This page is a history on the Pickens name. It is copied from several sources and is not my research. Any additions would be welcome.
The name Pickens is believed by some authorities to have been a variant of the ancient Saxon name of Piggin or Piggins which was probably derived from a nickname for Richard. Other authorities claim that it had its origin in the word "Piccen" in the Lowland Scotch dialect, and was first used as a name in the ninth century.
They were Vikings from Norway who settled the Orkneys and Northern Scotland in 870 AD. They also invaded Northern France in 910 AD. That area became Normandy and the name Piccen is listed in the Domesday Book put together by their descendants in 1086.
The word Piccen they claim, seems to have implied making sharp; to sharpen; as a lance or spear or other pointed instrument. It was also used as the Arms master of a Viking ship (who kept everything sharp).
The name is found in ancient British records in the various forms of Piggin, Piggins, Pinkeny, Pinkie, Pickings, Picking, Piggyn, Piggyns, Pickyng, Pycings, Pickyn, Pickin, Pickins, Picken and Pickens. Families of these names were to be found in various parts of Scotland and in the English counties of Norfolk, London, Northumberland, Worcester and Lincoln. Pickenses were, for the most part, of the Landed Gentry and Yeomanry of Great Britain.
It seems that Robert (of the French court of King Henry IV, 1589-1610)
was the so called Descendant of Picon, or Picken. He is one of four
earliest known ancestors of the Pickens name. The other three are from
Edinburgh, Scotland; Johnne, Andrew, and Peter, all married at the
turn of the century. It is likely they were all brothers. They are
listed in the Gedcom file on my Homepage.
Here is a download of that Gedcom Plus some other Pickens research. Pickens.zip
It was during this time that they started keeping a surname the way we do today. Other branches went from PICON to PICKUN to PICKAN to PICKEN to PICKENS. There are other spellings as well. Among them are PICKIN, PIKKAN, PICKHANS, PICKANES; these are likely misspelled by the town clerk who thought Phoenetics was more important than spelling.
Although the surname Pickens isn't a Sept, there are many of our
ancesters from Clan MacDonald.
The Alexanders are from that clan.
Also Many are from Clan Campbell.
These two clans somtimes
fought over land, but basically occupied the same area, the Western
Isles and the Kintyre Penninsula. Ancestors of both clans have origins
in Clan Bruce of the same area.
Click here for a description of these three Clans.
On Jul 19, 1998, on the PICKENS GenForum, Charles Pickens posted this information in reply to a question regarding the origin of the name: [www.genforum.com/pickens/]
"There are several theories concerning the origin of the name PICKENS. The family has been traced as far as the late 1500's with Robert PICON in Scotland.
However some theorize the family was originally from France, in particular, the area of the Pyrenes mountains, bordering Spain. The English PICKENS believe we came from France, while many of the old Scot clan think the family came from Spain. Dr. A. L. PICKENS suggests that the name sounds Spanish with many possible meanings, all relating back to something sharp or pointed. Perhaps our ancestors were peak dwellers and were referred to as a "picon". Perhaps we have ties back to both France and Spain, with ancestors on both sides of the border."
Obviously, there is much work left to do to confirm our origins outside of the Americas. The early time frame and the very nature of our ancestors, rebellious protestants migrating ahead of religious persecution, unjust treatment, and civilization in general, make the records sparse and hard to find. As one history professor put it, the Scots-Irish are always the 'frontiersman' wherever they go. They forge ahead, don't like to be crowded, don't appreciate too much govenment, love their freedom, and a good argument can make their day! It surely doesn't sound like anyone in MY family! :)"
Dated Weaverville NC,
"Weaverville, NC, Aug 4, 1955. A Professor of genetics today traced the
PICKENS Family History back to its beginnings in Ayreshire, Scotland
through 15 generations. The geneticist, Dr. Andrew L. PICKENS of Queens
College, Charlotte, addressed 200 fellow members of his family and their
guests at 48th annual PICKENS Family reunion at Frank PICKENS home here.
Dr. PICKENS has been to England and to Scotland and examined court
records there to find the first Andrew PICKENS, then spelled 'PICON'.
He traced the accomplished of the family under King Henry IV of France
and then the migration of three brothers to the U.S. and the part they
played in the Revolutionary War. Later he showed how members of the clan
were allied on either side in the War Between the States, mentioning
several places in the south where a PICKENS had been in action.
Mrs. Asbury BARNETT, State President of the United Daughters of the
Confederacy spoke on days in her girlhood in Alabama when the government
[sic] of the State was a PICKENS.
"Miss PICKENS recognized Troy PICKENS of California as the one who traveled the greatest distance to attend the reunion." If any of you have old family records to share that may shed more light on the report that Dr. PICKENS gave at this gathering, it would be of great interest, and sincerely appreciated.
Israel Pickens was the governor of Alabama, the South Carolina governor was Francis Pickens, served during the War Between the States, was governor when SC seceeded. His wife Lucy was considered one of most beautiful women in Confederacy, her picture is on a Confederate note, $20 I believe, I have a replica somewhere. Francis was also ambassador to Russia before the War. Lucy is said to have been much admired by the Tsar, their daughter was born in Russia and recieved many gifts from him.
I can be mailed to at
S. Clark Pickens
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