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



PURDY FAMILY.  The founder of the branch of the PURDY family of which this narrative treats was John PURDY, who emigrated from county Antrim, Ireland, about 1740, and settled on a farm on Pennypack creek, Moreland township, Montgomery county, Pennsylvania.  It is a family tradition that his ancestors were French Hugenots, who to escape persecution left their native land and took refuge in the north of Ireland early in the sixteenth century.

            His education was manifestly far above the average for his day, for he brought with him a library.  He was a man of piety and ability, a Covenanter in religion; he was instrumental in getting ministers and people of that order to come to America, and he was the first to establish the Covenanters in Pennsylvania and Maryland.  In 1742 he visited Ireland, and on his return to America was accompanied by his brother Thomas, who settled in Juniata county, Pennsylvania.  John PURDY became a prosperous farmer and a man of influence.  In 1752, while attending an election in Newtown, Bucks county, in crossing a street, he was killed by being run over by a horse.  He married at the First Presbyterian church, Philadelphia, December 3, 1743, Grace DUNLAP, who came from county Antrim, Ireland, with her brother John.  She survived him, with four children: William, born January 13, 1745; Mary, born September 29, 1747, married John RAMSAY, May 14, 1765: Martha, born September 29, 1749, married John HELLENS; Elizabeth, born March 31, 1753, married Benjamin SCOTT.

            William (2), only son of John PURDY, obtained a better education than was common at that time.  He was bound out to a tailor, and after finishing his apprenticeship married Mary RONEY.  Her father, Hercules RONEY, was the only child of a surgeon in the army of Queen Anne, who died on the cost (sic) of Guinea.  Hercules RONEY married into the BARNES family.  He and his sons John, James, Joseph, Thomas, Robert, Hamilton and William, all served in the revolutionary army.  After William PURDY and his wife had made their home in Moreland his mother came to live with them.  She died in 1776, a few days after William had rejoined the Revolutionary army at Amboy, being a member of Captain  HART's Moreland company, attached to the fourth battalion of the Philadelphia county militia.  The children of William and Mary (RONEY) PURDY were:

1. John, born April 24, 1767; died in 1808, at Ovid, New York; he married Mary WHEELER, and they had three children. 

2. William, of whom see forward.

3. Mary, born January 17, 1772, died June, 1821, at Ovid, New York; married Joseph YERKES, 1793; had eight children.

4. Thomas, born December 13, 1774, died April 3, 1864, at Ovid, New York; married December 31, 1801, Charity SMITH; had four children.

5. Sarah, born October 4, 1777, died June 13, 1850, at Romulus, New York; married in 1801 to John PINKERTON, who died in 1805; married in 1817 to Silas ALLEN; three children.

6. James, born December 23, 1780, died November 17, 1864, at Plymouth, Michigan; married, December 24, 1806, Elizabeth HATHAWAY, who died 1840; married (second) Matilda BLAUVELT: fourteen children.

7. Elizabeth, born December 23, 1780, died in infancy; a twin with James.

8. Robert, born August 9, 1783, died August 18, 1856, at Northville, Michigan; married, December 18, 1810, Hannah BROCKWAY; nine children.

9. Joseph, born April 17, 1786, died March 3, 1813, at Canandaigua, New York; unmarried; was a soldier in army, in Captain DOX's company, Colonel CHRISTEY's (13th) regiment.

In July, 1799, all of the family except the son William removed from Pennsylvania to Seneca county, New York, which was at that time all but a wilderness.  All prospered fairly well, and twenty-five years later some of them, including Robert, went to Michigan, where they again felled forests, tilled the land and aided in the upbuilding of society.  James and Robert were active in establishing the Presbyterian church in Ovid, New York, and they aided in founding four churches in Michigan.  The father, William PURDY, who remained in Ovid, died September 13, 1825, in his eighty-first year, and his wife died September 2, 1823, in her seventy-ninth year, and both are buried in the graveyard originally owned by Robert DUNLAP, in Seneca county, New York. 

            William (3), second son of William (2) and Mary (RONEY) PURDY, was born in Moreland, Montgomery county, Pennsylvania, June 4, 1769.  He obtained a fair education, and by occupation was a farmer.  About 1800 he married Mary, daughter of Thomas and Elizabeth FOLWELL, of Southampton, Bucks county, whither he removed and where he passed his life.  The FOLWELLS were an old and prominent family whose ancestors are said to have come out of Normandy with William the Conqueror,  Thomas's grandfather Nathan came from England and settled in Burlington county, New Jersey, in 1680.  Thomas's father William was born in 1704, married Ann POTTS in 1727, and died in 1776.  Thomas himself was born in 1737, married in 1764, and died in 1813.  During the revolution he was a private in the Moreland company of which his brother John was captain.  Thomas FOLWELL's wife Elizabeth was a daughter of Arthur WATTS, who was a descendant of John WATTS, pastor of the Pennypack Baptist church as early as 1699.  John WATTS was a descendant of the John WATTS who was lord mayor of London, 1592-1603.

