The Parham Family

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There is now available a CD-ROM of all the old "Parham Records" genealogy bulletins plus photos of Parham related places in England, and undexed Parham research records collected since the late 1960's.

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.

Mrs. Hailey reports that the earliest Parhams she has found seem to have been Giles and Bartholomew Peram. They were apparently single men, possibly brothers or father and son, and they were massacred by Indians in March, 1621/2.4 Algonquin Indians arose and killed 347 people in coordinated attacks on various scattered settlements along the James river in Virginia. Obviously, these two individuals did not leave descendants.

It is speculation but we believe that James and Thomas of Charles Citie County, Virginia, mentioned above, were the forefathers of most of the Southeastern Parhams.

Our earliest confirmed ancestor was John Parham who died in Elbert County, Georgia in 1805. Extensive research has failed to verify his ancestry. He may have descended from one Thomas Parham of 1655, Charles City County, Virginia. John Parham migrated into North Carolina and finally into Elbert County, Georgia. John was a Revolutionary War patriot as was several of his sons. John moved to Elbert Co., Georgia sometime after 1799. Son Kennon was the only one to remain behind in North Carolina. John made his will on 2 Aug. 1804. He died in 1805. In his will he names his wife Mary and the following children:

  • Elizabeth Bennett
  • Dickson Parham
  • Thomas Parham
  • John Parham
  • Lucy Parham
  • Mildred Parham
  • Mary Upshaw
  • Cannon Parham
  • Frances Parham
  • Holebery Hicks
  • Isom Parham
  • Nancy Sargent

The executors were sons John and Isom and friend William Davis. He was buried in the Parham cemetery on a small plot of ground about a mile and a half south of the Anioch Baptist Church, near the waters of Little Dove Creek, Elbert County, Georgia. The Elbert County, Georgia, descendants erected a memorial marker at the site of the graves of John Parham and some of his kin. The dedication was 30 April 1989.


(7 Sept. 1762-3 Nov. 1843)

Cannon Parham, eldest son of John, was probably born in Granville Co., N.C. soon after John's migration into N.C. Cannon's name was spelled both ways in the public records. The original name was obviously Cannon and probably actually pertained to the popular artillery of that era. Times were changing and names were too. Kennon began to be the accepted spelling of the name and was the one used by his son.

Kennon was in the Revolutionary war. He volunteered in the fall of 1780 in Granville County, North Carolina for a term of 3 months and served under Captain Stephen Merritt, Lt. Joseph Langston and Ensign John Duncan.

Kennon married Milly Parham, 28 July 1783. Her parents are unknown but she may have been a daughter or sister of the Lewis Parham who co-signed the wedding bond with "Cannon". We don't know when Milly died, but she seemed to be about the same age or slightly younger than Kennon who was born in 1762. She was alive when the census was taken in 1840 but she was not mentioned in Kennon's 1843 will and had apparently died in the interim. Their known children were Thompson, Tabitha, Abbie, Millie, Pattie (Martha), Elizabeth, Elvira and Kennon Jr.7

Kennon did not follow his father and brothers to Georgia when they went to take free Indian land about 1800.


(1804-26 Nov. 1877)

Kennon Parham Jr. was one of the later children of Kennon Sr. He married Tabitha White Morris, daughter of Stephen Morris and Rhoda Parham, on 13 May 1825. It is unknown what relationship Rhoda Parham was to the family. Kennon & Tabitha's marriage bond is listed in the Granville Co., N.C. records. Tabitha was born 5 Oct. 1795. Tabitha's grandfather, John Morris, married Phoebe Tudor sometime after 1770. He and Tabitha had at least four children including Martha who married Archibald Mangum.


Martha Parham is the namesake of all those 'Mangums' of Central and N.E. Arkansas who call themselves 'Parham'. Two of her sons, Henry and George, fled to Arkansas about 1881 after a fracas in N.C. which saw the tragic death of a young man at a barn dance. The complete story of that incident is recounted on the The Incident Page.

Martha Parham married Archibald Jefferson Mangum in Granville Co., N.C. on 12 Feb. 1847 and they had several children. See the page on Pleasant Mangum

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