This is a locational surname which derives from the villages of Holt Preen and Church Preen in the county of Shropshire. The surname is recorded in many spellings including Preen, Preene, Prene, Prenne, Preenn, Prium, Prehn, and others, and the origin is Olde English pre 7th century. The derivation is from the word 'preon' meaning a brooch, and in a transferred sense describes the sort of land on which the villages stand. Locational surnames were usually given to people when they left their original homesteads and moved to 'distant' places, although 'distant' in medieval times may be the next village.To call people by the name of their former home was an easy form of identification, of a sort which is still used as a nickname, even in the 20th century. The name was an early recording in the London church registers, but was earlier still in Shropshire. Examples of these name recordings taken from the registers include Joyce Preen of Ludlow on November 18th 1570, Richard Preene of Bridgenorth on April 18th 1593, and Jesper Prenne, christened at St Katherines by the Tower (of London), on May 15th 1597. Other recordings are Thomas Preen at St Peters Cornhill, London, on September 11th 1614, and Mary Pren, christened at St Dunstans, Stepney, on April 26th 1655, during the 'reign' of Oliver Cromwell. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Frauncis Preene, which was dated September 29th 1570, christened at Hope Bowdler, Salop, during the reign of Queen Elizabeth 1st, known as 'Good Queen Bess', 1558 - 1603. 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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