Perkins Surname Meaning, History & Origin

Select Perkins Meaning
root of the surname Perkins is the
probably the French Pierre that was brought to England by the Normans. Pierre often became Peter or Peterkin in
England or transcribed to Pierrekin.
These forms then corrupted to the patronymic Perkins.

The Welsh Perkin came from Perthyn, meaning a
relative or belonging to a particular person or
family. This later became Perkins

The suffix “-kins” was generally attached to a personal name as a pet name, usually denoting “the little one.” The suffix was apparently a Flemish import which for some reason became popular in England. 
Select Perkins Resources on The Internet

Perkins Ancestry

England. Osbert
Parkins was said to
have provided an early pedigree, possibly back to the 1100’s. By the 14th century both the Parkins (or
and the Perkins (or Perkyns) names were to be found, although the
spelling then tended to fade out.

The most well-known early Perkins was a man
named Peter Morley alias Perkins recorded in 1381.
His origins have been in dispute. But
he was at that time an official working
for the Despencers,
the richest
and most influential family in the country.
From his family came in the early/mid 1400’s
the Perkins of Madresfield
in Worcestershire and the Perkins of Ufton in Berkshire:

  • some
    of the Perkins of
    Madresfield migrated into Herefordshire. However,
    the most important line established itself at an
    early time in
    the parish of Hillmorton in Warwickshire. They were later at Newent in
    Gloucestershire. A branch of this family
    took up residence at Orton Hall, just across the border into
    Leicestershire, in
    the 1670’s.
  • the
    Ufton estate in Berkshire meanwhile remained for several
    centuries with the descendants of William and Margaret Perkins. Christopher Perkins from Ufton was a diplomat
    at the time of Queen Elizabeth. There
    was a branch of the family by this time at Bunny in Nottinghamshire.

of the early Perkins lines were recorded
in Mansfield Parkyns’ 1916 book The
Perkins Family in Ye Olden Times.

Perkins has been primarily a west country
name, but has extended into SE England. William
Perkins was a merchant tailor in London in the early 1600’s. Sir William Perkins was a wealthy Chertsey
merchant in Surrey who founded the school named after him there in 1725.

Wales. The
Perkins of Pilston near Llandogo, across the border in Monmouthshire,
from the 1570’s, the origin of these Perkins being a certain William ap
John ap
Perkin from north Wales. Christopher
Perkins was Sheriff of Monmouthshire in 1666.
The Perkins lived at Pilston until the death of Edward Perkins
in 1747.

The Perkins name also cropped up in
Pembrokeshire. David Perkins was
churchwarden at Llanwnda in 1543. The
main cluster of the name was to be found at St. David’s, starting in
the 1600’s. The earlier spelling was
Perkin. It later became Perkins.

There were and are larger Perkins numbers in
Glamorgan in south Wales. Edward Perkins was an under-Sheriff of
Glamorgan in 1664,
followed by Moore Perkins in 1665. Moore
Perkins lived at
Saint-y-Nyll in St. Brides-super-Ely parish.
A descendant a century later was John Perkins of Llantrithyd. His D
of a Gentleman Farmer in the Vale of
Glamorgan, 1788-1801

published and has been preserved
. There
was also a long-established Perkins
family at Rhos-y-Gelli in the Gower Peninsula

of the early Perkins arrivals in America
were Puritans who came for religious reasons. Many
might have been related.

New England. The earliest arrival,
just ten years after
the Mayflower, was John
Perkins on the Lyon.
He reached Boston
with his family in February 1631 and they later made their home in
Massachusetts. His
Mary was among those accused of witchcraft during the hysteria of the
trials and, although convicted, managed to escape punishment.

John Perkins’ descendants remained in Ipswich
for the next two hundred years, although a branch of the family did
depart for
Maine in the 1760’s. Another line
led to a distinguished family of lawyers in Hartford, Connecticut:

  • they
    with Enoch Perkins in the early 1800’s and then ran to Thomas, Charles,
    Arthur in the next three generations.
  • while
    the women in this family were equally distinguished.
    Enoch’s daughter Emily married Roger Baldwin,
    Connecticut Governor and Senator. One
    generation later came Charlotte Gilman nee Perkins, a prominent writer,
    lecturer and feminist of the early 1900’s.

1889 book The Family of John Perkins of
narrated the family history.

Possibly related to
John as brothers or cousins were Isaac and Abraham Perkins. Isaac spent some time in Ipswich before he
and Abraham moved in 1639 to Hampton, New Hampshire where they had
adjoining land

Also possibly related was the
Rev. William Perkins, who moved from Ipswich to Topsfield, Massachusetts.
descendants included Roger
Perkins who settled in New Hampshire after the Revolutionary War; Commodore George
, a
naval hero during the Civil War; and his daughter Isabel who married

a Puritan and also possibly related was Edward Perkins who
came to the New Haven colony from London in 1648.

