Purceys of Michigan and their English roots


The purpose of these pages is to inform family researchers of the origins of the Purcey family who came from Surrey, now part of Greater London, to Michigan USA. The family arived with a least three sons and one daughter; they now have many descendants. Some of the places they settled were Grand Rapids, MI, Bonne Terre, MI and St Louis, MO. I have lots of other information and source material - I am happy to share this information - please email me.

The beginning of the Purcey line

John Purcey was born in Fletching, Sussex in 1796. Not long after, his parents were living in Edenbridge, Kent and two more sons were born, Edward and James.

The family had the surname Purser. For reasons unknown John's surname changed to Pursey/Purcey at about the same time that he settled in Bramley, Kent. John married and had two sons and a daughter.

One of the sons, John, married Harriet Jelley and they had four sons and two daughters. The family, including (at least) sons William John Purcey, Charles Purcey and Walter Steven Purcey and daughter Ann Purcey went to Michigan around 1870 to start the American branch of the family.

I do not know whether there are any descendants of John in the UK today.

Present day family

Edward went to Australia as a soldier in 1832. When the regiment was transferred to India in 1835 he decided to leave the army and remain in New South Wales. Had six children and has many descendants, many still in the area of Sydney where he was granted 35 acres.

James, his wife and children went to Ontario, Canada in 1848/9. There are many descendants in Canada, many still in Ontario.

Although the traditional genealogy paper trail is good a descendant of James from Ontario, Canada and a descendant of Edward from Sydney, Australia each took a 25 marker DNA test - they matched in all 25 markers!

The principal occupation

If further proof were needed of the connection between the far-flung branches of the family just look at their principal occupation. Tannin must flow in their veins! Here is the list.

  • John Purser - tanner of Edenbridge, Kent. Father of John, James and Edward.
  • Edward Purser - after he left the military and settled in Sydney he worked as a boot and harness maker, developed his own tannery and ran an orchard.
  • James Purser - prior to his move to Canada was a tanner in Riverhead near Sevenoaks, Kent. Worked as a tanner for a short while in Toronto, Ontario before becoming a farmer.
  • John Purcey - tanner of Bramley, Surrey for all his working life. Father of John (below)
  • John Purcey - tanner of Bermondsey, Surrey and later farmer of Allegan MI, father of William, Charles and Walter
  • William Purcey - tanner of South Haven, van Buren, Michigan
  • Walter S Purcey was "in the leather business and had farming interests" according to his son Walter W's obituary
  • Walter W Purcey was born in Saugatuck, Michigan in 1881 and shortly afterwards the family moved to Fremont, Michigan. He went to Missouri in 1904 to "continue in the family tradition of five generations of leather production" (according to his obituary in 1967).

Further information

If you are interested in the family history and would like to know more or have information to contribute feel free to email me.

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