Recorded in several spellings including Panketh, Penketh, Pankethman, Panketman, Pankettman, Penkman, Penkethman, and possibly others, this is an English surname of great antiquity. It is locational from a village called Penketh, and formerly an ancient manor, in the parish of Prescot, in the county of Lancashire. The probable meaning is the 'wood on the hill' with pen meaning hill, although other explanations are possible. The famous Victorian etymologist Canon Charles Bardsley writing in the year 1880 stated that the name Penketh with the suffix 'man' was occupational, and described a friend or servant of a man called Penketh. However we think it more likely that whilst it was a nickname it described literally a person from Penketh. The earliest known recording of the name may be that of Jordan de Penketh of Lancashire in the year 1362, whilst Thomas Penketh was described as being a famous Scottish doctor and a monk at Warrington in the year 1487. The surname as Penkethman is also recorded in the same town of Warrington with that of Richard Penkethman, given as being a husbandman or farmer, in 1593, whilst John Pankethman was a christening witness at St Andrews Holborn, in the city of London in 1687.
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