Encyclopedia of Virginia Biography

William Pierce, came from England in the "Sea Venture" in 1609 and was, for many years one of the foremost men of the colony.  In May, 1623, Gov. Wyatt appointed him captain of the guard and commander of James City.  In the same year, the governor ordered "Captain Wm. Peirce, Captain of his guard and lieutenant governor of James City," to lead an expedition against the Chickahominies. This Peirce did, falling upon them on July 23, "with no small slaughter."  He had already made a very favorable impression upon George Sandys, the treasurer of Virgnia, who wrote to England in 1623 that William Peirce, the governor of Jamestown, was inferior to none in experience, ability and capacity and recommended him for appointment to the council.  In 1627, he was again commissioned to attach the Chickahominies with Thomas Harwood as his second in command.  In 1629, he was in England and while there, prepared "A Relation of the Present State of the Colony of Virginia, by Capt. William Perse, an ancient planter of twenty years standing there."  He states that there were in Virginia between four and five thousand English, generally well housed, besides much other valuable information in regard to those times.  In 1631, Peirce was appointed a member of the council and, on December 20, signed the accord between that body and Governor Harvey.  He was a strong opponent of Harvey's misgovernment and was one of the councillors who, on April 28, 1635, arrested and desposed him, himself leading thirty, or according to some accounts, fifty musketeers to beset Harvey's house.  Early in the next month, when Claiborne complained to the new governor, West, and the council of his treatment in Maryland, Capts. Utie and Peirce were sent in that colony to protest, to the authorities there, against their violence towards him.  Peirce was one of those who was ordered by the King to be sent to england to answer Harvey's charges but who were never actually prosecuted.  He was also one of those to whom the privy council directed the reinstated governor to restore the property he had taken from them.  Peirce returned to Virginia on a sort of parole and though once more summoned to England, never went there, as the civil war intervened.  He was present in council in 1639 and it seems probably that some other influence had been brought to bear upon the King as he was included in the last royal commission of councillors before the war, dated Aug. 9, 1641.  The last mention we have of the councillor is of his being present in council, Feb., 1644-45.  His daughter Jane became the third wife of John Rolfe.