Pierre de Morlaix (Morley)

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Pierre / Peter / Petrus de Morlaix or Morley (Morley), Seneschal to Hugh Despencer

Also Known As: "Peter /Morley/", "Peter Morley /Perkins/", "De Morlais Perkins"
Birthplace: Morlaix, Finistère, Brittany, France
Death: Died in Madresfield, Worcestershire, England
Immediate Family:

Husband of Agnes Alice Taylor
Father of Henry Perkins; William De Perkins; Thomas Perkins and John De Perkins

Occupation: High steward of the DeSpencer family
Managed by: Private User
Last Updated:

About Pierre de Morlaix (Morley)

Quoting from “The Curd and Allied Families,” by William B. Curd and Lucy Price Rayne Truog (1927)

“‘A Dictionary of English and Welsh Surnames,’ says: Parkin, Parkins, Parkinson, Parkisson, Perkin, Perkins, Perkinson, Parkyns, Bapt. ‘the son of Peter,’ from the pet Perkin or Parkyn. There are no Perkins or Parkins in the Hundred Rolls, while the French diminutives Perrin and Perrott are common. What May be called the Flemish forms appear in Yorkshire and the East counties about the beginning of the 14th century, with Perkins and Parkins.

“In the Herold’s ‘Visitation’ for the Berkshire 1623, this family is said to have descended from a certain Peter or Petrus de Morely of Shropshire, a county on the border of Wales. Hence, the family is sometimes said to have been of Welsh origin.

“For three hundred years the Perkins ancestors were seneshals or wardens of de Spencers and Warwich Castle. The Ufton Book shows the Perkins line, eldest son to eldest son, etc., continued to the present time. Some of the family were distinguished in the history of England and were prominent in Stratford district, the home of Shakespeare and his wife, Mary Arden. ”

“Domesday Book, A. D. 1085,” lists a manor in Berkshire, England, called Offstone, belonging to William Fitz Anscuff, and Ufton Court was a beautiful old Manor house at the same place, the ancient home of the Perkins family.”

Generation 14. Peter De Morley was Servous to Hugh de Spencer and was living in 1380. He was married to Agnes Taylor.

Generation 13. Henry Parkyns was the son of Peter.

Generation 12. John Parkyns, son of Henry Parkyns, was Seneschal to Thomas de Spencer, Earl of Gloucester. in 1390, he was the first to acquire property in Madresfield. He was living in 1400.

Generation 11. William Parkyns (1), son of John Parkyns, was 1st “Lord of Ufton. ”(bailiff to Humphry Plantagent, Duke of Glouster) He married Margaret, and was living in 1447.

Generation 10. Thomas Parkyns (1), son of William and Margaret Parkyns, was living in 1452-1479. He was called “Thomas of Ufton and Madresfield,” and gave Madresfield Manor House to his second son, Thomas.

Generation 9. Thomas Parkyns (2), son of Thomas Parkyns (1), was married to Ellen Tompkinson. They had four sons, William of Madresfield, James of Shropshire, and Richard and Lawrence, twins.

Generation 8. William Parkyns (2), son of Thomas Parkyns (2), was married to Joan Reade, daughter of Reade near Coventry.

Generation 7. Richard Parkyns, Sr., son of William Parkyns (2) and Joan Reade, was married to Ann Twynborrowe, daughter of Walter Twynborrowe, of Woodmention, Herfordshire.

Generation 6. Richard Parkyns, Jr., the son of Richard Parkyns (1) and Ann Twynborrowe, was of Bunny Park. He married Elizabeth Beresford, daughter of Aden Beresford, of Fenney Bently of Derbyshire. There were eight children: Sir George Parkyns, Knight who died in 1626; Adrien; John; Aden; Francis; Annie; Eliza; and Margaret.

Generation 5. Aden Parkyns, the son of Richard Parkyns, Jr. and Elizabeth Beresford, was married to Mary ____. They came to Virginia in 1607, where he was registered as “Grocer. ” Whether he returned to England, or died in Virginia, is not known. They had four children: George; Richard (3); Annie; and Thomas.

Generation 4. Richard Parkyns (3), son of Aden and Mary Parkyns, owned land near Jamestown, or on the James River. Whom he married is not known.

