This interesting name is of early medieval English origin, and derives from a nickname given to one who served an apprenticeship, familiarly known as a "prentice", or "prentis". The Calendar of Letter Books of the City of London, for 1350, records one John King, called Prentiz, mercer, where King is the surname, mercer the occupation, and Prentiz the nickname. The name derives from the Middle English, Old French "(a)prentis", apprentice, learner of a craft, from the Old French verb "aprendre", to learn, understand, from the Latin "appre(he)ndere", to understand, grasp. The following lines appear in Chaucer's "Canterbury Tales", of the late 14th Century: "A Prentys Whilom dwelt in our citee, And of a craft of vitaillers was he". The modern surname, as Prentice, Prentis and Prentiss, is found in both England and Scotland. The marriage of William Prentice and Alice Alsop was recorded at St. Lawrence Jewry, London, on January 23rd 1547. A Coat of Arms granted to the Prentice family is a shield divided per gyronny of eight azure and gold, on a silver chief, a fleur-de-lis between two crescents, the Crest being an eagle displayed holding in the dexter claw a dagger, and in the sinister a pistol all proper. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Thomas Prentys, which was dated 1292, in the "Pipe Rolls of London", 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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