This rare and interesting name is of English origin and is locational from Prestney's Farm near Great Horkesley in Essex. The derivation is from the Old English pre 7th Century 'preost' a priest or parson, with 'eg', an island, thus 'priest's island', perhaps referring to the moat, a common medieval feature, around the religious community. Apart from a few later recordings of this name in London, Prestney is recorded only in Essex and Suffolk, although in 1346 one Richard de Prestney is mentioned in 'Inquisitions and Assesmauts relating to Feudal Aids'. However, the earliest recording after this date is the marriage of Edmund Prestney and Marie Barret on December 10th 1619 at St. Michaels, Colchester. In the Middle Ages, on leaving their village, to seek work elsewhere, people would often adopt the placename as a means of identification. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Richard de Prestonheye, which was dated 1291, 'Pleas of the Forest', Essex, during the reign of King Edward 1, '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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