Show ContentsPurefoy History, Family Crest & Coats of Arms

The ancient history of the name Purefoy began soon after 1066 when the Norman Conquest of England occurred. It was a name given to a man of true faith. The name was originally derived from the Old French purefei, meaning one who was staunch and true and by my faith

"The present spelling is a popular etymology, 'pure faith', which arose when per, par and pur fell together in pronunciation. " [1]

Early Origins of the Purefoy family

The surname Purefoy was first found in Staffordshire where the Feet of Fines list William Parfei in 1195 and Henry Parfei in the Assize Rolls of 1203. Later in Sussex, Robert Parfoy was listed in the Subsidy Rolls for 1296. In Warwickshire, William Purfey was listed there in the 13th century. Again in Sussex, we found Ralph Perfai in 1327 and Ralph Parfay in 1332. Later again, William Purefay was found in Leicestershire in 1412. [1]

"The family were seated at Misterton, co. Leicester, in 1277. The motto borne by one branch is 'Pure foy est ma joie.'" [2]

Early History of the Purefoy family

This web page shows only a small excerpt of our Purefoy research. Another 63 words (4 lines of text) covering the years 1580, 1659, 1649, 1617, 1627, 1628, 1631 and 1557 are included under the topic Early Purefoy History in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

Purefoy Spelling Variations

It is only in the last few hundred years that the English language has been standardized. For that reason, Anglo-Norman surnames like Purefoy are characterized by many spelling variations. Scribes and monks in the Middle Ages spelled names they sounded, so it is common to find several variations that refer to a single person. As the English language changed and incorporated elements of other European languages such as Norman French and Latin, even literate people regularly changed the spelling of their names. The variations of the name Purefoy include Purefoy, Purefield, Purefree, Purefrey, Purfrey, Purfry and many more.

Early Notables of the Purefoy family (pre 1700)

Outstanding amongst the family at this time was William Purefoy (c.1580-1659) who was appointed to the High Court of Justice that tried and condemned King Charles I in 1649. He was eldest son of Francis Purefoy (d. 1617), and was elected Member of Parliament for Coventry (1627-1628) and Sheriff of Warwickshire in 1631. He joined in the signing...
Another 57 words (4 lines of text) are included under the topic Early Purefoy Notables in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

Ireland Migration of the Purefoy family to Ireland

Some of the Purefoy family moved to Ireland, but this topic is not covered in this excerpt. More information about their life in Ireland is included in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

United States Purefoy migration to the United States +

Faced with the chaos present in England at that time, many English families looked towards the open frontiers of the New World with its opportunities to escape oppression and starvation. People migrated to North America, as well as Australia and Ireland in droves, paying exorbitant rates for passages in cramped, unsafe ships. Many of the settlers did not make the long passage alive, but those who did see the shores of North America were welcomed with great opportunity. Many of the families that came from England went on to make essential contributions to the emerging nations of Canada and the United States. Some of the first immigrants to cross the Atlantic and come to North America carried the name Purefoy, or a variant listed above:

Purefoy Settlers in United States in the 17th Century
  • Thomas Purefoy, who landed in Virginia in 1621 [3]
  • Lucy Purefoy, who landed in Virginia in 1629 [3]

Australia Purefoy migration to Australia +

Emigration to Australia followed the First Fleets of convicts, tradespeople and early settlers. Early immigrants include:

Purefoy Settlers in Australia in the 19th Century
  • George Purefoy, who arrived in Adelaide, Australia aboard the ship "John Mitchell" in 1849 [4]

West Indies Purefoy migration to West Indies +

The British first settled the British West Indies around 1604. They made many attempts but failed in some to establish settlements on the Islands including Saint Lucia and Grenada. By 1627 they had managed to establish settlements on St. Kitts (St. Christopher) and Barbados, but by 1641 the Spanish had moved in and destroyed some of these including those at Providence Island. The British continued to expand the settlements including setting the First Federation in the British West Indies by 1674; some of the islands include Barbados, Bermuda, Cayman Island, Turks and Caicos, Jamaica and Belize then known as British Honduras. By the 1960's many of the islands became independent after the West Indies Federation which existed from 1958 to 1962 failed due to internal political conflicts. After this a number of Eastern Caribbean islands formed a free association. [5]
Purefoy Settlers in West Indies in the 17th Century
  • Mr. Samuell Purefoy, Cornish settler from St Ives, Cornwall, (b. 1621), aged 13, British settler travelling from Plymouth, England aboard the ship "Margarett" arriving in St Christopher (Saint Kitts) on 1st March 1634 [6]

Contemporary Notables of the name Purefoy (post 1700) +

  • William Purefoy (1580-1659), one of the regicides of Charles I of England
  • Robert Purefoy (d. 1557), English bishop of Hereford
  • William Purefoy, English countertenor singer
  • James Purefoy (b. 1964), British film and television actor
  • Ensign Henry Purefoy Whitehurst Jr. (b. 1942), American crew member aboard the Astoria killed in action in August 1942, eponym of the USS Whitehurst (DE-634), a Buckley-class destroyer escort

  1. Reaney, P.H and R.M. Wilson, A Dictionary of English Surnames. London: Routledge, 1991. Print. (ISBN 0-415-05737-X)
  2. Lower, Mark Anthony, Patronymica Britannica, A Dictionary of Family Names of the United Kingdom. London: John Russel Smith, 1860. Print.
  3. Filby, P. William, Meyer, Mary K., Passenger and immigration lists index : a guide to published arrival records of about 500,000 passengers who came to the United States and Canada in the seventeenth, eighteenth, and nineteenth centuries. 1982-1985 Cumulated Supplements in Four Volumes Detroit, Mich. : Gale Research Co., 1985, Print (ISBN 0-8103-1795-8)
  4. State Records of South Australia. (Retrieved 2010, November 5) The JOHN MITCHELL 1849. Retrieved from
  6. Cornish in the Caribbean (retrieved on 23rd September 2021). Retrieved from on Facebook