Papers of Captain James Purefoy

Scope and Content

These Papers contain three letters from James Purefoy, two Bills of Exchange and a note regarding their donation.

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 died unmarried 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.

Arrangement

The items were arranged chronologically.

Conditions Governing Access

Open. Please contact the archivist. nc@royalasiaticsociety.org The archive is open on Tuesdays and Fridays 10-5, and Thursdays 2-5. Access is to any researcher without appointment but it will help if an appointment is made via phone or email. Please bring photo ID

Acquisition Information

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.

Archivist's Note

These Papers were catalogued by Nancy Charley, RAS Archivist, in 2018.

Separated Material

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.

Conditions Governing Use

Digital photography (without flash) for research purposes may be permitted upon completion of a copyright declaration form, and with respect to current UK copyright law.

Custodial History

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.

Related Material

From Indian Waters: Some Old Letters by G.C. Duggan, Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society (1958), pp. 1-7, is an article concerning these letters and details of Purefoy's biography that can be known from his writing. Further information of Purefoy journey in 1804-1805 can be found in Diary of a Journey from Manchao, on the South Coast of Hainan to canton: In the years 1804 and 1805 by Captain James Purefoy which is found in the Asiatic Journal and Monthly Register for British and Foreign India, China and Australia, Vol XX. A copy of this Journal is held in the Society's Collections.