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Purbeck; Three Generations in Old Parish Cemetery


The Purbeck Family

William Purbeck (c. 1770-1846) was born in Salem. On June 27, 1801, he married Mehetable Stimpson (c. 1783-1842) in Salem. The couple had six children:

Sarah (Sally) born in 1803

Louisa J. born in 1806

William born in 1810

Fanny K. born in 1813

Lucy F. born in 1814

Louisa J. born in 1822, after the first Louisa died in 1820

At some point, it appears that William Purbeck went to sea as he appears on a crew list of the Brig Acorn out of Salem in 1820. Their connection to South Dedham seems to have been through their children.




Their oldest child, Sarah S. Purbeck, known as Sally, married Albert P. Ambler on June 4, 1837 in Dedham. It was a tragically brief marriage. On July 30, 1838, Albert Ambler died and, a few years later, on February 13, 1842, his widow Sally, died as well.



Daughter Fanny K. Purbeck married Joseph Priest on November 5, 1837 in Dedham. The couple had a daughter, Lucy A. Priest, born in 1840 in South Dedham. Only 8 years later, Fanny K. Purbeck Priest died on August 31, 1848, in South Dedham at the age of 35. The cause was listed as dropsy, another word for edema or swelling under the skin. It could have been an indication of any number of internal diseases. In the Census of 1850, Joseph Priest continues to live in South Dedham with his daughter, Lucy. His occupation was a painter. On August 25, 1850, however, Joseph Priest died of consumption (tuberculosis) at the age of 38. His daughter, Lucy Priest, went to live with Elisha and Louisa Ford who lived in Boston.


Elisha Ford had been born in Duxbury around 1813. He married Louisa J. Purbeck, who had been born on November 10, 1822. She was the youngest child of William and Mehetable Purbeck and was born a few years after the death of their daughter, Louisa. It appears that Elisha and Louisa Ford had no children of their own but adopted their niece, Lucy A. Priest. She is listed in the US Census for 1855, 1860, and 1865 with the couple; the family resided at 124 Mt. Vernon Street in Boston. On November 20, 1869, Elisha Ford died of mania. Louisa and Lucy continued to live at 124 Mt. Vernon Street where Lucy A. Priest died on March 22, 1873 at 33. She was single and died of spinal meningitis. Louisa J. Purbeck Ford, widow of Elisha Ford, remained in Boston and was still residing at 124 Mt. Vernon when she died on July 2, 1896 of pneumonia after she had a stroke.


William and Mehetable’s only son, William, who was born around 1810 in Salem, married Mahala H. Sherman on February 24, 1841 in Boston. A house painter, he died on April 26, 1887 of Bright’s Disease. Only a few months later, his wife, Mahala died on July 18, 1887. The couple’s son, Alfonzo W. Purbeck had died at the age of 9 on February 2, 1851 of a heart ailment.


At some point, perhaps at the time of Albert Ambler’s death in 1838, the Purbeck family bought a plot in Old Parish Cemetery. In addition to those named above, William Purbeck, who died on August 3, 1846 of cancer at the age of 76, and his wife Mehetable, who had died on May 23, 1842, are buried in the lot. At some point, their two other children, Louisa J. (1806-1820) and Lucy F. (1814-1825) who had been 14 and 11 at the time of their deaths, were brought to Old Parish.Thus, although the family had no long-standing connection to the South Dedham community, William and Mehetable Purbeck, their six children, their children’s spouses, and two of their grandchildren are buried in Old Parish Cemetery.




The Purbeck lot is marked by this monument in Old Parish Cemetery.

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