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The Purvis Family Genealogy Pages John Purvis  


Robert Raaff Purvis

ROBERT RAAFF PURVIS of Java, born 6th September 1823 in Padang, West coast of Sumatra, a British possession which later (1825) became part of the Dutch East Indies (Indonesia), baptised 28th December 1823 in Inverkeithing Parish, Fife, Scotland, died 30th June 1891 at Batavia (Djakarta), Java, Dutch East Indies (Indonesia). He was probably buried originally in the Tanah Abang I Cemetery, Djakarta, Indonesia, and was moved (1975) to Tanah Kusir Cemetery, Djakarta, where he is thought to be in Block AAI (previously AII Block, plot 740). (Lt. Col. Raaff was the military and civil administrator of Padang from 1821 until he died of rot fever in 1823, aged 27 - perhaps he was a friend of Robert Raaff Purvis' parents). He was living in Padang in 1846 and took over the family business (Purvis & Co, Padang) on his father's death (1854), including management of the trading and shipping operations and Soedimara (Sudinara) plantation, Java. On his retirement (1860s) it seems that management of Purvis & Co. was taken over by his brother John Purvis (, who brought it to failure by 1877 and ended in prison for fraudulent bankruptcy, and the plantation by his other brother Thomas Intveld Purvis ( only to see the revenues drop off to near nothing by the late 1870s. He was at Soedimara (Sudinara) in 1869. British Vice-Consul at Padang (29th August 1872 to 12th March 1873). Retired comfortably "before he was 40" (i.e. c.1863) to Ersham (? or Earsham), Hailsham, Sussex, England, which was sold 1871, and then moved to Rue Espagnole 15, Bruges, Belgium. However the family's finances became increasingly and catastrophically strained due to the failure of the family trading company (Purvis & Co.) and the poor performance of the Soedimara plantation in the period 1875-1877. He therefore emigrated (arriving 18th June 1878 at Honolulu) with all his family (and meeting up with William Herbert Purvis ( on the way at Chicago, Illinois) to Kealia, Kauai, Hawaiian Islands (Hawaii), where his son Robert William Theodore Purvis (Theo) ( had preceded them and started a struggling and ultimately unsuccessful sugar plantation. Because of these further losses, he sailed from Honolulu on 19th August 1882 with his wife and three youngest surviving daughters (Edith - see her journal, item 310 in The Beatrice Holdsworth Greenwell Collection, Honolulu, - Florence and Beatrice) to "India" (i.e. Dutch East Indies) ostensibly to manage the family property Soedimara (Sudinara), Java, by taking over from his brother Thomas Intveld Purvis ( En route to Java, they stopped off in Singapore and visited his 2nd cousin John Murray Purvis ( Thomas Intveld Purvis had changed his mind by the time they arrived in Java and so Robert Raaff sold (1883) his share of Soedimara to "Gwynne", presumably James Eglinton Anderson Gwynne, husband of his sister Mary Earle Purvis (May) ( and ended up administrator of another rice, tea and coffee plantation of 25,000 acres called Koeripan, 15 miles from Buitenzorg (or Beutenzorg), Java (from May 1883 until early 1886) and from where he witnessed the eruption of Krakatau (August 1883). Despite all the financial disasters and unfulfilled hopes of his life, which resulted in disillusion, loneliness and detachment from much of his immediate family, he paid off all his debts, maintained his dignity and left his two youngest daughters a small inheritance of £400. See A Scottish-Hawaiian Story, written and published 1994 by Nancy Oakley Hedemann (see OA.55). Married (19th September 1853 in Padang, Sumatra) Annie Silburn Marshall (born 26th October 183?, probably 1837, died 23rd May 1888 in Edinburgh, Scotland, having returned from Java, probably buried in the churchyard of the Belgrave Crescent Kirk, Edinburgh), daughter of Matthew Marshall (who had a sister Jane Marshall (living 1875 and 1890s in Edinburgh (85 Great King Street) but died 15th February 1894, buried near her niece probably in the churchyard of Holy Trinity Church, Dean Bridge, Belgrave Crescent, Edinburgh), who corresponded regularly with her great-nieces and great-nephews Purvis and had Florence Forsyth Purvis ( and Beatrice Constance Purvis ( live with her (1888-1894) in Edinburgh after their mother's death), whose father Joseph Marshall of Edrington had a sister Frances who married Robert Romer of Berwick-upon-Tweed and had a daughter Frances who married Major General Charles Younghusband, parents of Charles Wright Younghusband and grandparents of Frank Campbell Younghusband (, and of Sara Marshall (living in 1871 and 1877) of Edrington House, Berwickshire, Scotland, having nine children:-

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