Weir Family History

The Purdys


The Purdys

The name Purdy is an ancient Anglo-Saxon name that was given to a person, in the form of a nickname, who was known for the habitual use of the oath pour Dieu - Old French, meaning  for God. The name is first recorded in Shropshire, and spread throughout England in various formats - Pardy, Pardie, Pardee, Purdie, Pardue, Pardoe. In parts of Scotland, the term 'purdy' denotes a surly and rude person of squat stature. [William Anderson, Genealogy and Surnames, p. 30, 1865.]

There are very few records of any of this family until the 16th. Century, when it became compulsory for the clergy to record births, marriages, and deaths. The exception to this are to be found in Rolls of the Exchequer, temp. Henry II., wherein a Purdy is found to be in debt of the Crown.


In 1520, Francis Purdy is recorded as residing in the village of Brundell, Norfolk - the site of a bay, famous for its marine connections. His son, John Purdy, b. 1550, married Alice Taylor, 1555-10/8/1614. They had two surviving sons: Alexander Purdy, b. 1575, and Robert Purdy, b. 21/8/1584, whose descendants can be found in Norfolk parish records.

Alexander Purdy left England under the Elizabethan programme to settle Protestant loyalists in Scotland. His name and that of his immediate descendants was variously spelt as Purdy or Purdie. He married, 26/5/1596, Alison Tomson, and resided in Edinburgh. His son was Alexander Purdie, b. 15/2/1597. His son, Alexander Purdy, b. 1623, married, 21/12/1647, Catherine Young, and resided in Canongate, Edinburgh. Their son was Alexander Purdy, b. 28/2/1652, of Canongate, who left Scotland under the Cromwellian programme to settle Protestant loyalists in Ireland.

His son was William Purdy, who was born in 1689, at Ballyreagh, Antrim. He married Martha Peden, 1691-1780, of Ballyreagh. Martha Peden was the daughter of Thomas Peden, b. 1665, and Jane Grier, b. 1669, of County Longford. A son of Thomas Peden, John Peden, 1709-1791, established himself at Broughshane, where he married Margaret McDill, 1715-1788. Their son, Thomas Peden, 1743-1834, married Elizabeth White, who was connected to the White family of Broughshane. They became settlers in South Carolina.

Among their 12 children were: [1] John Purdy, b. c. 1720, who became resident of Dunclug, Antrim. [2] William Purdy, b. c.1727, resident of Glenravil, Antrim, who married Ann Chesney, daughter of Alexander Chesney, b. c. 1700, and Jane Fulton, b. c. 1705, of Ballymena. [3] Elizabeth Purdy, b. c. 1732 , wo married, 1754, Ann Chesney's brother, Robert Chesney, who farmed at Dunclug, Antrim; their son being Alexander Chesney, b. 1756. John Purdy remained in Ireland, taking over Robert Chesney's farm, although the majority of his family went to South Carolina, including his brother and sister.

Extracts from the diary of Alexander Chesney:

'I was born in the town of Dunclug near Ballyrnena in the County of Antrim Ireland the 16th or the 12th of September 1756 on Sunday; as appears by a register in my father's Bible. My father Robert Chesney or McChesney was only son to Alexander Chesney of Dunclug aforesaid, and of Jane Fulton his wife; his [sister was] Ann married to William Purdy of Glenravil who was brother to my mother consequently my uncle before this marriage; they are now with their family settled in South Carolina.'

'My mother's name was Elizabeth Purdy youngest daughter of William Purdy and Martha his wife of Ballyreagh near Clough County Antrim. My father and mother were married about two years before I was born. My grandmother Purdy's name was Martha Peden daughter of Thomas Peden and (I believe) of Jane Grier his wife of County Longford. She was born the same year in which the conditions and capitulations of Limerick were made. She lived to about the year 1780 and died with her son William Purdy in Glenravil County Antrim.'

It came as quite a shock to John to learn that members of his family had taken up a new trade in America - that of being swamp bandits! They dashed out of the swamps on very fast horses, relieved travellers of their possessions, then retreated equally as quickly back to their hideout! When news of this reached stoutly religious Dunclug, suffice it to say that the marriage prospects of John's son, John Purdy, b. 1762, were not improved. Some measure of restoration of good name was, however, to follow - a descendant of William Purdy, Alexander Purdy, was to become a very famous American soldier.

