Recorded in many spellings as shown below, this unusually interesting name dates from the early medieval period in England, and has a most distinctive origin. The first examples occur in the early 13th Century as nicknames or bynames as in "Prestreiohan" in the Assize Court Rolls of Lincolnshire of 1219 and nearly one hundred years later, Prestre Johan in the Subsidy Tax Rolls of Yorkshire in 1301. By the mid 14th Century the surname is found in Somerset (see below), but its principal home since at least the 16th Century has been Lincolnshire. The name has its origins in the tales of a legendary Christian priest and king, called Prester John who was believed in the Middle Ages to have ruled the Far East. He is first mentioned in the 12th Century, when Otto of Friesing tells how Johannes Presbyter won a great victory over the Persians and Medes. The surname from this source includes Prettejohn, Prettyjohn, Prujean, Pridgin, Pridgeon, Pridgen and others. Examples from surviving church registers include the marriage of William Pridgeon and Isabell Roye at Carlton le Moorland, Lincolnshire, on June 15th 1571, the christening of Ann Pridgion, at South Hykeham also Lincolnshire, on April 13th 1595, and that of Walter Prujean on November 25th 1697 at St Mildreds Bread Street, in the city of London. The coat of arms most associated with the name has the blazon of a red shield charged with three roses in bend between two bendlets, all silver. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of John Prestrejohan. This was dated 1346, in the Patent Rolls of Somerset, during the reign of King Edward 111rd, known as "The Father of the English Navy, 1327 - 1377. Surnames became necessary when governments introduced personal taxation. In England this was sometimes 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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