Generation 3. Nicholas Perkins (1), the son of Richard Parkyns (3), was also married to a Mary, and there were 7 children. Records show that in 1641 Nicholas Perkins was transported to Hernia County, Virginia, by Brayant Smith, although it appears he was born in America, the grandson of the immigrant. On 30 August 1650, he was granted land in Bermuda Hundred, beginning in Cole’s Swamy, Henrico County, for the transportation of four persons into the colony, although only three are named: Mary Perkins, William Owen, and Richard Hues. The original document is almost illegible, and the names are given differently in several references. However, it is thought these persons were Mary Perkins, his wife, and his sons, William, Owen, Richard (4), and Thomas. He died about 1664, and his will mentions only his daughter, Lydia, and his two youngest children, Elizabeth and Nicholas (2). His widow married Richard Parker.

Generation 2. William Perkins, son of Nicholas and Mary Perkins, was born about 1633. His wife, was also named Mary. William and Mary, and their daughter, Mary, were passengers on the ship “Kent,” in 1667. Members of the Society of Friends, they joined the Burlington Monthly Meeting, in New Jersey.

Generation 1. Mary Perkins, daughter of William and Mary Perkins, was married 24 May 1683, at Burlington Monthly Meeting, to Henry Grubb

  • ***

Note from Curator: The theory that this Pierre de Morlaix, who perhaps originated from (or his family originated from) a small village in Brittany and who served as a High Steward to the powerful Despencer family, was the son of a Breton duke or the Count of Dreux seems highly unlikely.

The only Pierre, Comte de Dreux who might possibly have been his father (time-wise) was, as listed in the French Wikipedia listing of Comtes de Dreux, "1331-1345 : Pierre, (1298-1345), fils de Jean II et de Jeanne de Beaujeu marié en 1341 à Isabeau de Melun, († 1389). Sa fille Jeanne hérita du comté." If Pierre who became Peter Morley had in fact been the son of this man, he would have inherited the comté before a sister. The theory that Peter Morley was the son of Pierre de Bretagne posited here (http://en.rodovid.org/wk/Person:140985) lacks any sources or references.

For this reason, we will remove any parents for this profile unless some evidence is provided.

See http://www.jeaniesgenealogy.com/2012/11/pierre-de-morlaix.html for a cynical discussion of Peter's existence and possible ancestry.


From: http://www.jeaniesgenealogy.com/2012/11/pierre-de-morlaix.html

  • (This site provides some interesting info & thoughts about Pierre de Morlaix & research that has been done on him. Now I don’t know what to believe! Page 2 from this site has more questions about James Fulton Perkins’ essay on the Perkins family that sound like they have some validity. Bottom line, more research on this man is needed!!!/pscoggin)



