When I started this site some years ago, I was convinced that the Purseys and the Percys were two separate names. (I pronounce my name with a ‘z’ as in Purzey and it jars when someone addresses me with the softer ‘c’.) Whatever the pronunciation, many a Pursey is convinced they have some link with the more venerable Percys.
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.
And then there are the Percys. We all know about those in Northumberland but there are sizeable clusters in Dorset, North Somerset and Cornwall. In fact, the are scattered to all parts of the British Isles, including Ireland.
And when one starts the search for relatives across the water in North America and especially Canada where French is prominent, a number of bona-fide Purseys do morph in Percys. (I believe there are are a number of yet-to-be-discovered Pursey lines, (with 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; the mariners and merchants of Weymouth, and finally, the Percys of Wimborne. 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 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 ‘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”!