Origin, Meaning and Family History of the Pearson Name
Pearson Surname Name Meaning, Origin, History, & Etymology
This primarily English/Irish last name is a baptismal or patronymic surname meaning “the son of Piers or Pierce”, an old English personal (first) name, which is in turn the vernacular form of the ancient biblical first name Peter, a name popularized throughout Europe, Christendom, and the Holy Roman Empire during medieval times and the Middle Ages by the fact it was borne by St. Peter, also known as Simon Peter or Simeon, one of the Twelve Apostles of Jesus Christ in the Christian religion who was born around 1 AD in the Middle East (Syria), serving as the First Bishop of Rome (Italy) and Antioch (Turkey). The name Peter is derives from the Latin petra and from the Greek petros, meaning rock or stone. The Old French masculine given form was Pierre or Piers, a name which was introduced into the British Isles during and after the Norman Conquest of 1066 AD.
This surname first became established in Berwickshire where one Walter Pierson rendered homage to King Edward I of England during his conquest of Scotland in 1296 AD. The family was also present in Lancashire. The book A Topographical Dictionary of England by Samuel Lewis, states the following “Crook Hall was the seat of the Pearsons”.
Some spelling variants or names with similar etymologies include Pierson, Peerson, Peirson, Porsune, Person, Perisson, Peresone, Peressone, Pearison, Piearson, Peairson, Pearsson, Peaerson, Peaarson, Pearsone, and Pearhrson.
Popularity & Geographic Distribution
The last name Pearson ranks 281st in popularity in the United Status as of the 2000 Census. The name ranks particularly high in the following twelve states: Minnesota, South Carolina, Washington, Mississippi, Utah, Iowa, Nebraska, South Dakota, Montana, North Dakota, Alaska, and Iowa. The surname Pearson frequency/commonness ranks as follows in the British Isles: England (109th), Scotland (241st), Wales (172nd), Ireland (1,052nd) and Northern Ireland (534th). In England, it ranks highest in counties Cumberland, Westmorland, and Yorkshire. In Scotland, the surname ranks highest in East Lothian and Shetland. In Wales, it ranks highest in Anglesey. In Ireland, it ranks highest in Queen’s County. In Northern Ireland, it ranks highest in county Armagh. The name is also present throughout the remainder English speaking world: Canada (324th), New Zealand (182nd), Australia (183rd), and South Africa (777th).
The last name Pierson ranks 1,158th in popularity in the United Status as of the 2000 Census. The name ranks particularly high in the following six states: Delaware, Minnesota, Montana, South Dakota, Nebraska, and Idaho. The name is the 971st most popular surname in France and ranks 305th in Luxembourg. The surname Pearson frequency/commonness ranks as follows in the British Isles: England (7,158), Scotland (8,843rd), Wales (9,097th), Ireland (8,504th) and Northern Ireland (5,630th). In England, it ranks highest in Hertfordshire. In Scotland, the surname ranks highest in Stirlingshire. In Wales, it ranks highest in county Monmouthshire. In Ireland, it ranks highest in county Louth. In Northern Ireland, it ranks highest in county Armagh. The name is also present throughout the remainder English speaking world: Canada (3,937th), New Zealand (3,758th), Australia (8,684th), and South Africa (49,486th).
Early Bearers of the Surname
Richard Peresone was listed in the Exchequer Lay Subsidy Rolls of Somerset in 1327 AD. John Pierisson was documented in Warwickshire, England in 1332 AD. A one Robert Peresoon was recorded in Yorkshire in 1395 AD. William Pierson was listed in Lancashire in 1412 AD. The Poll Tax of Yorkshire in 1379 AD lists three bearers of this last name: Robertus Perisson, Hugo Perison, and Johannes Pereson. Kirby’s Quest lists Walter Peressone and Richard Peresone in county Somerset, England in 1327 AD. John Peyrson or Pereson was listed in the Register of the University of Oxford in 1510 AD. An early marriage involving this surname was John Peerson to Dorothy Stoderd in London in 1554 AD. An early baptism involving this name was Frances, daughter of John Peirson, at St. Dionis Backchurch in 1639 AD.
