Origin, Meaning and Family History of the Perkins Name
Perkins Surname Name Meaning, Origin, History, & Etymology
This is a baptismal or patronymic surname meaning “the son of Peter” from the nickname or pet form Perkin or Parkin, with the diminutive termination kins added. Peter is an ancient Biblical masculine personal (first) name derives from the Latin word petra and the Greek word petros, as name popularized by throughout Europe and Christendom during medieval times and the Middle Ages by Saint Peter (30-68 AD), one of the Twelve Apostles of Jesus Christ. The name reached Britain when returning Crusaders who brought the name back from the Holy Land. It can also be patronymic for Piers or Pierre as well, the French version of Peter. A second origin theory is that it derives from the French word parc, and hence it was an occupational surname denoting a person for a keeper of royal hunting grounds.
Some less common spelling variants or names with similar etymologies include Parkins, Purkins, Perkin, Pearkins, Perkiins, Perkinns, Peerkins, Perkines, Perekins, Perkiens, and others. Similar foreign names include Perch (Danish), and Perk (German/Dutch).
Popularity & Geographic Distribution
The last name Perkins ranks 212nd in popularity in the United Status as of the 2000 Census. The name ranks particularly high in the following seven states: Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, and Utah.
The surname Perkins frequency/commonness ranks as follows in the British Isles: England (345th), Scotland (1,087th), Wales (177th), Ireland (1,885th) and Northern Ireland (1,670th). In England, it ranks highest in counties Northampton, Worcestershire, and Herefordshire. In Scotland, the surname Perkins ranks highest in Clackmannanshire. In Wales, it ranks highest in Pembrokeshire and Carmarthenshire. In Ireland, it ranks highest in county Tipperary. In Northern Ireland, it ranks highest in Antrtim.
The name is also present throughout the remainder English speaking world: Canada (1,135th), New Zealand (544th), Australia (383th), and South Africa (2,614th).
The 1890 book Homes of Family Names by H.B. Guppy, states the following in regard to this surname: “Confined mostly to the southern half of England, being most numerous in Warwickshire, Worcestershire, and South Wales”.
Early Bearers of the Surname
Robert Parkyn of Stafford was documented in the County Rolls of 1327 AD. John Perkyn was documented in Somerset in 1327 AD in Kirby’s Quest. Walter Perkyns was recorded in the Subsidy Rolls of Worcestershire in 1327 AD. An early marriages involving this surname was John Perkins to Penelope Vaughan at St. Dunstan’s in the Easey, Stepney, London in 1599 AD.
Perkins Family Tree & Perkins Genealogy
Perkins of Orton Hall
The lineage of this family traces back to the Perkins who were originally settled in county Warwick, where they became owners of the manors of Orton-on-the-Hill, Morebarne, Beanhills, and The Westons, which they procured during the reign of King Charles II of England (1660-1685). The discussion of the Perkins genealogy begins with John Steele, an Esquire who purchased the Leicester estatesand married Sarah, daughter of Edward Nicolls of Hendon, and had two daughters with her: Theodosia (married Sir Charles Bromfield) and Sarah Steele. The later married Reverend John Perkins, the Vicar of Orton and Rector of Kislingbury, county Northampton, and had a son with him named John. John was an Esquire who married Elizabeth, daughter of and co-heir of Richard Farmer of Witherly, and he had a son with her named Samuel. This Samuel Steele Perkins was an Esquire who married Mary, daughter and co-heir of Joseph Shirley, an Esquire of Burton-on-Trent. He in turn had a son named Shirley Farmer Steele Perkins, who was an Esquire of Orton Hall and Suttol Coldfield who was born in 1768. He was a Justice of the Peace, Deputy Lieutenant, and Barrioster-at-Law. In 1793, he married Elizabeth, daughter and heiress of Joseph Duncombe, Esquire of Sutton Coldfield, Warwick, and had issue with her as follows: Shirley Steele, Duncombe Steele, William Steele, and Elizabeth Steele (married Stanley Pipe Whoherstan). His son Reverend Duncombe Steele Perkins of Orton Hall, county Leicester, England, was born in 1795. In 1827, he married Anne, daughter of Josiah Gist of Wormington Grange, and had issue with her: Duncombe Steele, a Justice of the Peace who was born in county Warwick in 1838 and a Lieutenant in the Leicestershire Yeomanry Cavalry. The Perkins Coat of Arms (mistakenly called the Perkins Family Crest) is blazoned in heraldry as follows: Sable, an eagle displayed on a canton of the last, a fess dancette of the first. Crest: Out of a ducal coronet or, a unicorn’s head argent. Motto: Touhours loyale. The family was seated at Orton Hall, Atherstone.
