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Dan wanted to be a lawyer,
but preferred to be honest
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By Charles W. Brewster

Editors Note: C.W. Brewster was a Portsmouth columnist in the mid-1800's. This article includes his opinions and may not reflect current research or current values.
JDR

Peirce family--Sketches of Joshua, Daniel, and John.

IN 1666, Daniel Peirce of Newbury, Mass., with his son Joshua Peirce, became interested in land in New Jersey. They owned a large part of Perth-Amboy, for which they paid eighty pounds. The son Joshua died in Woodbridge, N. J., in 1670, and Daniel, the father, in Newbury, in 1677. Joshua had one son born in 1670, whose name was Joshua, and was the progenitor of the Peirce family in this town.

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Peirce Family Arrives in NH

Joshua Pierce came to Portsmouth about 1700, and was married to Elizabeth Hall of Greenland. He opened a large retail shop in his residence on the corner of Market square and High street, and here did much business in this way; he also carried on a very considerable fishery at Canso, was concerned in navigation, owned several ships, and did a great deal of business. He brought up a large family in credit, and left a good estate. He was a very active, industrious man, and in the course of his life held the several offices of town clerk, parish clerk, proprietors of Portsmouth commons' clerk, selectman, representative, and for many years before his death was a member of his majesty's council, and also recorder of deeds for the province; all which offices he held with credit to himself and gave general satisfaction. He was respected as an honest and useful man. He died about the year 1743, and left four sons and five daughters, viz.: Joseph, Joshua, Daniel and Nathaniel, Sarah Winslow, afterwards Sargeant, Anna Green, Mary Moore, Elizabeth Osborn and Margaret Green.

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Daniel Peirce

His son, Daniel Pierce, was born May 1709, received a liberal education, and had a degree at Harvard College in 1728. Married Anna, daughter of John Rindge, about the year 1743. In the earlier stage of his life he did some business in trade, as appears by his papers, but for this manner of life he had no relish. He was a principal acting magistrate in Portsmouth many years, was appointed recorder of deeds for the province instead of his father, which office he held as long as he lived, and was a member of the king's council for New Hampshire several years. He was a man of very great natural parts as well as acquired abilities, but had no turn for any kind of business that required constant application. He was well versed in history, a great theologist, had considerable knowledge of law, and once studied it with a design to appear at the bar, but he thought the practice of law was inconsistent with the character of an honest man, which was the reason he discontinued his studies.* He was also a good geographer, had likewise a great mechanical inclination, and worked very ingeniously with his own hands. He was exceedingly fond of company, and was also very severe when he had imbibed prejudice against any person.

One who knew him well, said: "I affirm he was the most honest man I ever knew before or since his death. And with all his good qualities he had something in his natural disposition that may be said to have been very obstinate, and was besides rather too arbitrary. He was a man of genius and a truly original character." He died Dec. 5, 1773, and left three children, viz.: Ann (who married Thomas Martin), died in 1811; John, died in 1814; and Joseph, died in 1812, unmarried; he had another son named Joshua, who died very young.

John Peirce, the eldest son of Daniel, who succeeded him in the occupancy of the homestead, was born in 1746. He received his mercantile education in the counting room of Daniel Rindge, and being early entrusted with the charge of the property of his uncle, M. H. Wentworth, and with the management of affairs relating to Mason's patent, he found enough to occupy a large portion of his time. In 1791, and for several successive years, he was an active and efficient member of the State Legislature. He was the principal agent in erecting Piscataqua bridge in 1794, and in the construction of the turnpike to Concord. He was Loan Officer during John Adams' administration, and for many years had charge of an insurance office. Always open, honorable and correct in his conduct, and liberal in his charities, he enjoyed the respect and confidence of men of all parties. He died on the 14th of June, 1814. His wife was Mary, daughter of Peter Pearse. Their children were Mark W., who married Margaret Sparhawk; Samuel, who died young; Joshua W., who married Emily Sheafe; Ann R., the wife of Rev. Dr. Burroughs; Mary 0., died young; and Daniel H.

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Daniel Peirce Diary

* From a file of Ames' Almanac kept by Daniel Peirce we copy the following historical memoranda, entered by him:

1744, June 3. There was a smart shock of an Earthquake; it lasted two minutes. June 4. War was proclaimed against France. 1745, Jan. 1. The Town Clock was set agoing this day. Feb. 25. The Rev. Mr. Whitfield came to town and preached for Mr. Shurtleff, and the next day for Mr. Fitch. Mch. 23. The forces raised in New-Hampshire to go on the expedition against Cape Breton, sailed from Piscataqua. The regiment commanded by Col. Samuel Moore. July 5. By an express from Boston we have the agreeable news of the surrender of Louisburg confirmed. It was on the 17th June. Mch. 30. The new bell put up at the Church, which was bought at Louisburg by the officers of the New-Hampshire regiment and presented. 1755, May 8. Eliphaz Dow hanged for murder. July 12. Portsmouth Work-house raised. July 14. Hay-Market raised. Mch. 18. At 4 o'clock this morning we were roused by an Earthquake. It came with a roar like thunder and shook terribly. It was immediately repeated, and both shocks held a considerable time, more than two minutes. Dec. 31. Baptized this year at the South Parish 47. Buried in whole town 85. 1765, Sept. 12. Effigies of a stamp master hung up all day at the hay engine, in the evening carried through the town by the mob and then burnt. 1766, Jan. 9. A grand mob compelled G. Meserve to surrender his commission. Mch. 14. Barrell's ship drove from the wharf and overset on Waterhouse's Island. Apr. 14. An Express, which came on purpose, arrived about noon, and brought the agreeable news of the Repeal of the Stamp Act. 1767, Oct. 8. Began paving the street leading from the Parade to Spring Hill. 1768, Sept. 28. Troops arrived in Boston to keep them in order. 1770, July 5. The Trustees of Dartmouth College met again at the Governor's, and concluded to place it at Hanover. Sept. 24. Mr. Whitfield preached yesterday in the afternoon, and this forenoon in Mr. Haven's meeting-house. Sept. 25. Mr. Whitfield preached this forenoon at Mr. Langdon's meeting-house to a full audience, from the 15th Luke and 2d verse. Oct 30. About noon Edmund Davis brought the shocking news that Mr. Whitfield died this morning at 6 o'clock at Newbury. Oct. 3. Geo. Meserve, Esq. and family went to Boston to-day in J. Hart's stage coach. 1772, July 14. Went to Long Lane to view a new road to Rye.

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