Pearson Family Tree & Pearson Genealogy
Pearson of St. Dunstan
John Pearson, of Arran Lodge, Bognor, and Upper Gloucester Place, London, was born in 1772, the son of John of Norton. In 1801, he married Anne Broadhurst, and had issue with her. One of his issue was Reverend Arthur Pearson, Rector of Springfield, Essex, was born in 1803. In 1836, he married Sophia Jane, daughter of Thomas Frost Gepp of Chelmsford, and had five children with her prior to his death in 1886. His eldest son was Reverend Arthur Cyril Pearson, born in 1838. This son Arthur studied at Balliol College Oxford and was Rector of Drayton Parslow and of Springfield. In 1864, he married Philippa Massingbred Maxwell, daughter of Henry William Maxwell Lyte, and had four issue with her as follows: Sir Cyril Arthur (1st Baronet), Ethel, Mabel Philippa (married Reverend Alfred Sidney Menzies), Marion, and Olive Noel (married Harry Holden Arnold). He died in 1916. His only son, Sir Cyril Arthur Pearson, 1st Baronet, was born in 1866. Cyril was the founder of St. Dunstan’s for the care of soldiers, sailors, and airmen blinded in World War I, as well as President of the National Institute for the Blind, among holding other positions. He lost his sight completely in 1914. In 1866, he married Isobel Sarah, daughter of Reverend Frederick Bennett (Vicar of Maddington) and had three issue with her: Isla (married Charles Frederick Rutty Knowles of Arnside House), Muriel (married Captain E.W. Seton Cotterill, later Charles C.K. Dagg, and later E.O. Whitefield), and Norah (married Henry Frederick Lipscomb, later Captain Harold Johnson, and Maurice George Reid Aitken). He secondly married Ethel Maud, President of St. Dunstan’s, daughter of William John Fraser of London, and had a son with her named Arthur Neville (2nd Baronet). He was created a Baronet in July of 1916. He died in 1921 and was succeeded by his only son. Sir Arthur Neville Pearson, 2nd Baronet, of St. Dunstan’s, county London, England was born in February 1898 and educated at Eton. He served in both World War I and World War II. He was a Major in the Anti-Aircraft Regiment. He was a Director of George Newnes Lts. In 1922, he married Mary Angela, daughter of the 1st Baron Melchett, and had two children with her: Nigel Arthur (1925) and Anne (born 1923, married Michael Anthony Cristobal Noble, had issue). In 1928, he married Gladys, daughter of Charles Cooper, and had a daughter with her named Sally (1929). He thirdly married Anne Davis Elebash, of New York, daughter of David Montgomery Davis of Richmond, Virginia, United States. The Pearson Coat of Arms (mistakenly called the Pearson Family Crest) is blazoned in heraldry as follows: Quarertly, 1st and 4th argent, billety azure, on a pile of the last three horses heads erased of the field; 2nd and 3rd gules, a chevron between three swans argent (Lyte). Crest: A horse’s head erased sable, billety and gorged with a mural crown or. Motto: In Deo spes.
Pearson of Cowdray
The Viscount Codray in Sussex, England is a title created in 1917 in the Peerage of the United Kingdom. The 1st Viscount, also 1st Baronet, was Weetman Pearson, a British engineer, oil industrialist, and Liberal politician who was born in 1856 in Shelley Woodhouse, Yorkshire. He was the son of George Pearson and Sarah Weetman Dickinson. He married Annie Cass, daughter of Sir John Cass, and had four issue with her: Weetman Harold Miller Pearson (2nd Viscount), Francis Geoffrey Pearson, Bernard Clive Pearson, and Gertrude Mary (Baroness Denman, married Lord Denman, the Governor General of Australia). His son Weetman Harold, 2nd Viscount, lived from 1882 to 1933. He was a Member of Parliament for Eye and played polo at Oxford University. He married Agnes Beryl, daughter of Lord Edward Spencer-Churchill, with whom he had one son and five daughters. He was succeeded by his only son, Lieutenant Coloenl Weetman John Churchhill, 3rd Viscount, who lived from 1910-1995. He married Lady Anne Bridgeman, daughter of Orlando Bridgeman, and had three issue with her: Honorable Mary Teresa Person (married Lionel Stopford Sackville), Liza Jane Pearson (married Malcolm McNaughton), and Michael Orlando Weetman (4th Viscount). He later married Elizabeth Mather-Jackson, daughter of Sir Anthony Mather-Jackson, and had three issue with her: Lucy Pearson (1954), Charles Anthony Pearson (1956), and Rosanna Pearson (1959). His son Michael Orlando Weetman Pearson, 4th Viscount Cowdray, was born in 1944 and is a landowner in West Sussex, England. He was the producer of The Rolling Stones film, Sympath for the Devil. He (secondly) married Marina Rose Cordle, daughter of John Cordle, and had five issue with her: Eliza Anne Venetia (1988), Emily Jane Marina (1989), Peregrine John Dickinson Pearson (1994), and Montague Orlando William Pearson (1997).
