Rice Bolton Pierce of Halifax County, N.C.

Rice B. Pierce died in Halifax County. Cousin Pierce Howard in a booklet titled Other Mama — A life of Mary Virginia Pierce which he wrote for the Pierce family reunion states he was born in 1788 in Southampton County, Virginia, and died in 1874 and that he served in the War of 1812. Below is his grave site at Pierce’s Crossroads south of Weldon. A search of War of 1812 records found him in Muster Rolls of the Virginia Militia in the War of 1812. He was Captain of 65th Regiment of Southampton, which was called into service for 13 days in August and September of 1814.

Rice B Pierce, Captain Pierce’s Co, 65 Va. Mil., War of 1812


I have been able to trace his ancestry back from Southampton County to his grandfather Spencer Pierce of Warwick County. However, Warwick County suffered loss of records during the civil war and remaining records give only partial information (All references to Warwick County records are from Warwick County, Virginia, Colonial Court Records in Transcription, Richard Dunn, ed.) Some similarity in names with the Pierce family of York County led to an investigation of this family as possible ancestors of Spencer Pierce, but the available evidence now points to the Pierce family of Mulberry Island in Warwick County as the most likely ancestors.

Warwick Court 7 August 1760 records the administration estate of a Spencer Pierce:

Spence Pierce Estate Administration

On the motion of Martha Pierce ordered that John George Wills, Benjamin Wills, Samuel Wills and John Pate Wills, or any three of them do examine & settle an account of the admon of the estate of Spencer Pierce deceased and report the same to the court.

At the same court Spencer Pierce was appointed constable of Stanley Hundred Precinct.  Presumably Stanley Hundred Precinct corresponded approximately to the parish of Stanley Hundred or Mulberry Island although the parishes in Warwick  were merged in 1725 (Parish Lines, Diocese of Southern Virginia, Charles Cocke, p. 158), so he was appointed constable of the area of Mulberry Island and the land formerly owned by Capt. William Pierce.

Warwick Court order for 5 March 1761 gives:

Rice Bolton Pierce Apprenticeship

An Indenture of Apprenticeship from Rice Bolton Pierce to William Wills was with the Approbation of the court acknowledged by the parties and ordered to be certified.

I think the explanation for these records is most likely that Spencer Pierce the constable and Rice Bolton Pierce were the sons of Spencer Pierce who died in 1760. Assume that Rice was 15 when apprenticed to William Wills then Spencer Pierce would have been his older brother.

A Spencer Pierce (IGI) served in the Revolutionary War in the 7th Virginia Regiment General Woodford’s brigade, commanded by Daniel Morgan.  The muster and payrolls for 1779 show he was a private and variously assigned  as a waiter on Lord Sterling and also in the drum and fife unit. The muster for April was at Middlebrook and later ones at Ramapough. The 7th was mustered at  Gloucester County Courthouse  in 1776 but it is unknown if Spencer Pierce joined at that time. A Warwick County court record of 1761 mentions Spencer Pierce and his wife Elizabeth (Dunn, p. 543). Since Revolutionary War soldiers were usually young then Spencer Pierce the soldier was probably the son of Spencer and Elizabeth and born perhaps a few years before 1761.

Rice Bolton Pierce had moved to Southampton County by 1767 when he purchased 282 acres from Arthur Arrington. Since he was apprenticed in 1761, he served as apprentice for less than six years. If the same law applied to apprentices born in Virginia as those that were immigrants he must have been older than 12 since those younger that 12 served for 7 years. Apprentices 12 to 21 served 5 years.

Captain William Pierce lived at Mulberry Island in Warwick County and as an early immigrant has a genealogy in Adventurers of Purse and Person. A footnote in this geneaolgy mentions that he may have left a son Thomas Pierce of Mulberry Island. There was a connection between the Pierce family and William Spencer at this time, which might possibly account for the name Spencer Pierce. A descendant of this Thomas Pierce left a will in Warwick County in 1696 naming sons Jeremiah and William and daughter Elizabeth.  In 1685 an account of the horses belonging to the estate of John Wills was given by Jeremiah Pierce. In 1669 Thomas Iken patented 1350 acres in Mulberry Island ‘nere his now dwelling house, formerly the dwelling house of Capt. William Pierce’ (Nugent, v2. p. 56). Thomas Iken was married to the widow of Emanuel Wills, the immigrant ancestor to the Wills of Warwick County. This land escheated on the death of Thoma Iken and was regranted to John and Emanuel Wills (Adventurers of Purse and Person, 3rd Edition, pp. 364, 604). Hence, the Wills family lived or owned land adjacent to the former house of Capt. William Pierce.

