This most interesting surname, though found chiefly in England, is of Old French origin, deriving from the popular and old established personal name "Piers", a diminutive of the French personal name "Pierre", cognate with "Peter", from the Greek "Petros", rock. This name was given by Jesus to Simon to be symbolic of his steadfastness in faith. St. Peter became the favourite saint of the medieval church and Peter itself became a popular personal name throughout Christendom in the Middle Ages. The version Piers was introduced to England by the Normans after the Conquest of 1066. The name Pearse while mainly associated with Cornwall, is also found in Ireland as Pierce and Pierse, and is an Anglo-Irish family name found mainly in East Leinster. There are at least sixteen variant spellings of the name in the modern idiom, ranging from Pierce and Piers to Peers, Peres and Perse. The personal name appears as Peris le ceynturer in 1292 in the Subsidy Rolls of London, while Geoffrey Peres was recorded in 1237 in the Records of Hornchurch Priory (Essex). Adam Peris was mentioned in the Subsidy Rolls of Worcester in 1275. On January 21st 1593, Ann Pearce married John Baker at St. Dionis Backchurch, London. An interesting namebearer was Padraig Pearse (1879 - 1916), schoolmaster, poet and revolutionary who with his brother was executed for his part in the Easter Rising of 1916 in Dublin, one of the most important events in Irish history. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Gilbert Perse, which was dated 1198, in the "Pipe Rolls of London", during the reign of King Richard 1, known as "The Lionheart", 1189 - 1199. Surnames became necessary when governments introduced personal taxation. In England this was known as Poll Tax. Throughout the centuries, surnames in every country have continued to "develop" often leading to astonishing variants of the original spelling.
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