The surname Sparks when found in England is of two possible origins. In the first place the name is of family origin. Surnames, also designated as family names, or alternativety a last name were added to a given, or baptismal name. This name was in many cases inherited and held collectively by members of a family group.
Initially surnames identified one by connection to a family member, foremost being the father, eg. John (son), Jack (son) etc. In this case the name means the son of Sparrowhawk, a personal name found as early as the 11th century in the forms Sperhauoc and Sparhauoc.
Also the name may be of descriptive origin. Descriptive names, otherwise known as nicknames, were used to identify a particular feature or trait of an individual. Nicknames have been applied to many historical figures and was in use before ancestral surnames were introduced. Names such as Walsh were used to describe a person from Wales. Short, Long, or White are readily identified as nicknames. In this case the name means "the sparrow-hawk" from the Midddle English word "sperhauke".
Our investigations of the surname Sparks or a variant show that it appears in English documents from the 13th century when Thomas Sperheuk of Lincolnshire and Nicholas Sparke of Norfolk are mentioned in the hundred rolls of 1273. Later in the century, Magota Spark and Robertus Sparke are listed in the poll tax of Yorkshire in 1379. More recently, from church records we find the marriage of Thomas Sparrowhawke and Susannah Hampton at St Georges, Hanover Square in 1777.
A person by the name of Henry Sparks was convicted and sentenced at a court in Devon to transportation and imprisonment for 7 years. Then was transported to Austratia aboard the convict ship Scarborough as one of seven hundred and seventy eight convicts which formed the first fleet that departed England in May 1787 to establish a penal colony in New South Wales in 1778.