History of Bucks County, Pa Volume 3 by William H. Davis
Names and Page # Index


   HOWARD PURSELL, M. D. of Bristol, was born in Bridgeton (formerly Nockamixon) township, Bucks county, March 23, 1847, and is a son of Brice M. and Martha Merrick (POORE) PURSELL.

   The PURCELL-PURSELL family of Pennsylvania and New Jersey are descendants of the noble family of PURCELL in Ireland, whose founder, Sir Hugh PURCELL, was a grandson of Sir Hugh PURCELL who went from Normandy to England with William the Conqueror, and traced his descent through many generations from Charlemagne of France.   Sir Hugh PURCELL is said to have been the first of the conquering Normans to land on British soil at Pevensey Bay, and the first to effect a deed of arms by storming the ruins of a Roman castle where a part of King Harold's soldiers lay entrenched.  The Irish PURCELLS were adherents of the House of Stuart, and were swept away by the rebellion of 1641, though several distinct branches of them later recovered their lands and titles at the restoration and were again badly broken on the accession of William of Orange.

   John Purslone PURSLEY or PURSSELL, as his name is variously spelled, came to America from Dublin, Ireland, in the ship "Phoenix," arriving in the river Delaware in August, 1677, and settled in Bucks county.  He was appointed constable for the "further side of Neshaminah" 7 mo. 9, 1685, and on the 8th of 7 mo. 1689, was again appointed constable for the "upper parts of the settlement, between Neshaminah and Poquessing."  In the same year he appears as a witness in the Bucks county courts, and on being attested gives his age as "about sixty years."  He was again appointed constable in 1690, for "upper parts of Neshaminah."  He married in 1684, Elizabeth, widow of Thomas WALMSLEY, who with her husband and six children migrated from Yorkshire in 1682 and settled in Byberry, Philadelphia county, bringing a certificate from Settle Monthly Meeting of Friends in Yorkshire.  At about the same date of the arrival of John PURSLONE in Bucks county, Thomas PURCIL appears at Flatlands, Long Island.  He acts as an appraiser in that town in 1679, and was one of the patentees of Newton, Long Island, in 1686.  He or a son of his with the same name removed to the Raritan, in Somerset county, New Jersey, prior to 1703, and had children baptized at the Raritan Dutch Reformed church.  The descendants of Thomas PURSELL became numerous in Somerset, Middlesex and Essex counties, New Jersey, prior to 1760.  In 1710 he purchased a large tract of land in Somerset county, though then living in Middlesex, and in 1719 conveyed one half of it to his son Daniel, who in 1728 conveyed a part of it to Gysbert KROM, of Amwell township, Hunterdon county.  A Daniel PURCELL settled later in Alexandria township, Hunterdon county and in 1783 bought a tract of land in Tinicum, Bucks county, Pennsylvania, and erected a grist mill which he operated for two years.  He then returned to Kingwood, New Jersey, where he died in 1804, leaving sons, Peter, Benjamin and Thomas, and daughters, Ruth MIDDLESWARTS, Sarah TINSMAN and Hannah JONES.

   On September 28, 1728, "Denes PURCELL of Pennsylvania" married Ruth COOPER, daughter of Henry and Mary (BUCKMAN) COOPER, of Newtown, Bucks county, and settled in Bethlehem township, Hunterdon county, New Jersey.   Whether he was a son of John and Elizabeth (WALMSLEY) PURSSELL, of Bucks county, or of Thomas, of New Jersey, is problematical, but certain it is that Dennis and Ruth COOPER were the parents of John PURSELL, "of Pennsylvania," who married in 1761 Ann Coone (COOMB), of Tinicum township, Bucks county, and settled in Nockamixon township, Bucks county, Pennsylvania, where he purchased land in 1773.  Another John PURSELL, also of Pennsylvania, married in 1765 Mary LOGAN, and settled in Falls township, Bucks county, where he died in 1778.

   John PURSELL, of Nockamixon, died in that township in December, 1804, and his will was probated February 5, 1805.  It is probable that his father, Dennis PURSELL, settled in Nockamixon while John was a young man, as a Denes PURSLE was sergeant of the Nockamixon company of Associators in 1775, and, though John had a son Dennis, it is hardly probable that he could have been of sufficient age to have held a commission at that date.  The children of John and Ann (COOMB) PURSELL were: 1. John, Jr., who married Mercy ILIFF, and died in 1816, leaving eleven children.  2. Thomas, who married Catherine CRAUSE, and died in 1841, leaving six sons, Dennis, William, John, Thomas, Jacob and Frederick, and one daughter, Mary, who married Jacob FULMER.  3. Brice, mentioned hereinafter.  4. Dennis, who went west and left no descendants in Bucks county.  5. Ruth, who became the wife of Daniel STRAWN, born 1752, son of Jacob and Christiana (PURSELL) STRAWN, of Haycock, the former of whom was a half-brother of Ruth (COOPER) PURSELL, by the second marriage of Mary (BUCKMAN) COOPER with Launcelot STRAWN.  6. Elizabeth, who became the wife of Benjamin HOLDEN.  7. Mary.  8. Ann.  9, Hannah, who became the wife of John WILLIAMS, a son of Benjamin and Mercy STEVENSON WILLIAMS.   10. Margaret. 11. Jane, who became the wife of Jacob HAUSEWORTH.  Mary, Ann and Hannah, aforementioned, were triplets; all grew to womanhood, married and all died at the birth of their first child.  Either Mary or Ann married a Henry, and left a daughter Ann.

