Purchas, Rev William Henry (1822 - 1903)
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Purchas, Rev William Henry (1822 - 1903)


Journal of Botany, 1904


1822 Ross-on-Wye
1856 University College, Durham
1861 April Census - Calke, Derbyshire
1865 October Lydney, Gloucestershire
1867 May Gloucester
1870 May Alstonfield, Staffs.
1903 December Alstonfield


  • Woolhope Naturalists' Field Club
  • Botanical Society of London
  • Thirsk Botanical Exchange Club
  • Botanical Exchange Club


  • Rev W S Symonds
  • Prof C C Babington
  • Rev Augustin Ley

Additional links

Annotated pedigree of the Purchas family.link
1822 December 12 :
William Henry Purchas, the first child of wine merchant Thomas Whittlesey Purchas and Jane née Bishop, born at Ross On Wye, Herefordshire. He was baptised on Christmas Day of that year.
1852 : Woolhope Naturalists' Field Club. In the winter 1851/2 William was among the founding members of this important Herefordshire Society.

At their inaugural meeting to Estnor in May a committee consisting of Professor Buckman, Mr [Edwin] Lees and Mr W H Purchas was appointed to prepare a flora of the district, William to be responsible for Herefordshire.
1856 December 27 : Business dissolved ¹1857 January 2: The London Gazette p32
Notice is hereby given, that the Partnership heretofore subsisting between us the undersigned, Thomas Whittlesey Purchas and William Henry Purchas, as Wine and Spirit Merchants, at Ross, in the county of Hereford, under the firm of T. W. Purchas and Son, has been this day dissolved by mutual consent. – Dated this 27th day of December, 1856.
This dissolved the business partnership with his father.
1857 June 15 : Durham Awarded a Licentiate in Theology by Durham University. He had been a student at the University College for the previous academic year.

It appears to have been about this time that he was appointed Curate of Tickenhall, Derbyshire. He lived in the nearby village of Calke.
1859 May 19 : Marriage to Frances Williams ¹1859 May 29: Cardiff and Merthyr Guardian, Glamorgan, Monmouth, and Brecon Gazette
MARRIAGES. PURCHAS – WILLIAMS. – May 19, at St. Andrew’s, Montpelier, Bristol, by the Rev. R. Williams, vicar of Dacre, assisted by the Dean of Llandaff, brothers of the bride, the Rev. W. F. Purchas, curate of Tickenhall, Derby, to Frances, youngest daughter of the late Robert Williams, Esq., of Aberbran, Breconshire.
1859 June :
Ordained Priest
William was ordained a priest by the Bishop of Lichfield on Trinity Sunday. He is described as Licentiate in Theology of University College, Durham.
1859 June 25: Cambridge Chronicle and Journal.
1860 February 28 :
Honorary Member
Rev W H Purchas was elected as an honorary member of the Woolhope Naturalists' Field Club at their Anual General Meeting, 1860.
1863 : Publication Purchas contributed a chapter on botany to Strong's Handbook of Ross and Arkenfield.
1865 October :
William was apponted to Lydney, Gloucester. His daughter Anna Jane was baptised there late in this month.
1866 : Publication The first part of his Flora of Herefordshire was finally published in the Transactions of the Woolhope Society. It consisted of a description of the districts, geological notes by Rev W S Symonds and a labulated list of the plants.
[Biodiversity Heritage Library]
1867 May : Gloucester He was appointed to St James, Gloucester. By 1869 he was refered to as the curate of Tredworth.
1869 April : Alstonfield Appointed Vicar of Alstonfield, Staffordshire. Patron Sr John H Crewe. It appears that he did not leave Gloucester until the following year. He was presented with a clock and biscuit tin by his Gloucester congregation 1870 June 13 and the wording of the speeches make it clear that he is about to leave.
1870 June 18: Gloucester Journal.
1889 : Publication Purchas, W. H. and Ley, A. 1889. The Flora of Herefordshire.
This work, first commenced over three decades earlier, was published. An account of the geology of the divisions was provided by the late Rev. Symonds of Pendock.
1903 December 16 :
¹1904 January 1: Derbyshire Advertiser and Journal
LOCAL OBITUARY FOR 1903 … PURCHAS – Dec. 16th, at Alstonfield Vicarage, the Rev. Wm Henry Purchas, born Dec. 12th, 1822. Over 33 years vicar of Alstonfield.

The link is to an obituary by Rev. Augustin Ley in the Journal of Botany, 1904. This article seems to be the source of the commonly quoted belief that he was born in 1823.[Internet Archive]

1 Transcription reproduced with kind permission of The British Newspaper Archive

Managed by Richard Middleton : last updated 2016 September 16