Many a Pursey thinks they are in some way related to the Dukes of Northumberland and thus have claims on the famous Percy armorials. For those harbouring such thoughts, you can find more information here on Wikipedia. I was – and remain – sceptical.

That said, a distant cousin with an interest in such matters, drew my attention to Burke’s General Armory, first published in 1842. The very short entry under PURSEY reads:

Per pale ar. and gu. a lion rampant, counterchanged

This translates into a silver and red shield divided vertically, with a rampant lion also divided vertically into red and silver, superimposed.

The entry is repeated in Papworth’s Ordinary of British Armorials (1874).

Intrigued, I wrote to the College of Arms in London for clarification. A reply from the grandly titled Rouge Croix Pursuivant came back disappointing: 

I first searched the records of the Heralds’ Visitations of the English and Welsh counties during the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. The Officers of Arms went out to each county roughly every generation to oversee the use of Arms and to record the pedigrees of the gentry. Sadly, I did not find the Arms blazoned in your e-mail, although I found that similar Arms had been confirmed to William Stone of Twiste and his descendants at the Visitation of London in 1633-5 (Coll. Arm. 2C24.447b). The Arms so confirmed may be blazoned as Per pale Or and Sable a Lion rampant counterchanged. The tinctures differ from those of the Arms in which you are interested, but, lineally, the design is the same.

I then turned to the records of Grants and Confirmations of Arms from the Tudor period to the present day, but I did not find any Grant of Arms to anyone with your surname.

The Arms found in Burke’s are not on record here and it is likely that they might have been adopted by someone called Pursey without authority.

However, the door is not yet firmly shut. In the ‘History and Genealogy of the PERLEY FAMILY’ compiled by M V B Perley and self-published in Salem, Massachusetts in 1906 the following appears:

Page from The Perley Family History

Perhaps, the Perleys too consulted Burke and Papworth but if you know more, I’m sure Purseys everywhere will be interested!

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