from History of Leeds and Grenville Ontario
Peter Purvis was born at Berwick-on-Tweed, Scotland, in 1753, and came to the United States as a British soldier; at the close of the war of 1776 receiving his discharge at Quebec. He was one of the garrison at Ogdensburg when that place was handed over to the Americans.
At the time when he reached Elizabethtown, the place where Brockville stands was covered by the forest. Purchasing fifty acres of land from Captain Grant, where the Brockville Cemetery is at present located, he remained on his new farm six years, marrying in January, 1830, Catherine, daughter of George Gardiner. He then removed to Yonge, Lot No. 7, in the 2nd Concession, and in course of time secured 1,700 acres of land.
His family consisted of nine children. His eldest son,
John Purvis, married Mary Smith, by whom he had ten children, viz.: Thomas, William, Lovinia, Jane, Henry, George, Frederick, John, Jr., Peter Edmund, and Mary. John Purvis was a volunteer in the War of 1812, and for twenty years Collector and Assessor for the Township, also serving as Town Clerk and Superintendent of Schools. He died in 1853, at the age of 66.
The second son of Peter was Thomas; married Catherine Burns, by whom he had the following children : Peter, John, Thomas, George, James, Catherine, David, and Thomas was a major and a volunteer in 1812. He died in the eighty-first year of his age. The Rev. William Smart preached his funeral sermon, it being the last service held in Yonge by the veteran Presbyterian minister.
George Purvis, third son of Peter, married Lydia Comstock, by whom he had the following children: Lovinia, Catherine, Alice, Phoebe, Lydia, Jennette, Peter, Jane, George, and Sarah. George was a captain in the militia, served in the War of 1812, and received a pension before his death. His sword is in the possession of his son, who resides on the homestead. Peter is a Justice of the Peace.
The fourth son of Peter was William, who married Lois Gideon, by whom he had one child, Mary. His second wife was Jane Percival, by whom he had the following children: Catherine, Elizabeth, Walter, Ann, Peter, James, Susan, Nancy, Jane, and Zacheus. Mr. Purvis is at present an honored citizen of Escott.
Peter, Jr., the fifth son of Peter, the elder, was born February 20th, 1798; married Kesiah Pennock, by whom he had the following children: Peter, Jr., Catharine, Abel, Sarah, James, Arthur, Nancy, Moriah, and Kesiah. At one time he was awakened in the night by a rapping at his door ; opening it, he was confronted by five or six armed men, who demanded his money or his life. Seizing his father's sword, he thrust it into one of the robbers, who fell but was carried off by his comrades. Report says that from that night a person in the neighborhood always traveled with a cane.
James, the sixth son, married Ann Brennan; his family consisted of three daughters: Eliza, Nancy and Isabella. James died in 1852;
Jane married the Rev. John Dickey;
Catherine married the late Dr. Booth, of Unionville;
Nancy married Nelson Shipman.
The descendants of Peter Purvis, the elder, number two hundred and eighty. At one time he and his family used to walk ten miles every Sunday to attend divine service at Brockville. Mr. Purvis was an elder in the Presbyterian Church, and upon one occasion, when an attempt was made to introduce instrumental music in the church, in the form of a bass viol, the old gentleman stalked into the gallery, seized the bow from a man named Richards (a relative of the present Chief Justice), and broke it across his knee, at the same time remarking, "We'll have nae fiddles in the house o" God."
He died March 27th, 1836, aged eighty-three years.