This very interesting medieval surname is Anglo-Scottish, but of French origins. Recorded as Park and Parke, the patronymics Parkes, Parks and the rare occupational Parkman, it describes a person employed in or at a "park". This was not an area of flowers and walks, but a fenced hunting ground, kept specially for the use of royalty and nobility, and for which there were serious penalties for unauthrised entry. The derivation is from the pre 10th century French word "parc" introduced into England and Scotland after the Norman-French invasion of 1066.The keeper of the park was a position of great status and trust, and such keepers had considerable powers of arrest and punishment. Not surprisingly the surname is one of the earliest recorded and examples include Iselota atte Park of the county of Kent in 1285, and Henry del Parks of Worcestershire in 1304. Amongst the many recordings of the name is that of Thomas Parkes, who on February 24th 1624 is recorded as 'living in Virginea' making him one of the very earliest settlers to the New England colonies. The famous Scottish explorer, Mungo Park, (1771 - 1806), led two expeditions to trace the source of the Niger in Africa, and published an account of his adventures, "Travels", in 1799. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Henry del Parck. This was dated 1272, in the Assize Court rolls of Staffordshire, during the reign of King Edward 1st of England, 1272 - 1307. Throughout the centuries, surnames in every country have continued to "develop" often leading to astonishing variants of the original spelling.
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