Pierce Family


I have been trying to understand my Pierce family, their movements and so on, so I may be able to trace them back.

ĎUncleí John Pierce

My direct ancestor is my great great grandfather, Joseph Pierce born about 1738, I donít know where, and was at least at his death a Turnpike Keeper.

He married Hester Bisley on 3rd April1764 St Gregory by St Paul Parish, London (Service held at St Mary Magdalen Old Fish Street,as St Gregory's was never rebuilt after the Great Fire). The marriage and Licence states him to be of Colnbrook, Bucks, and her of St Gregory (Though she was born in, and died in Warfield, Berks, and was buried in Langley).

The next clue came from Hesterís will, where she mentioned a brother in law, John Pierce.

I found John Pierceís Will, he is John Pierce of Colnbrook, and buried in Langley Marish. He mentions in his will that his father is buried in Langley Marish (but no name).  There is a note with a second administration to the will, which states he was John Pierce of Colnbrook, formerly of Princes Street, Hanover Square. John also mentions his regard for his late wife and makes a bequest to her grandson, John Pierce Goodwin. Hoped for further information on the second administration was no more than already written in the border of the will.

I got John Pierceís marriage licence, and he married Mary Goodwin, a widow, and he was also a widower. Marriage took place on 27th Jun 1776 at Saint James, Piccadilly, and the licence states them to be both of this parish (St James). Johnís will has no mention of children of his own. He is clearly wealthy and makes numerous bequests, and requests black silk hats and gloves and scarves for the pall bearers.

I recently found a record of John Pierce as a Mantua Maker of St George's Hanover Square. This was a an apprenticeship record of 1795. Ann Tiler was apprenticed to him for 3 years for the sum of £31/10/- on 18th July 1795 -rather a lot of money for those days. It seems surprising that this was such a lucrative business as to make John Pierce so wealthy.

Additional info is that John was buried in Langley, burial on 3rd Feb 1813 gives his age as 78, so he is born approx 1735. I donít have Mary (Goodwin) Pierceís burial, and Joseph's burial is as Joseph Pearce buried on 22nd February 1781, the Joseph Pierce jn buried in 1778 being his son. Also I have recently identified John Pierce's first marriage. He marrried Rachel Hardisty on the 5th April 1768, also at St James Picadilly, by banns.

Executor of Hesterís and Johnís Wills was Joseph Lamoureux of Green Street Grosvenor Square Gentleman, another connection back to London.

Was it common for a son to take on his step-fatherís surname as a middle name? I donít know anything about John Pierce Goodwinís father, but he may have taken Pierce as a middle name too.

However the first mention of the Pierce family is Joseph Pierce's  1764 marriage, stating he was of Colnbrook.

John Pierce's will leaves stocks to Hannah Pierce, daughter of Harry Pierce of Horton. Investigation of Horton PR's has not revealed relevant Pierce baptisms.

Hester Pierce (nťe Bisley)ís burial in Langley Marish in 1819 shows she had moved back to Warfield, so I am convinced she is from the Warfield Bisley family of John Bisley and Elizabeth Greener, as I first thought. She was still in Colnbrook in 1805 in writing her will. The house she was living in was bequeathed by her brother in law to Mary Dolby, one of her granddaughters. It may be more that she returned to lived in Warfield with some of her Bisley family with increasing age, she died at 78.

Hester Bisley timeline/locations

    1740 Bap Warfield, Berks (Brother John bap 1743 also Warfield)

    1764 Living in St Gregory by St Paulís parish, London at time of marriage to Joseph Pierce of Colnbrook, Bucks

    1765-1769 Children baptised at St Mary's, Langley Marish, or Colnbrook Chapel.

    1782 Joseph died - murdered with a poker at Colnbrook Turnpike house see below

    1808 Hester wrote will in Colnbrook, Bucks

    1811 John Pierce in his will refers to Hester in Colnbrook

    1819 Hester died in Warfield, buried in Langley, per Langley Parish Records.

The latest shocking news comes from an article in the Bucks Herald of 9th April 1887.

