English: from Middle English pertriche ‘partridge’ (via Old French and Latin from Greek perdix), either a metonymic occupational name for a hunter of the bird or a nickname for someone with some fancied resemblance to it, or a habitational name for someone living at a house distinguished by the sign of a partridge. This surname has been established in Ireland since the 17th century. As an American family name, it has probably absorbed some cases of other European surnames with the same meaning, e.g. Italian Pernice .
Dictionary of American Family Names © Patrick Hanks 2003, 2006.