Recorded as Pratley, Pratly, Pretley, Prettley, and possibly others, this is an English locational surname. It originates from some place which oresumably was in one of the surname spellings, but if so we have not been able to identify any such place in any of the known gazetters of the British Ilses for the past three centuries. This suggests that if such a place ever existed, and the surname must have come from somewhere, it does no longer or is 'diminshed' to the point where it is no longer recorded. It is estimated that some five thousand places have disappeared over the past five centuries as a result of changes in agricultural practices, coastal erosion, war and in particular the great plagues of the 14th to the 17th century, which wiped out many places. The name would seem to derive from the pre 7th century personal name 'Praet' meaning astute or cunning, and leah' meaning a fenced enclosure in a forest, or logically a farm, Praets farm. Examples of the surname recordings include Joseph Pratley at the church of St Mary Magdalene, Bermondsey, on September 6th 1607, and John Pretly at St Botolphs Bishopgate, in the city of London, on February 26th 1728.
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