Recorded in many forms as shown below, this is an English surname. It is one of the many created from the popular personal name "Peter", which in medieval England was more usually found as "Piers". "Peter" derives from the Greek petros, meaning a 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, including Pierce, Pearce, Piers, Peers, Peres, Perse, Persse, and the rare diminutives Persett or Persitt. Danyell Pierce was an early settler in America, leaving the town of Ipswich in Suffolk, on the ship "Elizabeth", bound for New England, in 1634. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Gilbert Perse. This was dated 1198, in the Pipe Rolls of the city of London, during the reign of King Richard 1st, known as "The Lionheart", 1189 - 1199. Surnames became necessary when governments introduced personal taxation. In England this was sometimes known as the 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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