrival of his son Anthony.

Will of John Pearc 4 Mar 1657/8:

In the name of God amen the fourth day of the i mo Anno Dom 1657/8 I John Perse of Watertowne in the County of Midlesex in New England weaver, being through the Lords mercy in good health, Sound mind and of good understanding. do make and ordaine this my last will & Testamt. My poore mortall Soule I do Desire freely and humbly to leave it in the everlasting Armes of the mercies of God the father in Christ Jesus My body I comitt to the earth to be decently buried at the Discreation of my Executrix, And as for my outward estate wch the Lord hath been pleased of his goodness to blesse me with all, and for a short time to make me Steward of, My Will is that (my funeral expences and all other my just debts being first payd and fully Sattisfied) My loveing wife Elizabeth Perse shall freely have and enjoy the same i.e. my dwelling house outhouses and all my lands Cattle, corne, & all other my goods and Chattlells Debts and Dues of what wr or kind soever, out of wch, my will is that shee the said Elizabeth with in one yeare next comeing after my decesae shall pay or cause to be payd unto my Eldest sonne Anthony Perse Twenty shillings and to the rest of my Children ten shillings a peece, to be payd in Country pay, also I Do hereby nominate & Appoynt the above said Elizabeth Sole Executrix of this my last will and Testamt In witness whereof I the said John Perse have here unto put my hand & seale the Day and yeare first above written
John Pers

It was proved 1 Oct 1661, and the inventory amounted to £271-07-00, consisting of real and personal property including a homestall, dwelling house, two barns and 12 acres; also meadow and 24 acres upland, 3 acres plowland, the stock etc


1. Robert PEARCE (See his page)

2. Anthony Pearce

Anthony’s wife Mary [__?__] was born about 1611 in Norwich, England died before 1633.

Anthony’s second wife  Ann [__?__] died 20 Jan 1682 in Watertown, Middlesex., Massachusetts

3. Esther Pearce

Esther was not listed on the ship’s manifest with her parents and married Joseph Morse in 1637, the year they arrived.

Esther’s husband Joseph Morse was born about 1610 in England. His parents were Joseph Morse b: Abt 1587 and Dorothy Barbour. Joseph died 4 MAR 1690/91 in Watertown, Middlesex, Mass.

Joseph Morse emigrated in 1634 from Ipswich, England, embarking on the ship “Elizabeth” – ship master William Andrews. He settles in Watertown, Massachusetts and is one of the proprietors. He was admitted freeman 6 May 1635.

4. John Pearce

John’s wife Elizabeth [__?__]

6. Elizabeth Pearce

Elizabeth’s husband John Ball was born about 1620 in Norwich, Norfolk, England. His parents were John Ball and Joanna King. John Ball married as his first wife Elizabeth Pierce before 1644. John Ball married as his second wife Elizabeth Fox, daughter of Thomas Fox and Rebecca [__?__], on 3 August 1665. John Ball died on 10 Feb 1675/76 in Lancaster, Massachusetts Bay Colony, now Worcester County. He was killed in the Lancaster Indian massacre.

On Oct 21, 1665, he sold his farm in Watertown and removed to Lancaster, where he was one of the earliest settlers. In the attack on the town by Indians, Feb. 20, 1676, he, his wife, and son Joseph were slain and two other children taken into captivity.

John Ball was a tailor. His first wife, Elizabeth Peirce, by whom he had four children, was insane in 1660 and probably had been for some time. In March of 1660/1661 John Ball resigned his three children to his father and mother “Peirse” as their own and gave them two oxen and two cows. He also yielded his wife to his in-laws and the use of his house and lands as long as she continued there, and if God took her before she returned to him, the said was property to be his children’s by his said wife, Elizabeth. The deed wasn’t recorded until 31 October 1664, which makes it likely that Elizabeth probably died shortly before that date.

Selectmen’s records show that John and Elizabeth were still together in 1657, as evidenced by Abigail’s birth in 1658, but were unable to care for the children:

8 Dec 1656 – “Ordered yt John Baall be warned to the next towne meeting to make known his condicion”.

11 Dec 1656 Selectmen’s meeting — “John Baall appearing, it is ordered yt Capt Masan is to Joyne wth Brother Baall in putting forth two of his children to Brother Pearce, as allso one other child to such as may be thought fitt to take the same”.