Pearson of Gressingham
Sir Francis Fenwick Pearson, 1st Baronet (1911-991) was a British farmer, politician, and colonial administrator. Sir Francis Nicholas Fraser, Pearson, 2nd Baronet, was born in 1943.
Other Pearson/Pierson Pedigree & Family Trees
An unnamed Pearson was born in Howden, Yorkshire, England around 1490. He had a son named John. John Pearson was born in Rothwell, Yorkshire in 1517 and was known as “Old John”. He married Catherine Unk in 1538 and later Elizabeth Tensley in 1548, having fathered the following children: Robert, William, John, Agnes, Thomas, Henrie, Jennet, Marion, John, Edward, and Joan. His son William Pearson (or Peerson) was born in Asselby, England around 1541. He married Julian Collins in 1563 and later Alison Bushbie in 1581, and had the following issue: Dorothea, Alice, Margareta, Thomas, Nicholas, Thomas, Christopher, and Nicholas. His son, Sir Nicholas Pearson, was born in East Riding, Yorkshire in 1584. He married Elizabeth Brett and had a son with her named John. This son John Pearson was born around 1610 in Bradford, West Riding, England, and he went to colonial America where he married Dorcas Pickard in Massachusetts in 1643. He had numerous issue as follows: Mary, John, Elizabeth (Hopkinson), Samuel, Mary (Palmer), Dorcas (Eaton), Jeremiah, Sarah, Joseph, Benjamin, Phoebe (Harris), Stephen, and Sarah. His son, Captain John Pearson, was born in Rowley, Massachusetts in 1644. He married Mary Pickard and had the following issue with her: Sarah (Plummer), John, Joseph, Dorcas (Hobson), Jane (Plummer), Hepzibah, and Rebecca (Dole). His son Joseph was born in the same town in 1677. He married Sarah Walker and later Sarah Hale, and he had a son named John. His son John was born in Rowley, MA in 1702 and he later married Ruth Hale. He died in 1784.
Unk Pierson was born sometime between 1451 and 1511. He had a son named Sir Richard A. Pierson, Knight, who was born in St. Mary’s, England in 1516 AD. This Richard married Elizabeth, daughter of Edward Church, and had the following children with her: Henry, Christiana, Anne, Edward, Richard, and Margaret. His son Richard was born in St. Mary’s, Aldermey, England around 1542. He married Ann Harwood and had issue with her as follows: Richard, Henry, Abraham, Sir Thomas, and William. His son Abraham was born in Shadwell Parish, Stefury, Middlesex around 1580. He married Mary Drake and Christina Johnston, and had issue as follows: Thomas, Abraham, Henry, Rebecca, Edward, Abigale, Grace, John, Susanna, and Samuel. His son Reverend Abraham Pierson was born in Settle, North Yorkshire, England in 1609. He went to colonial America where he died in Newark, New Jersey. He married Abigail, daughter of Matthew Mitchell, and had the following issue with her: Mary (Miller), Abigail (Davenport), Grace (Kitchel), Rebecca (Johnson), Susan (Bell), James, Abraham, Thomas, Thomas Sr., John, Theophilus, Isaac, and Mercy. His son Thomas was born in Queens County, New York in 1640. He had two sons: Aaron and Thomas. His son Aaron was born in New Jersey in 1694 and had issue with his wife Margaret Rigg.
