William F. Peerce was born in September of 1787, in the District of Columbia. The house in which he first saw the light of day stood upon the spot where St. John’s Church now stands. His father, the first of the Peerce name in America, sailed from England for New York early in the 18th century. Due to stress of weather, he was driven to the West Indies, where the vessel was wrecked on the island of St. Kitts.
An incident worthy of note occurred when the ship struck the rocks. There were some women and children on board, who amid the confusion were in danger of perishing. The crew rushed for the life boats with the intention of securing their own safety, but Mr. Peerce, with gun in hand, planted himself at the bulwarks, and threatened instant death to any one who attempted to leave the ship until the helpless were landed. His will and courage prevailed and all were safely landed on the island. Peerce purchased a sugar plantation and engaged successfully in the culture of sugar cane.
After some years on the island, he sailed for America and settled in St. Mary’s County, where Edward Peerce, the father of William Ferguson Peerce was born. After the death of his father, Edward Peerce moved to the District of Columbia and bought a large tract of land, extending from the site of the present White House to the Navy Yard. Washington, at that time, was in its early development. With no suggestion of its future greatness the land was acquired for agricultural purpose.
At the close of the Revolutionary War, a splendid body of land in Baltimore County which had belonged to Lord Dulaney, a Tory during the struggle, had been confiscated. Edward Peerce was attracted by its location and fertility, and traded his Washington property for 500 acres in Dulaney’s Valley. Peerce’s Plantation was built on this land and over the years has been bought and sold as a restaurant