Robert Pierce (ca.1600-1664) papers

Collection Type

  • Manuscripts





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Series I, Robert Pierce (ca.1600-1664) papers, ca.1652 (#1.1), contains an unrecorded deed from a John Smith to Robert Pierce (ca.1600-1664). The deed is for six acres of plowing land in Dorchester, Massachusetts. On the verso of the deed is a handwritten notation (presumably penned by Pierce): "John Smith's Deed that nobody can read &c. [etc.]" Due to damage and stains on the deed, the date on the deed is noted as May 17, 165?.


Descriptive Terms

personal papers

Physical Description

Personal papers

Collection Code


Collection Name

Pierce family papers

Reference Code


Record Details


Pierce, Robert, ca. 1600-1664

Material Type

personal papers

Description Level


Historical/Biographical Note

Historical/Biographical Note

Robert Pierce (c. 1600-1664) and Ann Grenway (c. 1591-1695) settled in Dorchester in the first wave of seventeenth-century emigration from England to the Massachusetts Bay Colony. Family legend suggests that the couple met on the Mary and John, a vessel in John Winthrop's fleet, but the passenger list for that 1630 voyage does not include a Robert Pierce. John Grenway, a millwright, his wife Mary, and their daughter Ann, however, were passengers on the Mary and John and the Grenways became active residents of the fledgling town. It is not known how and when Robert Pierce arrived in Dorchester, but genealogists have traced the family to Plymouth, England, where Robert was born around 1600. Genealogists use the year 1635 as the approximate date of Robert and Ann's marriage and the birth of their first child, Thomas Pierce (1635-1706).

Robert and Ann Pierce eventually moved to a house on a six-acre "home lott" of plowing land in the Eastern Great Lots. An unrecorded deed in the Pierce family papers indicates that Pierce acquired this property from John Smith in 1652, and he had apparently already built a house according to an earlier "verbal agremt" between them, on land which lay along the Lower Road, the "jogging" section of Adams Street that is now Gallivan Boulevard. Pierce owned other land in addition to this home lot. The 1664 inventory of his estate lists the home lot, with the house, barn, and surrounding six acres, twenty acres of land in Pine Neck, five acres of meadow, and thirty-six acres of common land. Two of Robert and Ann Pierce's three children, Thomas and Mary (dates unknown), survived into adulthood.