3 Jan 1656/57 – “Richard Gale, have covenanted to take, the daughter of John Baall, Saraih Baall abought the age of 2 yeares, in consideration thearof, the sd Gale is to have the child for fower yeares, & the sd Ball is to find the sd Sarah necessary cloathing for 3 yeares of the sd 4 …”.

3 Jan 1656/57 – “These are to testifye, yt John Baall wth the consent of the selct men, hath putt two of his children as apprentices unto John pearce Senior untill ye come to the age as the law pvides, yt is to say, John the son of John Baall, untill he come, to the age of 21 yeares, in wch time the sd John pearce, is to find him sufficiency of meate drinke & cloathes, & the above named John Baall is to obey all those lawfull comands given by the sd John pearce & his wife, at the end of his tearme, John pearce is to give John Baall, a Loome fitted to fall to worke, and double apparrell, wth the trade of weaving, he is all to instruct him, & to learne him to read the English tongue, & to teach him & instruct him in the knowledge of God, & concerning the other child wch is a maide child of the age of 5 yeares, she is to be as an apprentice, untill she come to the age of eighteene yeares, except the sd John pearce & his wife dept this world before the time pfixed, that then the sd Marie shall be free, but if they all live then the sd Marie is to rece of the sd John pearce her granfather or grandmother, a bible & double apparrell, & in the time of her appentishipe she is to be brought up to reade the english tongue, & instructed in the knowleg of God”.

3 Feb 1656/1657 – “It is ordered yt Capt. Masan wth our Brother Bearsto doe goe to Sister Baall, and there to acquaint her yt it is the mind of the Select men, yt she sett her selfe to the Carding of two Skaines of Cotton or sheeps wooll & her daughter to spin it, wth other Business of the family & this to be her daily taske, the wch is she refuse, she must expect, to be sent to the howse of corection”. There is no explanation of the order or what is to become of the wool, but it seems a bit harsh to send her to jail if she ignored the order. While this “Sister Baall” could be John’s mother, it was probably his wife. Perhaps the work was to be done to help pay for the care of her children placed in other families.

20 Sep 1658 – It was agreed that Joseph Morse would take the three year old child of John Ball for a term of two years, Esther Ball, neice of Joseph Morse who had married Esther Peirce, the sister of John Ball’s wife. John signed the agreement by mark and Joseph signed his name. At the same time another child, Abigail, one half year of age, was placed with Anthony White for one year.

John Ball’s second marriage was on 3 Oct 1665 to Elizabeth Fox, possibly the daughter of Thomas Fox of Concord. On 21 Oct 1665 John sold to William Perry his farm in Watertown, which he had purchased from John Lawrence, and went to Lancaster. It is not known if the children lived with their father after his second marriage or not. Their grandfather John Peirce had died in 1661 and thier grandmother died shortly after. In any event, they luckily were not at John’s house in Lancaster in 1676.

The town of Lancaster was destroyed by Indian attack on 10 Feb 1675/76 at the height of King Phillip’s War. Sholan had invited the English to the area and was their staunch friend. After his death, his nephew Matthew continued the friendship, but Matthew’s successor Shosanin apparently saw things a little differnetly. He was enlisted in Phillip’s cause to exterminate the colonists.

As a frontier town, Lancaster had no settlement between it and the Connecticut River. Groton was 15 miles to the north and Stow and Marlborough were on the east and south, respectively, making it a good candidate for attack. The townspeople had made some preparations for trouble during the Indian War. Four or five of the houses had been designated as garrisons. These were centrally located buildings that had been fortified. One of these garrisons was the house of Rev. Joseph Rowlandson, the minister of the town. The town was clearly fearful of the Indians and on the 10th of February, Rev. Rowlandson and two others were in Boston trying to get the General Court to send soldiers for the defense of the town.

On the morning of February 10th, 1500 Indians are said to have attacked the town in five different places at once. The Rowlandson garrison came under strong attack and was the only garrison overrun. Mary Rowlandson, wife of the minister, was taken prisoner and some weeks later ransomed back to her family.