            William Purdy, like all his family, was a Presbyterian, but after he married and settled in Southampton he became a Baptist.  In Politics he was, like all the Pennsylvania PURDYS at that time and since, a Democrat.  He was a man of Good abilities and excellent character, one of the most public-spirited men of his time, and stood high in the esteem of his fellows.  In 1794, when WASHINGTON called for troops to quell the "whiskey insurrection," he was one of the first to volunteer and went to Pittsburgh, where he remained until the trouble was over.  In 1805 he was elected captain of the rifle company attached to the Bucks and Montgomery counties Forth-eighth regiment, which position he held for several years.  During the second war with Great Britain, after the capture and burning of the capital at Washington by the British although beyond the military service age, he was chiefly instrumental in forming a company of independent riflemen.  By unanimous vote he was made captain, and he remained in that position for the sake of his men, although solicited to accept command of the regiment.  After the war he resumed farming in Southampton until elected to the state legislature, where he continued four years.  Shortly after his retirement from his seat in that body the governor appointed him prothonotary of the courts of Bucks county, in which office he continued until his death May 30, 1834.  He was buried in the graveyard of the Baptist church at Southampton, and upon his tombstone is the inscription, "An honest man, the noblest work of God."  He was survived by his widow, who died June 9, 1846, in the sixty-seventh year of her age.  Their children were:

 1. John, born 1801, died May 29, 1838; he was a wheelwright, and resided first at Davisville, Bucks county, and then in Philadelphia; he married Amy H., daughter of William and Sarah SHELMIRE, who was born in 1806 and died in 1878; they had two children.

  2. Thomas, (see forward)

3, William Watts, born 1805, died September 5, 1827.

4, Elizabeth Anne, born 1809, died May 5, 1832.

5, Joseph Hart, born August 6, 1813, died June 12, 1842.

 All these, with one exception, are buried near their parents in Southampton.  Joseph is buried in Ewing, New Jersey.

            Thomas (4) second son of William (3) and Mary (FOLWELL) PURDY, was born in 1802 and died October 10, 1844.  He was educated in the common schools, and began life as a farmer.  Later he engaged in the hotel business, purchasing the Green Tree Hotel at Doylestown, about 1832.  He next embarked in the mercantile business at Richboro, Pennsylvania, but soon took up farming again, having purchased about 1836 the old FOLWELL homestead at Southampton, the house upon which was built by his maternal ancestors in 1719.  He was a staunch Democrat, and took an active interest in politics.  He was elected sheriff in 1842.  Like his father he was prominent in military affairs; in 1828 he was elected captain of the Liberty Guards and in 1835 and again in 1842 he was elected colonel of the First Regiment of Bucks County Volunteers.  He was a member of the Baptist Church at Southampton, and a trustee for many years.  He married Elizabeth, daughter of John S. and Mary (KRUSEN) CORNELL, the former of English and the latter of Dutch origin.  She was born March 18, 1811, and died May 29, 1884.  Of This marriage were born six children:

1.Mary Jane, born July 7, 1830; unmarried, and residing in Germantown.         