   Brice PURSELL, third son of John and Ann (COOMB) PURSELL, was born in Nockamixon, August 15, 1776, and died there August 12, 1830.  He lived on a portion of the homestead which had been devised to the three eldest sons, John, Thomas and Brice, and was partitioned between them in 1806.   He later purchased considerable other land adjoining, becoming a large landholder and a man of prominence in that community.   He was a justice of the peace for twenty-one years and performed a large amount of public business.  He married Catherine MOORE, who was born May 25, 1784, and died August 12, 1848, and they were the parents of nine children: 1. Ann, who became the wife of John FISHER.  2. Thomas, who married Eliza MARSHALL.  3. John, who married Sarah WILLIAMS.  4. Evaline, who became the wife of Abram ARNDT.  5. Brice Moore, mentioned hereinafter.  6. Hugh, who married Jane B. ELTONHEAD.  7. Daniel, who married three times; his first wife was Susanna UNANGST; his second wife was Margaret Rebecca EILENBERGER; and his third wife was Rachel QUINN.  8. Hannah, who became the wife of Cyrenius SLACK, of Hunterdon county, New Jersey.  9, Mary, who died at the age of six years.

   Brice Moore PURSELL, father of Dr. Howard PURSELL, was born in Nockamixon, August 31, 1811, and died there June 18, 1885.  He was a farmer and lived on the old family homestead.  He married, July 19, 1837, Martha Merrick POORE, born February 18, 1817, in Upper Makefield township, Bucks county, died in Bristol, Pennsylvania, May 2, 1902.  She was a daughter of Daniel and Maria (MERRICK) POORE; the former a son of John POORE, was born October 12, 1793, and died April 12, 1888, and the latter was born April 23, 1798 and died October 1, 1879.  They were married May 2, 1815.  The MERRICKS are descendants of John MERRICK, a native of Herefordshire, England, who settled in Lower Dublin, Philadelphia county, prior to 1700.  His son John MERRICK was an early settler in Makefield, where he has left numerous descendants.  Brice Moore and Martha M. (POORE) PURSELL were the parents of four sons: 1. Augustus, born May 3, 1839, married November 12, 1868, Evalina EILENBERGER, daughter of David and Susan (ARNDT) EILENBERGER, who bore him one child, Jessie Martha PURSELL; Evalina's death occurred at his home in Muncy, Pennsylvania, July 27, 1904.  2. Horatio N., born December 4, 1841, died August 31, 1863, after his return from the civil war; he was unmarried.  3. Howard, born March 23, 1847, mentioned hereinafter.  4. Stacy, born November 20, 1849, married, April 22, 1885, Josephine K. WILLIAMS, daughter of Barzilla and Sarah (KING) WILLIAMS, no issue.

   Howard PURSELL, third son of Brice and Martha M. (POORE) PURSELL, was born and reared in Nockamixon (now Bridgeton) township.  He graduated from the medical department of the New York University, March 1, 1867, and practiced medicine at Ceres, New York, until 1869.  In the latter year he removed to Bristol, Bucks county, Pennsylvania, where he has conducted a drug store and practiced medicine ever since.  He is a member of the Bucks County Medical Society, the Medical Society of Pennsylvania, and the American Medical Association.  He is president of the board of health of Bristol, which position he has held since 1893.  He is a member of the board of United States examining surgeons for Bucks county.  In politics he is a Republican.  He is a past master of Bristol Lodge, No. 25, Free and Accepted Masons.

   Dr. PURSELL has been twice married, first on February 22, 1869, to Vestilla SMITH, daughter of James and Achsah (LEAR) SMITH.  His second marriage occurred at Milford, New Jersey, June 4, 1879, to Nellie Carpenter BARTOLETTE, daughter of Dr. Charles R. and Ann M. (CARPENTER) BARTOLETTE.  His children are as follows:  James Everett, born June 12, 1870; Ethel Bartolette, born May 12, 1882; Charles Howard, born September 30, 1885, died February 18, 1886; and Carrie Nesbit, born February 2, 1888.

Text taken from pages 150-152 of:

Davis, William W. H., A.M., History of Bucks County, Pennsylvania [New York-Chicago: The Lewis Publishing Company, 1905] Volume III

Transcribed JANUARY 2001 by GRACE T. BURTON of PA as part of the Bucks Co., Early Family Project, www.rootsweb.com/~pabucks/bucksindex.html

Published January 2001 on the Bucks county, Pa., USGenWeb pages at www.rootsweb.com/~pabucks/

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