The Sackett surname

This article is also posted on Wikipedia as Sackett (surname)

Sackett (occasionally Sacket) is an English surname originating in the Isle of Thanet, Kent, probably at Sackett's Hill in the parish of St Peter in Thanet (now Broadstairs and St Peter's). The earliest record of the name dates from 1317 when William Saket of Southborough, St Peter in Thanet, was in a legal dispute with the Abbot of St Augustine, Canterbury.[1]

The Sacketts were among the first colonists of America, with Simon Sackett arriving at the Massachusetts Bay Colony a few months after the Winthrop Fleet of 1630, and John Sackett, possibly a nephew of Simon, arriving at the New Haven Colony sometime before 1641.[2][3]


Early variants were Sakt and Saket. Later records are of Sacket, Sackett, Sackette. The only extant forms are Sacket and Sackett, with Sackett predominating.

Origin of the surname

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;[2]
  • Roman archers, from the Latin Sagittarius, an arrow;
  • manufacturer of sacks, being a diminutive of either Old English sacc or Norse-Viking Sekkr;
  • an "adversary", from French Sacquet and Old German Sacco, meaning to dispute, strive, blame;[4]
  • 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.[5]

The word "sacket" has two dictionary definitions: a bag; and a term of reproach or abuse.[6]

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.

Notable Sacketts

  • Nathaniel Sackett (1737–1805) was George Washington's spymaster during the American Revolutionary War.
  • Augustus Sacket (1769–1827) founded the village of Sackets Harbor, Lake Ontario, New York.
  • Hon William Augustus Sackett (1811–1895) was a U.S. Representative from New York.
  • General Delos Bennet Sacket (1822–1885) was a commander in the American Civil War and became Inspector General of the United States Army.
  • Frederic Mosley Sackett (1868–1941) was US Ambassador to Germany during the collapse of the Weimar Republic and Hitler's rise to power.[7]
  • Julia Sanderson (née Sackett), (1888–1975) was a singer and actress who achieved stardom in both New York and London.
  • Albert M. Sackett (1920– ), Rear Admiral, US Navy, fought in three wars (World War II, Korea and Vietnam) and served 40 years of active duty.
  • David Lawrence Sackett, OC, FRSC (1934– ) is a Canadian medical doctor and a pioneer in evidence-based medicine.
  • Susan Sackett (1943– ) is an American author and screenwriter, best known for her involvement in the Star Trek franchise.
  • Penny Sackett (1956– ) is an astronomer and Chief Scientist of Australia.

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.[8] There are about 5,500 Sacketts in the USA, a frequency of 20 per million, and a ranking of 5,759.[9] Australia has about 70 residents with the name, which is ranked 19,192, with a frequency of 4 per million.[10]

Sackett places

  • Sackett's Hill, St Peter in Thanet, Kent, "so called from its being the estate of an ancient yeomanry family of this name".[11]
  • Sackets Harbor, New York
  • Sackett's Wells, California
  • Sackett Lake, New York

Fictional characters

The author Louis L'Amour chose the name Sackett for the central characters in a series of novels after finding Sackett's Well in California.[12]


  1. David Oliver, Late Mediæval Thanet and the Cinque Ports (Broadstairs, Kent: The Author, 1997).
  2. Charles H. Weygant, The Sacketts of America: Their Ancestors and Descendants, 1630–1907 (Newburgh, NY: The Author, 1907).
  3. Robert Anderson, The Great Migration Begins – Immigrants to New England 1620–1633 (Boston: New England Historic Genealogical Society, 1995).
  4. Henry Harrison, Surnames of the United Kingdom: a Concise Etymological Dictionary (London: Eaton Press, 1912).
  5. Alfred Barrett Sackett, MC, MA, (1895–1977), private papers.
  6. Oxford English Dictionary.
  7. Bernard Burke, Ambassador Frederic Sackett and the collapse of the Weimar Republic, 1930–1933 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1994).
  8. Surnames of England and Wales – the ONS list.
  9. US Census Bureau.
  10. British Surnames and Surname Profiles.
  11. John Lewis, The History and Antiquities Ecclesiastical and Civil of the Isle of Tenet in Kent (London: 1723).
  12. Letter, 28 June 1981, Louis L'Amour to Ruth Elzey Rawlings, "I got the name from a desert well somewhat west of Yuma, Arizona, although it is in California. The "well" (you have to dig several barrels of sand before reaching water) was discovered by a Lt. Delos B. Sackett who was with a government expedition and the water was desperately needed for their mules."