Purdy, Victory

John Purdy, a native of Bladon, near Newcastle upon Tyne, was one of the first members of the Fetter Lane society in London. He accompanied John Wesley on his first visit to Bristol, where he settled as a tailor and became a local preacher. Wesley called him 'a man of eminent integrity and simplicity' and likened him to Joseph Bradford. He was away from home braving a mob at Rangeworthy when his son was born in 1747, so he named him 'Victory'. He died on 23 June 1755 from a fever caught while visiting a sick person.

His son, Victory Purdy, became a counting-house clerk in a colliery office, but declined promotion, either through lack of confidence or from unwillingness to work on Sundays. He became a local preacher in 1771. A meticulous recorder of his activities, he calculated that in 41 years he had preached 2,882 sermons, travelling 22,896 miles, mostly on foot, and had read the Bible through 40 times, becoming known as 'the Walking Bible' and being allegedly capable of quoting over 100 texts in the course of one sermon. The anonymous contribution on 'Gospel Preachers Described and Directed' in the Magazine for 1819 was from his pen. He was a prolific hymnwriter and his Poetical Miscellanies (1826) included a memoir. He died on 28 June 1822.

  • G. Pocock, The Life, Ministry and writings of Victory Purdy (1822)
  • John Telford (ed.), Letters of John Wesley, 7 p.208
  • F.A. Wilshire, in WHS Proceedings, 22 pp.31-8
  • John Edwards, Victory Purdy: 'the Kingswood Collier' (Bristol, 1984)

Entry written by: CJS
Category: Person
Comment on this entry