Recorded in the registers of France, Germany, Great Britain and Ireland, in the spellings of Praill, Prell, Preil, Prill, Pryell, and intermixing with Prall, Prahl, Prawle and Pryale, there seems little doubt that we have at least two possible origins for the name. We believe that the first five spellings have the French-Breton source of 'priel', a word used in pre 12th century times to describe a 'terrain argileux' or clay ground, and therefore somebody who lived or farmed such an area. This origin suggests that the name may have been a Huguenot entry into the British Isles, and if so probably after 1580.According to the Irish etymologist MacLysagt, the surname as Priel, Priall, and Pryell is recorded in the Hearth Tax Rolls for the county of Tipperary in 1660, and it was previously recorded in France in 1611, when Nicholas Priel was a witness at the village of Crevic, in the department of Meurthe-et-Moselle. The second possible origin is Germanic and pre 8th century, deriving from 'prahl', a nickname for a robust character. The first recording would seem to be in Germany in the 14th century, when Bartolomew Pralevot, a diminutive form of Prahl, appears in the charters of the city of Lubeck in 1324. The recordings in the British Isles registers include such examples as Joane Prell, who married Harry Hill at St Mary Magdalene, London, on August 19th 1548, and John Prile married at St James church, Dukes Street, on June 3rd 1666, the year of the Great Fire of London. Peter Pryal was recorded at Killala, County Mayo, Ireland, on January 1st 1760, John William Priel at St George's in the East, Stepney, London, on June 9th 1805, and Michael Pryall at Ballycastle, also County Mayo, on August 31st 1865. Throughout the centuries, surnames in every country have continued to "develop," often leading to astonishing variants of the original spelling.
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