This is an English surname created from the popular and old - established personal name 'Peter', which in medieval England was more usually found as 'Piers'. 'Peter' derives from the Greek 'Petros', meaning 'rock', and was the name given by Jesus to Simon to be symbolic of steadfastness in faith. St. Peter was the favourite saint of the medieval church, and his name popular throughout Christendom during the Middle Ages. The version 'Piers' is the French one, originally brought over by the Normans at the time of the Conquest in 1066. There are at least sixteen different spellings of the name in the modern idiom, from Pierce, Pearce and Piers, to Peers, Peres and Perse. John Peirce was granted a ticket to immigrate from the Barbados to the American colonies on January 21st 1678. He sailed aboard the "Judith" under Captain Robert Kingsland. James Peirce (1674-1726) was a dissenting divine who was presbyterian minister at Newbury from 1703 - 1713. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Gilbert Perse, which was dated 1198, London Pipe Rolls, during the reign of King Richard 1st, 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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