Rev. Abraham Pierson

Abraham Pierson, son of Thomas Pierson, was born in 1611 in Bradford, Yorkshire, England and baptised 22 September 1611 in Guiseley, Yorkshire. He matriculated to Trinity College, Cambridge in 1629 as a full tuition paying student, graduated in 1632, and was ordained a deacon at the Collegiate Church, Southwell, Nottingham on 23 Sept 1632. He came to America in 1639 on the ship Mayflower along with his second cousin, Henry Peirson, arriving in Lynn, Massachusetts 10 May 1639. He was ordained in Boston as a Congregational minister. He married Abigail Mitchell, daughter of Matthew and Sarah (Wood) Mitchell about 1640.  She was born in South Ouram, Yorkshire, England on 26 April 1618.

They had the following children:

  1. Abraham Pierson, Jr. was born about 1640/41 in Lynn, Essex County, Massachusetts. He was the first president of Yale College in New Haven, Connecticut, 1701-1707.  New information indicates that he may have actually been born in 1646 in Southampton, New Haven Colony, Long Island (Suffolk County, New York).
  2. Thomas Pierson was born about 1642 in Southampton.
  3. John Pierson was born about 1643 in Southampton.
  4. Abigail Pierson was born about 1644 in Southampton.
  5. Grace Pierson was born 13 June1650 in Branford, New Haven Colony (Connecticut).
  6. Susannah Pierson was born 1652 in Branford.
  7. Rebecca Pierson was born 1654 in Branford.
  8. Theophilus Pierson was born 15 May 1659 in Branford.
  9. Isaac Pierson was born in 1661 in Branford.
  10. Mary Pierson was born about 1663 in Branford.

Along with his second cousin, Henry Pierson, Abraham was among the primary leaders in the founding of the colony of Southampton, Long Island (New York) by about 40 families in 1640. They attempted to make a settlement on the west end of Long Island, but the Dutch had made sure of that end, so they repaired to the east end, and laid the foundations of Southampton. The first church of that town was started as a Congregational church, but it afterwards became Presbyterian (Howell's Hist. of Southampton 1st edition). He was most rigid in his desire to have the "civil as well as the ecclesiastical power all vested in the church, and to allow none but church members to act in the choice of officers of gov't, or to be eligible as such." This led to a division of the colony

In 1647, Abraham Pierson with a small part of his congregation, attempted another settlement, across the sound, on the Connecticut shore, where they organized and formed the town of Branford. There, for 20 years, he "enjoyed the confidence and esteem not only of the ministers, but the more prominent civilians connected with the New Haven colony." He early interested himself in behalf of the Indians, made himself familiar with their language, and prepared a catechism for them, that they might know of God. In 1665, he united with John Davenport in opposing the union of the two colonies, Connecticut and New Haven, with great inflexibility. He was rigid to excess in church communion, and disapproved of the liberality of the clergy in the Connecticut colony. In this respect, he differed with them upon the ordinance of infant baptism, as no person in the New Haven colony could be made a freeman unless he was in full communion with the church. He fully agreed with Davenport and others in the colony, that no government than that of the church should be maintained in the colony.

In 1666, because of this belief, he with most of his congregation (including his nephew, Thomas Pierson, Sr.) left Branford, and repaired to New Jersey, on the Passaic River, where they purchased land of the Indians and laid the foundations of the now flourishing city of Newark. During 1666 and 1667 some sixty-five men came from Branford and two neighboring towns to Newark. Each man was entitled to a homestead lot of six acres. They brought their church organization with them from Branford, and became the First Church of Newark, which afterwards became a Presbyterian church. At Newark, for 12 years, Abraham led his flock of devoted followers. (Pierson Millennium) Read more about the founding and histories of Long Island, Southampton, Branford, and Essex.

Mr. Pierson made his will at Newark, 10 August 1671. It contains the following clause: "That my Wife shall have the Thirds of my Whole Estate to Whose Love and faithfulness I Comit the bring Up of my Children, and doe appoint her my sole Executrix, and giue her my Great bible and What other English book she pleaseth to Choose." The will was witnessed by Thomas Pierson, who swore to it in Court, 12 Mar. 1678 (1678/9). The widow Abigail accepted the trust, and gave bond as Executrix with Abraham Pierson (the son) as surety. The terms in which Mr. Pierson referred to his wife, and his appointment of her as sole Executrix would be unusual for that period if she were a second wife and not the mother of the children. Abraham died on 9 Aug 1678 in Newark, Essex County, New Jersey.

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