The Sackett one-name study
The objectives of the Sackett one-name study are to research, record, and share historical and genealogical data on Sackett descendants worldwide. To further this work, researchers have formed The Sackett Family Association which is open to anyone with a declared interest in the Sackett family history and a willingness to share research findings with other members. There are no fees for membership. The Association maintains a genealogical database, arranges biennial reunions, and is engaged in a DNA study.
Early variants were Sakt and Saket. Later records are of Sacket, Sackett, Sackette, Sackitt. The only extant forms are Sacket, Sackett and Sackitt, with Sackett by far the dominant version.
Several derivations of the surname Sackett have been proposed:
- descent from Adam le Sackere, a “sacker” and exporter of wool, whose ancestors came to England with William the Conqueror;
- Roman archers, from the Latin Sagittarius, an arrow;
- manufacturer of sacks, being a diminutive of either Old English sacc or Norse-Viking Sekkr;
- a nickname from Middle English sa(c)ket ‘small sack, purse’, perhaps for a maker of purses (Oxford Dictionary of Family Names, 2016);
- an “adversary”, from French Sacquet and Old German Sacco, meaning to dispute, strive, blame;
- a “cottager by the sea”, the early form “Saket” meaning “sea”, then pronounced “say”, and “cot”, on the analogy of Beckett, “bee” and “cot” indicating a cottager who kept bees.
The word “sacket” has two dictionary definitions: a bag; and a term of reproach or abuse.
None of these possible derivations of the surname is likely. Any would have resulted in the name arising independently in different places; but such is the concentration of the name in early records in a small area of Thanet that it may be supposed that the name originated in a single family. Certainly, the surname, first found in 1317, is seen to predate the earliest recorded use (c1440) of the word “sakett” meaning a bag.
Historical occurrences of the name
The Sackett family originated in England in the Isle of Thanet, Kent, probably at Sackett’s Hill in the parish of St Peter’s. The earliest record is that of William Saket of Southborough, St Peter in Thanet who, in 1317, was in a legal dispute with the Abbot of St Augustine.
The Sacketts were among the first colonists of America, with Simon Sackett arriving at the Massachusetts Bay Colony just a few months after the Winthrop Fleet of 1630, and John Sackett, possibly a nephew of Simon, arriving in New Haven sometime before 1641. The Sackett Family Association website includes genealogical sketches of a number of notable Sacketts, among them: Nathaniel Sackett (1737-1805) who was George Washington’s spymaster during the American Revolutionary War; Augustus Sacket (1769-1827) who founded the village of Sackets Harbor on Lake Ontario; General Delos Bennet Sacket (1822-1885) who, after gallant Civil War service, became Inspector General of the United States Army; and Frederic Moseley Sackett (1868-1941), US Ambassador to Germany during the collapse of the Weimar Republic and Hitler’s rise to power.
Frequency and distribution of the name
Although the name originated in England, there are now many more Sacketts in the United States. The great majority of these are in the line of Simon Sackett the colonist (1595-1635). Sacketts in the UK number just under 500, giving a frequency of 9 per million, and a surname ranking of 11,423. There are about 5,500 Sacketts in the USA, a frequency of 20 per million, and a ranking of 5,759. Australia has about 70 residents with the name, which is ranked 19,192, with a frequency of 4 per million.
As well as extensive compiled genealogies, the Association’s website has databases of Sackett records from Bibles & Diaries; Births & Baptisms; Books; Census; Church member records; Court & Criminal; Deaths, Burials, & Cemeteries; Directories; Land records; Marriages; Military; Newspapers; Passenger lists; Research papers; Societies & Organizations; and Wills, Administrations, & Inventories.
The Association is conducting a DNA project with the primary objective of establishing a genetic link between the lines of Simon Sackett the colonist, 1595-1635, and John Sackett of New Haven, c1623-1684. Further details are available from the DNA Project Administrator (see http://www.sackettfamily.info) or visit http://www.familytreedna.com and search on surname Sackett.