The Parhams of Faulkner and White Counties, Arkansas descended from two Mangum brothers, Henry and George, who took their mother's maiden name "Parham. Their mother was Martha Parham who married Archibald Mangum. This short sketch concerns Martha's family.
As with many old lineages we have found more than one tale about the origins of the Parham name. Most agree in the major aspects but differ slightly in the details. One story dates from a 1908 article in the genealogical column of the Richmond (Va.) times dispatch. It says that the name is Welch and that the names as found in 1273 were Richard de Parham, then John, Nicholas, and Ralph, all with 'de' until 1594 when there is mentioned a John Parham. Wales, now part of Great Britain, was in ancient times a separate country. The name Parham in South Saxon is "Parrock-hams" meaning an enclosure and sometimes a dwelling. Therefore, John came from the "house or dwelling" in or near the enclosure, or John of the Parkhouse, or John Parkham. 'Ham' in the old Welsh means house in or near the woods. "Parham House" was built by one Palmer in 1560. The village and church had also been called "Parham" a hundred years before that.
Most researchers now believe that the name is strictly English. A study by "The Media Research Bureau" in Washington, D.C., for Dr. Lenox D. Baker of Durham, N.C., has the following:
The name of Parham is derived from the residence of its first bearers either in the parish of that name in the County of Sussex, or Suffolk, England. The name had its origin in the Old English 'per', having reference to the pear tree, and 'ham' or 'hamm' meaning "a piece of land, enclosure". Thus, the literal meaning of the name is "Pear tree Enclosure".
In Sussex the name was written Perham as early as A.D. 959 and as late as the thirteen century. Other early spellings of the name were Parhame, Pearham, Parram, Parrum, Parum, Param, Parhom, Parham, etc. of which the form last mentioned is the most frequently in evidence in America in modern times.
Although probably originating in the Counties of Sussex and Suffolk, bearers of the name were early resident in various other parts of England, including the Counties of Cambridge, Wilts., Norfolk, Hants, and London. These lines were chiefly of the yeomen and merchant classes.
Mrs. Hailey in her book [See Publications Page]presents additional information. The Domesday Book in 1086 listed Perreham in Suffolk. The Auria Regis Rolls of 1206 spelled it Pereham and the Visitation of Norwick in 1254 spelled it Perham. Today most people with the name spell it Parham although some northern states have Perhams.
English records do show that the Parhams were prominent people. They show 'Richard de Parham, Camp, 1273, & John de Parham, Knight of Edward I, June 1289. A Sir Edward Parham was knighted during the reign of the Stewarts.
Present day Parhams usually pronounce the name like the surname "Parr". The "h" is silent making it sound like "Parr'um". The Mangum-Parhams of Arkansas seem to be a minority that pronounce the "Par" as "Pair". It sounds like "Pair'um".
The Parham name is also found in several countries, including England, Canada, Australia, South Africa and Kenya. These countries were, of course, English in origin. There are many Parham towns and communities. Parham is a town in Ontario, Canada and Perham is a town in Minnesota. Antigua has a Parham Town situated on Parham Sound. There is a Parham community in Mississippi, 10 miles east of Amory and a Parham Town area in Madison Co., Georgia near Elbert County. There are many more examples.
There are more than one version of who were the earliest Parhams in America (The colonies). The Media Research Burea says that the earliest to America was possibly William "Parum", who settled at Boston, Mass., before 1657 and had issue by his wife Frances of a son named John, born in that year. These 'Parhams' apparently remained in Massachusetts and Pennsylvania. In 1655 we find James and Thomas Parham in Charles Citie County, Virginia records. They were listed in court records as trial witnesses, being paid bounties for killing wolves, etc. The medium of exchange at that time was tobacco, probably due to the shortage of English coinage