PEPPERRELL, WILLIAM, merchant, father of Sir William Pepperrell*, who commanded the New England forces against Louisbourg in 1745; b. c. 1647, son of Andrew and Joan Pepperrell of Revelstoke, Devonshire; married Margery Bray, daughter of a prosperous shipbuilder of Kittery Point, Me., by whom he had eight children; d. 15 Feb. 1733/34 at Kittery Point.
Of William Pepperrell’s early years little is known. Coming to the Isles of Shoals (off the Maine–New Hampshire coast) about 1675, probably by way of Newfoundland, he was, by one account, engaged in fishing until his marriage in 1680, when he moved to Kittery Point and embarked on a mercantile career. His first recorded venture was a trading voyage to Newfoundland, where in September 1682 he was among the New England traders who were required to furnish bonds not to carry English subjects from the island, a practice which the authorities were, however, unable to stop [see William Arnold]. Later, he traded at Canso (Canseau, N.S.) and Port-Toulouse (St Peters) as well. By 1696, when his second son, William, was born, he had extended his commercial activities to the southern colonies, the West Indies, Portugal, and the Canary Islands.
Appointed a justice of the Court of Common Pleas in 1695, Pepperrell served as magistrate for the next 25 years. He twice represented Kittery in the provincial assembly, was nine times chosen to be a selectman of the town, and for many years commanded the county militia regiment with the rank of colonel.
By the time he died, Pepperrell was numbered among the most prominent men of the province, and was one of the wealthiest merchant-shipowners of New England.
For the elder William Pepperrell, the most valuable documentary sources are the Pepperrell papers of the Maine Hist. Soc. (Portland, Me.), and those of the New England Historic Genealogical Society (Boston, Mass.); also the Kittery town records, Maine, Books I–II.
For published sources, see Province and court records of Maine, IV, and York county, Me., Register of deeds, ed. H. W. Richardson et al. (18v. in progress, Portland, 1887– ), III, IV. See also, PRO, CSP, Col., 1681–85, and Genealogical dictionary of Maine and New Hampshire, ed. Sybil Noyes et al. (Portland, Me., 1928–39).
Secondary accounts are in Byron Fairchild, Messrs. William Pepperrell: merchants at Piscataqua (Ithaca, N.Y., 1954), and Usher Parsons, The life of Sir William Pepperrell, Bart. (2d ed., Boston, 1856).