Some surnames reach their maturity by long and involved methods. This is one of them. Recorded as Prewer, Prewor, Prayor, Pryor and possibly Prewers, this English surname owes its existence to being a medieval form of 'prior'. A Prior was a senior civil servant in the church. In the management structure of the day he answered to the Abbot, the head of a monastery, of which there were several hundred in England. These were abolished by King Henry V111 in 1535, but by then the surname was well established.In the thousand years or so that monasteries existed it was forbidden for members of the church to marry, so clearly the surname had to come from somewhere else. It is generally accepted that it was a nickname given to a male who behaved in a pompous manner, - prior's being seen as such by medieval society. The surname Abbot(t) comes from a similar nickname origin, and in real life they had an even worse reputation as shown in the annals of Robin Hood. An example of church register recordings is that of William Prewer, a christening witness at the church of St Dunstans Stepney, in the city of London on October 24th 1683. However the very first recording in any spelling maybe Roger Priur, in the Curia Regis rolls of the county of Sussex in 1205. This was during the reign of King John of England (1199 - 1216), known as 'Lackland' and generally considered to be the very worst monarch in British history. There is quite a lot of competition!
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