The Pearsall Family :1100 Years

History Of The Pearsall Family

Old Norse and Icelandic literature was much concerned with a person's heritage and with family lineage. Long dark winters (and much mead) embroidered these stories. The links to Sagas, Vikings and Normans will take you to another world indeed. For students of archaeology and Norse and Celtic history, there is a hint at Celtic origins here if you read carefully.

The Viking progenitor of our family was Rognvald, cousin of King Harald Fairhair of Norway and father of Rollo, First Duke of Normandy.

European Ancestors

About 1007 Mauger, great grandson of Rollo became Count of Corbeil and Count of Montaigne and changed the lion figure's posture on the coat of arms. According to a tradition of Corbeil, an ancestor had slain a dragon. For a time, the dragon embellished our arms. In 1057, William, Duke of Normandy dispossessed Werlac, son of Mauger and Count of Corbeil and Montaigne and drove him from the country. In Italy, Werlac adopted new arms, a cross Fleuriior cross with fleur de lis reminiscent of lost Normandy. Ancestor Clarence refers to it as "The Cross of Suffering".

In 1080, Gilbert de Corbeil, grandson of Werlac, married Isabella Lupus, daughter of Richard Avranches, a descendant of Hrollarf, son of Rognvald and brother of Rollo. Hrollarf and his family retained the wolf's head insignia and this was the insignia of the Lupus family. Any descendant of this marriage had the right to "impale" or add as a quartering the original wolf's head
as the symbol of the Lupus or Avranches family. Isabella's generation was the last to be allowed to pass on the arms to descendants though the female line.

Isabella and Gilbert's son Robert acquired the manor of Peshale and the name "de Peshale" which later became Pearsall. He married Ormunda de Lumley de Stafford, a princess of Bernicia, Northumberland. Political considerations and cautions caused the family to return to the arms of Werlac rather than advertise their extensive royal connections. We may use more variety in
our American family arms including the "impalement" and "augmentation" used when our family name began.

The families in England today are represented by descendants who call themselves Pearsall, Parshall, Pexall, Pascall, Peshall and Swinnerton. Robert de Peshall, grandson of Robert and Ormunda, was given the manor of Swinnerton and took the name de Swinnerton and kept the family arms as designed by ancestor Werlac. The de Peshales used a number of varieties from the original.

At the time of Henry V, heraldry set the arms of families back to those worn at the battle of Agincourt. Thus, arms could be inherited or subsequently granted by the King by Royal Patent. They could not be purchased by the nouveau riche. The Herald's Office had the official records. Our ancestor Nicholas de Peshale fought at Agincourt.

In 1483, the college of arms or Heralds College was established by Richard III. The presidency of it is hereditary in the family of Howard, Duke of Norfolk.

The earliest visitation by the heralds to the family was in 1528 in Staffordshire at which time the Peshall arms were approved. The right of descent is allowed. Subsequent visits and recordings of information from the Master of Arms are on file either in the British Museum or in the office of the College of Heraldry (at least as of 1920).

The Family Mottoes

"Ce que ad viendra"

Different generations have used various mottoes:

Sir Adam de Peshale of Weston-under-Lizard: "Spes me in Deo"

Others used: "Fortes fortuna juvat".

Reverend John Peshall used: "Suum Cuique".

Richard Pearsall: "Sine crimine sine metu"

Robert Lucas de Pearsall: "Better death than shame".

John Peshall (who married Helena Harcourt): "Bien venu

ce que ad viendra".

Our branch has used the rather pedestrian: "Sine labora nihil".

Ancestor Clarence Pearsall writes on page 23 of volume one of The History and Genealogy of the Pearsalls in England and America: "The truth would, however, seem to be that there is no recognized family motto of the Peshale-Pearsall family and one is at liberty both historically and of personal right to use whatever motto strikes their own fancy."


The Family Surnames


Norway: Wolf

Normandy: Lupus

de Normandi (in service to the Duke) e.g. Rollo de Normandi

de Corbeil (on acquisition of that manor) e.g.Gilbert de Corbeil



Fitz-Gilbert de Corbeil, who married a daughter of the Northmbrian royal becoming in turn a:

de Lumley

Peshale de Lumley

de Peshale (on acquisition of that manor)


The manor name Peshall may have come from the Anglo Saxon "peashealh" or "home of the Peacock" Peshale was a current name in 1066 and is probably Old Saxon. It is not listed in the Domesday Book. There is a sketchy mention in Pirehill Hundred by Walter Chetwynd.

Sir Hugh Persall was knighted at the Battle of Bosworth Field in 1486 (One assumes by the winner) and was given the family manor of Horsely Hall. Three branches of the family fought at Bosworth Field, two for Lancaster and one for York.

The Ranton branch of the Peshalls changed the spelling to Pearsall sometime after Bosworth Field. Other variations came and went (or survived to some extent to this day), but those of our line kept Pearsall. The popularity of this spelling was spread by visits of the successful wool merchants Asa and Edmund Pearsall and can be found in parish records in Kidderminster in the Church of St. Mary's. It began to be used in this spelling in about 1612. Edmund Pearsall was an ancestor of the American branch of our family. Thomas Pearsall settled in Chesapeake country of Virginia and Maryland. A branch of the family changed to Piersall inNew York during the Revolutionary War.

American variations of the name: Pearsall, Parcell, Parsels, Parsill, Pearcall,Pearceall, Pearsel, Pearsell, Persel, Pershall, Parshall, Perzel, Piercall, Pierceall, Piersall, Purcall, Pursell, Purcel, Purcell, Purkell, Pursel, Persle, Pursell, Pussal, Pussel, Pearsol, Pearsoll, Piersol, Peirsol, Parcelle, Parsells, Parcells, Parcoll, Parsoll, Parsolls, Parsil, Persil, Parsil, Persils, Perceaull, Pearceaull, Pertil, Peartil and many other forms of the same names.

Edmund Pearsall

According to Clarence Pearsall,our family descends from Edmund Pearsall, Merchant of the Staple (wool). Ancestor Clarence Pearsall quotes from "A Dictionary of Family Names of the United Kingdom" by Mark Anthony, M.A.F.S.A. gives: - Pearsall, an estate in co. Stafford, now written Pearshall or Pershall. The family are of Norman origin, having been founded at the place referred to by Robert, a follower of Robert of Stafford, early in the reign of the Conqueror. He was son of Gilbert, son of a Count of Corbeil in Normandy.

Members of the newly formed Pearsalls-l listserve are investigating an origin for Henry Pearsall, the progenitor of my own family's branch to be in Warwickshire rather than in Staffordshire. This is an ongoing investigation with little in the way of results so far.For a copy of the information I have collected, see the following:


Other Pearsall Resources

Pearsalls Corners:


Heraldic Designs from Pearsall Sources

1928 Version of Pearsall Shield: motto, "Sine Labora Nihil" (Without work, nothing) courtesy of James Pearsall of New Jersey


Wolf's Head, Rognvald's Family (adapted from scan from Pearsalls books)


Wolf's Head Canton: designed by Rosalie V. Grafe



Updated 1/5/2002



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