PEARSON, BARTHOLOMEW, yeoman of Wollaton, Nottingham, settler in the first English colony in Newfoundland; fl. 1612–34.
Pearson was one of a group of settlers who went to Cuper’s Cove (now Cupids) in 1612 at the instigation and expense of Sir Percival Willoughby, also of Wollaton, a prominent member of the Merchant Venturers company formed in 1610 for the plantation of Newfoundland. Pearson’s function seems to have been to assess the agricultural possibilities of Newfoundland but, after only a few months there, he condemned both the land and the climate. However, his letters reveal a genuine interest in the island’s animal life. In October 1612 he took part in John Guy’s expedition to Trinity Bay and was among those ship-wrecked at Green Bay (Bay de Verde) on the way back. Nine days later, near starvation, they regained Cuper’s Cove, having walked to Carbonear where they had found a boat.
With 60 others Pearson wintered in Newfoundland but in April 1613 he wrote asking Willoughby for permission to come home. His letter was critical not only of Newfoundland but also of the management of the undertaking. He probably left with others of Willoughby’s men later that year; he was certainly in Nottingham early in 1617, when he married Elizabeth Baguleughe. The remainder of Pearson’s life seems to have been spent, less adventurously, in Nottinghamshire where he maintained his connection with Willoughby, leasing land and coal-pits from him.
Pearson’s letters from Newfoundland and other papers relating to the colony are at Nottingham University, Middleton mss, Mi X 1/1–66. For his subsequent career see: Middleton mss, 1/1/9, 1/38/26, 6/170/117. Nottinghamshire marriage licences, ed. T. M. Blagg, I (Br. Record Soc., 1930).