This rare surname is of medieval English origin and is topographical for a dweller by the priest's enclosure, deriving from the Old English pre 7th Century 'preost', a priest, and '(ge)haeg', boundary. However, Pracy may also be a dialectal variant of 'Prees', in Lancashire and Shropshire, which derives from the Welsh 'pres' or 'prys', brushwood. Priesthaywood Farm in Wappenham, Northamptonshire is an example of 'preosthaeg'. Topographical names are some of the earliest names to be created, as topographical features, whether natural or manmade, provided obvious convenient means of identification. Among the recorded examples in London is the christening of Eliabeth Pracy in February 1777, at St. Luke's, Old Street, Finsbury. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of William Presthey (witness), which was dated 1377, in the Assize Rolls of Essex, during the reign of King Richard 11, known as 'Richard of Bordeaux', 1377-1399. Surnames became necessary when governments introduced personal taxation. In England this was 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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