SCT-ROYAL-L ArchivesArchiver > SCT-ROYAL > 2001-04 > 0986214188
From: james parkhill <>
Subject: Parkhill surname.
Date: Mon, 2 Apr 2001 06:23:08 -0600
I know you are doing the royal lines of Scotland, but thought I might ask
about the origin of my name, not delving really into family geneology. I
have done quite well regarding this Scottish family but would like to
know the origin of the Parkhill name. What I know is that the origin of
the PARKHILL name is rather obscure.
Genevieve Parkhill Lykes relates in her book, "A GIFT OF HERITAGE", that
'"The origin of the Parkhills is a romantic legend. About 1640 a ship,
supposedly French, was wrecked in the English Channel. The only survivor
was a child too young to talk. He was adopted by a resident of Torquay,
England, and named PARKHILL, after his foster father's home place "PARK
ON THE HILL." Grown to manhood, he lived in Faversham, Kent, where he
married an English woman. He is known to have had two sons, who married
Scottish wives and founded the Parkhill line of Glasgow and Paisley,
Scotland. They lived for a time in Scotland and served as field officers
under William III, Prince of Orange. They were awarded lands in the
County's Autrie and Derry, Ireland for gallantry in action at the Battle
of the Boyne. The brother who settled in Londonderry was the grandfather
of our great-grandfather, John, who ran away from home to America because
he did not want to be a Presbyterian minister." pp. 1-2
To add to the story, is that an old man and his sister, both unmarried,
lived on a beautiful estate overlooking TorBay near Torquay, Devonshire,
England. One night a storm came up and a ship was wrecked. In the
morning, on the shore was found a dead woman apparently a nurse and a
young child who apparently was too young to talk or could only speak a
few words in French. He, however, was dressed accordingly and a locket
showing the French nobility. All efforts to locate his friends were in
vain and the old couple who gave him the name of their estate called
PARK-HILL MANOR brought him up. A map of Torquay, published by A.C. Black
of London, in 1842 shows PARK-HILL MANOR to be on PARK HILL Road in South
Devonshire. This legend has been handed down since middle seventeenth
century and has probably lost many important facts In 1632 Alice Parkhill
and Henry Ainsworth of Lancashire had a son, James. This would have been
a joyous occasion except for two things. Alice and Henry were not
married, and Henry was the nephew of the author of the Presbyterian
hymnal, which would make a child out of wedlock a little embarrassing.
They married two years later, but James never took the name Ainsworth.
James moved to Faversham. Did James make up the orphan story? There is no
proof but it sure sounds more credible than a seven-year-old orphan that
washed ashore who might have come from France. The farthest that one can
trace back is our lineage is to the father of the four brothers who
emigrated around 1740. Their fathers' name was James and he lived in
Carnmoney, County Antrim, Ireland.
A letter dated June 19, 1995, addressed from P.J. Bottrill, County
Librarian of South Devon Area, in Torquay to a Mrs. S. Walker, a
descendant of Nathaniel Parkhill "Thank you for your recent letter to the
Imperial Hotel, Torquay, which has been passed to me for attention. I am
able to confirm the existence of Park Hill House, Torquay. This is in
Park Hill Road but has been called Park Hall for some seventy years,
which explains why your contact at the hotel did not know it.
Unfortunately, Park Hill House is something of a false lead, as it only
dates from around 1820. Prior to this Park Hill (the area on which is
stands) had not buildings at all.... One possible clue is that during the
sixteenth and seventeenth centuries Park Hill belonged to the manor of
Torwood, which was at that time in the hands of the Ridgeway family
(later the Earls of Londonderry). It is quite possible (although again
very difficult to prove) that the child may have been washed ashore under
Park Hill, which is on the coast, and subsequently adopted, by the
Ridgeways of the day. Certainly, Sir Thomas Ridgeway, who became the
first Earl of Londonerry in 1623, was important in Ireland under James I.
