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Samuel Pierce (1702-1768) papers


Series IV, Samuel Pierce (1702-1768) papers, 1725-1768 (#1.8-1.15), contains account books, an account/tally sheet, and other financial accounts; land deeds; letters of guardianship; official appointment papers; an estate inventory; a small pocket almanac/diary; and a booklet of sermons preached by Abraham Taylor. The financial records include financial accounts pertaining to wildfowl (brants, ducks, geese, coots, wiggins, sheldrakes, dippers, and other birds) hunted and sold by Samuel Pierce, Sr. (1702-1768), between 1725 and 1763; an unsigned account sheet reflecting a brief tally sheet; and six pocket account books, which include the names and dates of customers and transactions. The account books are inscribed with Pierce's name.

The legal documents highlight Pierce's civic duties and legal affairs. An official document appointing Pierce's as "Constable or Collector for the Town of Dorchester" is signed by William Foye, Treasurer and Receiver-General of Massachusetts. The document instructs Pierce to collect and deliver town taxes, which are due at the end of June 1746; the document also provides instructions for levying taxes on various produce and manufactures (grain crops, tallow, meat, fish, flax, wool, leather and other items). The unsigned estate inventory of Captain Joseph Bass (1692-1752) of Dorchester, Massachusetts, matches a completed inventory, which appears in the Probate Court Records of Suffolk County, Massachusetts. (The completed inventory was drawn-up by Pierce and others on February 12, 1752.) Joseph Bass was a great-grandson of John Alden and Priscilla Mullins. The three deeds relate to Pierce's acquisitions of small land parcels (pasture land and salt marsh) in Dorchester, Massachusetts, which were purchased from John Tolman, Israel Leadbetter, and Jonas Tolman. The legal guardianship papers refer to Pierce's two orphaned nephews, William Clapp and Elisha Clapp (ages 12 and 14). Pierce is named as guardian of the two boys who were the youngest sons of Pierce's sister, Hannah (Pierce) Clapp (1709-1757) and her husband, Ebenezer Clapp, Jr. (1705-1752).

Within the printed material is a small 1759 Ames pocket almanac, which contains brief diary entries (handwritten by Pierce) regarding weather conditions and natural phenomena (e.g. an earthquake and lightning striking the meeting house). Other pages within the almanac contain the signatures of various Peirce family members from 1791-1792. Some of the signatures are those belonging to Pierce's grandchildren (the children of Samuel Pierce, Jr., 1739-1815): Abraham Piece (1769-1822), George Pierce (1783-1826), Lewis Pierce (1786-1874), and Nancy Pierce (dates unknown), as well as Reuben Blake (1765-1825) and a Miss Blake. Also included with the printed material is a booklet comprised of sermons preached by Abraham Taylor, which belonged to Pierce (1702-1768) and later to his daughter, Rebecca Pierce (1740-1778). A second religious pamphlet is stitched into the binding of the inside back cover. The book is inscribed by the both owners. The series is arranged alphabetically by topic, then by record type.

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Collection Name
Pierce family papers
Collection Code
Physical Description
Personal papers
Collection Type
Description Level
Reference Code

Historical/Biographical Note

Samuel Pierce (1702-1769) was forty years old when he inherited the family home and approximately seventy acres of land and had been married to Abigail (Moseley) Pierce (1711-1776), also of Dorchester, for twelve years. The couple had four young children; two more daughters were born in the late 1740s. The family had been living in the Pierce house with Samuel's parents, John and Abigail, and the widowed Abigail continued to live with them until her own death in 1747. Over the next twenty-five years Samuel Pierce and his son, also named Samuel (1739-1815), made various additions and improvements to the family home and farm.

Samuel Pierce Sr.'s status in the community is reflected in the public offices which he held and in the value and productivity of his property. In the 1740s he served as a town constable, collecting taxes due the British treasury, and during the 1750s he served as a selectman, a position generally held by the more prosperous and respected men in the community. A 1768 Dorchester tax assessment, taken shortly before Pierce died, provides another indication of Pierce's relative status within the community. Among those who owned property in Dorchester, Samuel Pierce emerges as a man of standing. The total valuation of the Pierce House, the two thirds apportioned to Samuel Sr., and the one-third apportioned to Samuel Jr., was one of the highest for any single dwelling in the town, and the value of Pierce's other real estate put him in roughly the top ten percent of property holders.

Record details

Pierce, Samuel, 1702-1768
Material Type
personal papers
Location Note
Folders 1.8-1.15

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