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. One "Danyell Pierce" was an early settler in America, leaving Ipswich on the "Elizabeth", bound for New England, in 1634. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Gilbert Perse, which was dated 1198, in the "London Pipe Rolls", 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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