This interesting surname is English in origin, but also prominent in Ireland since the 13th century. It is locational name from any of the various places so named in England, the most notable one being in Lancashire. This is recorded as "Prestune" in the Domesday Book of 1086, and as "Prestona" in 1094 in the Lancashire Charters. The placenames are composed of the same elements, which are the Olde English pre 7th Century "preost", priest and "tun", an enclosure or settlement; hence the meaning may have been either "village with a priest", or "a village held by the Church". Locational surnames were developed when former inhabitants of a place moved to another area, usually to seek work, and were best identified by the name of their birthplace. The surname itself was first recorded in the late 12th Century (see below), and interesting namebearers, recorded in the "Dictionary of National Biography", include Walter de Preston, the sheriff of Northamptonshire in 1207, and his son Gilbert, Chief Justice of the court of common pleas in 1242. The most important nameholder was probably Thomas Preston, Viscount Tara of the Irish nobility (1585 - 1655). The son of Lord Gormanston, he was ultimately defeated by Cromwell's son in law, Henry Ireton, at the battle of Waterford in 1650. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Peter de Prestun, which was dated 1185, in the "Records of the Knight Templars in 12th Century England". This was during the reign of King Henry 11, known as "The Builder of Churches", 1154 - 1189.
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