Archive for the ‘Jobs’ Category

From Pitminster to PEI – a very long journey!

Sunday, February 21st, 2016

When I started investigating my Pursey family history, the letters PEI held an allure; the more so when I discovered they referred to Prince Edward Island, Canada.

For many a long year, that’s what they remained, despite a page on the Island Register website, listing the children of Annie Houston and one Thomas Pursey, including Howard, John Franklin, Bessie Maud, William Allan, Melinda, George, Maria and Wallace Charles. It noted that “She married THOMAS T. PURSEY July 04, 1860 in PEI. He was born July 16, 1838 in England.” Needless to say, no such Thomas made himself known.

One day, on the Family Search site, I came across a death certificate for a Thomas G Pursey, which noted he died of pneumonia in Boston, Massachusetts on 29 January, 1908, aged 69 years and 6 months. The specific age no doubt providing the evidence for the birth date given above. More interesting was the fact that Thomas’s parents names were also listed: Thomas Pursey and Sarah Shillick. But which Thomas?

A trawl of the London records shows that a Thomas married Sarah Sellick on 4 June, 1826 in Marylebone. If you’ve searched the London records for Thomas Purseys, living about that time, you’ll know there are more than a good number! So there the search stalled once again.

On a parralel track, I’d been long looking into the families of Thomas and Eleanor Studley. Among their children a pattern in their professions began to emerge – they worked with coaches and horses. The only one that was ‘untraceable was son Thomas, born August 1802 in Pitminster, Somerset. Newspaper reports of a insolvent debtor – journeyman coachsmith Thomas Pursey – appeared in 1837 and 1846. One of these placed him at Fredrick Street.

A further search of the London burial records indicates a Thomas Pursey, of 6 Woodfield Road, Ormer Green, Paddington as having been buried 4 March 1849, aged 45. Subsequent census searches show widowed Sarah living with her mother (1851), and sister Betsy, b 1800, son Isaac, George Thomas, 11 – visitor, and John 4, nephew (1861).

More trawling showed Sarah and Thomas had a number of children, among them – and very confusingly – a Thomas G Pursey and a George Thomas Pursey. The latter having his own son (with another Sarah – Collins) George Thomas. It is this George Thomas who I believe is the visitor above.

In the end, it was Betsy who led me to Thomas, son of Thomas and Eleanor Studley. And whilst the evidence is still inconclusive, Thomas and Eleanor’s son is, I believe, the father of Thomas G Pursey who died in Boston in 1908, and is the link between Pitminster and PEI.

Farmers and labourers

Thursday, November 6th, 2014

By far, most mid nineteenth century Purseys come in this category – and most of them are agricultural labourers rather than farmers.

Those who were farmers are from the wealthier branches of the family. The earliest were the Purseys from Hertfordshire.

Thereafter, a number of the Street Purseys had farms as did the Pursseys from Stogumber.

One of the most intriguing was one George Pursey. In November, 1834, the Stamford Mercury recorded the death of George at Greaves’ Lane, Farnsfield near Nottingham. It described him as “an opulent farmer” who died in his 75th year. His son George was also a farmer who died aged 64, in 1858. George the younger was obviously a character who requested that at his death, all the children under seven of Edingley and Farnsfield should receive a penny bun each.  There were 120 recipients!

And then there were the farm labourers. They are too numerous to mention them all but among the most notable is one of my own ancestors Thomas Pursey (b Pitminster, Somerset 1787). He met a distinctly sticky end in 1856. Despite his 67 years, he had been hard at work in the fields one summer in 1856. On finishing work, the Taunton Courier reports that he retired to his ingle nook to enjoy a pipe before going to bed. Apparently, a candle fell from the table into his lap and set his clothes alight. Although he was taken to hospital the next day, he was so extensively burned, the nurses could do little for him. However, it was 13 days later before he finally expired from the burns he sustained.

Also at Pitminster, in 1823, one William Pursey had been in the act of lifting a dray when it fell on him and ruptured a vessel on the brain. The Bristol Mercury reported that he died instantly.

Coaches and Horsemen

Thursday, November 6th, 2014

In June 1791, James Pursey of Chard, Somerset, posted the following ad in the Bath Chronicle:


(A post-chaise was a closed four-wheeled horse-drawn coach used as a rapid means for transporting mail and passengers in the 18th and 19th centuries.)

He seemed to be a wealthy man, certainly an entrepreneur and although I cannot link him with any other Pursey line, I believe he provided employment for many of the wider Pursey family.

For example, the 1841 census list John Pursey (wife Hannah Vickery) as an ostler. (An ostler is someone employed to look after the horses of people staying at an inn.) John’s brother George, living North Petherton was likewise and Ostler.

John’s son William was a coach smith, living with wife Eleanor and son John George in Marylebone, London in 1851. [Eleanor was William’s cousin – the daughter of George above.] Another son Thomas was a coach trimmer, living in Market Street, Paddington, London with wife Margaret and their children. Other sons Robert and James were harness-makers.

John had a brother Thomas b 1802, Pitminster, Somerset. He is likely to be the coach trimmer who had brushes with the debtor’s court in 1832, 1837 and 1846.