This may have some bearing on your family's service under William III at
the Boyne." Sir Thomas Ridgeway (c.1565-1631), a Devon man, who was
treasurer in Ireland from 1606 to 1616 was engaged in the plantation of
According to a letter I received from Forbes Parkhill dated April 16,
1968 he quotes the following: "According to many members of the
family, all Parkhill's are descended from the survivor of a shipwreck
near Torquay, England in 1640. His descendants settled in Scotland and
the north of England, where many still live. Many more have migrated to
the United States and Canada, and a few are found in Australia, China and
South Africa. THERE IS, HOWEVER, SOME EVIDENCE TO INDICATE THAT THE FAMLY
NAME TRACES BACK TO A ROBERT PARKHILL WHO LIVED IN GLASGOW IN 1605."
Even Forbes Parkhill admits in this letter to me, that the name goes back
to 1605 in Scotland NOT 1640 in England.
According to a letter from the SCOTS ANCESTRY RESEARCH SOCIETY, to me,
dated Sept.20, 1968 it states: "With reference to your inquiry about the
surname Parkhill, we have now consulted George F. Blacks authoritative
work THE SURNAMES OF SCOTLAND which states that the name originated from
the lands of Parkhill in the barony of Tarboltoun, Ayrshire. It is found
in Scottish records as early as 1605, but it does not appear in the
published list of clans and clan septs."
THE SURNAMES OF SCOTLAND, by George F. Black, quotes the following:
"PARKHILL. From the lands of Parkhill in the barony of Torboulton,
Ayshire. Robert Parkhill, merchant in Glasgow, 1605.--Parkhill, servitor
to Sir George Elphinstone, was admitted burgess of Glasgow in 1631
(Burgesses). Patrick Parkhill, son to John Parkhill Neuckfuit, was a
witness in 1657 (Caldwell, p.291), and John Parkhill took the Test in
Paisley in 1626 (RPC.,3.sor.XI,p. 246). John Parkhill published "The
History of Paisley, 1857."
If one could estimate the age of births, and if a generation was anywhere
around 20 years, Robert Parkhill could have been born around 1585. The
Parkhill who was servitor to Sr. Elphinstone was likely born around
1600-11. John Parkhill, father of Patrick was born around 1617 and his
son Patrick was most likely born in 1637. The family could look like
this: Robert born in 1585, were the father of John Parkhill (1617) and
grandfather of Patrick (1637). This predates 1640. If the name was
established in 1605, it, therefore, must have been another name or
something close to it. Ayrshire, was a southwestern county of Scotland,
bounded on the north by Renfrewshire, on the east by Lanarkshire and
Dumfrieshire, on the southeast by Kirdcudbrightshire, on the south by
Wigtownshire, and on the west by the Firth of Clyde. Ayrshire formed part
of the kingdom of Strathclyde and ultimately passed under the sway of the
Northumbrian Kings, after the departure of the Romans. Save for sporadic
intertribal troubles, the records are silent until the battle of Largs in
1263, when the Scots under Alexander III crushed the pretensions of
Haakon of Norway to the sovereignty of the Isles. A generation later
William Wallace overwhelmed the English Garrison at Ardrossan, and burned
the barns of Ayr in which the forces of Edward 1st, were lodged. Robert
Bruce was purported to have been born at Turnberry Castle, some 12 m.
S.W. of Ayr and he held the title of Earl of Carrick. In 1307 he defeated
the English and Loudoun Hill. Cornwall demolished the castle of Androssan
and is said to have utilized the stones in rearing a fort at Ayr. Between
1660 and 1688 the sympathies of the country were almost wholly with the
Covenanters, who suffered one of their heaviest at Airds Moss.
According to a letter dated March 1, 1868 from James Hargreaves, manager
and possibly the owner of Parkhill Hotel in Lynhurst, England, to Doris
Weakley of Altadena, California: "The name was taken from the adjacent
'Enclosure' of the 'New Forest' which has been named since William II
took the whole area of Bournemouth, Salisbury, Winchester, Northampton as
his private hunting ground because he had a Palace in the hamlet of
Southampton and Winchester was his capital. The Forest is split into many
enclosures for purposes of afforestation, telling, and replanting.
Parkhill was built (as at present) in 1870 but buildings have been on
this leveted site for centuries as willing (old down that 5 wide area
should not be planted up so that he could pitch his tents in 5 difference
areas when he went hunting. Hence the name 'New Forest' as it was made a
'New' controlled area."
