Parker Surname Meaning, History & Origin

Select Parker Meaning
Parker comes from the Old French parquier, meaning “keeper of the park.” Parker was also a nickname for a gamekeeper.
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Select Parker Ancestry

England. The earliest Parker reference was a Johannes
le Parquier or Parcar from Normandy who died in England around 1136. His family line continued in Yorkshire.

One Parker family has traced their ancestry back
to the 13th century when they were park keepers to John of Gaunt in the
of Bowland in Lancashire. They appeared in the Ribble valley in
the 15th
century, first at Horrocksford and then at Brownsholme.
The Parkers were Bowbearers of the Forest of
Bowland during the 17th and 18th centuries.
Their home of Brownsholme Hall, still with the
Parker family, is
the oldest
surviving family home in Lancashire.

Parker, born in the Forest of Bowland in the early 1700’s, moved across
Pennines to Halifax where he became a well-known local lawyer.
His home
in Halifax was Clare Hall.

Another early Parker family was of Bulwell and Norton Lees (Bulwell in Nottinghamshire and Norton Lees on the Derbyshire/Yorkshire border). They dated back to the early 14th century.  A branch of this family subsequently moved to Park Hall in Staffordshire and prospered in the legal profession:

  • Baron Parker of Macclesfield became Lord Chancellor in 1718 but was convicted of corruption and ended his life in a debtor’s prison.
  • a later Parker of the family, William Parker, joined the Navy and was Commander of the British Mediterranean fleet in the 1840’s.

outposts at that time were Morley in Norfolk, Great Burstead in Essex,
Tenterden in Kent, and North Molton in Devon.
The Parker line from Morley included Matthew Parker, Archbishop
from 1559 to 1575, and supposedly Robert Parker, better known in
America as the
outlaw Butch Cassidy.

The Parker
by the 19th
century still showed very much a northern bias.

Parkers in Ireland were
generally of English

An early arrival was John Parker
from Kent, appointed constable of Dublin castle in 1543.
Captain John Parker from Devon was granted
land in Tipperary in 1667. His
based at Castlelough, had become extensive landowners in the county by
the 19th
century. Michael Parker came to Ireland
with King William’s army in the 1690’s.
His descendants were Cork merchants.

America. Family tradition has
it that three brothers – Abraham, James,
and Thomas – came to New England in the 1630’s and settled in three
places, Chelmsford, Groton, and Reading. These Parkers may have
related, but it is doubtful if they were all brothers. James Parker made his mark in
Massachusetts. One line from Thomas
Parker led to the hunter Nathaniel Parker, an early settler in West
and then in Tennessee

Other early Parker arrivals in New England

  • another
    Thomas Parker, the son
    of a Puritan clergyman, who founded the town of Newbury, Massachusetts
    in 1635. He died childless.
  • the brothers
    Joseph and Nathan Parker, who were in Newbury by 1642 and later moved
  • George
    Parker, a carpenter who had
    come to Rhode Island in 1638 (the year he was put in the stocks there
    drunkenness). He was resident in
    Portsmouth until his death in 1656.
  • William
    Parker, who was one of the founders of Hartford, Connecticut. He later settled in Saybrook.
  • and
    two brothers Elisha and Robert Parker who were at Barnstable
    on Cape Cod by the 1650’s.

married without approval the daughter of the Earl of
Derby in 1703 and they fled to Portsmouth, New Hampshire soon
after. Many of their descendants were
including Samuel Parker who was appointed an Episcopal Bishop in 1804

John Parker, born in Baltimore in 1758, was a famous frontier
Ranger and early settler in Texas. He was immortalized in death
when he was killed by Comanche Indians in the Fort Parker massacre of
1836. It was his granddaughter Cynthia who was taken and adopted
by the Comanches and her son Quanah Parker who was to lead the tribe at
their Oklahoma reservation.

Canada. Benjamin
Parker, a mariner and fish merchant, left Cape Cod in Massachusetts for
Liverpool, Nova Scotia in the 1750’s. His
eldest son Snow
was to prosper there in trading, shipbuilding
privateering, which was to make him an extremely wealthy man.

Another Benjamin
Parker, this time from New Jersey, came to New Brunswick in 1783
together with
other Parker relatives. Some of them
settled on Campobello island. Others
moved to Nova Scotia. Many became
fishermen. These Parkers had come from
the Elisha Parker Cape Cod line.


Parker Miscellany

The Parkers of Bulwell and Norton Lees.  These Parkers were first found at Bulwell in Nottinghamshire and later at Norton Lees on the Derbyshire/Yorkshire border.

The line has been traced back to the marriage
of Sir John Le Parker, Baron Parker of Bulwell, and Lady Annie Redmayne
sometime around 1325.  Their son Robert
was born around 1327 and his son Thomas around 1360.
It was Thomas who married Elizabeth de
Gotham, the daughter and heiress of Adam de Gotham of Norton Lees, in
1385 and
the family then established themselves at Norton Lees.

A branch of this family
was at Park Hall in Staffordshire by the late 16th century.

Browsholme Hall.  Browsholme Hall, pronounced “Brewsom,” is an historic house
and the ancestral home of a Parker family who have lived there since it
built by Edmund Parker in 1507.  Tudor in
origin, Browsholme has an antiquarian collection of oak chests,
furniture by
Gillow, portraits, mementos of Bonnie Prince Charlie, Chinese
porcelain, and
arms and armor from the Civil War.

set in the Ribble valley in Lancashire, is still very much a family
however.  The current owners are Robert
and Amanda Parker.