Strolling among the tombs of our ancestors, I came across the under mentioned inscription:-

"In memory of Joseph Pierce, who was most inhumanly murdered at Colnbrook Turnpike House on the night of the 23rd February, 1781, in the 43rd year of his age. "

Also the following beautiful line:-

    Forgive, blest shade the tributary tear,

        Which mourned thy exit from a world like this;

    Forgive the wish that would have kept thee here,

        And stayed thy progress to the realsm of bliss.


    There is no death, the stars go down

        To rest upon some fairer shore;

    And bright in heaven's jewelled crown

        They shine for evermore.


    There is no death, and angel form,

        Walks o'er the earth with silent tread;

    And takes our best loved ones away,

        And then we call them dead.

I have since come across a couple of supporting references to this. He was evidently beaten to death with a poker. It has been surmised that Turnpike houses are easy targets as having money on the premises and being out of town.

The London Gazette also reports the murder, and that his Majesty 'promises his most gracious pardon' to any who will inform on the murderer(s) and accomplices, and offers a reward of £100 on conviction of the offenders. I found not trace of any trial though.

This was from the Morning Herald and Daily Advertiser , Tuesday, February 27, 1781: -

            On Thursday night last betwixt the hours of 12 and two, a most horrid murder was committed on the body of Joseph Pierce, at the turnpike at Colnbrook; he was found with his brains knocked out, and a poke lying by him, robbed of about 12 pounds, one of his nails almost torn of;  it is supposed that he made some resistance; he was a very industrious man, always lived in good credit, and much lamented by the whole town and neighbourhood of Colnbrook; he has left a wife and three small children.

So at least Joseph's birth may be estimated at about 1738.

Joseph and Hester's children were as follows: -

Hester Pierce was baptised on 14th February 1765 at Langley. She did not marry and died in Egham, and was buried at Langley on 4th April 1839. She had been possibly living with her sister Martha Boyce

Elizabeth Ann Pierce was born in Colnbrook and baptised at Colnbrook Chapel on 1st June 1766. She was buried (as Eliza) on 23rd September 1770 at Langley.

Joseph Pierce was born in Colnbrook and baptised at Colnbrook Chapel on 22nd January 1773. He was buried at Langley on 10th December 1778.

Martha Pierce, my great great grandmother, was born in Colnbrook on 13th Apr 1775 and was baptised at Colnbrook Chapel on 19th Apr 1775. She married George Boyce on 9th September 1800 at St Mary's Ealing (see Elizabeth's marriage below). She died on 19th Dec 1851 at Egham, Surrey, and was buried at St John's Egham.

Elizabeth Pierce was born in early 1779, and was baptised at Colnbrook Chapel on 2nd May 1779. She married Thomas Dolby of Winkfield on 9th September 1800 at St Mary's Ealing. She died in Winkfield, Berkshire, and was buried at St Mary's there on 7th March 1857.

Joseph was buried on 22nd February 1781 at Langley, and Hester as mentioned about died in Warfield, Berkshire and was buried at Langley on 8th March 1819.


Regarding Joseph and John's father. Clearly as John's will refers to his father's burial at Langley, we may see which names appear.

The following male Pierces (or Pearces) are seen in the relevant timeframe: -


John 10/02/1763 an infant - diregard
Jos Jn 10/12/1778 - Joseph's son
Wm 01/10/1781
Wm 20/08/1786
Henry 18/0/1801
Jn 22/09/1805
Jn 03/02/1813 aged 78 - my John

John 15/09/1762
Jn 30/09/1770

Jos 22/02/1781 - my Joseph
Jn 18/06/1793
Jas 22/06/1793
Wm 06/08/1794


A clue that John's father may be called John

Looking at London Land Tax records, John Pierce appears from 1753 to 1808 in the parish of St George, Hanover Square. There is a large interval between 1755 and 1796.

In 1753, by John Pierce's estimated date of birth, he would only have been 18. So it may be his father who was the landowner.

If the father was John then his date of death may be 1762, 1770, 1793, or 1805.


7.3.1813 Windsor and Eton Express



St Mary the Virgin, Langley

The Pierces were baptised and buried here. I found no gravestones though.


St Thomas, Colnbrook.

This was only a chapel at the time of the Pierce family living in Colnbrook,

but John Pierce did request a service be held here after his burial at Langley

St Lawrence's Church in Upton-cum-Chalvey dates from the 12th Century

True Briton 22nd May 1798

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