  • Birth: was born in either 1312 or 1320 (others say 1325 or, even, 1358!) in Morlaix, Bretagne, Normandy [PW: this is incorrect], France[1, 2] and
  • Death: died in Shropshire, England in 1384; he was 64[1,2]
  • Name: We start the history of the Perkins family with Pierre de Morlaix because it is he that both established the line in England and provided the first name from which the Perkins surname was derived.
    • Pierre’s surname was deMorlaix in contemporary Latin & French records of 14th century England.
      • Remember that French was the language of the royalty, Latin that of the Church in these years after The Conqueror.
      • Anglo-Saxon English was the language of the peasant class and would not be used for official records for many years to come.
      • Thus, later translations of these French & Latin records into English turned the surname into “de Morlaix”, “de Morley” and finally, “Morley”[3]
    • James Perkins tells us: “…His name indicates that although originally from Morlaix, Normandy, France he was part of the Celtic/Welsh group previously mentioned who migrated to England. During this time period surnames were not in common use. Everybody was known by some personal characteristic such as what they did, who there father was or where they came from, hence Pierre de Morlaix was from Morlaix, France…[3]”
    • At the time – less than 200 years removed from William the Conqueror – these western parts of France were considered to be pieces of the British Empire. Of course, the British monarchs of the time were also more French than English. French was the language, and the lineage, of royalty great & small.
  • Service with the Despencers:
    • The date of Pierre’s move to England from France is currently unknown, but he settled in Shropshire upon his arrival.
    • He soon obtained a position with the powerful noble Hugh DeSpencer, eventually becoming High Steward of the latter’s Oxfordshire estate[3,4].
      • The DeSpencer family has a storied history itself going backwards & forward from Hugh (or Hugo). Hugh’s father – also known as “Hugh the Younger” – was a favorite of King Edward II, but fell afoul of Isabella & Mortimer when they invaded the country and was brutally executed by them as a traitor in 1326.
      • After this, the family name morphed from Despenser to DeSpencer or De Spencer. By the 1400s, French surnames having fallen out of favor, the family was merely called “Spencer” and eventually produced the Princess – later Lady – Diana.
    • It is likely that Pierre de Morlaix knew members of the DeSpencer family from his days in France, since the DeSpencer family’s French lands were in the Morlaix region. This would also explain Pierre’s quick rise to power within the DeSpencer household. A Senschal (High Steward) was not only the trusted keeper of the household; but was not unlike the Consigliare of a Mafia don.
    • Sergeant of Arms to Hugh Despenser
  • In records, he is variously referred to as “serviens” and “sevients” to the DeSpencers[4]. Other authors have described him as a “servus”, “bailiff” or “sargent” to the DeSpencers, but I’ve yet to see record proof of this.
  • During Pierre’s lifetime, the winds of political fortune changed when Charles V “The Black”, Prince of France renewed the hostilities of the Hundred Years’ War between England & France. Having a French surname was no longer politically or personally expedient, and so “Pierre de Morlaix” became “Peter Morley”[3]
  • Myth-Busting:
    • Pierre/Peter was supposedly granted the right to bear a coat of arms and was given his coat of arms by his Lord DeSpencer. Legend has it that the French motto on this coat of arms translates to “We were born at an opportune time.”
      • However, later research by James Fulton Perkins, et. al. proves that Pierre’s grandson, John, is the first Perkins to actually receive a Coat of Arms[3]
  • Marriage:
    • Pierre married Agnes TAYLOR[1],
      • daughter of John TAYLOR.
      • Agnes was born in 1325 in Rutland, Rutlandshire, England[1,2]. We currently know of no siblings for their son Henry.
    • They had one child:
      • 2 i. Henry

