Select Perkins Surname Genealogy

The 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. 

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England.  Osbert Parkins was said to have provided an early pedigree, possibly back to the 1100ís.  By the 14th century both the Parkins (or Parkyns) and the Perkins (or Perkyns) names were to be found, although the former 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 1400ís
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 1670ís.
  • 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.
Many of the early Perkins lines were recorded in Mansfield Parkynsí 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 1600ís.  Sir William Perkins was a wealthy Chertsey merchant in Surrey who founded the school named after him there in 1725.

The Perkins of Pilston near Llandogo, across the border in Monmouthshire, date from the 1570ís, 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. Davidís, starting in the 1600ís.  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 Diary of a Gentleman Farmer in the Vale of Glamorgan, 1788-1801 was published and has been preservedThere was also a long-established Perkins family at Rhos-y-Gelli in the Gower Peninsula.

Many 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 Ipswich, Massachusetts. 
His grand-daughter Mary was among those accused of witchcraft during the hysteria of the Salem trials and, although convicted, managed to escape punishment. 

John Perkinsí descendants remained in Ipswich for the next two hundred years, although a branch of the family did depart for Maine in the 1760ís.   Another line
led to a distinguished family of lawyers in Hartford, Connecticut:
  • they started with Enoch Perkins in the early 1800ís and then ran to Thomas, Charles, and Arthur in the next three generations.  
  • while the women in this family were equally distinguished.  Enochís 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.
George Perkinsí 1889 book The Family of John Perkins of Ipswich 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 sites. 

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

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

"In 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, Massachusetts.Ē 

Edwardís genealogy was recounted in Judge Paul Perkinsí 1980 book
Genealogy and History of One Branch of the Perkins Family.

There 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.

His line did lead to James Perkins, a Boston merchant who founded the family fortunes in the 1760ís, and to James and Thomas Handasyd Perkins of the China trading 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 time.

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

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

ďThe 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.Ē

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 no evidence that this was true. 

Richard Perkins arrived in Maryland from Devon in 1674 (some have him being transported 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 marauded Maryland and Virginia in the 1750ís.  A later Ute Perkins, who fought with the North Carolina militia during the Revolutionary War, was a pioneer settler in Hancock county, Illinois in 1826.  Moses Perkins, who also fought in the War, ended up in Georgia

  Early 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 the 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.  Samuelís descendants celebrated the bicentennial of his arrival in 1992.

Select Perkins Miscellany

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

Select Perkins Names

William Perkins was one of the leaders of the Puritan movement in the Church of England during Elizabethan times.
 T. H. Perkins was a wealthy Boston
merchant who traded as far as China in the early 19th century.
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 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)

PS.  You might want to check out the surnames page on this website.  It covers surname genealogy in this and companion websites for more than 800 surnames.

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