Recorded in several spellings forms including Pickance, Pickavance, Pickvance, and Pickavant, this is an English surname of pre medieval origins. It derives from the French phrase 'pricke avant' meaning to spur on, and as such was probably a metonymic or nickname for a messenger or herald, one who was in advance of the main army. After the Norman-French Invasion of 1066, the language of England was officially changed to French, and those people who accepted the situation and wished for advancement, in turn learnt French and adopted French expressions. Job descriptive surnames however rarely became herditary unless a son took on the father's occupation. This may well explain why this surname is quite rare. Early examples of the surname recording include: Jan Pickedevant, at St. James church, Clerkenwell, in 1606, Edward Picavance given as being a farmer of Chester in 1662, and Simon Prickadvance, in the Hearth Tax rolls of the county of Sussex in 1678. The first recorded spelling of the family name is believed to be that of William Prickeavant. This was dated 1273, in the "Pipe Rolls" of the county of Bedford, during the reign of King Edward 1st of England, 1272 - 1307. Surnames became necessary when governments introduced personal taxation. In England this was sometimes known as Poll Tax. Throughout the centuries, surnames in every country have continued to "develop" often leading to astonishing variants of the original spelling.
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