American Origins of the Pearl Family

Our Hampton Pearl family is descended from John Pearle who came to the New World from England with his brother Nicholas in the late 17th century. He was the son of Nicholas and Alice (Proudfellow) Pearle, and was born in Beverley, Yorkshire, England.* It is not known exacty when he arrived on these shores, nor do we know which ship carried him here. His date of arrival was between 1670 – 1675. He settled first in Marblehead or Ipswich, MA and later in Boxford or Bradford. He was officially listed as an inhabitant of Ipswich in 1678.We do not know why John and his brother, Nicholas, emigrated from England to come to the New England colonies. Their mother, Alice, had died in England in 1669 and John Pearle’s period of indenture in Beverley had ended in Nov. 1668. These things would have freed him to go where he wished. We do know that the area in which John and Nicholas lived was suffering from a great deal of political and religious unrest, with the inhabitants of the Yorkshire area being heavily taxed, to support both the royalist and Puritan armies at different times.

We know little of the religious sympathies of the Pearle family in England. We do know that John Pearle and most of his siblings were baptized in St. John’s (Anglican) Church in Beverley. John was baptized at St. John’s Feb. 8, 1645/6. Pearle family records are found in the St. John and St. Mary Anglican churches in the area. The Puritans and Quakers were very active in the area at the time. The main parish churches of England were obligated to follow the religious affiliation of the Monarchy. Massachusetts, where John and Nicholas settled was strongly Puritan and John’s children were members of the Puritan (later Congregational) church.John Pearle was a miller, having completed his apprenticeship in England not long before he immigrated to Massachusetts. An early record of John Pearl appears in New England when he was granted mill privileges in 1671 in Marblehead, MA. At this time his brother, Nicholas, was apprenticed to John for a total period of 7 years. John married Elizabeth Holmes in 1682 in Rowley, MA. She was born in 1662 in Rowley. She was the daughter of Richard R. and Alice (Northend) Holmes. Elizabeth’s father, Richard Holmes, was a miller in Bradford and a landowner in Rowley. When John and Elizabeth married, Richard Holmes paid John Pearl’s debts to get him out of prison where he had been incarcerated for a short while for those debts. In 1684, the town of Bradford granted John and his father-in law, Richard, the rights to erect a mill on a local brook. John and Elizabeth’s home was nearby where they and John’s in-laws apparently lived together.

John and Elizabeth began their family in 1683 and produced 8 children. John died in 1720 in Bradford, his burial location unknown. Elizabeth died at age 82 in 1744 and is buried in West Boxford. They probably spent the last years of their lives in the Pearl homestead in Boxford, possibly beginning as early as 1705. Cornelius Brown had built the original house about 1704 and the Browns lived in it for many years. For some time the Pearls lived in one side of the house and the Browns in the other. It was known at this time as the Brown-Pearl house. In 1925 the house was acquired by the Boston Museum of Fine Arts. The living room and what the family knew as the fore room are on display at the museum and the exhibit is known as the Brown/Pearl Hall and the Brown/Pearl Harbor.** 

** The above information on John Pearl was taken from the Family Tree of John Pearl(e) compiled by Norton Lee Bretz, Sept. 2003.

* Other, perhaps less reliable, sources have given Skidby, England as his birthplace. In any event, Skidby is very close to Beverley.

 

 

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