Show ContentsPeak History, Family Crest & Coats of Arms

The Norman Conquest of England in 1066 added many new elements to an already vibrant culture. Among these were thousands of new names. The Peak family lived in Staffordshire. The surname of Peak derives from the Old English word pekke, indicating the top of a mountain or hill, and was a local name distinguishing a person who lived by a prominent peak. [1]

Early Origins of the Peak family

The surname Peak was first found in Suffolk where Uluric Pec was listed at Bury St Edmunds c. 1095, nine years after the Domesday Book of 1086. Oxfordshire is the next entry: Richard de Pec who was listed at Eynsham in 1192. [2]

As noted, most sources point to Staffordshire as to where the family hails. Staffordshire was where "among the earliest known bearers of the name are Richard del Pech or del Pek (d. 1196), son of Ranulf, Sheriff of Nottingham, and Willielmus Piec, who was in Winchester in 1194." [3] "The Peakes of Staffordshire were represented in Shropshire in the 13th century by the Piks and Pickes." [4]

And two sources note Derbyshire, where the name was derived from "a pointed hill, as the Peak in Derbyshire" [5] and "one who came from Peak (hill), in Derbyshire." [6] "The Peak District, Derbyshire, is referred to as Peac lond in the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle, A.D. 924." [7]

"The Peakes of Llewenny, co. Denbigh, have been seated there apparently from the XIV. century, and there is little doubt of their extraction from Thomas del Peke, to whom Henry de Lacy, Earl of Lincoln, about the year 1284, granted a burgage, &c., within the walls of Denbigh. As Llewennie was included within De Lacy's barony, it seems probable that it was granted at the same period. The family went into Wales in 1283, with King Edward I., doubtless as feudatories of the De Lacys. Harl. M.S. 1933. See B.L.G. The etymology of the name is the same as that of Peak." [5]

Early feudal rolls provided the king of the time a method of cataloguing holdings for taxation, but today they provide a glimpse into the wide surname spellings in use at that time. William de Peke was listed in the Subsidy Rolls of Sussex in 1296 and William atte Peke was listed in Devon in 1321. The Yorkshire Poll Tax Rolls of 1379 lists: Isabell del Pek; and Martyn del Pek. [1]

Early History of the Peak family

This web page shows only a small excerpt of our Peak research. Another 101 words (7 lines of text) covering the years 1284, 1283, 1551, 1619, 1592, 1667 and 1668 are included under the topic Early Peak History in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

Peak Spelling Variations

Endless spelling variations are a prevailing characteristic of Norman surnames. Old and Middle English lacked any definite spelling rules, and the introduction of Norman French added an unfamiliar ingredient to the English linguistic stew. French and Latin, the languages of the court, also influenced spellings. Finally, Medieval scribes generally spelled words according to how they sounded, so one person was often referred to by different spellings in different documents. The name has been spelled MacPeake, Peak, Peake and others.

Early Notables of the Peak family (pre 1700)

Outstanding amongst the family at this time was Sir William Peake of Achurch; Robert Peake the Elder (c. 1551-1619), an English painter; and Sir Robert Peake (ca. 1592-1667), English print-seller and Royalist, he was exiled for refusing...
Another 36 words (3 lines of text) are included under the topic Early Peak Notables in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

Peak Ranking

In the United States, the name Peak is the 3,004th most popular surname with an estimated 9,948 people with that name. [8]

Ireland Migration of the Peak family to Ireland

Some of the Peak family moved to Ireland, but this topic is not covered in this excerpt.
Another 32 words (2 lines of text) about their life in Ireland is included in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

United States Peak migration to the United States +

To escape the political and religious persecution within England at the time, many English families left for the various British colonies abroad. The voyage was extremely difficult, though, and the cramped, dank ships caused many to arrive in the New World diseased and starving. But for those who made it, the trip was most often worth it. Many of the families who arrived went on to make valuable contributions to the emerging nations of Canada and the United States. An inquiry into the early roots of North American families reveals a number of immigrants bearing the name Peak or a variant listed above:

Peak Settlers in United States in the 17th Century
  • Christian Peak, who arrived in New England in 1635 [9]
  • Martha Peak, who settled in Virginia in 1698
Peak Settlers in United States in the 19th Century
  • Owen Peak, who arrived in New York, NY in 1811 [9]
  • William Peak, who landed in Allegany (Allegheny) County, Pennsylvania in 1840 [9]

Canada Peak migration to Canada +

Some of the first settlers of this family name were:

Peak Settlers in Canada in the 18th Century
  • Mr. James Peak U.E. who settled in Sophiasburgh & Ameliasburgh [Prince Edward County], Ontario c. 1784 [10]

Australia Peak migration to Australia +

Emigration to Australia followed the First Fleets of convicts, tradespeople and early settlers. Early immigrants include:

Peak Settlers in Australia in the 19th Century
  • John Peak, aged 18, a labourer, who arrived in South Australia in 1851 aboard the ship "Catherine" [11]
  • John Peak, aged 18, a labourer, who arrived in Adelaide, Australia aboard the ship "Catherine" in 1851 [11]
  • Richard Peak, who arrived in Adelaide, Australia aboard the ship "Samuel Boddington" in 1851 [12]
  • Mr. Thomas Peak, (b. 1826), aged 28, Cornish farm labourer, from Marden, Kent, England, UK travelling aboard the ship "Lady Ann" arriving in New South Wales, Australia on 29th September 1854 [13]
  • Mrs. Christina Peak, (b. 1814), aged 43, Cornish housekeeper departing from Plymouth on 5th June 1857 aboard the ship "Undaunted" arriving in Melbourne, Victoria, Australia on 20th August 1857 [14]
  • ... (More are available in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.)

