Archive for the ‘General’ Category

Researching Purseys

Thursday, April 20th, 2017

Researching a Pursey family can be a tricky thing. It is after all quite an unusual name with a distinctive spelling. Some are lucky in that they can enter a not-too-distant ancestor into the search box and see their whole line unfold before them, uniformly listed as Pursey.

Others are not so lucky, especially those with ancestors that travelled. Here are a few of the variations of the name that might turn up your hitherto missing ancestor:

Pursey, Pursy, Pursye, Purzey, Pursy, Purzie

Purssey, Purrsey, Parssey, Perssey

Parsey, Persey, Pirsey, Porsey, Pursie,

Purfey, Purney, Purpey, Purrey, Purvey

Prusey, Pressey

Passey, Pussey, Pussy, Pusey


Pircey, Piercey, Piercy, Pearsey, Pearsy

Percy, Percey, Percie, Purcy, Purcie

Bursey, Fursey, Tursey, Rursey

Purse, Purze, Purs, Pers


and some one-offs: Resley, Russey, Puney, Penny, Pacey, Bessey

And this is by no means exhaustive! If you have other unlikely spellings/transcriptions, please let me know.

Purseys who would be Percys

Thursday, April 20th, 2017

This is a post that I expect to grow as an increasing number of Percy families look into their roots only to discover their ancestors went under a different name.

1. Those who have wholly embraced the change are the descendants of Thomas Pursey, b 1725 Taunton, Somerset d 1810 Sherborne, Dorset. Coming from a family of carpenters and joiners, Thomas born a Pursey, was definitely a Percy in the parish register when he died. Interesting he signed his will, Percey. (See Taunton Purseys in the database).

2. More understandable is change perhaps is that of John Pursey from Walton, Somerset. Born to William Pursey and Ann Taylor, he finished his days a Percy in the predominantly French-speaking province of Ontario. He married Elizabeth Young in England in 1832. His children, all of whom were born in Canada, (and their descendants too) all carry the Percy name.

3. A more intriguing case is that of Isaac William Pursey, b 1844 in Pitminster, Somerset to Isaac and Mary Marke. Married to Annie Maria Howe around 1870, sons William George and Albert Edward were both registered under Pursey. Subsequently, three children – George, Florence and Leonard – were registered under Percy. Isaac (or William as he became) signed himself in then 1911 census, as Percy. Son Albert Edward is subsequently registered in 1911 as Percy.

Did … do these families know something the rest of us don’t. Are we all really Percys? Thats the $64,000 question!

Are you a Pursey or a Percy?

Saturday, May 7th, 2016

When I started this site some years ago, I was convinced that the Purseys and the Percys were none other than two separate names. (I pronounce my name with a ‘z’ as in Purzey and it jars when someone addresses with with the softer ‘c’.) Whatever the pronunciation, many a Pursey is convinced they have some link with the more venerable Percys. It’s possible of course, but a definitive link is so far, elusive.

Hours of research into Pursey, Percy, Percey, Purssey, Persey, Purze, Purs and even Parsey, leaves me sceptical – but I haven’t yet shut the door on the idea.

What is not in doubt is that the Pursey name was distinctively in use at the end of the 1400s. One of the earliest individuals bearing the name was one George Purseye in Hertfordshire. (That line continued unbroken until the mid 1700s when it died it with William – or so it seems, currently. Then there are the Purseys of Somerset – by far the largest concentration of those with the name. One of the earliest is Elizabeth in Milverton who married Andrew Lucas in 1546. The name then occurs with more regularity in Bradford on Tone and Halse and Bridgwater. By the late 1600s there are more in Pitminster and West Buckland. By the 1700s, it can be found in Devon, Berkshire and Buckinghamshire.

And then there are the Perseys of Devon. Distinctively Persey. And yet, even amongst that tree, there are those who sign themselves Percey! Also, in the mix are the Purssey – distinctive lines that appear in Stogumber, Somerset and also Kent.

Transcription errors, whilst not exactly rife, are numerous. I have found my forebears under Parsey, Pursy and even Pinsey and Pierce. But then known descendants appear under Pursey.

And then there are the Percys – or Percies. Not least in Dorset. (And it doesn’t help when there is what appears to be a wilful insistence by a Pursey – in this case, Thomas Pursey and his son Thomas Pitman Pursey – to be known as Percy. Naturally, their descendants also appear as Percys.)

And when one starts to look for relatives across the water in North America and Canada but especially Canada, where with French as the first language, a number of bona-fide Purseys do morph in Percys. The same cannot be said to be true the other way round! (That said, I believe there are yet to be uncovered a number of Pursey lines, having their roots in Taunton, Somerset, in the northern and eastern states of Massachusetts and Virginia. These were soldiers and military men, sons and daughters of relatively wealthy families of cordwainers and carpenters.)

Thus in the Pursey Project database you will find a number of trees dedicated to the name Percy. Three are dedicated to Dorset – the ancient Percys of Shaftesbury; then the mariners and merchants of Weymouth and finally, the Percys of Wimborne. The name Pursey hardly figures. The mariners of Weymouth are especially interesting as for several generations, they travelled far and wide. Hugh Percy went as far as Newfoundland and down the American coast way back in the 1600s.

There are one or two other interesting Percy lines such as Captain John Percy from Hoosick in New York State, and Charles Percy and his son Robert of Mississippi and Louisiana.

Finally, there is Gunpowder plotter Thomas Percy, and that of the Percy ‘imposter’ James Percy, otherwise known as the trunk-maker. His son Anthony Percy was Lord Mayor of Dublin.

Leads abound. The challenge is to tie them together. And that is the purpose of this project. The more people get involved, the more clues will be uncovered and solved. In the words of one famous searcher: “the truth is out there”!