Early American and New World Settlers
John Pearson came to the New World aboard the Samuel in February 1678.
Prudence, wife of Georg Pearson was buried in June 1679 in St. Michael’s Parish, Barbados.
Cutbert Perison was recorded as living “At the Indian thicket” in Virginia in February 1623.
The book Genealogical Guide to the Early Settlers, mentions eight bearers of this last name:
1) Abraham Pierson of Brandford from Yorkshire, England came to Boston, Massachusetts in 1640, where he joined the church. He became a minister in Lynn and settled in Southampton and Brandford and Newark, New Jersey. He had issue named Abraham (1641), Thomas, John, Abigail, Grace (1650), Susanna (1652), Rebecca (1654), Theophilus (1659), Isaac, and Mary. He passed away in 1678.
2) Bartholomew Pierson of Watertown, MA, 1639, with his wife Urusula (sometimes spelled Azlee, Uzlah, Uzlee) had children named Bartholomew (three times), Martha (1653), Mary (likely?), Jonathan (1648), Joseph (1650), and Sarah (1653). He was made a freeman in 1648 and his name was spelled Porsune in some records. He moved to Woburn in 1653. He was a selectman in 1665 and the next year. He died in 1687.
3) Henry Pierson of Hempstead, Long Island, 1686
4) Hugh Pierson of Watertown, Massachusetts, 1649, had, in 1654, wife of Alice and daughter Ruth (9 years old). He was very poor. He died in 1675.
5) John Pierson of Middletown, died in 1677, leaving a widow and a three year old son
6) Peter Pierson, a Quaker, who was “whipped at the cart’s tail” in 1660. Lived in Boston, Roxbury, and Dedham, perhaps?
7) Stephen Pierson of Derby, 1679, had issue named Stephen, Sarah, and others. He may have been the son of Reverend Abraham (the first person in this list).
8) Thomas Pierson of Brandford, 1668, not the son of Reverend Abraham as some claim, married Mary in 1662, the daughter of Richard Harrison and had Samuel in 1663. He swore allegiance to the Dutch in 1673. He had other sons named Thomas and Samuel and two daughters named Elizabeth and Hannah.
Other early settlers in colonial America bearing this surname include Mary Pearson (Virginia 1646) and Laurans Pierson (Pennsylvania 1738). In Canada, Nicholas Pearson came to Halifax, Nova Scotia, with his wife and child, in 1774. In the same year, a one Joseph Pierson came to Halifax, Nova Scotia as well. In Australia, one of the earliest settlers bearing this last name was Thomas Pearson, a convict from Surrey, England who came to New South Wales (then a penal colony) aboard the Asia in 1820. In 1854, James Pierson, age 39, and Robert Pierson, age 17, likely his son, came to South Australia aboard the Lord of The Isles. In New Zealand, one of the first bearers was Jane Pearson who came to Nelson aboard the John Masterman in 1857. In 1861, two members of this family came to the city of Auckland: John aboard the Black Eagle and George aboard the Zealandia.
Early Americans Bearing the Pearson Family Crest
Charles Bolton’s American Armory (1927) contains one entry for this surname:
1) Argent two chevron azure between three (beech?) leaves erect vert. Crest: A doe’s head couped [argent] charged with two chevrons azure. Bookplate A. L. Pierson, Mass.
Crozier’s General Armory (1904) contains one entry for this name:
1) Simon Pearson of Overwharton Parish, county Stafford, Virginia, 1733. Per fesse embattled azure and gules three suns or.
Matthew’s American Armoury and Bluebook (1907) does not contain an entry for this name.
