Biography and History

William Pearce, the ancestor of the family was granted the majority of present day Colchester lands (around 800 acres) in Kent County, Maryland. Gideon Pearce, his descendant, operated a ferry from the northern-most point of Colchester Farm across to Cecil County. James Alfred Pearce, Maryland representative and senator, was the son of Gideon Pearce and the grandson of James A. Pearce, Sr. He graduated from the College of New Jersey (now Princeton University) in 1822, studied law, and was admitted to the bar in 1824. Elected to the Maryland House of Delegates in 1831, Pearce went to Congress in 1835 as a Democrat, and served, with the exception of one term (1839-1841), until 1843, when he was elected to the United States Senate; there he remained until his death. During his long service in the Senate he was especially interested in the Library of Congress and the Smithsonian Institution. Pearce took a deep interest in educational matters, and in 1832 he was elected one of the governors of Washington College. Convinced that he was more useful in the Senate, he declined two positions offered him by President Millard Fillmore. James Alfred Pearce's name was repeatedly mentioned for the presidency. His son, James A. Pearce, Jr., served in the Union Army (from Maryland) during the Civil War.

James Alfred Pearce, Sr., was the father of Gideon Pearce. He was Court Justice in Maryland from 1760 to 1764 and in 1774, Commissioner of Tax, 1777-1781, and served in the Lower House of the state legislature, 1782-1785.

Source: From the finding aid for C1158