Packard Surname Meaning, History & Origin

Packard Surname Meaning

The Packard surname originated in Suffolk in England. There is uncertainty about its meaning.  

One view is that Packard is someone who packs and hence might be an occupational name for a peddler.  Another view gives it a Norman French association, from the French word bacard, meaning “combat” or “strong.”

Packard Surname Resources on The Internet

Packard Surname Ancestry

  • from England (Suffolk)
  • to America and Australia

England.  Packard is a Suffolk name and was first found in villages along the coastal plain of Suffolk north and east of Ipswich.

Robert Packard was born in the village of Woodbridge around the year 1410 and the Packard name appeared in Stonham parish later in the century. George Packard was a yeoman farmer at Stonham Aspal in the early 1600’s. His son Samuel Packard emigrated to America in 1638.

The village of Bramford west of Ipswich supplied Suffolk’s best-known Packard family. Edward Packard, born there in the late 1700’s, made his home at Grove House. He was later Mayor of Ipswich.

His son Edward, subsequently Sir Edward, was a chemist by background. In 1872 he patented a new type of highly concentrated superphosphate and went on to develop Edward Packard & Co. as one of the leading fertilizer companies in England. This company became Fisons in 1919 and he its Chairman. Sir Edward was also an accomplished painter. His son Captain Charles Packard distinguished himself in the fighting in World War One. His daughter Sylvia was also a painter.

The largest number of Packards in the 1881 census were in Framlingham north of Ipswich:

  • Daniel Packard died there in 1682, evidently at a young age as he had only been married seven years.
  • there was a widow Packard in the mid-1700’s and a Rev. Daniel Packard in the mid-1800’s. A branch of the family had settled in nearby Middleton where the Rev. Harrison Packard was the rector in 1844.
  • while Joseph and Emma Packard emigrated from Framlingham to New Zealand on the Bernicia in 1848.

America.  Samuel and Elizabeth Packard from Suffolk came to America on the Diligent in 1638 and first settled in Hingham, Massachusetts. Ten of their thirteen children were born there. They moved with this large family to Bridgewater in 1664.

During the 1700’s these Packards spread across Massachusetts and into Connecticut and New Hampshire. After the Revolutionary War, Packards went north into Maine and also west and south.

There were three notable Packard lines in Maine:

  • Daniel Packard had moved from New Hampshire to Camden in the early 1800’s. He made his home at the Bear Hill Farm in Rockland. Ruth Packard Bartlett’s 1982 book The Ancestors and Descendants of Daniel Packard covered his line.
  • Nathan Packard settled on the coast at Searspont. His son Marlboro became a master shipbuilder there.
  • while Alpheus Spring Packard the son of the Rev. Hezekiah Packard, made his home at Brunswick and devoted 65 years of his life to teaching at Bowdoin College there. His son Alpheus Jr. was a Professor of Zoology who unearthed more than 500 different species during his lifetime.

Thomas Packard, a farmer, had come to Ohio from Pennsylvania in 1801. His grandson Warren Packard moved to Warren, Ohio in 1846 and became a successful businessman there. His sons William and James Packard were the automobile pioneers who founded the Packard Motor Company.

Arthur Packard came out west from Michigan to Modero, Dakota territory in 1883. He was for a time a chief of the police there, dealing with local cattle rustlers. He became known for his newspaper dispatches Badlands Cowboy.

It is thought that almost all of the Packards in America have descended from the early arrivals Samuel and Elizabeth Packard. A reunion of 650 descendants was held in Brockton, 1888. What followed were some Packard family associations.

Australia. There was one notable Packard migration to Australia. The Rev. Daniel Packard came with his large family on the Asia to Adelaide in 1851. He had been recruited to be chaplain to Bishop Short there.

Packard Surname Miscellany

Packard Towns and Villages in Suffolk.  Woodbridge today is a town of 11,000.  It lies east of Ipswich on the river Deben, approximately eight miles from the coast.  Bramford is a medium-sized village three miles west of Ipswich.   Some eighteen miles north of Ipswich is the small market town of Saxmundham, set in the valley of the river Fromus.  Middleton is situated eight miles northeast of Saxmundham.

Also north and east of Ipswich is Framlingham, commonly referred to by the locals as Fram.  This ancient market town with its population of 3,000 was mentioned in the Domesday Book of 1086 and has a castle. Stonham Aspal is near to Framlingham.

Grove House in Bramford, Suffolk.  Grove House on Papermill Lane in Bramford was built in 1825 towards the end of the Regency period by Edward Packard who was Alderman and Mayor of Ipswich.

