This is a rare and unusual locational surname, which has several possible rare and unusual origins. The surname is Middle English and is recorded in several spellings including Purs(e)house, Pearcehouse, and Pers(e)house, all quite rare. It was the opinion of the eminent Victorian Etymologist Canon Charles Bardsley, that the surname described one who worked in a Lords treasury - the counting house. This may be a romantic image but it is almost certainly not correct. The derivation is possibly from the Olde English pre 7th century 'purs', a metonymic for a maker of leather purses, and therefore the 'house of the purse maker', but is most probably a derivation from the Olde English 'persh' meaning willow. 'Willow' was an extremely popular timber, being fast growing and easy to work, and it is our opinion that a 'pearce-hus' was a form of timber yard, specifically perhaps one where the timber was 'formed'. It is also probable that a place called 'Pearcehouse' (or similar) once existed, but if so we have not been able to find positive identification. Examples of the surname recording include William Persehouse of Staffordshire, in the register of Oxford University for the year 1589, Thomas Persehouse, who was christened at the church of St Mary Atwill, London on November 22nd 1675, and Martha Purshouse, christened at St Sepulchre Church, London, on October 7th 1792. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Richard Pearcehouse, which was dated July 10th 1585, who married Eliza Davisonne at St Gregory's Church, London, during the reign of Queen Elizabeth 1, known as 'Good Queen Bess' , 1558 - 1603. Surnames became necessary when governments introduced personal taxation. In England this was known as Poll Tax. Throughout the centuries, surnames in every country have continued to "develop" often leading to astonishing variants of the original spelling.
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