This is a curious surname, which does not appear to have anything to do with the 'priesthood' as such. According to all known reference sources it is locational, and a dialectal variant of the Cheshire surname (and placename) - Priestnall. If this is so, then the development is from Priestnall to Prestner, as in Geoffrey Prestner (see below) or John Pristnor, whose son Robert was christened at St Andrews, Holborn, London, on August 8th 1613. What is quite clear is that the surname in its 'modern' spelling has been recorded since the beginning of the 17th century, which does tend to confirm the origin is correct. The meaning is 'The Priests hall' which probably referred to what the late 20th century would be call 'A hall of residence' for student priests, although it is possible that it could refer to a house or even lands actually owned by a priest. As the medieval church was certainly not above a bit of 'property development' anything is possible. Why the surname should 'suddenly' appear is not clear either, but suggests that the 16th century Enclosure Acts forced a rapid clearance of the village, and hence the London recordings. Examples of these recordings include John Priestner, the son of John and Mary Priestner, christened at Christ Church, Spittlegate, London on June 17th 1739. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Geoffrey Prestner, which was dated 1601, in the register of Wills at County hall, Chester, during the reign of Queen Elizabeth 1, known as "Good Queen Bess', 1558 - 1603. 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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