Abraham Pierson, the elder

Abraham Pierson, the elder (1613-1678) was an English churchman, known as a minister in New England.

Early life

Born in Thornton, Bradford, West Ridings, Yorkshire, Pierson graduated B.A. from Trinity College, Cambridge, in 1632. That year he was found to be an unlicensed curate at All Saints' Church, Pavement, York.[1] He was ordained deacon at York in September 1632.[2] Family genealogy says he was ordained in Newark, and that's how he chose the name for the New Jersey town he founded later in life.

On 19 March 1640 Pierson was summoned to the Court of High Commission, described as of Ardsley. He did not attend, and was fined. Family genealogy says he came to America in 1639, to escape persecution for his Puritan views. Pierson was in New England in the early part of 1640, and became ordained a Congregational minister in Boston.[1][3]

Pastor in New England

In 1640 Pierson and a party of emigrants from Lynn, Massachusetts formed a new township on Long Island, which they named Southampton. There Pierson remained as minister of the congregational church for four years. In 1644 this church became divided and a number of the inhabitants left. They united with another body from the township of Wethersfield and formed, under Pierson, a fresh church at a settlement at Branford, within the jurisdiction of the New Haven Colony.[3][4]

Later life

In 1666 Pierson moved again. The background to this was that a new charter was granted to Connecticut Colony by King Charles II, incorporating New Haven with the colony, several of the townships of New Haven resisted. New Haven, rigidly ecclesiastical from the outset, had, like Massachusetts, made church membership a needful condition for the enjoyment of civic rights. No such restriction was imposed in Connecticut.[3] Pierson disapproved of the Half-Way Covenant, and moved to pursue his vision of theocracy.[5][6]

The men of Branford, were therefore supported by Pierson, when they opposed the union with Connecticut. When their opposition proved fruitless, they left their homes, leaving Branford almost empty of people. Taking their civil and ecclesiastical records with them, they established a fresh church and township at Newark. There Pierson died on 9 August 1678.[3]


In 1659 Pierson published a pamphlet entitled Some Helps for the Indians, showing them how to improve their natural reason, to know the true God and the true Christian Religion. It is a short statement of the fundamental principles of monotheism, with a linear translation into the Quiripi language that Pierson made with Thomas Stanton.[7] Verses in Latin by Pierson on the death of Theophilus Eaton have been published.[3][8]


Pierson married Abigail Mitchell, daughter of Matthew Mitchell and Susan Wood. The often repeated claim that she was Abigail Wheelright was proven wrong in Winthrope, MA by Col Charles Banks and Mr Horace Dickerman of New Haven.[9] Abraham and Abigail's son, the younger Abraham Pierson was the first rector, from 1701 to 1707, and one of the founders of, the Collegiate School — which later became Yale University;[10][3] and their daughter Abigail married John, son of John Davenport (died 1670).[11] At least six other children are mentioned.[12]


  1. ^ a b Susan Hardman Moore (2010). Pilgrims: New World Settlers and the Call of Home. Yale. p. 196. ISBN 978-0-300-16405-3.
  2. ^ "Pierson, Abraham (PR629A)". A Cambridge Alumni Database. University of Cambridge.
  3. ^ a b c d e f Lee, Sidney, ed. (1896). "Pierson, Abraham" . Dictionary of National Biography. 45. London: Smith, Elder & Co.
  4. ^ Frederick Lewis Weis (1978). The Colonial Clergy of the Middle Colonies: New York, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania, 1628-1776. Genealogical Publishing Com. p. 123. ISBN 978-0-8063-0799-2.
  5. ^ Jean-Rae Turner; Richard T. Koles (2001). Newark, New Jersey. Arcadia Publishing. p. 77. ISBN 978-0-7385-2352-1.
  6. ^ Murray N. Rothbard (1975). Conceived in Liberty. Ludwig von Mises Institute. p. 272. ISBN 978-1-61016-486-3.
  7. ^ Wright, Stephen. "Pierson, Abraham". Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (online ed.). Oxford University Press. doi:10.1093/ref:odnb/22238. (Subscription or UK public library membership required.)
  8. ^ Leo M. Kaiser (1 January 1984). Early American Latin verse, 1625-1825: an anthology. Bolchazy-Carducci Publishers. p. 27. ISBN 978-0-86516-030-9.
  9. ^ Donald L Jacobus. History And Genealogy Of The Families Of Old Fairfield[1932]:II:1076.
  10. ^ Bruce P. Stark. "The Founding of Yale College". Connecticut Heritage Gateway.
  11. ^ Francis J. Bremer (27 November 2012). Building a New Jerusalem. Yale University Press. p. 329. ISBN 978-0-300-18885-1.
  12. ^ Yale Literary Magazine. 1845. p. 172 note.