Perkins of Sutton Coldfield
William Steele Perkins, Esquire of Sutton Coldfield, the second surviving son of Shirley Farmer Perkins Steele (discussed above) was born in 1799. In 1825, he married Sarah Penelope, daughter of Ruper Chawner, and had several daughters with her and three sons. His sons were George Duncombe, Edmund Steel, and Charles Steele. His son George Duncombe Perkins was an Esquire of Sutton Coldfield in county Warwick, England who was born in 1835. He became a Lieutenant colonel of the 2nd Warwickshire Militia. This branch of the Perkins family tree bore the same arms as Perkins of Orton.
Other Perkins Pedigree & Family Trees
The first known/recorded ancestor of this family was Pierre/Peter/Petrus de Morlaix or Morrley, who was known as Peter Morley, the Senechal or high steward to Hugh Depenser, who was born in Morlaix, Finistere, Brittany, France in 1303 AD. He married Agnes Alice Taylor, daughter of Sir John Taylifer, and had four sons with her: Henry, William, Thomas, and John. His son Henry Perkins (or Pierrekin) was born in Ufton, Berkshire, England around 1340 AD. He married Bessie Evala Spier and had issue with her. The following is a pedigree from him, beginning with his son John (he also had sons named William and Thomas):
John Perkins or Parkyns (born in Ufton Nervet, West Berkshire in 1360 AD)
William Perkins, Lord of Ufton (born in Madresfield, Worcestershire in 1380 AD)
Thomas Perkins (or Perkyns or Parkyns), Esquire (born in Madresfield, England in 1397 AD)
William Henry Perkins, Sr. (born in Ufton Parish in 1430 AD)
Thomas Perkins (Ufton Parish, Hillmorton around 1475 AD)
Henry Perkins (born in Hillmorton, England around 1500 AD)
Thomas Perkins or Perkyns (Hillmorton around 1527 AD)
Henry Perkins (Hillmorton 1555 AD)
John Perkins (born in Hillmorton, Rugby, 1570 AD). He went to colonial America. He married Judith Gater and had issue with her: Ann (Doane), John M., Elizabeth (Sargent), Mary Bradbury, Thomas, Sergeant Jacob, and Lydia Bennett.
Another pedigree provided by Osbert Parkins dates back to the 1100s AD.
A Welsh branch of the family was Perkins of Pilston next to Llandogo who date back to the 1570s AD, with the progenitor of this line being William Ap Perkin from the north of Wales. A one Christopher Perkins was Sheriff of Monmouthshire 1666 AD.
The earliest arrival in New England was John Perkyns, who came to Boston, MA with his family in 1631 and they later made their home in Ipswich. His family remained there for the next two hundred years. However, one line went to Maine in the 1760s and another became a family of lawyers in Hartford, Connecticut.
Early American and New World Settlers
The book Genealogical Guide to the Early Settlers, mentions two bearers of this last name:
1) Abraham Perkins of Hampton, with wife Mary, had issue named Mary and Abraham who were baptized in 1639. He also had Humphrey (1642), James (1647), Timothy (1650), James, Jonathan, David, Abigail, Timothy, Sarah (1659), Humphrey (1661), Caleb, and Luke.
2) Benjamin Perkins of Newbury, CT, who had a son named Daniel in 1684
3) Edmund Perkins, Boston, 1675, married Susanna, widow of John Howlett, daughter of Francis Hudson, had Edmund (1678), John (1680), Edmund (1683), and Jane (1687)
4) Edward Perkins of New Haven, Connecticut married, in 1650, Elizabeth Butcher, and had issue with her named John (1651), Mehitable (1652), Jonathan (1653), David (1656) and others.
5) Eleazer Perkins of Hampton in 1678
6) Isaac Perkins who was of Hampton, likely the brother of Abraham, who was a freeman in 1642 and married a woman named Susanna, and had issue named Lydia, Isaac (1639), Jacob, Lydia, Rebecca, Daniel, Caleb, Benjamin (1650), Susanna (1652), Hannah (1656), Mary (1658), Ebenezer, and Joseph (1661).
7) Jacob Perkins of Ipswich, youngest son of John, was born in England and with his wife Elizabeth, he had issue named Elizabeth (1650), John (1654), Judith (1655), Mary (1658), Jacob, Mathew, Joseph, and Jabez. He died in 1701 at the age of 76. He was usually called Sergeant.