West Indies Peak migration to West Indies +

The British first settled the British West Indies around 1604. They made many attempts but failed in some to establish settlements on the Islands including Saint Lucia and Grenada. By 1627 they had managed to establish settlements on St. Kitts (St. Christopher) and Barbados, but by 1641 the Spanish had moved in and destroyed some of these including those at Providence Island. The British continued to expand the settlements including setting the First Federation in the British West Indies by 1674; some of the islands include Barbados, Bermuda, Cayman Island, Turks and Caicos, Jamaica and Belize then known as British Honduras. By the 1960's many of the islands became independent after the West Indies Federation which existed from 1958 to 1962 failed due to internal political conflicts. After this a number of Eastern Caribbean islands formed a free association. [15]
Peak Settlers in West Indies in the 17th Century
  • Christopher Peak, who settled in Barbados with his servants in 1680

Contemporary Notables of the name Peak (post 1700) +

  • Robert "Bob" M. Peak (1927-1992), American commercial illustrator, known for his movie posters and covers for Time magazine, TV Guide, and Sports Illustrated
  • Robert Peak, American Democratic Party politician, Alternate Delegate to Democratic National Convention from Indiana, 1956 [16]
  • Raymond Peak, American Democratic Party politician, Mayor of Hurricane, West Virginia, 1965-67, 1981-83; Member of West Virginia State House of Delegates; Elected 1972, 1974 [16]
  • Ralph Peak, American Republican politician, Chair of Scott County Republican Party, 1950 [16]
  • John Lee Peak (1839-1910), American Democratic Party politician, U.S. Minister to Switzerland, 1895-97 [16]
  • J. Elmer Peak, American Democratic Party politician, Delegate to Democratic National Convention from Indiana, 1940 (alternate), 1944 (alternate), 1948, 1952, 1956 [16]
  • Howard W. Peak, American politician, Mayor of San Antonio, Texas, 1997-2001 [16]
  • Gene Peak (d. 1949), American politician, Mayor of Paducah, Kentucky, 1948-49; Defeated, 1943 [16]
  • Mrs. Clella Peak, American Democratic Party politician, Delegate to Democratic National Convention from Missouri, 1944, 1948 (alternate) [16]
  • C. Vern Peak (b. 1891), American Republican politician, Member of Missouri State House of Representatives from Bates County, 1941-48; Defeated, 1948, 1950; Candidate for Missouri State Senate 31st District, 1964 [16]
  • ... (Another 3 notables are available in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.)

HMAS Sydney II
  • Mr. John McGhie Peak (1922-1941), Australian Stoker from Boyanup, Western Australia, Australia, who sailed into battle aboard HMAS Sydney II and died in the sinking [17]

Suggested Readings for the name Peak +

  • The Peak-Peake Family History by Cyrus Henderson Peake.

  1. Bardsley, C.W, A Dictionary of English and Welsh Surnames: With Special American Instances. Wiltshire: Heraldry Today, 1901. Print. (ISBN 0-900455-44-6)
  2. Reaney, P.H and R.M. Wilson, A Dictionary of English Surnames. London: Routledge, 1991. Print. (ISBN 0-415-05737-X)
  3. Hanks, Patricia and Flavia Hodges, A Dictionary of Surnames. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1988. Print. (ISBN 0-19-211592-8)
  4. Guppy, Henry Brougham, Homes of Family Names in Great Britain. 1890. Print.
  5. Lower, Mark Anthony, Patronymica Britannica, A Dictionary of Family Names of the United Kingdom. London: John Russel Smith, 1860. Print.
  6. Smith, Eldson Coles, New Dictionary of American Family Names New York: Harper & Row, 1956. Print
  7. Harrison, Henry, Surnames of the United Kingdom: A Concise Etymological Dictionary Baltimore: Geneological Publishing Company, 2013. Print
  8. "What are the 5,000 Most Common Last Names in the U.S.?".,
  9. Filby, P. William, Meyer, Mary K., Passenger and immigration lists index : a guide to published arrival records of about 500,000 passengers who came to the United States and Canada in the seventeenth, eighteenth, and nineteenth centuries. 1982-1985 Cumulated Supplements in Four Volumes Detroit, Mich. : Gale Research Co., 1985, Print (ISBN 0-8103-1795-8)
  10. Rubincam, Milton. The Old United Empire Loyalists List. Genealogical Publishing Co., Inc, 1976. (Originally published as; United Empire Loyalists. The Centennial of the Settlement of Upper Canada. Rose Publishing Company, 1885.) ISBN 0-8063-0331-X
  11. State Records of South Australia. (Retrieved 2010, November 5) CATHERINE 1851. Retrieved
  12. State Records of South Australia. (Retrieved 2010, November 5) SAMUEL BODDINGTON 1851. Retrieved
  13. Cornwall Online Parish Clerks. (Retrieved 3rd May 2018). Retrieved from
  14. Cornwall Online Parish Clerks. (Retrieved 3rd May 2018). Retrieved from
  16. The Political Graveyard: Alphabetical Name Index. (Retrieved 2016, January 7) . Retrieved from
  17. HMAS Sydney II, Finding Sydney Foundation - Roll of Honour. (Retrieved 2014, April 24) . Retrieved from on Facebook