Mary Rowlandson Mary Rowlandson from A Narrative of the Captivity, Sufferings and Removes of Mrs. Mary Rowlandson, Boston: Nathaniel Coverly, 1770

Mary (White) Rowlandson (c. 1637 –  1711) was  held for 11 weeks before being ransomed. After her release, she wrote a book about her experience, The Sovereignty and Goodness of God: Being a Narrative of the Captivity and Restoration of Mrs. Mary Rowlandson, which is considered a seminal American work in the literary genre of captivity narratives. It went through four printings in a short amount of time and garnered widespread readership, making it in effect the first American “bestseller.”

In it she writes, “Quickly it was the dolefullest day that ever mine eyes saw.” After some hours and several attempts, the garrison was finally set on fire with forty-two people inside. Many were shot or tomahawked as they tried to escape the flames. Those women and children who got out alive were herded off into the woods to be later sold for ransom if they did not die from their wounds or were killed for traveling too slowly.

Very early in the attack a house was overrun by the Indians before the inhabitants could escape to the garrison. “There were five persons taken in one house. The father and the mother and a sucking child they knocked on the head; the other two they took and carried away alive.” This was the family of a tailor named John Ball. John Ball’s estate was administered by his son John of Watertown 1 Feb 1677/78. The Ball homestead and the Rowlandson garrison were in the south part of Lancaster. John’s lands were never described in the town’s Book of Lands although he was one of the first inhabitants. His lands were sold in 1682 to Thomas Harris.

Children of John Ball and Elizabeth Peirce:

i. John Ball b. 1644 in Watertown, Mass; d. 8 May 1722 in Watertown, Mass; m. 17 Oct 1665 Sarah Bullard
ii. Mary Ball  b. 1650 Watertown, Mass, d. Aug 1691 Cambridge, Mass; m. 1672 William Munroe (1625, Scotland – 27 Jan 1717 Lexington, Middlesex, Mass.)

William and Mary Munroe Headstones — Old Burying Ground Lexington, Middlesex, Mass

William Munroe, son of Robert of Aldie, is the 18th in direct descent from that first Donald who, in the eleventh century, founded the Clan Munro. William and his brothers Robert, George and Benedict all fought at the Battle of Worcester.   Charles II escaped after many adventures, including one famous incident where he hid from a Parliamentarian patrol in an oak tree in the grounds of Boscobel House. Around 8,000 Scottish prisoners were deported to New England, Bermuda, and the West Indies to work for landowners as indentured labourers.

Battle of Worchester Reenactors

William was sent to the American colonies as a prisoner of war. They were listed on 13 May 1652 on a list of the banished as Munroes: Robert, Hugh, John and a name obliterated by time, supposedly William. They were shipped to London on 11 Nov 1651 by Je. Rex, Robert Rich and William Green in the “John and Sarah.”

If William was an apprentice, it was for a short time. He was on his own by 1657. He is first referred to in the Cambridge, Massachusetts records of 1657 when he and Thomas Rose were fined for not having rings in the noses of their pigs. In 1660 he settled in Cambridge Farms, now known as Lexington, near the Woburn line. This part of town became known as “Scotland.” He was a freeman in 1690 and in 1699 received communion into the church. [almost 50 years after his arrival I would note.]

Five-year-old Mary ended up in the Watertown home of John and Elizabeth Pierce, parents of her crazy mother.

Evidence suggests that Mary’s mother may have inherited some of her instability from her own mother, but no record that I’ve seen gives any insight on the eleven years that Mary spent in the grandparental household. Except that John Pierce died in 1661, half-way through those years, leaving Elizabeth Pierce alone to care for young Mary and her older brother John. By the time Widow Grandma Elizabeth died in 1667, Mary had sprouted into an apparently-attractive 16-year-old, and John was just attaining his majority. Under the circumstances, the Selectmen, apparently with at least the concurrence of the absent father, John Ball, thought it best to place unattached teenager Mary as a servant in the household of the prominent Bacon family of neighboring Woburn.

Michael Bacon (1639-1707 is the principal villain in this piece. He married Sarah Richardson (another prominent Woburn name) in 1661, about age 20. Abigail, their third daughter, arrived in the household in the same year that Mary became a servant there.