 This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domainLee, Sidney, ed. (1896). "Pierson, Abraham". Dictionary of National Biography. 45. London: Smith, Elder & Co.

Edward Howell (died 1655)

Edward Howell, Gent. (1584–1655), born in Marsh Gibbon, Buckinghamshire, was an English Puritan who settled at Lynn, Massachusetts in 1635. He was known for the founding of Southampton, New York with Edward Howell, Edmond Farrington, Edmund Needham, Abraham Pierson the Elder, Thomas Sayre, Josiah Stanborough, George Welbe, Henry Walton, Job Sayre, and Thomas Halsey in 1639/40.

Jared Eliot

Jared Eliot (November 7, 1685—April 22, 1763) was an American colonial minister, physician, agronomist and farmer. He was located in Guilford, Connecticut and wrote several articles on agriculture and animal husbandry as well as on the mineral qualities of Connecticut lands. He worked at the Yale Corporation (former name of the Yale University's board of trustees) from 1730 until 1763.Eliot was the eldest son of Joseph Eliot and his second wife, Mary Wyllys. The Eliots raised their family in Guilford (formerly known as Menunkatucket), which was settled by Europeans in 1639. Jared emulated his father and grandfather, who were also willing to help others; he stated, “I have learned many useful things from the lowest of the People, not only in Rank, but in Understanding too”.

Jeremiah H. Pierson

Jeremiah Halsey Pierson (September 13, 1766 – December 12, 1855) was an American politician from New York.

John Frederick Pierson

John Frederick Pierson (February 25, 1839 – December 20, 1932) was an American soldier, business executive, and society leader who was prominent in New York during the Gilded Age.

John Pearson (politician)

John Pearson (January 1802 – June 1875) was an American judge and politician from New York. Descended from an early American family, Pearson matriculated at the College of New Jersey and then practiced law in Ohio. In 1832, he attempted to settle in Chicago, Illinois, but decided to move his family south to Danville instead due to the Black Hawk War. In Danville, Pearson became a prominent attorney and was elected to the state circuit court. After moving to Joliet, Illinois, he served two terms in the Illinois Senate. Pearson established a successful shop in California during the Gold Rush, but was robbed. He returned to Danville and managed properties until his death.

Pierson (surname)

Pierson is a surname. Notable people with the surname include:

Abraham Pierson, the elder (died 1678), English pastor in New England

Abraham Pierson (1646-1707), pastor, and first rector and a founder of what would become Yale University, son of Abraham Pierson, the elder

Arthur Tappan Pierson, Presbyterian pastor and author

Clara D. Pierson, American children's book author

Don Pierson, American broadcasting pioneer

Emma Pierson (born 1981), British actress

Frank Pierson, American film director

Henry Hugh Pierson , composer (1815-1873)

Henry R. Pierson (1819–1890), New York politician

Julia Pierson, the 23rd Director of the U. S. Secret Service

Kate Pierson, American singer, of The B-52's

Leander J. Pierson, American politician

Melissa Holbrook Pierson, American author

Nicolaas Pierson, the 23rd Prime Minister of the Netherlands

Philippe Pierson, Belgian Jesuit

Rex Pierson, English aircraft designer

Robert H. Pierson, former president of the General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists

William Pierson (1926–2004), American actor

William Pierson, Jr. (1911–2008), American painter

William Pierson (baseball) (1899–1959), American baseball player

William Montgomery Pierson (1842–1890), American jurist, senator, co-founder of the San Francisco Bar Association, and notable amateur astronomer

Quiripi language

Quiripi (pronounced , also known as Quiripi-Unquachog, Quiripi-Naugatuck, and Wampano) was an Algonquian language formerly spoken by the indigenous people of southwestern Connecticut and central Long Island, including the Quinnipiac, Unquachog, Mattabesic, Podunk, Tunxis, and Paugussett (subgroups Naugatuck, Potatuck, Weantinock). It has been effectively extinct since the end of the 18th century, although Frank T. Siebert, Jr., was able to record a few Unquachog words from an elderly woman in 1932.

Southampton, New York

Southampton, (pron. suh-THEM-ton) officially the Town of Southampton, is a town located in southeastern Suffolk County, New York, partly on the South Fork of Long Island. As of the 2010 United States Census, the town had a total population of 56,790. Southampton is included in the stretch of shoreline prominently known as The Hamptons.

Stony Brook University's Southampton campus is located here.

Thomas Halsey (1591–1679)

Thomas Halsey (1591/2 – 1678/9) was born 2 January 1591/2 in Hertfordshire, England and died 27 Aug 1678 in Southampton, New York. He emigrated from England in 1633 to New England, and eventually co-founded, with Edmond Farrington, Edmund Needham, Abraham Pierson the Elder, Thomas Sayre, Josiah Stanborough, George Welbe, Henry Walton, Job Sayre, and Edward Howell, the town of Southampton, New York in 1640.

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