Recorded in several forms including Pretrell, Pretwell, Pretswell, Pretsel,Pretsell, Pretzell and others, this is an English surname. It is believed to originate from a "lost" medieval village that translates as the Priest's Well, from the pre 7th century 'preost waella'. It is possible that the dissolution of the monasteries by Henry V111th in 1537 may also have lead to the destruction of Priests Well, although this is pure conjecture. We believe that the site was in East Anglia, but this is not proven and it joins the five thousand or so lost medieval villages, which are known to be the source of unexplained surnames.Examples of villages from similar origins are Prestwich in Lancashire, meaning the Priests Farm and Prestwold in Leicester, meaning the Priests Wood. Villages were often 'cleared' when landlords obtained legal powers to 'enclosure' the common lands and thus depriving tenants of the common grazing. Examples of recordings include Susanne Pretswell who married Moses Tennant at St James Church, Dukes Place, London on November 11th 1684, and Sara Pretsel who married William Baylis at Bidford on Avon, Warwickshire, on November 5th 1720. Surnames became necessary when governments introduced personal taxation. In England this was sometimes known as the 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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