THOMSON, Mrs David (Eva Purdy)

Oval, bust-length.

Present whereabouts unknown.

New York Times, December 20, 1899
New York Herald, January 14, 1900 (reproduced).


Mrs Thomson is described in the New York Times, December 20, 1899, as being the sister of Mrs. Jordan L. Mott Jr.

Eva Purdy Thomson was the daughter of Caroline Hall and Fay Hovey Purdy.  (She was born in December 1860 according to the 1900 Census). This took place probably in or near Palmyra, New York. Eva Purdy married David Thomson (sometimes misspelled in newspaper accounts as Thompson) in 1883 (the census says they were 16 years married in 1900).  David Thomson (born December 1853 according to the 1900 Census) was a lawyer in the New York City firm of Foster & Thomson.  He died on December 31, 1906. 

In 1914, Eva Thomson married the Rev. George Monroe Royce, rector of St. Thomas Episcopal Church, New Windsor-on-the-Hudson, New York. George Monroe Royce (born August 12, 1848) was an American Civil War veteran who served in Company D, 33rd Indiana Infantry for five months, enlisting at the age of 16. He later moved to London and became a distinguished author – a few of his titles include The Little Bugler: A Tale of the American Civil War; Two Englishmen; Americans in Europe; The Son of Amram; and The Note Book of an American Parson in England. He was also a clergyman in the Protestant Episcopal Church in England. He was cremated at Golders Green Crematorium in London having died on March 10, 1928. She died on September 14, 1917. On 10 May 1988 The New Windsor Evening News reported in an official legal notice that her body was to be disinterred from a real estate plot on route 32 near the Town of New Windsor, Orange County, New York and reinterred at Woodlawn Cemetery, Quaissack Avenue, State Route 94 in New Windsor, Erie Avenue Section, Tier 6, Grave 1A.

Eva’s mother, Caroline Hall, was the daughter of Clarissa Wilcox and Ambrose Hall (1774-1827).  Caroline’s sisters (Eva’s aunts), Clarissa and Catherine, married the brothers Leonard and Lawrence Jerome.  Clarissa and Leonard Jerome were the parents of Jennie, Clara, and Leonie, who married respectively Lord Randolph Churchill, Moreton Frewen, and John Leslie (later Sir John Leslie).  Eva’s brother, Ambrose Hall Purdy, was a lawyer in New York City.  Her sister, Katherine (Kitty) Jerome Purdy, married Jordan Lawrence Mott, Jr., president of the J.L. Mott Ironworks.   Mrs. Thomson had a niece, Eva Thomson Purdy; it is not clear who her father was, but she was possibly the daughter of Ambrose Hall Purdy.

The Joseph Downs Collection of Manuscripts and Printed Ephemera at the Henry Francis du Pont Winterthur Museum, Winterthur, DE  19735, possesses a diary kept by the sitter (Doc. 1541) from January-July 1898, July 1899 (one entry only), January-July 1900, and January-May 1901 in which Muller-Ury is mentioned several times. On January 24th, 1900 she writes: (p.242) ‘When I returned home, Mr. Munsig (the portrait painter) [i.e. Munzig] came in for tea.  He was most interested to hear of my day’s happenings.  He looked earnestly at Muller Ury’s [p.243] portrait of me, which he had not seen before, since it only came home the day before last Christmas.  He thought it far too dark, not giving anyone any idea of my coloring, but that is the universal opinion, that it is not like me, as it is all too dark & strong.’

Two letters survive in the artists’s papers, both written from 14 East 73rd Street, New York:


My dear Mr Ury

The portrait arrived on Saturday & it is in the best light that it has been seen in since it was painted. I think you will approve of it. It is interesting to see the two portraits together one of one side of the face & the other the other side. You will feel always at perfect liberty to send for the portrait or send any one here to see it. The frame I think better of than at first, tho’ I think perhaps I could have bettered it. Do come in to see it. Sunday Evening the Madrazo’s are dining here [illegible] to [illegible] in to dine if you’ve nothing better to do. Thanking you million times for my Christmas present.

           I am yrs very sincerely, Eva Thomson.

Judge Knox was delighted with my portrait kept repeating “It’s good, very very good” & liked it better than Jerome’s [Gérôme’s] portrait of his wife!!’

The other letter:


Dear Mr Ury,

I looked for you to [illegible] in yesterday & I am sorry that you did not, for you wd have been very much gratified at all the genuine pleasant things said about my portrait. Mrs Barger (?) 192 Mad. Ave & Mrs de Copped (?) 24 W 17. Mrs Edward L Kryis (?) 1 East 74 & many many others were unqualified in their praise of it. The only criticism made by any one was made by nearly every one that it gave one an idea of a woman less a blond than I am. There could not be a less criticism do you think so? by so many different people too of so wide a difference in taste and liking. Hoping to see you next Wednesday.

            Yrs very sincerely, Eva Thomson.’