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Our 2,768 members have registered
2,405 study surnames with us
and a further 6,120 variant names.

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About the study

The aim of this study is to collect all references to the Parry surname world-wide, for any date in time.

The study developed out of my own family history research, after I'd reached a 'brick wall' with my 4xgreat grandfather, a Thomas Parry who was born about 1788 somewhere outside of Herefordshire, England. Unfortunately, he had died in January 1851 - just months before the census which would have told me where outside!

An initial intention to collect data on people connected to just three counties soon widened to the whole of the UK when the 1901 census was first released, because of the difficulty in searching that census by birthplaces. A personal interest in tracing my grandfather's temporary emigration to Canada led me to start collecting information on the name from other countries. And then, having also become intrigued by the old pedigrees, which I found mentioned in other people's research, it seemed a natural step to widen my collection not just in space, but also in time - and so the one-name study was born.

The study was registered with the Guild in 2005 and currently has category C registration. This means that, as yet, I do not have a substantial collection of data (relatively speaking, that is - despite having more records from just one census, than some one-name studies will ever contain). As such it is unlikely, at the moment, that I will have sufficient information on individuals to help researchers with regard to specific family relationships, especially those families in the highly concentrated areas of North Wales and Merseyside. However, contact is always welcomed, since any information you can supply will help to build up the database for future research.

Variant names

Currently no variants are registered. Variations in spelling occur throughout the records, from the earliest appearance of the name in its patronymic forms, such as Ap Harry, Apharry, or Apparry, (and the corresponding versions ending with 'ie', 'ee' etc), through to the more recently recorded Parrey, as used for my 2xgreat grandfather in 1901. However, further research is needed in order to establish whether modern occurrences of such spellings should be classed as true variants.

Name origin

Surname dictionaries indicate that the origin of the surname is Welsh, derived from the patronymic system where the phrase 'ap Harry', meaning 'son of Harry', became combined to form the one word 'Parry'. Published pedigrees (often unproven) support this in that they start from family lines whose names change each generation, leading to someone called Harry, whose descendants then take the Parry surname.

However, it is possible that, for a minority of specific families, the name might have developed from other origins. This is an area still to be investigated.

Historical occurrences of the name

As might be expected with any study of a commonly occurring name, biographical dictionaries list numerous Parrys who have left their mark on history. Amongst those most likely to be recognised are:
* Blanche Parry - lady in waiting to Queen Elizabeth I
* Caleb Hillier Parry - British physician
* Sir Charles Hubert Hastings Parry - English Composer
* Sir William Edward Parry - English Rear Admiral and arctic explorer

Name frequency

The Office of National Statistics database indicates that Parry was the 177th most common surname in England, Wales and the Isle of Man in September 2002, with a count of 35,614 occurrences.

Figures from the web site (as at 30 September 2006) show the following changes in the number of Parrys over time:
* Wales - from 9,202 in 1841 to 13,204 in 1901
* England - from 5,100 in 1841 to 12,119 in 1901
* United States - from 9 in 1790 (11 States) to 6,974 in 1930 (all states)
* Canada - from 298 in 1901 to 401 in 1911

The 1881 Canadian census (on the Family Search site) included 181 Parrys.

Distribution of the name

An attempt at mapping a modern distribution of the name in the UK can be found on my web site. Click here. (Please use the 'Back' button to return to this page)

As the frequency figures above also indicate, the distribution supports the suggested origin for the name, with the highest incidence being in Wales. Within Wales itself, there appear to be two areas of higher concentration - one across North Wales, the other around the border area where Breconshire, Herefordshire and Monmouthshire meet. Reasons for this are still to be investigated.

The census figures indicate a gradual movement from Wales to England, along with emigration to other parts of the world. There are entries on the IGI (albeit few in some cases) for South Africa, Zambia, Zimbabwe, India, China, the Caribbean Islands, France, Russia, Switzerland, the Netherlands, Austria, Denmark, Germany, Italy, Mexico, various states in America, Canada, Argentina, Brazil, Peru, Chile, Australia, and New Zealand, as well as a few events at sea.

However, no entries show on the IGI for Parrys in Finland, Iceland, Norway, Sweden, the Atlantic or Indian Ocean Islands, or Central America.

*New Addition 29 Nov 2005* - preliminary mappings of the distributions of Parrys in England and Wales in the 1851-1901 censuses are now on my web site. Click here. (Please use the 'Back' button to return to this page)


Given the frequency of occurrence, this will become a large study. However, having only recently commenced, there are still many records to be collected, even from the easily available sources. Initially the census records have been my priority and the index entries for 1851-1901 have been collected, with work continuing to fill out the detailed information in certain areas. Progress on this will be shown on my census index page. Click here. (Please use the 'Back' button to return to this page)

Other information currently available on my web site includes the probate index entries for the diocese of Brecon, and of Llandaff, the National Probate Index entries from 1858-1923, passengers entering into the Canadian ports who were listed on the Form 30a records (covers approx. 1919-1924), and several pedigrees.

The image at the top of this page is of a tin purchased through ebay. If anyone can identify the originating company for the 'Parry's Treasure Trove', a mixture which included 'Liqueur Mints Super Butter Scotch Lemon Barley Cocoanut Buttered Milk Chocolate', then please contact me at the address below.


A DNA project was organised for the Parry surname in October 2007. Details can be found at Family Tree DNA and participation would be welcomed from any males who are surnamed Parry, or who believe that there is a Parry in their direct male line, even if that is not their current surname. Any Parrys who have already had a DNA test carried out through Family Tree DNA are welcome to join the project. Any Parrys who have had a test carried out through a different company, and who wish to share their results, should contact me directly.

The DNA project is an exciting development of the One-Name Study and one which I anticipate will lead to the discovery of previously unknown connections between people, as well as establishing the distinctiveness of the separate lines created through the surname's multiple origins.