This very unusual and intesting surname is medieval and now English. Recorded as Pray and Prayer, it is in both cases ultimately French, and residential, and has nothing whatsover to do with religion! As Pray it originates from a village in Normandy called Pre and hence the French surname du Pre or from living by a pre or pray. This was one of the early names for a water meadow. It was probably introduced into England at or immediately after the famous Norman Conquest of 1066, although the first known or at least surviving recording is that of Nicholas de Pre in the Assize Rolls of Somerset in the year 1230. As Prayer, the ultimate origin remains French but from a place called Presle in the departement of Calvados. Presles is however just the plural form of Pre, so the meaning remains essentially the same. The first recording from this source, or again at least the first surviving one, is that of Robert de Praiers. This is in the Pipe Rolls of the county of Sussex, England, in the year 1161 during the reign of King Henry 11nd, 1154 - 1189.
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