The Norman Invasion of 1066 introduced into England certain French influences which were so strong that within a few hundred years they completely absorbed most of the Anglo-Saxon language and traditions. Once of these influences evolved into the system of hereditary surnames which was in turn transferred to the American Colonies in the Sixteenth Century.
Colonel Frederick C. Pierce, in Pierce Genealogy, Being the Record of Posterity of Richard Pearce, of Portsmouth in Rhode Island Who Came from England and Whose Genealogy is Traced Back to 972, presents an interesting account of the early Percy/Pers/Pearce/Pierce family beginning with Manfred, the Danish Cheiftaiin who was born about 972, and brings the genealogical line down through Galfred, his son, then the Dukes of Northumberland to Richard Pearce, Jr., Emigrant to New England. In his book, he writes about the Percies being the teme of many minstrels. For example, Galfred, the son of Mandfred, was the subject in the The Hermit of Warkworth:
Leslie G. Pine, in Sons of the Conqueror: Descendants of Norman Ancestry, mentions the Percy family as taking its name from Percy-en-engle in Calvados and was founded in England by William de Percy, the Doomsday tenant-in-chief.
The Directory of the Ancestral Heads of New England Families, 1620-1700, compiled by Frank Holmes states:
"Percy, Peerce. Ancestry of this family is traced to Manfield, a Danish Chieftain; one who assisted in the subjugation of Normandy 912. Richard was Standard Bearer of Richard III at the Battle of Bosworth, 1485 and founded Pearce Hall in Yorkshire, England. The renowned family of Percy of Northumberland, England, derived their name from Percy Forest in the province of Maen, Normandy, whence they came with William the Conqueror to England, one bearing the name was commander of his fleet."
Lora S. LaMance, in The Greene Family and its Branches, states: "The name was originally Normand-French, and was then St. Pierre--(Saint Peter). The first name-bearer was a devotee of Saint Peter, who was taken, it is supposed, some special vow or obligation before the shrine of the Saint. The family were of noble blood..... They came to England at the Conquest, or soon after, and there the name quickly ocrrupted itself into Pierce or Pirce, written at first Piers or Perres."
The Pierce Family, compiled by The American Genealogical Research Institute, states: "The name Pierce is one of the many names which evolved from the old French (again the Norman influence) word for Peter--Piers. Other variants are: Pearce, Pears, Pieris, Pierses, Peers, Peirs, Peirse, Perse, Persse, Peres, Perres, and others. In passing, it is interesting to note that there are more churches dedicated to St. Peter in England than to any other Apostle."
Seven Pierce Families by Harvey Cushmand Pirece sate that "before the English orthography was settled in the eighteenth century, the name was written many ways, according to the writers idea of what spelling most clearly represented its sound. In the oldest pronunciation the vowel sound appears to have been the same as in 'pair' of 'there'. Later the pronunciation was modified to 'purse', which is still heard in New England. The spellings 'Pierce' and 'Pearce' were most in use."
From the above citations, it can readily be seen that our Pierce family originated in Normandy and that the spelling and pronunciation has undergone many changes.
The Pierce Family, cited above, pictures three crests used by members of the Pierce family. All were similar; one is described below:
ARMS: Argent a fess humettee sable between three blackbirds (a black band which does no reach the edges of a silver shield, between three blackbirds).
CREST: A crane rising
MOTO: In futura spector (I am faced with the future)