Perry/Parry Surname Genealogy

Perry and Parry surnames have two principal origins, one Welsh and the

  • the Welsh
    derivation is the patronymic ap
    or ap Herry
    (from the personal names
    Harry or Herry, a form of Henry). These names compressed to Parry
    and Perry on the Welsh borders and in north Wales. The names
    Harris and Harries stuck more in
    south Wales.
  • the English (and Scottish) derivation is locational, describing
    who owned or lived by a pear tree (pirige
    in Old English which derives from the Latin pirum or pear). In
    England, the surname came out initially as Pery or Pury and later in
    17th century as Perry, in NE Scotland it was Pirie.

Perry and Parry do come from different roots. But they can get
mixed up in their travels:

Resources on

Perry/Parry Ancestry

Wales. The first
recording of this Welsh patronym was John ap Harry in 1407 in the
county of Herefordshire. The Parrys of Golden Valley in
Herefordshire date from a little later. Among their number were
Sir Thomas Parry and Blanche Parry, both confidantes of Elizabeth
I. A related Parry family was to be found across the border at
Llandefailog Tre’r Graig in Breconshire and other Parrys cropped up in
nearby Monmouthshire.

North Wales.
Parrys were to be found in greater numbers in north Wales. Some
of them became well-known as poets and musicians. The Parrys from
Henllan near Denbigh in present day Clwyd were an early family and
included the 16th
century diarist Robert Parry and, later, a Quaker emigrant to America:

“Thomas Parry or Thomas ap Harry, a
weaver who bought this land, was the son of Harry ap Rees of Henllan
parish and came to Pennsylvania from Llanelwith in Radnor, bringing a
certificate of membership from the Radnor Quarterly Meeting dated May
5, 1699.”

Moses Parry lived in the village in the early 19th century. His
daughter Elizabeth bore an illegitimate child who became in later life
the African explorer Henry Stanley. He it was who uttered the
immortal words: “Dr. Livingstone I presume!”

In the 17th century a Parry family from Shropshire
had established themselves at Madryn Park. They
subsequently became the Love Jones-Parrys, one of whom in the 1880’s
helped start up the new Welsh settlement in Patagonia.

Many Parrys
migrated in the 19th century to Lancashire, while others left for more
distant parts. John Parry, for instance, set off in 1849 with a
hundred Welsh Mormons for the new Salt Lake settlement in Utah.

The west country is the home of the fermented pear drink Perry
and also for many Perrys.

SW England
Perrys in Devon started with Roger Pery,
a trader of Spanish wines in Exeter in the 1530’s. By the 1690’s,
Perry of this family had emerged as a tobacco merchant in
London (his family history is recounted in Jacob Price’s 1992 book Perry of London). When
Micajah died in 1721, his firm was the leading tobacco merchant of his
day. But subsequent trading and shipping losses brought down the
company some thirty years later.

There were
also early Pery/Pury sightings in Gloucestershire, Wiltshire, Dorset
and Hampshire. By the 19th century, the largest number of Perrys
in the west country were in
Somerset. One family record there goes back to 1715 and the
village of
Kingsdon in south Somerset. Later Perrys were in and
around Taunton.

Essex Another
grouping of Perrys was in Essex. Perry was recorded
as a surname from the late 16th century in villages near Colchester
such as Lexden and Copford. One family record dates from a Thomas
Pery who was born in Lexden in 1593. Another Perry family (traced
by James Perry in his A Perry Family
from West Essex
) descended from an Abraham Perry of Epping
in the 1660’s.

But the biggest cluster of Perrys was in Staffordshire and
in the neighboring county of Warwickshire. The root here may not
have been the pear tree but the Latin parva
meaning “small” (from which came the Perry of Perry Barr on the
outskirts of Birmingham). Perrys prominent in the 19th century
from this area were:

  • Thomas Perry, the founder (in
    1806) of the Thomas Perry & Co ironworks in Bilston
  • his son Frederick, who lived nearby at Dunston Hall
  • and Thomas Perry the
    horticulturist, who resided at Bitham House in Warwickshire.

Ireland. Perry in Ireland is an English
implant. The first Perry appears
to have been a Captain George Perry of Gloucester who settled in
couinty Clare
in 1639. Richard Perry arrived from Devon with Cromwell in 1658
and took up lands in Tipperary. His descendants became gentry
families in Tipperary (Woodrooff and Kilboy) and in county Cork.

There were also Protestant Perrys in the north, in Tyrone and county
Down. James Perry of Perrymount, born around 1670, was the
progenitor of a long-lasting family in county Down.

America. Early Perrys
were to be found in New England.

New England.
Edmund and Sarah
arrived with their ten children from Devon in 1637 and settled in
Sandwich, Massachusetts. One of his sons, Edward, was a Quaker
and his family later moved to Rhode Island where there was greater
religious tolerance. From this family came the remarkable naval
Perrys of Newport, Rhode Island. Their numbers included:

Other early arrivals into Massachusetts were John Perry who settled in
Roxbury in 1632 and another John Perry in Watertown (Bertram Adams’
1955 book Descendants of John Perry
of London
traced this lineage).

Elsewhere. In
Virginia, William

came there as early as 1611; and the Perry tobacco merchants of
London left Perrys in Isle of Wight county (including Phillip
Perry at his Whitemarsh plantation). A family tradtion is that
seven brothers of this family (William, Nathaniel, Francis, Joshua,
Jeremiah, John, and Burrell) departed Virginia for North Carolina in
the 1740’s.

New Hope in Pennsylvania grew up around the lumber mills that Benjamin
Parry, the son of a Welsh Quaker, had constructed on the river
banks. Benjamin built his home there, Parry Mansion, in
1784. The house stayed with his descendants until 1966.

There have also been Perry families in the South. One family
record traces the family of Joseph Perry from North Carolina to Georgia
and Florida. Another North Carolina Perry family, the descendants
of Joshua Perry of Warren county, went to Texas. Franklin Perry
also ended up in Texas and his son Alexander became a wealthy landowner
in Dallas. Rick Perry, Governor of Texas, is
descended from farmers who had arrived in Texas from Alabama in the

India. Parry became a
household name in Chennai (formerly Madras) due to Thomas Parry from
north Wales who set himself up as a merchant there in the 1780’s.
His name has been handed down through Parry’s Corner in Chennai’s
central business

Australia. Both Perrys and
Parrys came to Australia
as convicts and later as free
settlers. Joseph Perry arrived in Sydney in 1885 as a
Salvationist but later emerged as one of the pioneers of film-making in
Australia. His three sons all became early cinema managers.

Perry/Parry Miscellany

If you would like to read more, click on the miscellany page for
further stories and accounts:

Select Perry/Parry Names

Parry was lady in waiting and confidante to Queen Elizabeth I.
John Parry, born blind in
Ruabon near Wrexham, was one of Wales’s finest harpists.
was the US naval commodore who with his four black ships
compelled the opening of
Japan in 1854.
Stephen Perry was the 19th
century British inventor who developed the rubber band.
Sir Charles Parry was the
English composer best known for his choral song Jerusalem.
Fred Perry from Stockport in
Cheshire was three-times Wimbledon tennis champion in the 1930’s.
Gaylord Perry from North
Carolina won 314 games as a pitcher during his 22 year baseball
career. His 1974 autobiography was called Me and the Spitter.

Select Perrys/Parrys

  • 81,000 in the UK (most numerous
    in Cheshire)
  • 85,000 in America (most numerous
    in California).
  • 43,000 elsewhere (most numerous in Canada).




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