In 1969 Mr. Hargreaves replied back to my inquiry: "Thanks for your
letter on 'Parkhill', so far as the Ancient Archives shows, the enclosure
Parkhill has been so called from the day of William the Conqueror. The
Shipwrecked child was later, I presume than 1067? The house was obviously
named from the enclosure no other reason than I can think of."
In the 14th Edition of the ENCYCLOPAEDIA BRITANNICA, article "ABERDEEN",
P. 39, it quotes some interesting information: "The Vikings and Danes
periodically raided the coast, but when (1040) Macbeth ascended the
throne of Scotland, the Northmen, under the guidance of Thorfinn,
refrained from further trouble in the northeast. Macbeth was afterwards
slain at Lumphanan (1057), a cairn on PERKHILL marking the spot". A cairn
is a rounded heap or conical pile of stones. This is not too distant from
the name of PARKHILL. Macbeth was the Scottish monarch before Malcolm
The following is the reply from the Aberdeen Public Library, dated May
13th, 1970 is the following info: "Thank you for your recent letter about
Parkhill House, Dyce, near Aberdeen. Andrew Skene, fourth Laird of Dyce
purchased the lands and manor house of Clubsgoval in 1710, then in 1714,
he bought the adjoining property of Parkhill and built a house in a place
of the old one at Clubsgoval. The word PARKHILL means an enclosed hill.
On the death of Andrew in 1732, the estate passed to Alexander, a son; to
John in 1743 and to Andrew in 1747. Mary, the daughter of Andrew Skene,
married Robert Cumming of Birness and Leask, in the parish of Slaine,
Aberdeenshire. Their daughter became the wife of Dr. James Gordon of
Straloch and Pitlurg. The grandson of Dr. Gordon, General John Gordon who
adopted the name Gordon-Cumming, succeeded to Dyce in 1815 on the death
of Andrew Skene and his official name then because Gordon-Cumming-Skene
although he called himself simply Gordon. The property of Parkhill stayed
in the family until 1927 when the estate was divided up and sold. The
house was demolished in 1956."
What is really interesting and may not even prove anything is the
following information from a book written by John Irving, called HISTORY
OF DUMBARTONSHIRE, CASTLE, COUNTY AND BURGH,
" It is to this disturbed period that genealogists trace the rise of the
great House of Lennox. Among the Saxon Chiefs of Northumbria who were
driven north was one ARKIL, the son of Egfrith, who, having been defeated
in a last stand against William the Norman, found refuge at the Court of
Malcolm Canmore. He received a gift of the land generally described as
"Comitis de levenax," and his son or grandson, ALWYN, is the first Earl
of Lennox of whom we have any account. The date of his death is about
1155." p. 6
In APPENDIX A, Irving shows the Earls of Lennox as following: THE FIRST
EARLS ARKIL, who came to Scotland in 1069 or '70
ALWYN MacARKIL, first Earl to Levenax, mentioned 1130-1155.
ALWYN, second Earl, between 1155-1127.
MALDUIN, Third Earl, 1217-1270
MALCOLM, Fourth Earl (grandson of preceding), 1270-1292
MALCOLM, Fifth Earl, the friend of Bruce, 1292-1333
DONALD, Sixth earl, 1333-1364
MARGARET, Countess, married her cousin,
Walter of Faslane, 1364-1390 DUNCAN, Eighth Earl, 1385-1425
Irving, continues on in his book: "In order, however, to set this in a
clear light it is necessary to note a few particulars regarding the
original line of Lennox Earls from 1153, when the Earldom was created,
down to 1425, when Duncan, the eight Earl, was executed at Sterling by
James I. ARKYLE, ARKIL, OR ARCHIL, the son of AYKFRITH or EGFRITH a
Saxon, who had large estates in Northumberland and York, was one of those
who, after resisting to their utmost the advance northward of William the
Conqueror, found refuge at the Court of Malcolm Canmore. Malcolm, it is
said, conferred on ARCHIL (notice the spelling) a large extent of
territory in Dumbarton and Sterling, which was later erected into the
Earldom of Lennox. ARKIL (different spelling) is supposed to have had a
son of the same name, who was in turn the father of ALWYN MARCARKIL
(different name and spelling), the first Earl of Lennox. His name appears
frequently in charters of the reign of David I, with whom he seems to
have been a great favorite, and King Malcolm IV, aware of the high
position at the court of his grandfather, created him Earl of Lennox in
the beginning of his reign, which commenced in 1153. Such is the
generally accepted origin of the Earldom, though the dates and descent
have not as yet been absolutely verified. Lord Hailes says, in his case
on the Sutherland Peerage, that the Lennox origin belongs '"to the ages
of conjecture,"' while Mr. Skene on the other hand endeavours to prove a
Celtic origin for the family, but the chief authority in favour of the
account given above is Walter MacFarlan of Arrochar, the eminent
antiquary and genealogist." Pp.201-202
In the Gaelic (Scot-Irish) world, when you said "Alwyn son of Arkil", you
would say Alwyn Mac Archil. Not so in the Welsh, British, and ancient
Cornish. You would say "Alguin ap or ab Archil". Even if the Arkil was
Welsh, and went to Scotland, the "P" would take on the appearance as an
"F". Parlane is pronounced Farlane. Walter MacFarlane mentioned above is
descended from this Alwyn Mac Archil.