10. John Mann, to be further mentioned below.

3. Elizabeth Ann, born July 7, 1835; married Peter RITTENHOUSE; four children; resides in Willow Grove, Pennsylvania.

4. Matilda, born February 12, 1838; married Charles (brother of Peter) RITTENHOUSE; six children; resides in Germantown.

5. Amanda, born June 8, 1841; married William B. WEISS, of Philadelphia; six children.

6. Katherine Hart, born 1843, died May 8, 1867; married James LINGERMAN, of Somerton; no issue.

      John Mann PURDY (5), only son of Thomas and Elizabeth (CORNELL) PURDY, but for whom this particular branch of the PURDY family would have become extinct, was born in Doylestown, Bucks county, January 17, 1833.  He was reared in Davisville, in the same county, and attended the common schools of that vicinity, and spent one year in the China Hall Military School in Bristol township.  Upon the death of his father in 1844 he went to live with Mercy WARNER, of Warminster, same county, with whom he remained until 1849, when he was apprenticed to the carpenter's trade and followed that same at Somerton, Philadelphia county for about ten years.  He then began farming on the old VANSANT farm at Somerton, remaining there until 1867, when he bought the Delaware House at New Hope, and conducted the same until 1873.  In that year he was elected on the Democratic ticket to the Sheriffalty (sic) of Bucks county-the only instance in the history of the county where father and son held the same office.  At the expiration of his term in 1876 he engaged in the coal and lumber business at Doylestown.  In 1878 he bought the old COWELL House in that place, which he sold five years later, and took possession of the Fountain House, where he remained ten years.  In 1893 he was appointed by President CLEVELAND to the postmastership of Doylestown, the county seat.  At the expiration of his term in 1897 he took possession of the historic Red Lion Inn in Bensalem, Bucks county, where he remained until May 1, 1904, when he became proprietor of the General Wayne Hotel in Holmesburg, Philadelphia.  Nature endowed him with a genial disposition which fitted him in a remarkable degree for a successful hotel man, and it can be truthfully said that he has always kept an orderly and highly respectable house, against which there has never been a breath of suspicion, and by so doing has gained for himself hosts of friends among all classes of society.  Mr. PURDY is a member of the Masonic order, affiliated with Frankford Lodge, No. 292, and he is a member of the Improved Order of Red Men at Doylestown.

            November 16, 1854, Mr. PURDY married Sarah ROBERTS, of Somerton, Pennsylvania.  She was born November 16, 1833, a daughter of John and Rebecca ROBERTS, the former of Welsh and the latter of Dutch descent, being the daughter of James VANSANT, whose ancestors came from the Netherlands in 1660.  James VANSANT's fathers, also named James, was a soldier of the American revolution.  To John Mann and Sarah (ROBERTS) PURDY were born five children:

1. Rebecca, born at Somerton, September 5, 1855.  She was educated in the public schools and Doylestown Seminary.  In 1883 she married Levi L. JAMES, a prominent lawyer and former district attorney, of Doylestown, by whom she had two children: Samuel Polk JAMES, born October 6, 1883, and Grace Vansant JAMES, born May 30, 1887, both now living with their mother in Doylestown.  May 4, 1890, Mr. JAMES died, and in 1892 his widow married another prominent lawyer of Doylestown, and former congressman, Robert M. YARDLEY.  No children resulted from this union. Mr. YARDLEY died December 9, 1902.

2. Thomas PURDY, born in Somerton, May 29, 1857, He was educated in the Public schools, at Doylestown Seminary and the West Chester Normal School.  He taught school in Bucks county, Pennsylvania; Steubenville, Ohio; and Cape May Court House, New Jersey, covering a period of about ten years.  In 1887 he gave up school teaching and entered the employ of the Pennsylvania Railroad company as ticket agent in Philadelphia, and after several promotions became passenger agent of the Long Branch division of that road, with headquarters at Newark, New Jersey, and is now (1904) occupying that responsible position.  In the railroad world, as elsewhere, he enjoys an enviable reputation.  In politics he is a Gold Democrat.  He is connected with the Masonic and Royal Arcanum orders.  June 2, 1877, he married Ella Virginia, born in 1857, daughter of Edward and Lydia YOST, of Doylestown, both of German extraction.  Of this marriage were born six children: 1. Edward Yost, born in Steubenville, Ohio, 1878;  2. Jay Victor, born in Doylestown, Pennsylvania, 1880; 3. Cora May, born at Cape May Court House, New Jersey, 1882; 4. Florence Coney, born in Philadelphia, 1886; 5. Harry Roberts, born in Philadelphia, 1889; 6. Russell Wray, born in Philadelphia, 1892.  None of the children are married, and all live at home with their parents in Metuchen, New Jersey.  Edward and Jay Victor both volunteered in the United States army during the war with Spain, and at the conclusion thereof were honorably discharged.  This action on their part affords evidence that patriotism and military ardor yet mark the PURDY blood.  The former named is employed by the Pennsylvania Railroad Company as ticket agent in New York city, West Twenty-third street; the latter is in the art department of the Newark (new Jersey) "Daily Advertiser."

