This great and noble surname is English. Borne by the Earls of Morley and Macclesfield; the Barons of Boringdon and Monteagle, and having more than sixty Coats of Arms, it is ultimately of French occupational origins. It described an official in charge of the extensive hunting parks of a king or wealthy landowner. The derivation is from the words "parchier" or "parquier" meaning "park- keeper". The surname was first recorded in Englnd in the latter half of the 11th Century following the 1066 Norman Invasion, and as such was one of the very earliest surnames on record. Only five percent of the entries in the great Domesday Book of 1086 show people having surnames, and this is one of them...
Parker (Variants: Parkar, Parkers) – An occupational name, also used to describe an officer who had the surveillance of a park for some royal or noble personage, Parkers were employed by noblemen who held large estates that needed the grounds of the estate or castle maintained. Similarly, an occupational name for a gamekeeper employed in a medieval park, from an agent derivative of Middle English parc ‘park’ or a person employed to look after deer and other game in a hunting park.
A 'nosey parker' describes someone who can’t mind his own business. The origin from sixteenth-century English clergyman Matthew Parker, Archbishop of Canterbury under Queen Elizabeth I, whose critics dubbed him ‘Nosey Parker’ as he kept poking his nose into church matters that weren’t his concern.
The surname was first found in the Domesday Book in 1086 where Anschetil Parcher was found in Somerset. Another early occurence, Thomas Parker the elder, 1456 in Feet of Fines (Lullingstone, Kent). In 1891, the general population was widespread with a frequency of 58,085 in England and Wales and 1,524 in Scotland.
In 1881, it was recorded as a top surname by occurrence in the Bristol area of Gloucestershire. It was also a top surname in Kent with a popular 1,996 occurrences. In the same year, Farmer, Agricultural Labourer and Labourer were the top 3 reported jobs worked by Parker in the UK. The most common Parker occupation was Farmer and a less common occupation was Coal Miner.
An English convict Edward Parker from Somerset was transported aboard the "Asia" on July 29th 1823, settling in Van Diemen's Land, Australia. One the same voyage, another English convict William Parker from Somerset also settling in Van Diemen’s Land, Australia.
SOURCES: 1881, 1891 Census
1881 Census in Bristol
1881 Cencus in Kent
Dictionary of American Family Homes, P Hanks OUP 2003
Homes of Family Names in Great Britain, H.B. Guppy, London 1890
The Oxford Dictionary of Family Names in Britain and Ireland, P.Hanks, Coats, McClure OUP 2016
1860 Lower, Mark A Patronymica Britannica: a dictionary of the family names of the United Kingdom, London: J.R Smith. Public Domain
1857 Arthur, William An Etymological Dictionary of Family and Christian Names. New York: Sheldon, Blakeman. Public Domain