Many Welsh names to this day have the same origin. John Price, an
ancestor on my father's mother's side, was taken from the name: ap Rhys.
Later in the sixteenth century the "ap" form would be dropped and the 'P'
would be absorbed into the name. Another surname is Powell, which is
derived from "ap Howell." The 'P' was absorbed into the name, dropping
the 'A' and the 'H'. Another name is Pugh. The name Pugh was taken from
Hugh the son of Owen Glendower, or Hugh AP Owen of Glendower. Hugh's son
took his father's first name to be his last name. The name could take
form as such: John AP Hugh AP Owen (Powen or Bowen) of Glendower or John
Pugh, son of Hugh, son of Owen of Glendower.
If this is the case, the name would take form like Parkhil, Parchill, and
Parcill.etc. Look at the name changes here in the United States, i.e.
Parkhill, Parkill, Parkell, Parkle, and so on. My great-grandfathers
brothers' name was written as Parkenhill on his Civil War records, and
his sister was noted as Parkill on her marriage certificate. You could
say that a lot of these derivations came either from some of the family,
or Census takers, who could not spell or did not hear what the individual
said about how to spell the name.
In conclusion on the origin of the Parkhills, let me make this clear. I
am not convinced that one shipwrecked child, given the name Park-hill, is
the originator of all the Parkhill's in 1640. That there was a Robert
Parkhill who was born around 1585, a son John Parkhill (1617) and a
grandson Patrick (1637) who all existed before the so-called shipwrecked
child in 1640.
Did James Parkhill b. 1632, son of Alice Parkhill and Jerry Ainsworth,
come up with this so called shipwreck, or maybe it was earlier than what
it was supposed to be? Could it be that a descendant of Archil, not
necessarily, of the Earls of Archil or Arkhil, hung on to the name, and
used the Welsh equivalent. And even still thre are others that point to a
Scottish version that also shows that there was a shipwreck that
occurred off the shores of Scotland not England. The Parkhills have a
common origin. At some point in time there was only one Person named
Parkhill and that's where we really need to start.
On March 21, 1803, a Capt. David Parkhill registered the following family
coat-of-arms at the Lord Lyon, His Majesty's Register House, in
Edinburgh: Quarterly, 1st and 4th argent, a stag trippant on a hillock
proper, attired and unguled, Gules, within a verdure azure; 2d and 3d
Gules, an inescutheon ermine between three pikes heads carped or, in
chief a mullet argent. The Crest, a cornucopia or, filled with fruit or
grain proper. The 2d and 3d quarters of the arms indicate a connection by
marriage with the Geddes family. The stag of Scotland was noted for its
strength and love of freedom.
The family motto is written in Latin as "CAPTORA MAJORA". It translates
into English as:
"ENGAGED IN GREATER THINGS" or "ENDEAVOR FOR GREATNESS"
Yes, this is my great endeavor to pursue the greatness of the magnitude
of the Parkhill Family. There are so many of us that have descended from
one common origin. There are so many gaps in my own family tree. But I
want to stand in the gap and be a hedge for strength and the pursuit of
freedom as did many other Parkhills in the past. Yet there were many
many others that I have no knowledge of who might have been less
honorable, yet even to them I dedicate this manuscript
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