This interesting surname with variant spellings Purser and Purse has two possible origins. Firstly, it may derive from the Old English pre 7th Century "purs" meaning purse and would have originated as a metonymic occupational surname for someone who made or sold purses and bags or for an official in charge of the expenditure. In Scotland it is an Anglicized form of the Gaelic "Mac Sparain" meaning son of Sparan, a byname meaning Purse. Adam Purs, was secular of Elgin cathedral in 1343. Early recordings of the surname from London church registers include; Elizabeth Purser, who was christened on January 6th 1562, at St.Mary at Hill; and on September 25th 1569, the marriage of Georgius Purse to Margata Rumforth took place at St. Andrew's, Enfield. A coat of arms granted to the family consisted of six silver trefoils (three leaved flowers) with stalks on a red shield and on the crest a gold bull. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Derewin Purs, which was dated 1176, The Pipe Rolls of Buckinghamshire, during the reign of King Henry 11, known as "The Builder of Churches" 1154 - 1189. 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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