Alfred Purssell 1831 -1897

Alfred Purssell is Gertrude Purssell’s (Lady O’B) father.  He is one of nine children of Roger Purssell and Charlotte Peachey as shown Purssell letter006by this copy from a family bible. Alfred himself had seven children. Five girls and two boys

  • Laura
  • Lucy
  • Alfred Joseph
  • Frank
  • Agnes
  • Charlotte
  • Gertrude

 

The Purssells were variously described as confectioners, bakers, tea importers, and by 1871, Alfred described himself as a wine merchant. In the census in 1881, he is living in Clapham as a widower, with five servants. (a housekeeper, cook, housemaid, parlourmaid, and a children’s maid.)

Alfred Purssell
Alfred Purssell

Alfred was also a member of the Court of Common Council in the City for many years. He was a Trustee of the Bridge House Estates, who were responsible for building Tower Bridge  as shown on theAlfred Purssell tower bridge plaque on the north side of the bridge.

 

 

He is listed as a guarantor of the International Exhibition of 1862 –  not the Great Exhibition (£100), which also lists him as a Member of the Society of Arts, and he is listed as a founder of Westminster Cathedral.

As part of the initial search for who was who in the photos, I also traced this print in the London Metropolitan  Archives, which confirmed that our picture was Alfred.The Chairman and Officers of the Commissioners of Sewers of the City of London 1889-1890

 

And then finally from the Tablet, Page 22, 22nd February 1930

Mr. Purssell served for many years as a member of the Court of Common Council for the Ward of Cornhill, of which the present Lord Mayor is Alderman. If memory serves, he was Chairman of the Bridge House Estate Committee when the Tower Bridge was opened.

Not quite true; he was on the committee, but not the chairman. But he was at the opening ceremony.

Ernest Adolphus O’Bryen 1865 -1919

 

This was almost the first thing I searched on. We sort of knew that he had been Mayor of Hampstead, but not that it had been throughout the First War. In fact, from 1913 until his death in 1919 (six terms in total). He is easily identified in the garden party photo sitting next to the Cardinal. The decoration he’s wearing is a bit odd, and I suspect it’s possibly a papal decoration. He was granted a knighthood, but died before being done; but Lady OB was given the title anyway.

We also had pictures of him being the Mayor in the photo collection

The next thing I found was this obituary.

The Tablet, Page 28, 3rd May 1919

ALDERMAN ERNEST A. O’BRYEN.

We regret to record the death of Alderman Ernest A. O’Bryen, Mayor of Hampstead, which took place on Saturday night, at the age of fifty-three years, following on an operation from which he at first seemed to be progressing favourably. Educated at Stonyhurst and Cooper’s Hill, he spent some ten years in the Indian Forest Service in Upper Burmah, shortly after its annexation. He retired from the service in 1897 and married in the following year, Gertrude, daughter of the late Alfred Pursell. In 1913 he was elected Mayor of Hampstead, first Catholic to hold that position, and held it till his death. In 1916 he was President of the Stonyhurst Association and the same year was elected a Vice-President of the London Circle of the Catenian Association. During the war he took a leading part in making arrangements for the feeding and accommodation of Belgian refugees, and he also organised and equipped hospitals for the British Red Cross and St. John Ambulance. In 1915, Alderman O’Bryen was instrumental in raising the 183rd Howitzer Brigade and the 138th and 139th Heavy Batteries of Royal Garrison Artillery.

The funeral took place on Wednesday. The Requiem Mass was celebrated at St. Dominic’s Priory, Haverstock Hill, by Father Bodkin, S. J. Among those present were Mrs. O’Bryen and her five children, Mr. and Mrs. A. J. Winstanley, Captain and Mrs. Parker, Mr. Alfred Pursell, Mrs. Edwardes, Mr. and Mrs. E. J. Bellord, Mr. Frank Pursell, Mr. Alfred O’Bryen, Mrs. Rex O’Bryen, Mrs. Basil O’Bryen.

This helped a lot. Working on an obvious hunch that everyone named is a close relation, and a bit of digging, we have the soon-to-be Lady OB with her four sisters and two brothers, two brother-in-laws, and it appears the wife of a brother-in-law.  All eminently Googleable.

And not a difficult step to get to Dr John Roche O’Bryen, his father………..