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An excerpt from www.HouseOfNames.com archives copyright 2000 - 2016


The name Purser is Anglo-Saxon in origin. It was a name given to a maker of purses or for a treasurer or bursar, who had the task of bearing the purse of an important official and taking care of his or her expenses. The surname Purser is derived from the Old French word borsier, which has both of these meanings.

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Until the dictionary, an invention of only the last few hundred years, the English language lacked any comprehensive system of spelling rules. Consequently, spelling variations in names are frequently found in early Anglo-Saxon and later Anglo-Norman documents. One person's name was often spelled several different ways over a lifetime. The recorded variations of Purser include Burser, Bursar, Bourcer, Bursor, Borser, Berser and others.

First found in Lincolnshire, where they held a family seat from the Middle Ages.


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This web page shows only a small excerpt of our Purser research. Another 412 words (29 lines of text) covering the years 1306, 1311, 1327, 1377, 1500, and 1563 are included under the topic Early Purser History in all our PDF Extended History products.

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More information is included under the topic Early Purser Notables in all our PDF Extended History products.

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Thousands of English families boarded ships sailing to the New World in the hope of escaping the unrest found in England at this time. Although the search for opportunity and freedom from persecution abroad took the lives of many because of the cramped conditions and unsanitary nature of the vessels, the opportunity perceived in the growing colonies of North America beckoned. Many of the settlers who survived the journey went on to make important contributions to the transplanted cultures of their adopted countries. The Purser were among these contributors, for they have been located in early North American records:

Purser Settlers in United States in the 17th Century


  • Geo. Purser, who came to Virginia in 1635
  • Georg Purser, who landed in Virginia in 1635
  • Geo Purser, who came to Virginia in 1637
  • John Purser, who arrived in Maryland in 1652

Purser Settlers in United States in the 18th Century


  • Garrett Purser, who arrived in Virginia in 1704
  • Garrett Purser, who came to Virginia in 1704
  • Catherine Purser, who arrived in America in 1752

Purser Settlers in United States in the 19th Century


  • Thomas Purser, aged 42, landed in New York in 1812
  • David Purser, who settled in Oregon in 1886

Purser Settlers in Australia in the 19th Century


  • Thomas Purser, English convict from Sussex, who was transported aboard the "Albion" on May 17, 1823, settling in Van Diemen's Land, Australia
  • Robert Purser, aged 29, arrived in South Australia in 1852 aboard the ship "Standard"

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  • Ronald E. Purser (b. 1956), American university professor at San Francisco State University
  • Dorothy Anne Purser, American day-time actress, recipient of a 1993 Daytime Emmy and other awards
  • David Purser (b. 1987), English footballer
  • Philip Purser (b. 1925), British novelist
  • John Purser (b. 1942), Scottish composer
  • Cecil Purser FRACP (1862-1953), Australian physician, chairman of Royal Prince Alfred Hospital
  • Andrew Purser (b. 1958), Australian rules footballer
  • Philip Purser (b. 1925), British television critic and novelist
  • Sarah Purser (1848-1943), Irish artist


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  1. Dunkling, Leslie. Dictionary of Surnames. Toronto: Collins, 1998. Print. (ISBN 0004720598).
  2. Bede, The Venerable. Historia Ecclesiatica Gentis Anglorum (The Ecclesiastical History Of the English People). Available through Internet Medieval Sourcebook the Fordham University Centre for Medieval Studies. Print.
  3. Weis, Frederick Lewis, Walter Lee Sheppard and David Faris. Ancestral Roots of Sixty Colonists Who Came to New England Between 1623 and 1650 7th Edition. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing, 1992. Print. (ISBN 0806313676).
  4. Egle, William Henry. Pennsylvania Genealogies Scotch-Irish and German. Harrisburg: L.S. Hart, 1886. Print.
  5. Crozier, William Armstrong Edition. Crozier's General Armory A Registry of American Families Entitled to Coat Armor. New York: Fox, Duffield, 1904. Print.
  6. Bolton, Charles Knowles. Bolton's American Armory. Baltimore: Heraldic Book Company, 1964. Print.
  7. Foster, Joseph. Dictionary of Heraldry Feudal Coats of Arms and Pedigrees. London: Bracken Books, 1989. Print. (ISBN 1-85170-309-8).
  8. Williams, Dr Ann. And G.H. Martin, Eds. Domesday Book A Complete Translation. London: Penguin, 1992. Print. (ISBN 0-141-00523-8).
  9. Filby, P. William and Mary K Meyer. Passenger and Immigration Lists Index in Four Volumes. Detroit: Gale Research, 1985. Print. (ISBN 0-8103-1795-8).
  10. Leeson, Francis L. Dictionary of British Peerages. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing, 1986. Print. (ISBN 0-8063-1121-5).
  11. ...

The Purser Family Crest was acquired from the Houseofnames.com archives. The Purser Family Crest was drawn according to heraldic standards based on published blazons. We generally include the oldest published family crest once associated with each surname.

This page was last modified on 24 November 2014 at 11:17.

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