Recorded in a range of spellings including Pickavance, Pickervance, Pickavant, Pickvance and Pickance, this is an English medieval surname. According to Canon Charles Bardsley, the famous Victorian etymologist who died in 1880, the surname is one of a group of Middle English names which developed from the habitual use of a phrase or nickname. In this case the development he claims, is from the word 'prike' meaning to spur and the French word 'avant', to go forward, and hence a surname probably given in the first instance to a fast horseman, a messenger, or perhaps a jockey. The first recording would seem to be that of William Prikeavant of the county of Bedfordshire in the Hundred Rolls of landowners in the year 1273. The name had spread widely by the 17th century, with recordings in church registers at the end of the Elizabethan period which include: Joan Pickedevant who married John Gibbs at St James Clerkenwell, in the city of London, in the year 1600, Edward Pickavance, given as being a husbandman, the correct word for a farmer, of Much Woolton in Cheshire in 1662, Simon Prickadvance of Peasmarsh in Sussex in 1678, and Henry Pickervance at the famous church of St Martins in the Field, Westminster, in 1765..
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