William Herbert Purvis

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William Herbert Purvis
William Herbert Purvis, c. 1885.jpg
Born (1858-11-27)November 27, 1858
Sussex, England
Died December 31, 1950(1950-12-31) (aged 92)
Nationality English
Occupation Planter
Known for

Introduction of macadamia seeds to the Hawaiian Islands

Introduction of the mongoose to the Hawaiian Islands

William Herbert Purvis (November 27, 1858 – December 31, 1950) was a plant collector and investor in a sugarcane plantation on the island of Hawaiʻi during the late nineteenth century.

William Herbert Purvis (also known as Herbert Purvis) was born in Sussex, England.[1] He and his father John Purvis (1820–1909) came to Hawaii in 1878.[2] A distant cousin, Edith Mary Winifred Purvis, also came to Hawaii and married into the Holdsworth family; their daughter married into the Greenwell family (early Kona coffee merchants) and had daughter Amy B. H. Greenwell (1920–1974).[1][3] Edith's brothers were Robert William Theodore, a businessman on Kauai, and Edward William Purvis who served as King Kalakaua's vice chamberlain.[4][5][6]

The Purvis family were early investors in the Pacific Sugar Mill at Kukuihaele near Waipiʻo Valley on the northeast coast "Big Island" of Hawaiʻi.[7] The lands were from the estate of King Lunalilo, consolidated by Purvis and the royal doctor Georges Phillipe Trousseau.[8]

In 1882, Purvis introduced macadamia seeds into the Hawaiian Islands after he visited Australia.[9] He planted seed nuts that year at Kapulena, Hawaii at 20°6′4″N 155°31′40″W / 20.10111°N 155.52778°W / 20.10111; -155.52778 (Kapulena),[10] just southeast of the Pacific Mill. For many years, the trees were grown just as ornamental plants.[11] Macadamias have since become an important tree crop in Hawaii. Total area in macadamia production is 20,200 acres (82 km2) and Hawaii’s macadamia industry is valued at $175 million annually. Major macadamia production is on the island of Hawaii.

Purvis introduced the mongoose to control rats at the plantation in 1883.[12] The mongoose has become an invasive pest.[7] In 1889 he was elected into the Royal Colonial Institute.[13]

In 1887, Purvis hired Scottish arboriculturalist David McHattie Forbes from his position as Foreman Forester of the estate of Fletcher's Saltoun Hall to import and cultivate cinchona trees above the sugar line in Kukuihaele, Hawaii at the Pacific Sugar Mill.

He married Mabel Vida Turner and had at least four children: Arthur Frederic Purvis (1890–1955), Inez Adele Isobel Kapuaimohala Purvis (1891–1961), John Ralph Purvis (1894–1915), and Herbert Charles Purvis (1897–1945).[14] He died December 31, 1950.[1]


  1. ^ a b c Nancy Oakley Hedemann (May 1994). A Scottish-Hawaiian story: the Purvis family in the Sandwich Islands. ISBN 978-0-9644020-0-3.
  2. ^ Jean Greenwell (1991). "Doctor Georges Phillipe Trousseau, Royal Physician". Hawaiian Journal of History. 25. Hawaii Historical Society. p. 144. hdl:10524/329.
  3. ^ John Purvis. "Beatrice Hunt (Beetles) Holdsworth". Purvis Family Tree. Retrieved September 5, 2010.
  4. ^ "Edward William (Toby or Ukelele) Purvis". The Purvis Family Tree. Retrieved November 13, 2016.
  5. ^ Siddall, John William (1921). Men of Hawaii. 2. Honolulu: Honolulu Star-Bulletin. p. 323.
  6. ^ Shigeura, Gordon Tokiyoshi; Ooka, Hiroshi (1984). Macadamia Nuts in Hawaii, History and Production (PDF). Honolulu: University of Hawaii. p. 11. OCLC 632022107.
  7. ^ a b "Pacific Sugar Mill History". Hawaiian Sugar Planters' Association Plantation Archives. University of Hawaii. Retrieved 2010-03-25.
  8. ^ Pacific Legacy, Incorporated (2007). "Archaeological Inventory Survey, Mud Lane, Hamakua, Hawaiʻi" (PDF). County of Hawaii. Retrieved 2010-03-25.
  9. ^ Rietow, David (October 2012). "A Hard Nut to Crack: Macadamia in Hawaii". HortScience. 47 (10): 1405–1407.
  10. ^ U.S. Geological Survey Geographic Names Information System: Kapulena
  11. ^ "History of the Macadamia nut". ML Macadamia Orchards. 2008. Retrieved 2010-03-25.
  12. ^ United States. Department of Commerce and Labor (1897). "The Mongoose in the Hawaiian Islands". Consular reports: Commerce, manufactures, etc. Government Printing Office. pp. 392–393.
  13. ^ Royal Colonial Institute (Great Britain ) (1889). Proceedings of the Royal Colonial Institute. Sampson Low, Marston, Searle & Rivington. p. 474.
  14. ^ John Purvis. "William Herbert (Herbert) Purvis". Purvis Family Tree. Retrieved 2010-03-26.