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Our 2,766 members have registered
2,405 study surnames with us
and a further 6,120 variant names.

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About the study

This One-Name Study has been growing for about 25 years and covers the British Isles, British Commonwealth countries (such as Australia, Canada, the Caribbean, India, South Africa and New Zealand) and a few other occurrences such as Chile. The major exception is the United States, although inevitably some Peak/e's have been traced into the US. The other reason for this significant exception is simply the complexity of searching in the US and the number of families that acquired the surname as a result of clerks allocating the surname at Ellis Island, New York, when they mis-heard eastern European names and at least one Afro-American Peake family.

Variant names

Peak and Peake. Peake tends to be the more common spelling. Peek/e has not been included although it sometimes occurs, particularly in East Anglia. However these spellings are fairly minor. The surname McPeake can also be found in Ireland, but has not been included.

Name origin

The Peak-Peake surname is a geographical descriptive surname and as a result there are many branches throughout the British Isles (although largely England and Wales and Ireland), and it is probable that there are no ancestral links between the surname occurences.

Historical occurrences of the name

The surname has had those who have illuminated the surname and others that have brought the surname into ill repute. Those who have been publicly acknowleged with honour thrust upon them include:

  • Sir Robert Peake (1605-1667) - Royalist and Court Painter, knighted by King Charles I
  • Sir William Peake (c1603-1676) - Lord Mayor of London
  • Sir John Peake (his son) (c1637-1688) - Lord Mayor of London
  • Sir Henry Peake (1753-1825) - Royal Navy Shipwright and Surveyor of the Navy
  • Thomas Ladd Peake (son of above) (1782-1865) - Admiral in the Royal Navy
  • Osbert Peake (1897-1966) - 1st Viscount Ingleby, British Government Minister
  • Sir Harald Peake (brother of above) (1899-1978) - Company director and services during World War II
  • Archibald Henry Peake (1859-1920) - Thrice Premier of South Australia
  • Arthur Samuel Peake (1865-1929) - Theologian and biblical scholar
  • Mervyn Peake (1911-1968) - Novelist, Poet, Painter and Illustrator

The family with the longest traceable history is that of the Henllan, Denbighshire Peake family that settled at Henllan in the late 13th century with descendants now living in England, New Zealand and Canada.

Name frequency

The Surname Atlas analysing the 1881 Census data gives the following frequency for the surname variants: Peak - 1257, Peake - 2891, Peek - 792, Peeke - 174.

The Surname Profiler analyising both the 1881 Census data and 1998 data gives the following frequency for the surname variants: Peak - 1257 (1881) 1038 (1998), Peake - 2881 (1881) 3452 (1998), Peeke - 154 (1881) 174 (1998).

As can be seen the Peake variant is the most common spelling of the surname.

Distribution of the name

The Surname Atlas and Surname Profiler with data from the 1881 Census indicates that the Peake surname is most common in the Black Country (Cheshire, Shropshire, Staffordshire) and into Lancashire; the West Country (Devon and Cornwall); East Anglia (Norfolk and Suffolk); and in Kent, plus London and Middlesex.

The Peak distribution is little different, with the principal concentration in Lancashire, Cheshire and Staffordshire, Cornwall, Kent, and London, Middlesex.

The Peak-Peake surname can now be found in most of the former and current British Commonwealth countries, South America (primarily Chile) and the United States.


This is a 'low-budget' one-name study and as a result there has been minimal expenditure on civil registration certificates, probate records and private research. Primary research has used the Great Britain Censuses from 1841 to 1911, 1939 Register, FamilySearch (International Genealogical Index), National Burial Index (for Great Britain) and FreeBDM (for England/Wales civil registration indexes, 1837+). Civil registration records for Australian states, New Zealand and some on-line Canadian provinces. Military lists such as the Commonwealth War Graves Commission, Australian military records for World War I and II, and the British Medal Index for World War I. Passenger arrival records for Australian states, New Zealand, Ellis Island (New York) and Canadian indexes. Other internet indexes have been used as well.  Extensive information has been extracted from the primary 'pay-to-view' sites, Ancestry and FindMyPast and added to the data base.  A quite extensive data base has now been created.

This information has been extracted into a Legacy family history package software, creating family groups and intergenerational charts. As a result this material is easily searched, although complicated by the common useage of many forenames, such as John, William, etc.