Cordwainers & Boot-makers

Somerset is famous for it boot and shoe-making. The centre of activity was and remains Street.

In his book ‘Reminiscences of life in the parish of Street, Somersetshire, from the year 1844’, William Pursey writes about Clarks Shoes: “The business was founded by the late Cyrus and James Clark, and the writer remembers when a lad visiting the works…”

Kelly’s 1889 Directory of Somerset lists three Pursey families involved in boot and shoe-making. John & Sons, William Cornelius (who was a ‘boot, closed upper and leather manufacturer’) were both in the High Street whilst Frederick worked in the West End. By the war, one or more of these had combined to form Pursey and Bacon Ltd. The business was short-lived and the business had closed by 1934.

Others include: John born in London around 1837, Thomas born in North Petherton about 1823 Somerset and Joseph (Purssey) b 1785, living in Orchard Street, Canterbury with daughter Martha and her husband George Pilcher.

But grand-daddy to them all was William Pursey of East Street, TSM who married Mary Hamlin in Nov 1709!

I wonder if there are any Purseys still involved in the trade? If you have any photographs of a ‘Pursey’ boot – or better still and example of the boot itself, please do get in touch!


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