1790 Roger Perkins stated that his father had given to him a powder
horn that
had belonged to his grandfather’s grandfather Edward Perkins who was a
half-brother to the Rev. William Perkins, a clergyman and early settler
of Ipswich,

genealogy was recounted in Judge Paul Perkins’ 1980 book
and History of One Branch of the Perkins Family

was some speculation that
Edmund Perkins, found in Boston from about 1650 onwards, was related to
one or
more of these Perkins, but no evidence has been produced to that effect.

line did lead to James Perkins, a Boston merchant who founded the
family fortunes
in the 1760’s, and to James and Thomas Handasyd Perkins of the China
firm of J&T Perkins & Co. Their
success as merchants and as owners of ships that plied the China
trade became legendary in Boston in the early 19th century. At the same time, they were well known for
their philanthropy, being among the leading Boston Brahmins of their

Elsewhere. Perkins
arrived elsewhere, but apparently unrelated and in fewer numbers.

Perkins, a laborer, was one of the 104 original settlers of the
colony in 1608. He wrote home that

cold was so intense that one night the river at our fort froze
almost all the way across, although at that point it is as wide again
as the
one in London.”

Neither Francis nor his son of the same name was on the
Jamestown census list of 1624 (they may not have survived). Some have claimed that the line from Humphrey
Perkins of Old Rappahannock county dated back to Francis, but there is
evidence that this was true.

Perkins arrived in Maryland from Devon in 1674 (some have him being
there). He was a cooper by trade and
made his home in Baltimore county. Later
Perkins of this family were to be found in Virginia and North Carolina. Ute Perkins headed up a Perkins gang that
Maryland and Virginia in the 1750’s. A
later Ute Perkins, who fought with the North Carolina militia during
Revolutionary War, was a pioneer settler in Hancock county, Illinois in
1826. Moses Perkins, who also fought in
the War, ended up in Georgia.

Perkins in
Australia were convicts. Samuel Perkins
arrived in NSW on
the Pitt
in 1792, Richard
Perkins on the Hillsborough
in 1799. For
both it was a hazardous experience. The
insanitary conditions onboard caused a considerable loss of life during
voyage due to overcrowding and disease.

  • Samuel
    Perkins was pardoned in 1801 and joined the NSW Corps as a private. However, he died unexpectedly five years
    later at the age of 33.
  • Richard
    Perkins attempted
    to escape in 1800 by stealing a boat on the Hunter river.
    Despite this escapade (for which he was
    initially sentenced to death), he was pardoned. He
    was subsequently recorded as an emancipated seaman.

Both men have left a sizeable number of
descendants in Australia. Samuel’s
celebrated the bicentennial of his arrival in 1992


Perkins Miscellany

Perkins and “Kins” Surnames.  Various “-kins” surnames became popular in
the west of England and in Wales, including Perkins.  The table
below shows the main “kins”
names and their degree of penetration into Wales (the numbers here are
from the 1891 census):

Name Pet form of: Numbers (000’s) Share in Wales (%) Found in England
Atkins Adam      10 4   spread
Dawkins David       2 4   Southwest
Dickens Dick       3 3   West
Hopkins Hobb (from Robert)      19 23   spread
Jenkins John      35 56   Southwest
Perkins Peter      14 8   spread
Watkins Walter      16 38 West Midlands
Wilkins William      13 7 West Midlands

The Hopkins, Jenkins, and Watkins surnames have strong Welsh
connections, Perkins less so although it is to be found
there.  Instead, the Perkins name has been widely spread over the
southwest of England and the West Midlands.

The Perkins and the Despencers.  In the 1380’s Peter Morley
alias Perkins was in the employ of Hugh Despencer, one of the most
powerful men
in the land.   Traditionally
this man is thought to have been Pierre de Morlaix, a
younger son of the French Morlaix family that had fled to England in
the train
of the Despencers. Whether he was really a scion of French nobility or
a man
from Shropshire, as many genealogists have suggested, is uncertain.

In any
event his son Henry Perriken or Perkins and grandson John Perkins the
remained in the employ of the Despencers until the early 1400’s.  John Perkins was recorded as holding land at
Madresfield near Malvern in Worcestershire in 1390.
Then came William Perkins, bailiff to the Duke
of Gloucester, the brother of Henry V and guardian to the young Henry
VI during
his minority.  William became the Lord of
Ufton in Berkshire sometime in the 1420’s.

Perkins at St. David’s, Pembrokeshire.  Perkin can be found as a first name in Pembrokeshire from the late 14th century.  Therefore
it was no surprise that Perkin and
later Perkins developed there as surnames.
The main cluster was in the town of St. David’s on the western
tip of
the county.