It is not clear whom John Purdy married. One of his sons was John Purdy, b. c. 1790, who came to reside in Loughconnelly, Antrim, which is situated very close to Dunclug.  He is recorded as owning land in Loughconnelly in Griffiths Valuation of Ireland, 1848-1864. His sons were: [1] Thomas Purdy, b. c. 1820, who is also recorded as owning land in Loughconnelly. [2] William Purdy, who is recorded as owning land in Loughloughan. Thomas Purdy married Jenny Graham, b. c. 1830, and they were recorded by the Minister of Buchna as having four children in his 1862 'visitations'. Thomas Purdy had a cousin, also so named, of Loughconnelly, who married Agnes McAleese, 9/12/1852, their children being William Purdy, b. 1855, John Purdy, b. 1857, Mary-ann Purdy, b. 1859, Joseph Purdy, b. 1863, Thomas Purdy, b. 1865, Edward Purdy, b. 1868, Alexander Purdy, b. 1870, and Agnes Purdy, b. 1874. They resided at House 19d, Loughconnelly.

Thomas Purdy's son was John Purdy, 1853-17/8/1920, of Loughconnelly. He married, 8/4/1899, Mary Elizabeth McNeill, b. 28/9/1876, of  The Sidings, Broughshane, Antrim. Mary Elizabeth McNeill's parents were Andrew McNeill, d. 1891, in Loughconnelly, and Elizabeth White,  Mary Elizabeth McNeill's siblings were:

 [1] William Mcneill.

[2] Rachael Mcneill, who married William Taggart of Cashel. Their daughter, Esther Taggart, married David McNeill of Cariff.

[3] Esther Jane Mcneill, b. 5/6/1870, who married Thomas Wilson.

[4] Martha Mcneill, who married Sam Mills.

[5] John McNeill, who died in New Zealand.

[6] James White McNeill, who died in the Braid, Ballymena.

[7] David McNeill, who was born in 1873 in Loughconnelly, and who died in 1957 in Larne. His sons were: [a] Thomas McNeill, b. 1898, who lived in Kilmarnock, Scotland. [b] Andrew McNeill, who died in 1958 in Dumfries, Scotland. [c]Robert McNeill, who died 1962/1963 in Larne.

[8] Andrew McNeill, who died in Bannockburn, Scotland.

Robert McNeill's daughter Agnes married Johnny Bonnar, a Chicago policeman. John Bonnar (who passed away in 1968 in Chicago) . John Bonnar's mother was Maggie McNeill, and she was the daughter o John McNeill and Ellen Alexander. Maggie McNeill was married to Alexander Bonnar. John Bonnar was born in London, Ontario, Canada, on 23 July 1923 and the family emigrated to Chicago when he was a year old. His mother, Maggie McNeill (who is buried at Cedar Park Cemetery in Chicago) was the daughter of John McNeill and Ellen Alexander. John Bonnar married Agnes McClelland Taggart, whose parents were Robert Taggart (his parents were William Taggart and Rachel McNeill) and Mary McClelland (who was from County Down). 

[See Rev. George Jackson's records, Presbyterian Library, Belfast.]


Elizabeth White's father was James Robert White, 25/6/1787-9/1/1872. His parents were James White. 1757-1804, and Jane Stewart, 1761-1804, second cousins, who married 4/1/1782. James White was the son of John White, b. c. 1720, who was the son of James White, b. c. 1690, and Frances Stewart, b. c. 1690. James White was the son of Rev. Fulke White, 1662-24/8/1716. That the White family of Whitehall, Broughshane, were of eminent lineage is shown by their close association with the Stewart family, who were of royal descent:

Frances Stewart was the daughter of George Stewart, Surgeon-General of the army in Ireland, who was the son of Alexander Stewart and Jane Wallace. He married his close kinswoman Frances Stewart, daughter of William Stewart of Killymoon, Ireland. Alexander Stewart was the son of George Stewart and Margaret Saunderson. George Stewart was the son of Colonel Hon. Robert Stewart and Jane Richardson, daughter of James Richardson, of Castle Hill, Tyrone, Ireland.

