This noble name, with variant spelling Prins, and the French cognate Leprince, derives from the Old French, (Middle English) "Prince", ultimately from the Latin "Princeps", from "primus", first, and "capere", to take, and was originally given as a distinguishing nickname to someone who behaved in a regal fashion, or to one who had played the part of a prince in a medieval pageant. The surname was first recorded in the latter part of the 12th Century (see below), and other early recordings include: Robert le Prins, recorded in the 1327 Subsidy Rolls of Sussex, and Willelmus Prynce, in the 1379 Poll Tax Returns of Yorkshire. In 1418, John Prince, a priest in St. Michael's Church, Norwich, was noted in the Norfolk County Records. A Coat of Arms granted to the Prince family of Shrewsbury and Abbey Foregate, Shropshire in 1584, depicts a gold saltire, surmounted by a cross engrailed in ermine, on a red shield. On the Crest is a cubit arm, clothed in red garment trimmed with an ermine cuff, and holding in the hand three gold pine apples with green stalk and leaves, emerges from a ducal coronet. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Robert Prince, which was dated 1177, in the "Pipe Rolls of Cumberland", during the reign of King Henry 11, known as "The Builder of Churches", 1154 - 1189. 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.
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