The grandfather of James Purdey, the founder of the firm, reputedly walked from East Scotland around the turn of the eighteenth century to find work in London. James`s father, also James, worked as a blacksmith in the Minories, a part of the City close to The Tower of London where most of the gun making was carried on. Blacksmiths at that period carried out many ancillary tasks for the gun makers.
In 1805, James completion of his apprenticeship, under the watchful eye of Thomas Keck Hutchison, his brother-in-law, and was later fortunate to find employment with Joseph Manton as a stock maker and action filer. He quickly progressed to head stock maker.
In 1828, James & his wife, after having four daughters, welcomed the arrival of a son, James “the younger ”
In 1843, James “the younger” was apprenticed to his father and by 1857 had taken control of their business.
James “the elder” having started producing flint-lock guns for a short period before turning to percussion and later to the early breech loaders, it was his son who really made the Purdey name.
With the innovation by James the younger of the Purdey bolting systems patented in 1863 and 1865 followed fifteen years later in 1880 of the acquisition of the rights to the Beesley self opening gun opening system, the essential design of the Purdey double gun was set on a sound basis.
Apart from cosmetic changes, the design remains the same to present times.
The further addition of the Woodward pattern over & under gun in 1948 gave Purdey one of the best such designs available to complete the range.
In 1868 James Purdey the younger received its first Royal Warrant from the Prince of Wales, who later became King Edward VII. Queen Victoria was also purchased numerous guns and rifles from James Purdey. And in 1878 she granted them another Royal Warrant.
In 1882 Purdey moved the business to a new premises on South Audley Street, London which is where they are still based today. The new premises included gun making workshops and cartridge loading.
James Purdey & Son Ltd are still gun making and are trading at South Audley Street, in London. They also have many authorised dealers all over the world