Named for John Hancock, one of the signers of the Declaration of Independence, was established December 14th, 1812. The modest town of Pearlington, now largely interested in sawing and shipping lumber to different parts of the world, was intended in Territorial days to be a place of considerable commercial importance, and with this view, its founders dedicated a large area of land for the purpose of building up a city, and it was for a time a lively and prosperous place.
Among the first settlers of Pearlington and Hancock county, were Francois B. Lenoir, who represented the county prior to 1820 in the Legislature, Noel Jourdan, Elisha Carver, J. C. Monet, Leonard Kimball, General Nixon, Col. Strong, Judge Benj. Sones, Colonel Stewart, Peter Joor, Pierre Saucier, John B. Toulme, Judge J. W. Wingate, Gabriel Bradford, Sidney Lenoir, William and Joseph Wheat, Thomas Poitevant, Dr. Eagar, H. and R. Carre, J. W. Roberts, David Moye, Col. D. S. Dewees, Felton Conley, Francoise Netto, A. H. Hersey, Wm. Friarson, Jordan Smith, Dr. C. A. Calhoun, Chas. Litchfield, Capt. A. P. Boardman, Christian Koch, John Orr, Capt. Raymond Creveas, Dimitry Canna, A. Dimitry, Col. W. R. Hoyt, P. R. R. Pray, who represented the county in the Legislature, and was President of the Constitutional Convention of 1832, Louis Sportono, Alex. Bookter, Jas. A. Ulman, Onerzein Favre, Chas. H. Frazar, Luther Russ, Jesse Depew, Thomas Holmes, and John Dunbar. Among the foregoing names are many who were distinguished in the early days of the Territorial and State governments. Prior to the era of railroads members of the bar from different sections of the State made their way on horse-back to the courts of the coast counties, not only to attend to whatever legal business they might secure, but for the pleasure of enjoying for a few days the health-giving breezes of the Gulf.
The towns in the county are Bay St. Louis, the county site, a prosperous and pleasant little city of some two thousand inhabitants, Pearlington and Gainesville.
The principal streams are Pearl River, on the western border, which affords excellent transportation for lumber sawed in the county, Jordan and Wolf rivers, and a number of smaller streams.
The railroads in the county are the Louisville and Nashville, and the New Orleans and Northeastern, which afford easy and comfortable transportation.
Hancock county has 3,832 acres of cleared land, average value per acre, $2.93. Total value, including incorporated towns, $746,723.
The population of this county as shown by the census report of 1890: Whites, 5,758; colored, 2,526; total, 8,284.