These Papers contain three letters from James Purefoy, a scan of a letter in a private collection, two Bills of Exchange and a note regarding their donation.
Papers of Captain James Purefoy
- This material is held at
- ReferenceGB 891 JP
- Dates of Creation1794 - 18221957 - 1968
- Name of Creator
- Language of MaterialEnglish
- Physical Description1 archival folder
Scope and Content
Administrative / Biographical History
His family home was at Woodfield, near Eyrecourt in Co. Galway, Ireland but he spent most of his life in Asia as a Merchant-ship-officer and trader. He went to India in 1792 and did not return to Ireland for 27 years. The letters in the Collection were written to his sister Mary, or her husband Robert Turbett, A Dublin merchant.. He sailed on the Anna from Bombay in 1792 with a cargo of cotton for China reaching Macao in April 1793 and returning with a "cargo of soft sugar, sugar candy, tea, silk, camphire, allum paint, nankeens, beads and toothinague". He continued to work on board vessels and teaching himself French, Mathematics and Navigation. On a journey to "Cochinchina" in 1804 they were shipwrecked and had to travel overland through Hainan to reach Canton. He was Captain of the William Petrie in 1812 but had to give up command because of bad health. He spent time in "Malacca" which seemed to improve his health. He seems to have remained in Asia until around 1822. He retired to Ireland but later moved to England and married Eleanor Masters Woodman in 1842 when she was about 26 years old. he died in 1846.. Information for this biography was obtained from From Indian Waters: Some Old Letters by G.C. Duggan, Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society (1958), pp. 1-7, which also gives details of the letters no longer in the collection. Further information was provided by Robert Grant in 2022.
The items were arranged chronologically.
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There is a note with the letters to say that they were presented by George C. Duggan, C.B., O.B.E., M.A., dated 9 September 1957.
These Papers were catalogued by Nancy Charley, RAS Archivist, in 2018.
On the provenance note with the materials there is a note which says "2 Bills of Exchange and seven letters in this packet 1968." This would also be suggested in From Indian Waters: Some Old Letters by G.C. Duggan, Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society (1958), pp. 1-7. However there are now only 3 letters and the 2 Bills of Exchange. It is unknown what has happened to the other 4 letters.
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From Indian Waters: Some Old Letters by G.C. Duggan, Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society (1958), pp. 1-7, begins by stating that the Papers came into the hands of Duggan within a packet of letters written in the latter end of the 18th and early part of the 19th centuries, mostly by members of the Irish family of Purefoy.