This is what can best be described as a "lost" locational surname in that whilst there is clear evidence that the surname derives from a place, that place has disappeared. The reason why is can no longer be found may well lie in the meaning of the surname itself. It is of Olde English pre 10th century origins, and translates as the "waella" (spring) of the priest (preost), and the dissolution of the monasteries by Henry V111 may also have lead to the destruction of the "Priests Well". We believe that the site was in East Anglia, but this is not proven and therefore joins the five thousand or so medieval lost villages, which are known to be 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. Usually villages were destroyed when the landlords obtained legal powers to enclosure the common lands. This deprived the tenants of the common grazing and forced them top leave to seek work. In doing so they took as their surname that of their former village. Examples of the recordings include Susanne Pretswell who married Moses Tennant at St James Church, Dukes Place, London on November 11th 1684, whilst further afield Sara Proswell (a variant style) married William Baylis at Bidford on Avon, Warwickshire on November 5th 1720. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Samuel Presswell, which was dated February 21st 1671, christened at St Dunstans in the East, Stepney, during the reign of King Charles 11, known as "The Merry Monarch" 1660 - 1685 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.
© Copyright: Name Origin Research 1980 - 2017