The Meaning of the Surname Pierce

The Meaning of the Surname Pierce

The Pierce surname derives from the given name Piers, a derivation of Peter, which means "rock"

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The Pierce surname was adapted from the given name Piers, a derivation of Peter, which means "rock," from the Old French pierre (Latin petra), meaning "stone" or "rock." The name most commonly derived as a surname meaning "son or descendant of Piers or Peter."

However, it may also have been bestowed or chosen as a topographic name for someone who lived in a rocky area, or as an occupational name for a quarryman or stone mason. 

Famous People with the Pierce Surname

  • Franklin Pierce - 14th president of the United States
  • Wendell Pierce - American award-winning actor
  • Barbara Pierce Bush - wife of George H.W. Bush, 41st president of the United States
  • George Washington Pierce - Harvard professor of physics; inventor
  • Nat Pierce - American jazz pianist
  • Marvin Pierce - American publisher; president of McCall Corporation

Where the Pierce Surname Is Most Common

According to surname distribution from Forebears, the Pierce surname is most common in the United States, where it ranks among the top 200 surnames in the country. It is also somewhat common in Wales (ranks 350th) and Ireland (581st). Within Ireland, Pierce is most commonly found in Wexford, Carlow and Kerry.

WorldNames PublicProfiler indicates a similar distribution, with the greatest percentage of individuals named Pierce found throughout the United States. The name is especially common in the southeast, including Mississippi, Arkansas, Tennessee, Texas, Alabama, North Carolina and Georgia.

Genealogy Resources for the Surname Pierce

Pierce Family Crest - It's Not What You Think: Contrary to what you may hear, there is no such thing as a Pierce family crest or coat of arms for the Pierce surname. Coats of arms are granted to individuals, not families, and may rightfully be used only by the uninterrupted male line descendants of the person to whom the coat of arms was originally granted.

The Pierce DNA Project - Southern US: Individuals with the Pierce surname, and variants such as Pearce, Peirce, Pearse, Pierse, and Percy, with ancestors from southern U.S. states are invited to participate in this group DNA project in an attempt to learn more about southern Pierce family origins. The website includes information on the project, the research done to date, and instructions on how to participate.

PIERCE Family Genealogy Forum: This free message board is focused on descendants of Pierce ancestors around the world.

FamilySearch - Pierce Genealogy: Explore over 4 million results from digitized historical records and lineage-linked family trees related to the Pierce surname on this free website hosted by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

Pierce Surname Mailing List: Free mailing list for researchers of the Pierce surname and its variations includes subscription details and a searchable archives of past messages. - Pierce Genealogy & Family History: Explore free databases and genealogy links for the last name Pierce.

GeneaNet - Pierce Records: GeneaNet includes archival records, family trees, and other resources for individuals with the Pierce surname, with a concentration on records and families from France and other European countries.

The Pierce Genealogy and Family Tree Page: Browse genealogy records and links to genealogical and historical records for individuals with the Pierce surname from the website of Genealogy Today.

References: Surname Meanings & Origins

Cottle, Basil. Penguin Dictionary of Surnames. Baltimore, MD: Penguin Books, 1967.

Dorward, David. Scottish Surnames. Collins Celtic (Pocket edition), 1998.

Fucilla, Joseph. Our Italian Surnames. Genealogical Publishing Company, 2003.

Hanks, Patrick and Flavia Hodges. A Dictionary of Surnames. Oxford University Press, 1989.

Hanks, Patrick. Dictionary of American Family Names. Oxford University Press, 2003.

Reaney, P.H. A Dictionary of English Surnames. Oxford University Press, 1997.

Smith, Elsdon C. American Surnames. Genealogical Publishing Company, 1997.

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Powell, Kimberly. "The Meaning of the Surname Pierce." ThoughtCo, Aug. 27, 2020, Powell, Kimberly. (2020, August 27). The Meaning of the Surname Pierce. Retrieved from Powell, Kimberly. "The Meaning of the Surname Pierce." ThoughtCo. (accessed June 2, 2023).