PIERCY FAMILY HISTORY
This page is dedicated to the history of the branch of the Piercy family from the area around Bulmer and Rillington, East Yorkshire.
The Piercy (or Pearcy) name has a long and interesting history, and appears to derive from that of the Percy family of Yorkshire, whose own name is variously noted as originating in the ancient village name of Perci in Normandy, or from the Old French percehaie meaning 'pierce hedge' - a name arising from the warrior status of the family. Certainly, by 1881, apart from a notable concentration close to the Percies later seat at Alnwick in Northumberland, the principal concentration of the name was in East Yorkshire, in the broad vale east of York stretching to Scarborough and Bridlington on the coast. The migration of the Percies to East Yorkshire is described in some detail on Charles Percy's excellent 'Ancient House of Percy' website, and there are various other sites (including the classic encyclopedia) which discuss the history of the main Percy line from William de Perci (c.1030-1097).
It would appear that several reasonably affluent Percy or Piercy lines continued to flourish in East Yorkshire following the migration of the main line to Alnwick in the early 1300's. The prominent Percehay family of Ryton (near Kirby Misperton, between Malton and Pickering) is documented in a series of Yorkshire visitations and can be traced back to John Percehay (c.1390-1460), although the family's arms bear no resemblance to those of the Percies of Northumberland. A Robert Piercy, gentleman, appears in the 1524 lay subsidy for York, and throughout the 16th and 17th centuries, there are references to several Piercy name variants in Ryton and nearby Harome (near Helmsley), with a secondary concentration further south in the area of Howsham and Bulmer (south-west of Malton) and another further south still in the area of Warthill and Holtby, just to the north-east of York. The family also appear in the Settrington survey of 1599 and in the 17th century parish records. It appears that the family spread reasonably widely throughout the area of the original Percy estates, and further research will be needed to understand the connection between these various branches of the later family.
The origin and structure of the early Howsham area Piercy family remains unclear, but by the mid-17th century a Roger Piercy was active in Scrayingham. His grandson James Piercy (1688) appears to be the one who married in Bulmer in 1715, with his descendants moving north-east towards Malton, settling in Kirby Misperton (close to the old home of the Percehays) and Settrington. The spread of James's family towards the Ryton area suggests that there may be some connection with the earlier family in that area. James's grandson Robert (1739-1820) moved from Settrington to nearby Rillington and initiated a significant descendant line which later spread to Middlesbrough, Retford in Nottinghamshire, South Wales, and Lancashire / Cheshire. An outline of James's currently known descendants is attached here.
Anyone interested in further details of this branch of the Piercy family, or who is able to provide additional details relevant to this branch, is invited to contact the coordinator for this page Ian Hall.
This page was last updated 21 September 2009