8) Jacob Perkins of Edgartown, 1674
9) John Perkins of Ipswich who was born in 1590, at Newent in county Gloucester, England, likely came in 1631 to Boston, Massachusetts aboard the Lion, with Roger Williams, bringing his wife Judith, and had issue named John, Mary, Elizabeth, and likely others. He was a representative in 1636. He died in 1654. He had sons named Jacon (1624) and Lydia (married a member of the Bennet family)
10) Jonathan Perkins of Norwalk, 1671
11) Thomas Perkins of Dover, 1665, who was born in Dover in 1665 and gave land to his son Nathaniel in 1693. He took an oath of fidelity in 1669.
12) William Perkins of Roxbury, MA was a minister and was the son of William, of London, merchant tailor, and grandson of George of Warwick. He was born in 1607. His son received a grant of 400 acres of land. He came aboard the William and Francis from London in 1632. He served in an artillery company in 1638. In 1636, he married Elizabeth Wootton, and had issue with her named William, Elizabeth, Tobijah, Catharine, John (1655), Sarah (1657), Timothy (1658), Rebecca (1662).
13) William Perkins of Dover, 1662, was born in 1616 and died at Newmarket in 1732. He took an oath of fidelity in 1669.
Martin Perkins, age 18, came to Virginia aboard the Glove in August 1635. Roberts Perkins, age 25, came to Virginia aboard the Safety in August 1635. William Perkins came to New England in March 1631. Other early settlers in colonial America bearing this surname include: Francis Perkins (Jamestown, Virginia, 1607), Thomas Perkins (Virginia 1701), Peter Perkins (Philadelphia 1746), John Perkins (Maryland 1757), and Richard Perkins (New York 1791).
In Canada, one of the first bearers with this name was Robert Perkins (a United Empire Loyalist, which was an American who remained loyal to the British Crown during the American Revolution and moved to Canada) who came to Port Roseway, Shelbourne, Nova Scotia in October 1783 aboard the HMS Clinton from Staten Island, New York. In Australia, one of the first settlers with this last name was John Perkins, a convict from Surrey, England who came to New South Wales (then a penal colony) aboard the Asia in 1824. In New Zealand, John and Henry Perkins, plumbers by occupation aged 28 and 22, respectively, came in 1874 aboard the Golden Sea, arriving in the city of Wellington.
Early Americans Bearing the Perkins Family Crest
Charles Bolton’s American Armory (1927) contains three entries for this surname:
1) Argent a fess indented ermine bet in chief 4 billets of the second and in base 6 billets 3, 2, 1 Crest: a pineapple stalked and leaved [vert]. Bookplate George A. Perkins, M. D., Salem, 1880. Also sketch from Harriet Herring, Spray, N. C., “from drawing or wall plaque,” with motto “Toujours loyale”.
2) Argent a fess indented bet 10 billets ermines 4, 3, 2, 1. No crest On 3 silver tea caddies owned by the Misses Loring, 32 Mt. Vernon St., Boston.
3) Vert a chevron argent bet 3 ostrich feathers erect [argent] Crest: a demi-man holding 3 ostrich feathers in his dexter hand. Engr. on flagon from Christr. Perkins, about 1764. Christ Church, Norfolk, Va. Old Sil. Am. Ch., p. 343.
Matthew’s American Armoury and Bluebook (1907) contains one entry for this name:
1) John Perkins, born in 1590, lived in Gloucestershire, England and then settled in Ipswich, Massachusetts in 1654 AD. His arms were blazoned as follows: Or, a fesse dancettee between ten billets ermine. Crest: A pineapple proper stalked and leaved vert.
Crozier’s General Armory (1904) does not contain an entry for this last name.
I have identified four Perkins family mottos:
1) Toujours loyale (Always loyal)
2) Simplex vigilum verI (An honest one of the sentinels of truth)
3) Ne nimis altus (Not too high)
4) A spe in spem (In hope of eternal life)
We have 15 coats of arms for the Perkins surname depicted here. These two blazons are from Bernard Burke’s book The General Armory of England, Ireland, and Scotland, which was published in 1848. The bottom of this page contains the blazons, and in many instances contains some historical, geographical, and genealogical about where coat of arms was found and who bore it. People with this last name that bore an Perkins Coat of Arms (or mistakenly called the Family Crest)
1) A.F. Perkins of Oakdene, Capel, county Surrey, 1891
2) James Perkins of Water Lane, London, and Doddington Lodge, Newington, county Surrey, 1881.
