Recorded in various spelling forms including Pratt, Prate, Prett, and Pritt, this interesting surname is of Anglo-Saxon origins. It is derived from a pre 7th century word "praett" meaning a trick; and as such was probably a nickname for a magician or conjuror. It is an example of that sizeable group of early European surnames that were gradually created from either an occupation, or from a variety of characteristics, such as physical attributes or peculiarities, mental and moral characteristics, and to habits of dress.The surname is first recorded in the 12th century making it one of the earliest on record anywhere in the world. Examples of these early recordings include: Aedmund Pret of Berkshire in the Pipe Rolls of that county in 1192, and Dereman le Prat of Kent in 1198. Later examples from surviving registers include the christening Abell Pratt, the son of Arthur Pratt, on December 15th 1567, at the church of St. Bartholomew Exchange, in the city of London, whilst Thomas Pratt, aged 17 years was an early settler in the New World Colonies. He left England on the ship "America", bound for the colony of Virginia, in June 1635. The first recorded spelling of the family name is believed to be that of Wilfric Prat. This was dated 1179, in the "Seals Register" of the county of Suffolk, during the reign of King Henry 11 of England, 1154 -1189. Surnames became necessary when governments introduced personal taxation. In England this was sometimes 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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