Colonel Hon. Robert Stewart was the son of Andrew Stewart, 3rd. Lord Stewart of Ochiltree, c. 1565-1628, and Margaret Kennedy, daughter of Sir John Kennedy of Blairquhan. Andrew Stewart was First Gentleman of the Bedchamber to his kinsman, King James VI. and I. He was General of Edinburgh Castle. In 1611, he was granted 3000 acres in County Tyrone, and later was awarded other large tracts of land in Northern Ireland. He was created 1st. Baron Castle Stuart in 1619. He was the son of Andrew Stewart, Master of Ochiltree, c. 1542-1578, and Margaret Stewart, c.1550-1627, daughter of Henry Stewart, 2nd Lord Methven.

Andrew Stewart, Master of Ochiltree, was the son of Andrew Stewart, c. 1522-1601, 2nd Lord Stewart of Ochiltree, and Agnes Cunningham, b. c. 1526, daughter of John Cunningham, 5th. of Capringtoun. Andrew Stewart, 2nd Lord Stewart of Ochiltree, was the son of Andrew Stewart, c. 1500-1548, 1st. Lord Stewart of Ochiltree, and Margaret Hamilton, daughter of James Hamilton, 1st. Earl of Arran, and Beatrix Drummond, daughter of John Drummond, 1st. Lord Drummond and Lady Elizabeth Lindsay.

Andrew Stewart, 1st. Lord Stewart of Ochiltree, was the son of Andrew Stewart, 1st. Lord Avandale, c. 1470-1513, who died at Flodden Field, and Margaret Kennedy, c. 1480-1542, daughter of John Kennedy, 2nd Lord Kennedy, c. 1445-1509, and Lady Elizabeth Seton, c. 1448-1500, daughter of Alexander Gordon, 1st. Earl of Huntly, and Elizabeth Crichton. Andrew Stewart, 1st. Lord Avandale, was the son of Alexander Stewart, c. 1445-1489, who was the son of Walter Stewart, c. 1422-1480, Feudal Baron of Morphie, and Elizabeth Arnot.

Walter Stewart, Feudal Baron of Morphie, was the son of Sir Walter Stewart, c. 1395-1425, and Janet Erskine, daughter of Sir Robert Erskine, 1st. Lord Erskine, and Elizabeth Lindsay. Sir Walter Stewart was the son of Murdoch Stewart, 2nd. Duke of Albany, 1362-1425, and Isabel of Lennox, Countess of Lennox, c. 1370-1458, daughter of Duncan, 8th. Earl of Lennox, and Helen Campbell.

Murdoch Stewart, 2nd. Duke of Albany, was the son of Robert Stewart, 1st. Duke of Albany, c. 1340-1420, and Margaret Graham, Countess of Monteith. Robert Stewart, 1st. Duke of Albany, was the son of Robert Stewart II., King of Scotland, 1316-1390, and Elizabeth Mure of Rowallan.

Robert Stewart II., King of Scotland, was the son of Walter Stewart, 6th. High Steward of Scotland, 1292-1327, and Margorie Bruce, c. 1295-1316, Princess of Scotland, daughter of Robert Bruce I., King of Scotland, 1274-1329, and Isabella, Lady of Mar.

[See Burke's Peerage and Baronetage, 107th. edition, vol. I., p. 713, 2003.]


John Purdy and Mary McNeill had issue:

[1] John Purdy, b. 1901. He worked with explosives, and died as the result of an explosion whilst carrying out work in a mine. He also trained greyhounds.

[2] Mary Purdy, b. 1903, who married John Alexander of Magheramully, Skerry, their children being William Alexander, who married Agnes Millar, whose family had purchased some land from David Weir, 1821-1890;  Sarah Alexander, who married John Smythe, and Ruby Josephine Alexander, who married John Patterson.

[3] Elizabeth Purdy, b. 1908.

[4] Jean Purdy, b. 1909, who married Dennis McFaull.

[5]  Sadie Purdy, b. 1910.

[6]  Agnes Purdy, 13/8/1912-1933.

[7] Martha Purdy, 13/8/1912-19/6/1980, who married Alexander Nicholl Weir, 8/5/1895-2/8/1982, of Ballymena, Antrim.

[8] Emily Purdy, b. 31/5/1916-2004, who married her second cousin, 9/10/1934, James Graham, their children being Vounla Graham, Rhoda Graham, James Graham, and Sandra Graham.

[9] Thomas Purdy, b. 1917.