It was then occupied for 67 years by his son Sir Edward Packard, his wife Ellen, their twelve children and five servants. He founded the business that eventually became Fisons and was a renowned Suffolk painter whose most famous work Battle of St. Vincent can be seen at the Ipswich Museum.

The size and importance of the Packard family led to the house being extended in 1895 with the addition of a ballroom and two further bedrooms.  The house was split in about 1927 and The Grove was formed, being a third of the original three story house plus the two story extension.

The house has a peace and calm that reflects its history and has retained its rural feel with a large garden teaming with wildlife. Watching the blue tits nest by the pond or the deer accompany their fawn, it is easy to forget that the centre of Ipswich is only three miles away.

Packard Family Associations.  On August 19, 1888 there was a grand gathering of the descendants of Samuel and Elizabeth Packard at the Agricultural Ground in Brockton, Massachusetts.

The year marked the 250th year anniversary of their arrival in America.  The local newspaper included a Packard poem relating to Samuel and his children and a long list of the attendees at the reunion.  They numbered 650. What followed was the Packard Memorial Association.

The Packard Association became defunct around. 1946.  It was revived in 1987 under the name of the Packard and Allied Families Association (PAFA).  Packard’s Progress was a family newsletter published for its members from 1987 to 1998.  The best articles were those supplied by PAFA President Karle Packard and its historian Alan Packard who died in 2004.

Alpheus Spring Packard at Bowdoin College.  Alpheus Spring Packard may be the longest serving faculty member to any American college through his 65 years of dedication to Bowdoin College in Brunswick, Maine.   Trained as a minister, educator, librarian, he was acting President of Bowdoin College for the year before his death.

He died in fact away from home in Decatur, Illinois. The Daily Republican reported there on July 14, 1884:

“Professor A.S. Packard, Acting President of Bowdoin College, was found lying face downward on the beach at Squirrel Island yesterday noon, where he and his wife, his son, daughter and niece were spending Sunday. He was taken at once to the hotel. He lived only forty-five minutes.  He was conscious at the time of his death. Heart disease was the cause.  His age was eighty five.

His remains were brought to the Bath by special steamer and the party left at once for Brunswick, Maine.”

Warren Packard in Warren, Ohio.  Warren Packard moved to Warren in 1846, carrying on his back, as one family history noted, “everything he owned in a cotton handkerchief.” A relative helped him get a job with Milton Graham who owned an iron and hardware business in Warren.  That first year it was said that he worked long hours as a clerk. On Saturdays he would drive a team between Warren, Niles, and Youngstown, buying nails and iron for Graham’s store.

In 1851 he started out on his own, forming the Warren Packard Company.  His business grew and by 1863 he was the owner and operator of the largest iron and hardware business between Pittsburgh and Cleveland. He had begun to diversify by this time, adding a lumber business and expanding its operations into western Pennsylvania and New York.

He had married his second wife Mary Doud in 1856 and she was the mother of the automobile pioneers William and James Packard. 

The Packard Car – from First to Last.  The last Packard car – the classic American luxury car with the enigmatic slogan Ask the Man who Owns One – rolled off the assembly lines in Detroit on June 25, 1956.

James Ward Packard and his brother William Dowd Packard built their first automobile, a buggy type vehicle with a single cylinder engine, in Warren, Ohio in 1899.  The Packard Motor Company earned fame early on for a four-cylinder aluminium speedster called the Grey Wolf released in 1904.  With the 1916 release of the Twin Six with its revolutionary V-12 engine, Packard established itself as America’s leading luxury car manufacturer.

In the 1930’s General Motors’ superior financial resources saw Cadillac overtake Packard in the luxury car stakes. Packard diversified by producing a smaller more affordable model, the One Twenty, which increased the company’s sales.

Packard struggled in the post-war world.  The company merged with the larger Studebaker Corporation in the hope of cutting its production costs.  But both companies were finding the going difficult.  In 1956 the decision was taken to end Packard auto production in Detroit.

Packard Names

  • Samuel Packard who came to America in 1638 was probably the forebear of most Packards in America today.
  • Sir Edward Packard developed a large fertilizer manufacturing business in England in the 1880’s which he later merged with Fisons.
  • William and James Packard were the American automobile pioneers who founded the Packard Motor Car Company in 1900. Packards were produced until 1958.
  • David Packard was the co-founder in 1939 of the computer giant Hewlett-Packard.

Packard Numbers Today

  • 500 in the UK (most numerous in Suffolk)
  • 4,000 in America (most numerous in Texas)
  • 200 elsewhere (most numerous in Canada)

Packard and Like Surnames

Many surnames have come from East Anglia (Norfolk and Suffolk) and surrounding areas in eastern England.  These are some of the noteworthy surnames that you can check out.


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Written by Colin Shelley

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