Robert Purvis

Date of Birth: August 4, 1810

Place of Birth: Charleston, South Carolina, U.S.

Date of Death: April 15, 1898

Place of Death: Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, U.S.

*50% English
*25% Jewish [Sephardi, Ashkenazi]
*25% Moroccan/African

Robert Purvis was an American activist and abolitionist. In 1833, he co-founded the American Anti-Slavery Society and the Library Company of Colored People. From 1845 to 1850, he was president of the Pennsylvania Anti-Slavery Society.

He was born in Charleston, the son of Harriet (Judah) and William Purvis. His father was English, from Northumberland. His mother was a free woman of color, herself born to a Jewish father and black Moroccan mother.

Robert was married to Harriet Forten Purvis, until her death, and then to Tacie Townsend. Harriet was an African-American, abolitionist, and was the daughter of abolitionist and businessperson James Forten and abolitionist Charlotte Vandine Forten. Among Robert and Harriet’s eight children were abolitionist, suffragist, and temperance movement member Harriet Purvis, Jr. and physician Charles Burleigh Purvis. His nephew was inventor and businessperson William B. Purvis, and his niece was anti-slavery activist, poet, and educator Charlotte Forten Grimké, whom they helped raise.

Robert’s second wife Tacie was caucasian, and he received criticism for this marriage from both races.

Robert’s paternal grandfather was named John Purvis (the son of Alexander Purvis).

Robert’s paternal grandmother was surnamed Culley (the daughter of Thomas Culley).

Robert’s maternal grandfather was Baron Judah (the son of Hillel Judah and Abigail Seixas). Baron was born in Charleston, South Carolina, and was Jewish, of both Sephardi and Ashkenazi descent. Robert’s great-grandfather Hillel was the son of Baruch Judah, who was born in Breslau, Silesia, and of Sarah Helbert, who was born in London, England. Robert’s great-grandmother Abigail was the daughter of Isaac Mendes Seixas, who was born in Lisbon, Portugal, and of Rachel Franks Levy, who herself was born in London, England, the daughter of Moses (Raphael) Levy, from Hannover, Germany, and of Grace Mears, who was born in Spanish Town, Jamaica.

Robert’s maternal grandmother was named Dido Badaraka. Dido was a former slave. She was said to have been born in Morocco.

Robert was a second cousin, four times removed, of politician Jay Nixon, a second cousin, five times removed, of actor Daniel Flaherty, a third cousin of poet Emma Lazarus, who wrote the Statue of Liberty’s poem, The New Colossus, and of Supreme Court Justice Benjamin N. Cardozo, and also a third cousin, three times removed, of professional tennis player Vic Seixas. Robert’s maternal great-grandparents, Hillel Judah and Abigail Seixas, were also Jay’s five times great-grandparents, and Daniel’s six times great-grandparents. Robert’s maternal great-great-grandparents, Isaac Mendes Seixas and Rachel Franks Levy, were also Emma’s and Justice Cardozo’s maternal great-great-grandparents, and Vic’s paternal five times great-grandparents.

Source: Genealogy of Robert Purvis –

1 Response

  1. andrew says:

    Kinda looked like Abraham Lincoln.

    His maternal grandmother is intriguing. Her name is West African, but was captured in “Morocco”.

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