Rackham History, Family Crest & Coats of Arms

The Rackham surname is a habitational name from a place in Sussex, so named from Old English words "hreac," meaning "mound," and "ham," or "homestead."

Early Origins of the Rackham family

The surname Rackham was first found in Sussex, at Rackham, a hamlet, in the parish of Amberley, hundred of West Easrith, rape of Arundel. [1]

The name is very rare as we could find only early entry for the name in Suffolk when John Rackham was listed in the Subsidy Rolls there in 1524. [2]

Early History of the Rackham family

This web page shows only a small excerpt of our Rackham research. Another 79 words (6 lines of text) covering the years 1455, 1487, 1682, 1720 and 1720 are included under the topic Early Rackham History in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

Rackham Spelling Variations

Until quite recently, the English language has lacked a definite system of spelling rules. Consequently, Anglo-Saxon surnames are characterized by a multitude of spelling variations. Changes in Anglo-Saxon names were influenced by the evolution of the English language, as it incorporated elements of French, Latin, and other languages. Although Medieval scribes and church officials recorded names as they sounded, so it is common to find one person referred to by several different spellings of his surname, even the most literate people varied the spelling of their own names. Variations of the name Rackham include Rackham, Reckham, Rakeham, Rackley, Rakeley and others.

Early Notables of the Rackham family (pre 1700)

Distinguished members of the family include John "Calico Jack" Rackham (Rackam, Rackum) (1682-1720), an English pirate operating in the Bahamas during the early 18th century. He was captured, then hanged outside Port Royal, Jamaica in 1720. Rackham is best remembered for his design of his Jolly Roger flag, a skull with crossed swords, which contributed to the popularization of the design; and for having two female crew members: Mary...
Another 69 words (5 lines of text) are included under the topic Early Rackham Notables in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.


United States Rackham migration to the United States +

Searching for a better life, many English families migrated to British colonies. Unfortunately, the majority of them traveled under extremely harsh conditions: overcrowding on the ships caused the majority of the immigrants to arrive diseased, famished, and destitute from the long journey across the ocean. For those families that arrived safely, modest prosperity was attainable, and many went on to make invaluable contributions to the development of the cultures of the new colonies. Research into the origins of individual families in North America revealed records of the immigration of a number of people bearing the name Rackham or a variant listed above:

Rackham Settlers in United States in the 19th Century
  • Claudius Rackham, who settled in New York in 1868
  • Joshua Rackham, who settled in New York in 1868
  • Claudius Rackham, aged 15, who arrived in New York in 1868 [3]
  • Joshua Rackham, aged 14, who landed in New York in 1868 [3]
  • Mary A Rackham, aged 17, who arrived in New York in 1868 [3]

Canada Rackham migration to Canada +

Some of the first settlers of this family name were:

Rackham Settlers in Canada in the 19th Century
  • Emily, Eliza and George Rackham, who, who arrived in Charlottetown, PEI in 1891

Australia Rackham migration to Australia +

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

Rackham Settlers in Australia in the 19th Century
  • Mr. John Rackham, English convict who was convicted in Newington, London, England for 7 years, transported aboard the "Cressy" on 28th April 1843, arriving in Tasmania (Van Diemen's Land) [4]
  • Mrs. Lydia Rackham, (b. 1809), aged 39, English country servant who was convicted in Chelmsford, Essex, England for 14 years for stealing, transported aboard the "Cadet" on 10th November 1848, arriving in Tasmania (Van Diemen's Land), she died in 1875 [5]
  • Mr. William Rackham, (b. 1842), aged 6, English settler travelling with Mrs. Lydia Rackham convict, transported aboard the "Cadet" on 10th November 1848, arriving in Tasmania (Van Diemen's Land) [5]
  • Miss Emmeline Rackham, (b. 1844), aged 4, English settler travelling with Mrs. Lydia Rackham convict, transported aboard the "Cadet" on 10th November 1848, arriving in Tasmania (Van Diemen's Land) [5]
  • Mr. James Rackham, (b. 1837), aged 11, English settler travelling with Mrs. Lydia Rackham convict, transported aboard the "Cadet" on 10th November 1848, arriving in Tasmania (Van Diemen's Land) [5]

Contemporary Notables of the name Rackham (post 1700) +

  • Horace H. Rackham (1858-1933), American original stockholder in the Ford Motor Company and philanthropist, eponym of the Horace H. Rackham Educational Memorial Building in Detroit
  • Oliver Rackham OBE, FBA (1939-2015), English academic at the University of Cambridge
  • Arthur Rackham (1867-1939), English book illustrator


  1. ^ Lewis, Samuel, A Topographical Dictionary of England. Institute of Historical Research, 1848, Print.
  2. ^ Reaney, P.H and R.M. Wilson, A Dictionary of English Surnames. London: Routledge, 1991. Print. (ISBN 0-415-05737-X)
  3. ^ 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)
  4. ^ Convict Records Voyages to Australia (Retrieved 21st May 2021). Retrieved from https://convictrecords.com.au/ships/cressy
  5. ^ Convict Records Voyages to Australia (Retrieved 17th November 2020). Retrieved from https://convictrecords.com.au/ships/cadet/


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