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David Purviance, November 14, 1766 – August 19, 1847, was a member of the Kentucky legislature, a member of the Ohio legislature, and an important early leader in the Stone-Campbell Restoration Movement. He was also an early trustee (1819-1836) of Miami University in Oxford, Ohio and often served as its president pro tempore.
Role in the Restoration Movement
The religious fervor of the early 19th century U.S. western frontier found its strongest voice at Cane Ridge Meeting House in Bourbon County, Kentucky, site of a series of continual camp meetings from 1801-1804. In Kentucky, David Purviance, at first a farmer, engaged in significant debates with John C. Breckinridge over the proper relationship between church and state. After separating from the Presbyterian church and persuading numerous Presbyterians and Baptists to join the Christian Church movement, David Purviance moved in about 1807 from Bourbon County near Paris to "New Paris" in Preble County, Ohio, for two principal reasons: to help spread the new Christian Church movement from its Kentucky base; and because he was an abolitionist in a time when slavery sentiment predominated in Kentucky.
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David Purviance was a signatory as witness to the Last Will and Testament of the Springfield Presbytery formally dissolving the presbytery, which had previously withdrawn from the Presbyterian Synod of Kentucky. The Last Will and Testament marked the birth of the Christian Church of the West and became a founding document of the Restoration Movement.
Personal and family history
David Purviance was born Nov. 14, 1766 in Iredell County, North Carolina, an ending point for many colonial pioneers migrating from Pennsylvania down the Great Wagon Road of the 18th century. David Purviance's family, of Franco-Scottish lineage, removed westerly from Iredell County, NC, in 1791 to Sumner County in Middle Tennessee to help found the old Shiloh Presbyterian Church outside today's Gallatin, Tennessee. In 1792, David Purviance's brother John Purviance III was scalped by hostile Native Americans in full view of the victim's wife, Martha King Purviance (later Mrs. William McCorkle). "Mattie" Purviance watched helplessly as her husband was slain and had to be forcibly restrained from running to aid the hapless John Purviance. David Purviance's family sought refuge from further Indian depredations up in Bourbon County, Kentucky, on farmland near Cane Ridge in the bluegrass near Paris, Kentucky. The "scalping" in 1792 caused the Purviance family to consider Sumner County temporarily unsafe for white pioneers, although the parents would return to Sumner County, from which Wilson County, Tennessee, would be carved in 1799. The parents were Revolutionary War "colonel" John Purviance (1743-1823)--son of another John Purviance and wife Margaret McKnight (Purviance), of county Donegal in the north of Ireland—who served in the North Carolina continental line, & wife Mary Jane Wasson (Purviance), of Scots-Irish lineage. David Purviance's grandparents lived in county Donegal in the north of Ireland, the family having been French Huguenots who fled France for Scotland then Northern Ireland soon after the St. Bartholomew's Day Massacre of Protestants which occurred on 24 August 1572, in Paris and in the provinces in ensuing weeks. One well-known brother of the father of David Purviance was Captain James Purviance of the North Carolina continental line. Although the son, church elder David Purviance, would aid in the formation of the new Restoration Movement and, unintentionally, development of the new Christian Church-Disciples of Christ-Church of Christ denomination, neither of his parents abjured Presbyterianism, although the father ("Colonel" John Purviance II) did join the new Cumberland Presbyterian denomination founded in 1810 in Dickson County, Middle Tennessee, but the mother (Mary Jane Wasson Purviance) died in the year 1810, and so remained a strict Presbyterian. He died Aug. 19, 1847 and was buried in the Old North New Paris Cemetery in New Paris, Ohio.
- Levi Purviance (1848). The Biography of Elder David Purviance, with His Memoirs: Containing His Views on Baptism, the Divinity of Christ, and the Atonement. Written by Himself: with an Appendix; Giving Biographical Sketches of Elders John Hardy, Reuben Dooly, William Dye, Thos. Kyle, George Shidler, William Kinkade, Thomas Adams, Samuel Kyle, and Nathan Worley. Together with a Historical Sketch of the Great Kentucky Revival. Electronic version available from University of North Carolina. Genealogical information available through historian Marsha Cope Huie @ www.MarshaHuie.com (2001). Stuart Hoyle Purines, Purviance Family, privately published (1984).
- David Purviance at Find a Grave