A forum for all Purseys worldwide

I started this website as I had hit a brick wall in my own family history – as we all do sooner or later. I knew that our family had its roots in Pitminster, Somerset. But I wanted to know where they had come from and also to see if I had any extended family that had long been forgotten.

Early on, I had read that the Purseys had come into existence around the mid sixteenth century in Somerset. The oft-quoted example is one Elizabeth Pursey being married in Milverton in 1546. I thought it was a fairly unusual name and that I wouldn’t have too many problems linking up the various branches of the family, the epicentre of which seemed to be Taunton. Thereafter, they become more visible and the name is well established by late 17th and early 18th centuries, particularly in Somerset and Devon but interestingly also in Hertfordshire. There, the line is unbroken from the end of the fifteenth century until its end in the mid 1750s. But as one branch comes to an end, so others emerge – in Hampshire, Berkshire and Surrey – and of course London.

As I dug deeper the picture began to change. Always lurking in the shadows seemed to be the long-established, well-connected and well-researched Percies of Northumberland, to which so many Purseys think they are related. (I have never yet come across a Percy masquerading as Pursey but there are a fair few instances of the contrary!)

Some of the confusion arises from transcription errors where those responsible for recording births, marriages and deaths would write down what they heard from the often illiterate parties involved. Errors were bound to crop up but such errors as did arise were compounded greatly by those with grander ideas.

Later still, I came across the Pursseys – that unusual double ‘s’ an attempt to differentiate a particular family from their country cousins perhaps. That extra ‘s’ is both a help and a hinderance: helpful when it is used but frustrating when it has been dropped for some reason.

So on your search for your forebears, be on the lookout for variant spellings which include PURSYE, PURSY, PURSSEY, and PERSIE.

To try and establish links between the various families, I have set up a Family Tree DNA page at http://www.familytreedna.com/public/pursey/default.aspx?section=yresults

The advent of the internet has undoubtedly uncovered much that not so long ago had remained hidden, sometimes for hundreds of years. With your help, I hope to uncover a lot more – and with luck – establish that link to the Percy family that so many wish for. Or, to disprove it altogether and in doing so, establish the Purseys as a distinct entity in ourselves!

The phrase ‘we’re all in this together’ has been somewhat overused. But in this case, it is probably apt. If you can contribute to uncovering some of the family secrets then please do get in touch. Happy hunting!

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