John Pershall1,2

M, b. 1485
FatherHumphrey Peshall (Pershall) d. 3 Jun 1488
MotherHelena Swinnerton
     Additional Notes: In compiling and analyzing the generations of the Pearsall family in the late 1400’s through the early 1600’s, we have been concerned with the dates given and conclusions reached. The one authority that has been used by almost everyone working on this family has been the exceptional work and research done by Clarence Pearsall. This body of work is remarkable in the breadth of the coverage and the detail that has gone into each and every generation. However, it is doubtful that there has or ever will be a genealogical work of any size and complexity that does not have errors. The problem we see at this time period is the age and birth of Edmund Pershall/Peshall etc. (Chapter 26, Section 1), the son of Richard Pershall (Chapter 25, Section 1), son of John Peshall (Chapter 24, Section1). Records and evidence given by the author and his sources and from Collins’ book entitled Peerage of England; Genealogical, Biographical, and Historical, would seem to indicate that John Peshall would have been born in the time period circa 1485, his son Richard circa 1515 and Richard’s children being born in the early 1540’s and later. The known dates of the allied families would confirm this same generational time span. The above mentioned work of Collins states that the Edmund Peshall that married Maria Bathurst was the fourth son of Richard Peshale of Checkley. If this statement is true, than the birth year of Edmund Peshall, the son of Richard, would have to be in the mid to late 1550’s.
Beginning chapter 26, Pearsall states that Edmund Pershall was born circa 1531 and that he died 26 March of 1629. Later in this chapter he goes even further and states that in all likelihood, Edmund had reached the age of 100 at the time of his death and that he most probably had been born earlier than the given date of 1531. Pearsall states that Edmund had moved to London and was working in the Grocer’s trade by 1552, which seems to be the logic for the 1531 date of birth. He gives no explanation as to how this is or is not compatible with other known dates in the family. He also has ‘Edmund’s marriage being in 1583 when he would have been over 50 years old while his bride was at the appropriate age for a young woman to be marrying. In later discourse, he sites an inquisition in which Edmund, the son of Edmund, was 22 years of age at the time of his father’s death. This would give him a birth date of 1607, making Edmund the father to be around the 80 year mark at the birth of his son, and 24 years after his marriage. All of this could be within the range of possibility, but certainly not at all likely.
In telling the tale of Edmund’s life as a merchant of London and of his relationship with his brother Robert, it seems convincing that with the legal battles, the documents that link Edmund to Robert, continued suits after his death and the tone of the will where Edmund implores his executors to continue the legal battles, that these two are indeed brothers. There is no reason to believe that the Robert and Edmund who are waging the legal battle are not indeed brothers, but they are the brothers born to Richard Pershall of Staffordshire in the 1550’s. If they were born in the mid 1550’s, then Robert would have been in his mid 60’s when dieing in 1622 and Edmund in his 70’s when dieing in 1629. These dates also make the other dates and years given to be appropriate. The Edmund who was 22 1n 1629 and born in 1607 would be the grandson of Edmund I, son of Richard and the son of Edmund II born to Edmund I, son of Richard circa 1585. Thus, we have Richard Pershall of Staffordshire having sons Edmund and Robert in the late 1550’s or early 1560’s. We have this Edmund I getting married in 1583 and having a son Edmund II say in 1585. This second Edmund then marries and has his own son Edmund III born in 1607, this being the Edmund mentioned in the 1637 inquisition, his father and grandfather both dieing in Fleet Prison or nearby and both dieing close to the writing of the will of 1629..
The question remains then as to who is the Edmund that was a young man in London in 1552, and how is it that Pearsall can show a continuous chain of documents showing Edmund as a grocer in London from 1552 until the death in Fleet Prison in 1629? Pearsall himself laments the lack of evidence of the Pershall family in the time of John and Richard, due to the religious and political upheaval of the times. There is scanty records showing that John Peshall had two sons Richard and Ralph and very little else. We believe it is quite possible that John had other children and one of them was an Edmund born in the mid to late 1520’s. We also believe that this Edmund found his way to London and into the Grocer’s Guild by 1552. He would have been in London and having already had a good start in his career when his namesake nephew was born. It was not an uncommon event for close relatives to bring the next generation into their trade and get them settled in the merchant business. If this were the case, then by the mid 1570’s, Edmund the nephew, our Edmund I, would have gone to London to live and work with his uncle Edmund. Again if this is what happened, it is possible for a continuous paper trail of Edmund Peshall to have started in 1552 and continue uninterrupted until the death of Edmund I and II in 1629. There is good reason to believe that the Edmund born in the 1520’s was indeed of the Staffordshire branch and then would logically have been the son of John.
All of this conjecture is based on the assumption that all evidence seen by us and discussed here is accurate. We have based our generations in this work on this analysis and we welcome critiques, suggestions and thoughts on what we have proposed.

John was born in 1485 in Checkley, Staffordshire, England. John married Helena Harcourt, daughter of Thomas Harcourt and Isabel Egerton, in Staffordshire, England.


  1. [S103] Clarence E. Pearsall, History of the Pearsall Family, pp. 808.
  2. [S916] John Burke, A Genealogical and Heraldic history of the extinct and dormant baronetcies.