Purvis is truly one of the more unique surnames I have come across doing this, and it becomes doubly unique when you realize it was some man’s given name about 200 years ago. Purvis Dilday married in Gates County, North Carolina, in 1826 Claresia Collins. Graham Collins, my direct ancestor, was the bondsman. This has led me to assume that Graham and Claresia were brother and sister. Even if they were not, they seem to have been close relatives, and Purvis Dilday was, for our purposes, the brother-in-law of my direct ancestor.
Purvis Dilday was the son of Amos Dilday and Atheliah Purvis. The name of her father is unclear, though he was perhaps the James Purvis listed in the 1783 militia list of Willis Parker in Nansemond County, right below Thomas Collins, the father of Graham Collins. William Cross, whose granddaughter Celia Cross married Thomas’ grandson Hugh Collins, is one line below them.
These people are neighbors. That militia list is interesting because it provides the first glimpse at my ancestors. It also shows you, in a roundabout way, what other families did not have slaves, and therefore occupied the same social class. The surnames found in the Nansemond list are Lamb, Babb, Russell, Pierce, Byrd, Peele, Ross, Goomer, Tarlinton, Crawford, Kearney, Hughes, Dilday, Barfield, Austin, Rutter, Keene, Wiggins, Ellimore, Reade, and Purvis. There is some overlap with the Gates lists that mention Collins. The names Peel, Babb, Russell, Dilday, and Reed appear, along with Benton, Vann, Lewis, Parker, Smith, Saunders, Hall, and others.
It is very hard to determine the origin of all of these names. Purvis interests me because in the 1820 Census for Nansemond County “Domerius + Happy Purvis” is listed as head of a household of four whites and four “other free.” I have wondered if the name is actually Tiberius Purvis and the Happy reflects the nickname for Kerenhapukh, an Old Testament name sometimes used in the South at that time. Tiberius Purvis was a Gates County man, who served in the American Revolution under Elisha Rhodes. He married America Darden. In subsequent censuses, one does find mulatto Purvis and Darden families in Nansemond County.
I wanted to add a few deeds related to Tiberius Purvis.
23 Jan 1792 — Henry Dilday to Amos Dilday … 20 pds … 50 acres beginning at corner tree of Joel Goodman and William Gatling’s and along Gatling’s line to Isaac Pipkin’s
12 Feb 1794 — Soloman Phillips of Edgecombe Co. to Demsey Odom … 60 pds … 200 acres whereon he formerly lived