This interesting surname, which is chiefly found in Yorkshire and Norfolk, is of early medieval English origin, and is an example of the 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 a variety of features, such as physical attributes or peculiarities, mental and moral characteristics, including supposed resemblance to an animal's or bird's appearance or disposition, or to habits of dress. In this instance, the nickname would have been given to a valued member of the community, from the Middle English, Old French "precios", precious (from the Late latin "pretiosus", a derivative of "pretium", price, prize). It may also derive from a medieval female given name, originally an affectionate nickname. "Preciosa" (without surname) is noted in the 1203 Curia Regis Rolls of Hertfordshire. John Precious is listed in the 1327 Subsidy Rolls of Suffolk. In the modern idiom the surname can be found as Pretious or Precious. Recordings of the surname from Yorkshire Church Registers include: the marriage of Thomas Precious and Jenet Howton on January 13th 1549, at Aldborough by York; the marriage of Johanes Precious and Agneta Foster on June 27th 1563, at Allerton, Mauleverer; and the christening of Isabella, daughter of Robert Precious, on June 29th 1583, at Kirby Hill by Boroughbridge. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Willelmus Precios, which was dated 1301, in the "Subsidy Rolls of Yorkshire", during the reign of King Edward 1, known as "The Hammer of the Scots", 1272 - 1307. 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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