In Warwick Court January 1752 Benjamin Wills presented the will of Thomas Wills, Jr, Gent. of which he was executor. The witnesses to the will were Thomas Cary and Spencer Pierce. In Warwick Court 1761 Benjamin Wills, Samuel Wills and Thomas Wills the elder were appointed to appraise the estate of Matthew Wills, gent., who had been a justice in Warwick County. Possibly Martha Pierce, wife of Spencer, was a member of the Wills family.

Thomas Pierce of Warwick County, possible grandson of Capt. William Pierce, left a will in 1696 with this bequest to his wife:

I bequeath unto my loving wife Elizabeth my own plantacion with fifty acres of land dureing her life and afterward to my son William Pierce if my wife marryes the plantacion to be deliverd forwith (Dunn, p. 275).

Thomas Pierce was granted 155 acres in Mulberry Island in 1673 (Nugent, v.2, p. 144). The 1704 rent roll for Warwick County has widow Pierce listed for 155 acres. The 1713 rent roll for Warwick County has William Pierce listed for 155 acres (The Colonial Williamsburg Foundation, John D. Rockefeller Jr. Library,  William Blathwayt Papers, MS1946.2, VOL XIII). Neither rent roll has any other listings for Pierce. Clearly William Pierce was the son of Thomas Pierce and his widow had died or remarried.  As late as 1694 the Wills family owned land adjacent to Thomas Pierce, when Emanuel Wills was granted 155 acres on the line of Thomas Pierce (Nugent, v.2, p. 348), possibly the same land that was owned by William Pierce in 1713.

Spencer Pierce owned 100 acres in Warwick County at some time as shown by the deed from John George Wills & Mary his wife to William Wills, dated 1768 (Dunn, p. 581). This court record was evidently taken by a union soldier as a souvenir during the Civil War and by the 1930s was held by the New York Public Library (Tylers Quarterly, 1943, pp. 52-64). A  copy is presently at the Library of Virginia (Warwick County Miscellaneous 1646-1915, Barcode 7417689).

A Memorial of Bargain and Sales Mortgages, Marriage Settlements Deeds of Tracts & other Conveyances/ which have been proved or acknowledged & recorded in the County Court of Warwick from the last Day of Dec. 1768/ to the last day of Nov. 1769.

Deed & Date of Conveyance – Feoffment 2nd May 1768
from whom – John Geo. Wills & May (Mary?) his wife of this County
to whom – Wm. Wills of Isle of Wight County
Consideration – One hundred & ten Pounds
Quantity of Acres Situation & Bounds of the Land and other etc. conveyed – one hundred acres of land in the County of/ Warwick formerly in the Posson of Spencer Pierce/ who sold the same to Mr. Wills who conveyed the same/ to the sd. J.G. Wills and bounded by the most known/ ancient & reputed bounds thereof
when ack. or proved – Nov. 10. 1768

If this was not deeded to him or someone he was heir to after 1713 then he must have inherited part of the 155 acres mentioned above. Even if it was not part of the 155 acre grant, the connection with the Wills and the fact that there were no other Pierce families living in Warwick County that owned land suggests he was a son of William Pierce.

The 1781 will of Elias Williams of Southampton County named his nephew Matthew Pierce and friend Rice B. Pierce to be his executor. Possibly Matthew was the oldest child of Rice B Pierce, and the will shows that Elizabeth Pierce’s maiden name was Williams.

Rice B Pierce and his son Matthew were both dead by May 1793 when a court order struck the name of Matthew Pierce for his share of the estate of RB Pierce. The estate of Rice Pierce in 1796 mentions Matthew Pierce, decd. The other children mentioned in the will and estate of Elizabeth Pierce are Rice (or Bolton), Peter, Spencer, Nathaniel, Martha Cobb and Elizabeth Lewis. A 1794 chancery suit gives a good overview of settlement of the Rice Bolton Pierce  estate.  Court of Southampton from Feb. 1793 the admin of the estate of Rice Pierce was granted to Michael Cobb and the record names Spencer Pierce as the eldest son of the decedent (Southampton MB 1793-99, p. 1).

Southampton County marriage records record the marriage of Spencer Pierce to Mary Calvert in 1793 and Rice B Pierce to Fanny Cook in 1809. Mary Calvert was a member of a seafaring family of Calverts from Norfolk County.