Marriages have been recorded
at its parish church since 1724.  From
then until 1812, no fewer than 56 marriages were recorded there where
the bride or groom was a Perkin or a Perkins.
Among that number were:

  • John
    Perkins and Ann Meyler in 1736
  • Simon
    and Elinor Perkin in 1761
  • William
    Harry and Martha Perkin in 1767
  • and
    Perkins and Ann Beymon in 1773

and Ann Perkins lived at Porthlisky farm
outside St. David’s.  There were eight
children and 41 grandchildren to this family after Ann’s death in 1826.

John Perkins’ Passage on the Lyon to America.  No one
can be sure of John’s motives for immigrating to America.  Some believe that two local
parsons preaching at his Hillmorton parish in Warwickshire had
him.  In any event he came with his wife
Judith and five children to Bristol in December 1630 to board the Lyon for the Massachusetts Bay
Colony.  Conditions of the voyage were
difficult, as the following account suggests:

had a stormy passage
there and lost one of the sailors not far from the shore.
He in a tempest, having helped to take in the
spirit sail, lost his hold as he came down and fell into the sea.  There after long swimming he was drowned to
the great dolor of those in the ship who beheld so lamentable a
spectacle without
being able to minister help to him.  The
sea was so high and the ship drove so fast before the wind, even though
sails were taken down.”

arrived safely in Boston in early February 1631 after a
voyage of 67
days, even though a great drift of ice had threatened them in
the final
passage.  To the
people of Boston who had survived a harsh
winter and
shortening rations, the arrival of the vessel was truly welcomed.

and his
family stayed in Boston for the next two years.  They then moved to Ipswich where they
settled.  John took possession of a large
island at the mouth of the Ipswich river that became known as Perkins’
Island.  It remained with the family for
over two hundred years.

Samuel Perkins’ Passage on the Pitt to Australia.  Samuel Perkins,
then aged 18, was sentenced at the Old Bailey in London  in
1791 to seven years transportation after
being found guilty of stealing a pair of velvet breeches, a pair of
stays, a
cloth coat, a silk cloak, and other goods,

He was transported to Sydney on the Pitt,
a ship of 775 tons which sailed on
July 17, 1791 carrying 344 male and 58 female convicts.  Following
complaints of overcrowding, the
number of prisoners was reduced from 443 to 402 before sailing.

passage of the Pitt was protracted as she did not
reach Port Jackson until February
14, 1792 –  212 days after departing from

from smallpox and scurvy amongst
the prisoners, a malignant fever caused 27 deaths amongst the seamen
military guards.  Her crew was so
depleted that some of the convicts had to be recruited to help navigate
her. When she arrived at Port Jackson, 20 male
9 female prisoners had died on the passage and 120 men were landed
sick, many
of whom died in the weeks following.  While
her death-toll was heavy, statements that at the end of the year only
29 of her
prisoners were still alive are believed to have been a gross

The Monument to Commodore George Perkins.  George
Perkins died in 1899 and three years later a monument to his memory was erected in his home town of
Concord, New Hampshire.  Beneath the statue
of him was the following inscription:

Hamilton Perkins, Commodore US

at Hopkinton, New Hampshire on October 20, 1835.
Died in Boston,
Massachusetts on October 28, 1899.

entered the Navy as a midshipman in 1851
and served his country with honor for forty eight years.
Genial and lovable as
a man, able and resourceful as an officer, gallant and inspiring as a

intrepid conduct at the
passage of the forts below New Orleans, his heroism in the surrender of
city, his skill and daring on notable occasions on the Mississippi
river and in
the Gulf of Mexico, his achievements in Mobile Bay when as commander of
Chickasaw he compelled the surrender of the Tennessee,

from the Navy unqualified admiration and
from Admiral Farragut these words: ‘The bravest man that ever trod the
deck of
a ship.’” 

Dorothy Perkins.  The real Dorothy Perkins was the grand-daughter of the American rose-grower Charles H. Perkins.
He named his creation after her back in 1901, fostering a trend
for naming roses after people.  The vigorous plant immediately began to win
prizes and become so famous and popular that the H. P. Newman Stores in
England changed its
name to Dorothy

a hundred years later, the name Dorothy
is still emblazoned on shopfronts the length and
breadth of


Perkins Names

  • William Perkins was one of the leaders of
    the Puritan movement in the Church of England
    during Elizabethan times. 
  • Colonel T. H. Perkins was a wealthy Boston merchant
    who traded as far as China in the early 19th 
  • Anthony Perkins was an American actor best known for
    his role as Norman Bates in Alfred 
    Hitchcock’s Psycho
  • Carl Perkins was an American singer-songwriter
    from Tennessee who was called the King
    of Rockabilly. His best-known song is Blue Suede Shoes.

Select Perkins Numbers Today

  • 24,000 in the UK (most numerous
    in Essex)
  • 47,000 in America (most numerous in Texas)
  • 10,000 elsewhere (most numerous in Australia)


Select Perkins and Like Surnames

Many surnames originated from SW England, the principal counties there being Devon and Cornwall, Somerset and Gloucestershire.  These are some of the prominent and noteworthy surnames that you can check out.




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