From: http://kristinhall.org/fambly/Perkins/PerkinsName.html

    • .pdf of the Perkins Family Register Report
    • .pdf of the Perkins Family Descendant Chart
  • Name variations include: Perkins, Pirkins, Perkyn, Perkyns, Parkyns, Pierrekin, Pierkyn, Perdins & Purkins.
    • Perkins is an English patrynomic. Like "Svensson" in Swedish or "Ilyitch" in Russian, it denotes the fact that this man was "the son of Sven" or Ilya or what have you. James Fulton Perkins, working from the research of Paula Perkins Mortensen, has done a wonderful job of sorting the legend from the fact in researching the actual history of the Perkins family and its name. Modern genealogists are discovering a number of fables & fictions which arose over years of "embellishing & embroidering" family genealogies. James Fulton Perkins has done the finest job I've yet seen of accurately describing the history of the family surname. From his essay on the Perkins name:
    • "...Research of ancient manuscripts, which include the Doomsday Book by Duke William of Normandy in 1086 A.D., the Ragman Rolls of 1291-1296 authorized by King Edward 1st of England, the Curia Regis Rolls, The Pipe Rolls and The Hearth Rolls of England, found the first record of the name Perkins in Leicestershire, England. The name Perkins, in one form or another (i.e.: deMorlaix/Morley), first appears on the census rolls taken by the Kings of England beginning about 400 A.D.
    • The family name Perkins is one of the most distinguished of the ancient world during a time of Kingdoms, Kings and Knights. If we are to believe Bede, the Chronicler of the Saxons, this founding race of England was led by the Saxon General/Commanders Hengist and Horsa and settled in Kent during this time and was a Anglo/Saxon race. However, there is evidence to support the claim that the name is of Celtic/Welsh origin. Based on British history we know that after the last Roman Legions left the continent in the early part of the 5th century the Saxons, Angles and other Low German tribes settled in Southeastern England around Kent. However, the Ancient Britons (Celtics) were the true natives of the area and it is an amalgamation of the Angles, Saxons and Celtic Britons who became what we refer to today as the Anglo/Saxons. The truth is that the Angles and Saxons may have "moved in", but the Britons were there in far greater numbers, thus accounting for the claim that the blood line is far more Celtic than any other. Therefore it should be concluded that the origins of the Perkins "Clan" are Celtic/Welsh.
    • The Anglo/Saxon five-century domination of English society was an uncertain time and the nation divided into five separate kingdoms. By 1066 King Harold had come to the throne of England and was enjoying reasonable peace and prosperity. However, the invasion from France and their victory at the Battle of Hastings, found many Englishmen moving.
    • By the 13th century the family name Perkins emerged as a notable English family in the county of Leicester, where they were recorded as a family of great antiquity seated as Lords of the manor and estates in that shire. They had branched to Ufton Court in Berkshire and Sutton Coldfield in Warwickshire, later branching to Nuneaton, Marston and Hillmorton, Warwickshire. The main stem of the family continued at Orton Hall in Leicestershire, where it remains to this day. Notable amongst the family at this time was Perkins of Leicester. For the next two or three centuries bearers of the surname Perkins flourished and played a significant role in the political development of England..."[3]
    • James Fulton further explains how "de Morlaix" became "Perkins":
      • "...[when Pierre had a son h]e was to be named Henry Pierrekin (meaning "first son of Pierre", born 1340 in Shropshire, England and died in Hillmorton, Warwickshire, England). The "kin" suffix indicates the eldest son in a family and any subsequent sons are simply called with the suffix "son", as in "Pierreson". Hence, the first son is Pierrekin and the second son of Peter (Pierre) Morley would be "Pierreson"..."[3]
    • Other authors have noted that the suffix "-kin" means "little" (as in "catkin" or "grimalkin"); that "per" is a diminuitive form of "Peter" and that an "s" on the end of an early surname meant "son of..." Thus, "Perkins" indicated "son of Little Peter"[4]. Note that the current meaning of "kin", meaning a relation, came from this diminutive endearment suffix and not the other way around.
    • "Perkyn" & "Perkyns" can be found on the 1327 Subsidy Rolls for Suffolk (Edmund) & Worcestershire (Walter), but the family is far older than that; it has long been a noble family located mainly in the southern part of England. Other branches of the family are in the south Midlands and west into Wales ­ following their Marcher Lords, like the DeSpencers, into the Welsh Marches[4].
    • This branch of the family thrived around Hillmorton, Warwickshire; Ufton, Berkshire & Madresfield, Worcestershire. Some say that the Ufton branch in particular is the "source" of the Perkins family in England. It is definitely the source for the early American family[4]. The Madresfield branch married into Herefordshire families and from there spread Perkins lines into Nottinghamshire, Warwickshire & Ireland[4].
    • Surname variations found in American Colonial records include Perkins, Pirkins, Perkines, Purkins & Perdins.

Generation; Husband; Wife; Person #s

  • G20. Pierre DE MORLAIX m. [not known] 8,349,696 / 8,349,697
  • G19. Henry PERKINS (PIERKYN or PIERREKIN) m. [not known] 4,174,848 / 4,174/849
  • G18. John PERKINS m. [not known] 2,087,424 / 2,087,425
  • G17. Lord William PERKINS m. Margaret COLLEE 1,043,712 / 1,043,713
  • G16. Thomas PERKINS, Esq. m. Ellen TOMPKINS 521,856 / 521,857
  • G15. William PERKINS m. Joana READ 260,928 / 260,929
  • G14. Thomas PERKINS m. Alice DE ASTLEY 130,464 / 130,465
  • G13. Henry PERKINS m. Elizabeth [surname not known] 65,232 / 65,233
  • G12. Thomas PERKINS m. Alice KEBBLE 32,616 / 32,617
  • G11. Henry PERKINS m. Elizabeth SAWBRIDGE 16,308 / 16,309
  • G10. John PERKINS m. Judith Elizabeth GATER 8154 / 8155
  • G9. William SARGENT m. Elizabeth PERKINS 4076 / 4077


  • 1. “Perkins/Gater.ged,” 30 September 2003, Rebecca Falzarano.
  • 2. Perkins, George Augustus, The Family of John Perkins of Ipswich, Mass., (Salem: Salem Press, 1882),
  • [Perkins (#1)].
  • 3. Research of James Fulton Perkins & Paula Perkins Mortensen.
  • 4. Research of Deborah Perkins Ready
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Pierre de Morlaix (Morley)'s Timeline

Morlaix, Finistère, Brittany, France
Age 37
Ufton, Berkshire, England
Age 67
Hillmorton, Warwickshire, England
Age 68
January 5, 1384
Age 81
Madresfield, Worcestershire, England
Age 81
Hillmorton, Warwickshire, , England