Purnell Outten

See Comments on Purnell Outten for significant corrections and clarifications to this narrative. 

The identity of Purnell Outten is made certain by his father’s last Will and Testament. He was the son of John Outten Sr., and Sarah Purnell, his wife, and the grandson of John Outten, the Pioneer, and Mary Hopkins, his wife. He had three brothers, John, Abraham, and Obed, and four sisters, Mary who married Daniel Sturgis; Director who married Abraham Harris; Edith and Tabitha. He was born about the year 1722, and his first business transactions is recorded at Princess Ann, as follows:

On September 23, 1754, Abraham Outten sold to Purnell Outten a piece of ground called Wear Point Enlarged, for five shillings (about $1.25) and diverse good causes and considerations. Also on the same day, September 23, 1754, Abraham bought of Purnell, precisely the same piece of ground for the very same consideration, This business transaction was not regular. The deed is hardly legible, and the writer could not understand its meaning. The real purpose for which this property exchanged ownership twice in one day does not seem clear, and it could hardly have taken place except between brothers.

Purnell Outten and Mary Houston were married September 13, 1741, and they were the parents of eleven children, as follows: Sarah was born May 7, 1743; John was born August 6, 1745; Shadrack was born November 8, 1748; Tabitha was born January 30, 1751; Mary was born November 10, 1753; Betty was born March 24, 1756; Marvilna was born November 1, 1758; Purnell was born January 2, 1761; Loved was born September 3, 1763; Delitha was born November 22, 1765; and Joseph was born May 11, 1770.

We do not know whether Purnell’s first wife was the mother of all these children or not, but there is no extensive space between their births, and no mention is made of any marriage during that period in Accomac County. Some of these children may have died before he made his last Will, and others may have been independent and did not need a bequest. But only four of them are mentioned in the Will. They are John Houston, Shadrack, Mary (called Mollie) and Joseph.

The writer does not know very much about Purnell Outten, but he was the first Outten that was ever named Purnell, and he was the only Purnell Outten of that generation. His father had married Sarah Purnell and his grandfather had married Mary Purnell, so he was closely identified with the Purnell family, and he named one of his sons Purnell T.

Purnell Outten owned an extensive tract of land in Annamessex, not far the from present side of Crisfield in Somerset Co., Maryland, which after his death was divided between four of this children and sold for $800. But today that same tract of land is worth several thousand dollars. He also owned several slaves in Somerset Co. The one named Daniel, he manumitted, and Zifforah, Rachel, Harry, and Agnes, he divided equally between four of his children. But besides his property in Somerset Co., Maryland, he also had extensive possessions in Accomac Co., Virginia. So that in his Will he appointed to executors. One for his property in Maryland, and the other for his property in Virginia.

In his Last Will and Testament Purnell Outten mentions four of his children whose names are in the birth records that the writer has copied, but the Will also mentions a brother Joseph, whom he appointed administrator of his property in Maryland. That was evidently a mistake made by the writer who copies the Will. He had no brother Joseph, but he had a son Joseph, and he served as administrator. The dates and names that are found in this memoir may not all be correct, but they are copied from existing records, and the writer will now proceed to give an exact copy of the Last Will and Testament, in the exact style and language of the original.

Purnell Outten was married at least twice, and probably three times. His land wife was Elizabeth Taylor whom he married July 16, 1785. He was at that time 65 years old, and his wife was probably much younger, as he stated in his Will that he loaned to Elizabeth his wife all the property he had in Accomac County during her life or widowhood. He no doubt anticipated with no degree of pleasure that there would be a demand for Elizabeth after he was gone, and that she was likely to marry again, but the writer does not know whether she did or not.

Some years after the death of Purnell Outten, his children sold the real estate they had inherited from him in Somerset Co. On November 26, 1817, Shadrack sold his share of the property he held in Annamessex to Jesse Wilson for $200.00. and on August 15, 1818, John Houston sold his share in Annamessex to Jesse Wilson for $200.00. The other two children, Mollie and Joseph, also sold out their shares in Annamessex for the same price to the same man, so Jesse Wilson owned all the property that Purnell Outten had owned in Annamessex for $800.00.

The Will of Purnell Outten was probated and sworn to on June 25, 1798, and it is probably that he had died that year. He was therefore 78 years old when he died. Such a great age was unusual at that time, and Purnell was the oldest Outten of his generation. And no member of the Outten preceding him had excelled him in longevity. The writer has been the pastor of several churches in Accomac County, but he does not know where Purnell Outten died nor where he was buried. He does know, however, that he has left behind him a numerous progeny.


Written by Rev. John Perry Outten converted to Hypertext by Karen Stephens