This interesting surname is of Anglo-Saxon origin, and is from a nickname for a clever trickster, derived from the Olde English pre 7th Century "praett", trick; this is found in use as a byname in the 11th Century, the Middle English (1200 - 1500) "pratt(e)" is not recorded as a vocabulary word until the 15th Century. This is an example of that sizeable group of early European surnames that were gradually created from the habitual use of nicknames. The nicknames were given in the first instance with reference to occupation, or to a variety of characteristics, such as physical attributes or peculiarities, mental and moral characteristics, supposed resemblance to an animal's or bird's appearance or disposition, and to habits of dress. In the modern idiom the surname can be found recorded as Pratt, Pratte and Prate. The christening was recorded in London of Abell, son of Arthur Pratt, on December 15th 1567, at St. Bartholomew Exchange, and Thomas Pratt, aged 17 yrs., was an early settler in the New World Colonies, leaving London on the "America", bound for "Virginea", in June 1635. The Coat of Arms most associated with the name is on a blue shield, three bezants, each charged with a blue martlet, and a gold chief, the Crest being a gold demi unicorn salient, holding in the paws a blue mascle. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Wilfric Prat which was dated 1179, in the "Seals Register of Suffolk", during the reign of King Henry 11, known as "The Builder of Churches", 1154 - 1189. 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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