Friday, February 3, 2012

Beginnings of the Pearson Family

Peter was the first Pearson

The Normans introduced the practice of surnames in England, no doubt in order to collect taxes. Later, when the feudal system was abolished and land could be owned outright, surnames took on a legal necessity. Occupational surnames became common, names such as Smith, Chapman, Brewer, Baker, Wright and Taylor. So too, baptismal names, William-son, John-son, David-son, and Peter-son.

The French speaking Normans spelled Peter "Pierre". Thus, we have Pierson, Peersonne, and Pearson. During the First World War, when my grandfather was in France, he chose for a time to revert to the spelling of his last name as Pierson. This is a good lesson for those who follow records. The spelling of names change.

Edward Peersonne

If we have to pick a date and a place, let us choose 1575 when Edward Peersonne was born.The place of his birth is uncertain, a statement which needs some explaining, and some understanding of history.

England in the 1570's

It is England in the 1570's. Pope Pius V excommunicates England's Queen Elizabeth I. Martin Frobisher discovers Frobisher Bay while searching for the Northwest Passage, and Francis Drake leaves Plymouth to begin his circumnavigation of the globe.

William Shakespeare is still a wee lad and England has not yet begun to colonize North America.

St. Bartholemew's Church, Wilmslow Parish

St. Bart's

There is Wilmslow Parish on Mobberley Brook, in Bollin Township, Cheshire, England. Here is the 16th century church of St. Bartholemew's, and its parish records, evidence of the birth of Edward's nine children, many of whom are given Dayne Row as the place of their birth.

Today, there exists a Dane Drive and Dean Row in Wilmslow, with Dean's Row appearing to be the more ancient of the two. It is a dangerous thing, but let us assume that it is Dean Row where Edward's nine children were born. It lies about a mile east of Wilmslow in the midst of fields and from this we may guess again that the Peersonnes were tillers of the fields. The name and the occupation are coincidental of William Langland's Middle English literary creation Piers Plowman.

I said the place was uncertain.

St. Wilfred's

There is the 13th century St. Wilfred's church in Mobberley Parish, built on the remains of an even more ancient Saxon church, lying to the west of Wilmslow.  It is here in the parish cemetery that in 1656 on August the 16th, Robert Pearson was the first person buried at Mobberley Quaker Cemetery.

St. Wilfred's church, image credit churchcrawler

All of this is known from the Wilmslow parish records. I am not taking credit for the information. That credit goes to Wally Garchow and Corinne Diller and others who took the time to look over baptisms, marriages, and deaths and record the information.

Ancestry now provides this information to the public.

Making sense of history

Making sense of a few records is no easy matter.

What happened in Edward Peersonne's life is for the most part unknown and always will be.  Between  Edward's birth in 1575 and Robert's death in 1656, many historical events took place. Kings would come and go, a Commonwealth was for a time the government. William Shakespeare had written all of his plays and was now dead and buried many years. America was a thriving colony that beckoned many Englishmen and women seeking a better life.

And yes, George Fox had a vision that man could directly receive a vision from God. Quakerism, his religion was gaining in popularity and counted among its adherents 60,000 souls. Pennsylvania would call on many Quakers, including some named Pearson.

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