3. Harry Roberts PURDY, born in Somerton, February 13, 1859.  He attended the public schools of Somerton and New Hope, and the Doylestown Seminary, until 1876, when he entered Dr. George T. Harvey's drug store at Doylestown, in which he worked for three years.  He then went to New York city and was graduated from the New York College of Pharmacy in 1882.  From 1882 to 1887 he was apothecary to the Bloomingdale Asylum, New York city, and gave up pharmacy for medicine.  He entered Bellevue Hospital Medical College and was graduated with the degree of Doctor of Medicine in 1890, since which time he has been engaged in medical practice.  From 1892 to 1899 he was assistant to the chair of diseases of children in his alma mater, and at the same time was visiting physician to the out-door department of Bellevue Hospital, as well as to the out-door department of St. Mary's Free Hospital for Children.  He is a member of the New York County, New York State and American Medical Associations, of the New York County Medical Society, is fellow of the New York Academy of Medicine, and is a member of the Society of Medical Jurisprudence.  In religion he is an Episcopalian, being a member of the Church of the Transfiguration.  In politics, although by inheritance and conviction a Democrat, he has, since the free-silver craze took possession of the Democratic party, been an independent.  His military record, briefly, is as follows: During the great railroad strike in Pennsylvania in 1877 he with others organized in Doylestown Company G of the Sixteenth Pennsylvania Regiment, in which he was made corporal.  When the strike was over the company was made permanent as part of the Sixth regiment, and he was a corporal in that company until 1880, when he took up his residence in New York city for the practice of his profession.  He has never married.

4. Cora May PURDY, born in Somerton, October 16, 1861.  She was educated in the public schools and Eden Hall Convent, Torresdale, Pennsylvania, although she was then, as she is now, like all her family, an Episcopalian.  She was married, November 15, 1884, to former Mayor Edward S. McELROY, of Beverly, New Jersey, whose ancestors emigrated from the north of Ireland in 1717 and settled in Bucks county, Pennsylvania.  Their children are: Sarah Purdy, born August 19, 1885, Cora Purdy, and Rebecca James, twins, born July 21, 1887; Richard Dale, born June 25, 1890; Mary Trotter, born January 3, 1897.  These children are all living with their parents in Beverly, New Jersey.

5. Frank Vansant PURDY, born in Somerton, October 20, 1865.  He was educated in the public schools of Doylestown, and was for a time a druggist, serving for three years in Dr. George T. HARVEY's  drug store in Doylestown, after which he assisted his father in the hotel business until the latter was appointed postmaster, when Frank became his chief clerk.  After his term expired he was appointed conductor on the Pennsylvania Railroad dining cars, which position he held until he died, April 16, 1904, the cause of his untimely death being pneumonia.  He was very popular, both as an official and as a man.  He never married.

Sarah, wife of John Mann PURDY, died of smallpox, at New Hope, Pennsylvania, February 12, 1872.  About two years later (October 13, 1874) Mr. PURDY married Caroline PEARSON born October 23, 1848, daughter of Chrispin and Cordelia Worthington PEARSON, of New Hope, Pennsylvania, the former of Scotch and the latter of Welsh descent. Of this marriage were born five children:

1. George Smith PURDY, born in Doylestown, July 27, 1875, while his father was sheriff.  He was educated in the Doylestown high school, and is (1904) a superintendent in Jacob REED's Sons large Clothing establishment in Philadelphia.  He is noted for his business energy and integrity.  He is unmarried.

2. Charles Cox PURDY, born in Doylestown, May 26, 1879.  He was educated at the Doylestown High School and Pierce's Business College, Philadelphia, and is an artist.  He lives in Holmesburg, and is unmarried.  He has seemingly inherited the religious fervor of his ancestors to a greater degree than any other member of the family now alive.  He is a teacher in the Episcopal Church Sunday school. 

3. Anna Van Hart PURDY, born in Doylestown May 28, 1880.  She was educated in the Doylestown high school.  She lives with her parents in Holmesburg, and is unmarried.  She is a very active member of the Episcopal Church.

4. John Mann PURDY, Jr., born in Doylestown, January 22, 1885.  He attended the public schools, the School of Industrial Arts of Philadelphia, and is now attending the Drexel Institute in that city.  At the annual exhibition of students' work at this school in June. 1904, he received the first prize for elementary drawing.  He gives promise of becoming an excellent artist.

5. William Clossen PURDY, born December 29, 1888.  He attended the public schools of Bucks and Philadelphia counties and is now attending the Northeast Manual Training School of Philadelphia.  That he will prove as useful, honorable and patriotic as were his ancestors who bore the same christian name, is the confident expectation of the family.

Test taken from page 458-461 of:

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

Transcribed September 2003 by Joan Lollis of, IN. as part of the Bucks Co., Pa., Early Family Project, www.rootsweb.com/~pabucks/bucksindex.html

Published October 2003 on the Bucks County, Pa., USGenWeb pages at www.rootsweb.com/~pabucks/