John Pearce was born in Hedge End, South Stoneham, Hampshire, England on 9 February 1879.
He was the son of John Pearce (b. 1816) and Mary Jane Powell (b. 1851), natives of Plymouth and Hampshire, respectively who were married in 1873.
His siblings were: Mark (b. 1874), James (b. 1876), Ellen (b. 1877), Carrie (b. 1880), Lavinia (b. 1883), Elizabeth (b. 1885) and William Joseph (b. 1887).
The 1881 census records the family living at 6 Pitt Street in St Helier, Jersey where they had apparently been living since not long after John's birth; at the time his father was described as a Greenwich pensioner. By the time of the 1891 census the family had returned to Britain and were shown living at 1 Green Hill Cottages, Woolston, Southampton.
Adding one year to his age and giving his birth date as 9 February 1878, young John Pearce signed up for the Royal Navy as a fireman; he was described as standing at 5' 7" and with light brown hair, dark grey eyes and with a fair complexion, sporting two "scars on [his] loins." Joining on 30 October 1896, Pearce's first ship was Victory II, serving eight months until August 1897 before serving on the Mars until the close of the 19th century. By January 1900 he was serving aboard Duke of Wellington, followed by Gladiator.
Although he was at sea at the time, Pearce's family are listed on the 1901 census as residents of 105 Manor Road.
Despite a clean record of conduct, Pearce was invalided from service in December 1902 whilst serving again aboard the Duke of Wellington, after which he joined the Royal Fleet Reserve, albeit not being in receipt of any pension. During this period he commenced a career with the Merchant Fleet.
On 23 November 1911 Pearce signed on to the Oratava as a fireman on a voyage bound for the West Indies. On 9 February 1912 he signed on for a voyage aboard the Danube.
When Pearce signed on to the Titanic on 6 April 1912 he gave his address as 14 Drummond Road1 in Southampton and his previous ship as the Danube; as a fireman he could expect to earn monthly wages of £6.
John Pearce survived the sinking but in which lifeboat is not clear; he was not called to testify at either of the British or American Inquiries into the disaster. He returned to England and resumed his career at sea.
On 11 July 1912 Pearce signed on as a fireman aboard the Arcadian, apparently, a Belfast-registered yacht that was bound for Norway. On 6 December 1913 he signed on as a greaser aboard Wellpark.
With the outbreak of war in Europe Pearce was reenlisted with the Royal Navy, rejoining Victory II as a stoker on 7 September 1914. From January 1915 to June 1919 he also served aboard the Hecla and the Dido before being demobilised on 10 June, again with an exemplary record.
During peace time John Pearce continued to serve aboard merchant vessels, including La Rosarina, Oligarch, Hilman, Trinculo and Mountnairn.
Little to nothing is known about his later personal life and he died, presumably whilst serving at sea, on 17 March 1933.2