This interesting and unusual surname with variant spellings Pretor and Preator, is an English Cognate of the German name "Praetorius", which is the Latinized form of various surnames meaning "leader" or "headman", from the Latin "praetor", the title of various officials in republican and imperial Rome, used in England in the sense of "reeve", the local representative of the king in a shire until the early 11th Century. The surname itself first appears in records in the mid 12th Century, (see below).Robertus Pretor or Praepositus was recorded in the Curia Rolls of Gloucester in 1208. On November 7th 1563, Mare, daughter of Edward Prater was christened at St. Andrew Undershaft, London while one Elizabeth Prater married Henry Sheres on August 17th 1567, at St. James Clerkenwell, London. On November 1st 1600, Grace, daughter of Robert prater was christened at St. Margaret's, Westminster, London. Thomas Prater, aged 20, who arrived in Virginia on the "Marie Prouidence" in 1622, was servant to John and Kathren Powell, aged 29 and 22, who had arrived there in 1609 and 1622, respectively. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Willelmus Pretor, which was dated 1150, in the Documents illustrative of the Social and Economic History of the Danelaw, during the reign of King Stephen, known as "Count of Blois", 1135 - 1154. 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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