There are hundreds of notable people with the Perkins surname. This page will mention a handful. Famous people with this last name include: 1) Al Perkins (1944) who is an American guitarist born in De Kalb, Texas who was an influential musician in the folk, country, and bluegrass genres, 2) Carl Lee Perkins (1932-1998) who was an American singer-songwriter from Tiponville, Tennessee who recorded at the famous Sun Studios in Memphis, Tennessee, best known for his song “Blue Suede Shoes”, personifying the rockabilly song, 3) Bishop Perkins (1841-1894) who was a United States Senator from Kansas and a member of the U.S. House of Representatives from Kansas who was born in Rochester, Ohio, 4) Carl Dewey Perkins (1912-1984) who was a Democrat member of the U.S. House of Representatives from Kentucky who served from 1949-1984, 5) Edwin Elijah Perkins (1899-1961) who was the inventor of Kool-Aid, who was born in Lewis, Iowa, 6) Elisa Perkins (1741-1799) who was a United States physician who created a therapy known as Perkins Patent Tractors and was born in Norwich, Connecticut, 7) William Thomas Perkins Jr. (1947-1967) who was a United States Marine born in Rochester, New York who received the Medal of Honor for smothering an exploding grenade with his body to save three of his fellow Marines during the Vietnam War, 8) William Perkins (1558-1602) who was an influential English cleric and Cambridge theologian who was born in Marston Jabbet, Warwickshore who was one of the foremost leader of the Puritan movement during the Elizabethan era, 9) Troy Perkins (1981) is a retired American soccer player from Springfield, Ohio who was the MLS goalkeeper of the year, who played for a variety of teams in the US, Canada, and Norway, and 10) Thomas Perkins (1932) who is an American capitalist and businessmen from White Plains, New York who founded the venture capital firm Kleiner Perkins Caulfield & Byers.
1) (Upton Court, co. Berks, Teddington, co. Middlesex). Or, a fesse dancettée betw. six billets ermines. Crest—A pineapple ppr. stalked and leaved vert.
2) (Orton Hall, co. Leicester, and Sutton Coldfield, co. Warwick). Sa. an eagle displ. ppr. on a canton ar. a fesse dancettée of the first. Crest—A unicorn’s head issuing out of a ducal coronet. Motto—Toujours loyale.
3) (co. Lincoln). Vert a chev. betw. three ostrich feathers ar. a bordure or.
4) (co. Lincoln). Ar. (another, or) a fesse dancettée betw. ten billets ermines, four, three, two, and one.
5) (Bunney, co. Nottingham). Ar. an eagle displ. sa. on a canton or, a fesse dancettée between six billets ermines. Crest—A pineapple ppr. stalked and leaved vert.
6) (Nuneaton, co. Warwick). Ar. a lion pass. sa. betw. three fleurs-de-lis gu. Crest—A lion pass. sa. holding in the paw a fleur-de-lis gu. Motto—Simplex vigilum veri.
7) (Marston, co. Warwick). Gu. two chev. betw. three escallops ar. Crest—Out of a ducal coronet or, a unicorn's head erm. maned and horned gold.
8) (granted by Roberts, Ulster, 1646, to Richard Perkins, J.P. co Donegal, soil and heir of Thomas Perkins, Esq., also J.P. of same co.). Ar. an eagle displ. sa. membered and beaked gu. on a canton of the second a fess indented or, a crescent for diff. Crest—A demi eagle displ. sa. Motto—Ne nimis altus.
9) (of Pilston, Monmouthshire) Or, a bend dancettee between six billets, sable. (Source: Welsh Heraldry by Siddons?)
10) Arg a fess indented erm bet in chief 4 billets of the second and in base 6 billets 3, 2, 1 Crest: a pineapple stalked and leaved [vert]. Bookplate George A. Perkins, M. D., Salem, 1880. Also sketch from Harriet Herring, Spray, N. C., "from drawing or wall plaque," with motto "Toujours loyale". (Source: Bolton's American Armory).
11) Arg a fess indented bet 10 billets ermines 4, 3, 2, 1. No crest On 3 silver tea caddies owned by the Misses Loring, 32 Mt. Vernon St., Boston. (Source: Bolton's American Armory).
12) Vert a chev arg bet 3 ostrich feathers erect [arg] Crest: a demi-man holding 3 ostrich feathers in his dexter hand. Engr. on flagon from Christr. Perkins, about 1764. Christ Church, Norfolk, Va. Old Sil. Am. Ch., p. 343. (Source: Bolton's American Armory).
13) (co. Worcester, Harl. MSS.). Ar. an eagle displ. sa. on a canton of the last a fess dancettée or. Crest—An antelope sejant sa. tufted, armed, and maned ar. Motto—A spe in spem.
14) Erm. on a fesse gu. three annulets or. Crest—A stag lodged ppr.
15) Or, a fesse indented betw. eight billets ermines.