Parker Distribution in England.  H.B. Guppy in his 1890 survey Homes of Family Names in Great Britain had
the following to say about the Parker name distribution in England:

Parker name is distributed
almost all over England, but absent or is conspicuously rare in the SW
of Devon and Cornwall.  Its principal
centers are in the northern half of the country, the first in the West
and in the adjacent counties of Lancashire, Derbyshire, and
Lincolnshire, and
the second in Northumberland, but it does not extend across the border
Scotland. It has also additional homes in the south of England, in
Essex on the
east coast, in Monmouthshire and Gloucestershire in the west, and in
on the south coast.”

Yorkshire and
Lancashire had the most Parkers at that time.
Today it is Yorkshire and the East Midlands..

Captain James Parker of Groton.  James Parker left his home in Wiltshire in the 1630’s
and sailed across the Atlantic to set up a new life in Charlestown in the Massachusetts Bay Colony.  He was
apparently accompanied by his brothers.
Augustus G. Parker into his Parker Family in America
stated that there were five Parker men in the family – Abraham, Joseph,
Jacob and John: “Most of them were brothers, and it is believed that
all were
thus related.”

1653 James and John Parker were to be found at the new
settlement of Billerica northwest of Woburn.
Abraham Parker was the first settler in Chelmsford nearby (his
wife was
the first woman “to bake and brew in Chelmsford”).
James joined him soon after.   However,
he was not to stay there too
long.   In 1662 he moved to a new
settlement at Groton, apparently because of some religious

Groton, James was important in early civic
affairs.  He was “a moderator of most of
the town meetings, a member and chairman of all important committees.”  During the 1670’s he was captain of the local
militia and active in defending his community against Indian attacks.  He was called into service again in 1694 when
another Indian attack came and James himself lost two sons.

was in his seventies by this time, but
took unto himself a new wife.  In 1697 he
sired a new child, his first offspring since Eleazer had been born 37
earlier.  But four years later he was
dead.  There is a marker today in Groton
for Parker House, where his home was.

William Parker and Zerviah Stanley.  Tradition has it that Mrs. Zerviah Parker was Lady
Stanley, a daughter of the Earl of Derby, and she had married William
Parker in
England without the consent of the Earl.
She thereupon abandoned her claims to nobility and in 1703 fled
to the
New World with her husband.  Interestingly
there is no trace of her in the Stanley family ancestry.
Her name was either suppressed, changed, or
she was not of regular descent.

in New Hampshire was to be their place of refuge.  Her
husband William Parker was a gentleman of
education.  But after arriving in this
country he found it necessary for him to support himself and worked at
a tan
yard near their home.

feared the
father’s vengeance.  He was an arbitrary
and vindictive man who might readily take up legal proceedings.  She herself would often suffer great periods
of distress, knowing that she would be disinherited and that her
children would
be cut off from her father’s house.  She
just fifteen years in Portsmouth and died in 1718.

the Parker family did prosper in

Snow Parker’s Years of Privateering.  Snow Parker’s father Benjamin, a mariner and fish merchant, had come to Nova Scotia from Cape Cod in the early years of
the Liverpool
settlement.  Though most if not all of
his five sons also earned their living from the sea, it was Snow who
laid the
basis for a spectacularly successful career in trading, shipbuilding,
privateering which was to make him a wealthy man.

Parker came to manhood in the shadow of
the American Revolutionary War when rebel privateers cruised in Nova
waters and sometimes raided coastal settlements.  He
was only 18 when the ship on which he was
travelling from Halifax to Liverpool was intercepted by a privateer.  Taken prisoner, he was carried to Port Mouton
and only released after paying a ransom.

began his business life as a coastal
trader and began to acquire ships.  It  was these vessels, built or sailed as
privateers, that made his fortune. The outbreak of war with France in
1793 and
with the United States in 1812 had raised once again the specter

Liverpool was the centre
of privateering activity in Nova Scotia between 1793 and 1815 and Snow
was its leading exponent.  He built,
owned, financed, and acted as agent for several privateers, but did not
them himself. The cargo of captured vessels could be speedily condemned
in the
Vice-Admiralty Court at Halifax, acquired cheaply at auction, and then
at a handsome profit.  Moreover, the
prizes themselves could be purchased, refitted, and then sent out as
or trading vessels.

In the heyday of
privateering Parker was reputed to be the richest man in
Liverpool.  His
declined with the years so that at the time of his death he
apparently worth no more than £1,500.
he lived onto the age of 80, a respected man in the community.



Select Parker Names

  • Matthew Parker was Archbishop of Canterbury in 1559 and a leader of Anglican thought in his time. He was called “Nosey Parker” because he kept poking his nose into matters that should not concern him.
  • Quanah Parker was in the 1870’s the last of the Comanche war chiefs.
  • George and Charles Parker founded their board game company Parker Brothers in 1888.  Their best-known game was Monopoly which came out during the Depression. In the same year of 1888 another George Parker founded the Parker Pen Company.
  • Dorothy Parker, born Dorothy Rothschild, was an American writer and critic noted for her acerbic wit, associated with The New Yorker and the Algonquin Round
  • Bonnie Parker was the
    Bonnie in Bonnie and Clyde, the 1930’s outlaws later portrayed in film.
  • Charlie Parker was the great jazz saxophonist, a founder of be-bop in the 1940’s.
  • Alan Parker is a British film director.

Select Parker Numbers Today

  • 110,000 in the UK (most numerous
    in Yorkshire)
  • 124,000 in America (most numerous in Texas)
  • 46,000 elsewhere (most numerous in Australia)


Select Parker and Like Surnames

These were status positions within the feudal position of that time – usually positions serving noble families, lords of the manor, or in the church.  Here are some of these status position surnames that you can check out.



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