In 1670, after a miserable and painful childhood, nineteen-year-old Mary Ball found herself pregnant by her beloved master, Woburn householder Michael Bacon, who abandoned her and sent her away to Rhode Island. Mary’s father complained to the court. Arrested, Bacon broke jail and was recaptured in a classic hue-and-cry operation.

Having received a heartbreaking letter from Mary, begging for clemency for herself and Bacon, the court forced Bacon to promise to raise the child. Meanwhile, Mary’s home town, Watertown, sent two Selectmen to warn her “to depart the Town forthwith.” Neighbors, kinsfolk and friends who had harbored Mary during pregnancy and delivery started submitting bills to the Court. As her precarious support network crumbled around her, Mary wrote a second letter, this time to Bacon, urging him to act like a man.

Which, on the evidence, he made no effort to do. In concert with the sanctimonious society of Puritan Massachusetts, Michael Bacon and his cronies seem to have taken every opportunity to leave Mary twisting in the proverbial wind. It remained to neighbors William and Martha Munroe to breast the current of public opinion, official and otherwise, and to offer Mary her first secure home. For which I honor their memory and invite you, dear reader, to join me.

The next year, Martha Munroe died, leaving William with four small children (kinfolk, incidentally, of the Lexington Militia who earned our reverence by facing the Redcoats on the 19th of April, 1775). Grandpa William did not languish in his widowhood: within the year, Mary Ball, half his age, had become the second Mrs William Munroe. Over the next twenty years, she presented William with a child every other year, dying at age 41, apparently in or near childbirth with the last little Munroe. William married once more and lived to 92, serving as a Selectman of Cambridge and otherwise transcending his humble beginnings and exemplifying solid citizenship. He had no children with Elizabeth: maybe 14 (with 13 reaching maturity) was a large enough family to suit him.

That’s a triumphant-enough ending, but I suppose I should mention that Michael Bacon entered the picture yet again, before the year was out, in a pathetic story of barratry and bad-neighborliness. Seems he knocked on the Munroes’ door one snowy evening to complain that they had a pig of his. Having indeed a stray in their sty, they helped him separate his from theirs and saw him on his way. Soon, however, the stray returned, followed by a furious Bacon accusing them of stealing her. Bacon then led a mixed grill of his and theirs through three miles of snow to his house, losing a pregnant sow of theirs along the way. The consequent legal contention led to two hearings and a jury trial, each ending in a verdict in the Munroes’ favor.

William and Mary Munroe Headstones — Don’t they look like they’re cuddling together?


iii. Sarah, b. 1654, m. 5 June 1677 Benjamin Chamberlain
iv. Esther, b. 1655
v. Abigail, b. 20 April 1658 in Watertown, Mass.

Children of John Ball and Elizabeth Fox:

vi. Joseph, b. 12 March 1669/70 in Watertown, Mass; captured by Indians
vii. child, captured by Indians
viii. child, died 10 Feb 1675/76 in Lancaster, Massachusetts

7. Judith Pearce

Judith’s husband Francis WYMAN was baptized 24 Feb 1618/19 in West Mill, Hertfordshire, England..  His parents were Francis WYMAN(T)  and Elizabeth RICHARDSON.  Francis and Judith did not have any children.

After Judith died, he married  he married our ancestor Abigail Justice REED on 2 Oct 1650 in Woburn, Mass.  He owned a tannery  at the present Main and Wyman Streets near Central Square. Francis’ house has not been recorded, but his brother John’s house was a two story frame house 34 by 26 feet with 13 windows having 40 rods of land adjoining.   By 1666 they had also built country farms in what is now Burlington, a few miles north, on what became the Billerica boundry.  He lived to testify at the Salem Witch trials.   Francis died 30 Nov 1699 in Woburn, Mass. and was buried in the Old Burial Ground.

8. Mary Pearce

Mary’s husband Clement Coldman was born 1623 in Deal, Kent, England. His parents were Thomas Coldham and Jonnah [__?__]. Clement died 18 Dec 1703 in Gloucester, Mass.


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7 Responses to John Pearce

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  4. jane johnson says:

    Wow cool u should genealogy on the famous pierces whoa whoa wow!

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  6. Roger SMith says:

    This is all very interesting and well put together…however, I would have to exactly John Pierce…who was born in 1588, had a mother, Marguerite Coney, that died 16 years before he was born…?

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