I have identified five Pearson family mottoes:
1) Perduret probitas (Let honesty endure)
2) Dum spiro spero (While I have breath I hope)
3) Rather die than disloyal (of Kippenrose)
4) Sol et scutum Deus (God is out sun and shield)
5) In Deo spes (My hope is in God)
We have 27 coats of arms for the Pearson surname depicted here. These 27 blazons are from Bernard Burke’s book The General Armory of England, Ireland, and Scotland, which was published in 1848. The bottom of this page contains the blazons, and in many instances contains some historical, geographical, and genealogical about where coat of arms was found and who bore it. People with this last name that bore an Pearson Coat of Arms (or mistakenly called the Pearson Family Crest)
1) Hugh Pearson, son of Matthew, grandson of Daniel, 1714
2) Lieutenant Colonel John Pearson, 1698
3) Philip P. Pearson, 1860, see Pennant
4) Pearson, of Sleaford, county Lincolnshire, 1810
5) Pearson of Norton, county York and London, 1837
6) Pearson of South Wingfield and Bradborune Hall, county Derby, 1845
7) Pearson of Rochetts, county Essex, and Bailbrooke Lodge, Bath Easton, county Somerset, 1865
8) Pearson to Jervis, of county Essex, 1865
9) Henry Robert Pearson, Chief Clerk, Treasury, London, and to the descendants of his father John, M.R.C.S, of London, and late uncle Thomas, of Manchester, gentleman, 30 Dec 1865
10) George, Solicitor (?) of Clifton, Bristol, county Gloucestershire, 1889
11) George Pearson of Bradford, county York, 1892
12) Thomas S. Pearson, of The Manor House, Harlaxton, county Lincolnshire, 1892
13) Pearson-Gregory, T.S., of The Manor House, Harlaxton, county Lincolnshire, 1893
14) Thomas H. Pearson of Radcliffe, Newton-le-Willows, county Lancaster, 1891
15) Pearson-Gee, A.B., Barrister-at-Law, of London and Sussex, 1888
16) Reverend G. J. Norton Vicarage, county Hertfordshire, 1890
There are hundreds of notable people with the Pearson surname. This page will mention a handful. Famous people with this last name include: 1) Albert Gregory Pearson (1934) is a former Major League Baseball player (center field) who was born in Alhambra, California and played in the league from 1958-1966 for three different teams, primarily for the California Angeles, 2) Anthony Pearson (or Pierson) who was a popular Protestant preacher in Windsor, Berkshire, who was executed for heresy during the reign of King Henry VIII of England, 3) Arthur Maurice Pearson (1890-1976) who was a Canadian Senator from Saskatchewan who served in World War I, 4) George Pearson (1751-1828) who was a British doctor and chemist born in Rotherham, Yorkshire who was an advocate of vaccinations, 5) George Frederick Pearson (1799-1867) who was a Rear-Admiral of the United States Navy, who was born in Portsmouth, New Hampshire, and commanded the Pacific Squadron during the end of the American Civil War, having previously served in the Mexican-American War and Second Seminole War, 6) Henry Shepherd Pearson (1775-1840) who was the British acting Governor of Penang (a state in Malaysia) from 1807-1808, born in Dover, Kent, England, 7) James Blackwood Pearson (1920-2009) who was a United States Senator from Kansas from 1962 to 1978, having been born in Nashville, Tennessee, 8) John James Pearson (1800-1888) who was a member of the US House of Representatives from Pennsylvania from 1836-1837, having been born in the city of Darby, PA, 9) John Valmore Pearson (1925-2011) who was a British composer, pianist, and orchestra leader who was born in Chesterfield, Derbyshire, and led the Top of Pops orchestra for 16 years in the 1960s and 1970s, 10) Karl Pearson (1857-1936) who was an influential English biostatistician and mathematician from Islington, London, who is considered the father of mathematical statistics, having founded the world’s first statistics department at University College of London in 1911, 11) David Pearson (1934) who was a NASCAR driver born in Spartanburg, South Carolina who was a Triple Crown Winner in 1976, 12) Virginia Belle Pearson (1886-1958) who was an American film and stage actress born in Anchorage, Kentucky who starred in 51, 13) Julia Anne Pierson (1959) who was the 23rd Director of the US Secret Service during the Obama Administration, 14) Henry Hugh (or Hugo) Pierson (or Pierson) (1815-1873) was an English composer who lived in Germany, who had some successful songs and operas, 15) Nicolas Gerard Pierson (1839-1909) who was the 23rd Prime Minister of the Netherlands from 1897 to 1901, and 16) Robert Howard Pierson (1911-1989) who was a president of the General Conference of the Seventh Day Adventists.