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An excerpt from www.HouseOfNames.com archives copyright 2000 - 2014

Origins Available: English, Scottish

Where did the English Preston family come from? What is the English Preston family crest and coat of arms? When did the Preston family first arrive in the United States? Where did the various branches of the family go? What is the Preston family history?

Preston is a name that was carried to England in the great wave of migration from Normandy following the Norman Conquest of 1066. The Preston family lived Lincolnshire, at Preston, from where they derived their name. The name Preston comes from the Old English words preost, meaning priest, and tun, meaning enclosure or settlement.

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Before English spelling was standardized a few hundred years ago, spelling variations of names were a common occurrence. Elements of Latin, Norman French and other languages became incorporated into English throughout the Middle Ages, and name spellings changed even among the literate. The variations of the surname Preston include Prestone, Preston, Presson and others.

First found in Lincolnshire, where they were granted estates after the Norman Conquest.


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This web page shows only a small excerpt of our Preston research. Another 187 words(13 lines of text) covering the years 1086, 1332, 1421, 1453, 1503, 1585, 1655, 1753, 1807 and are included under the topic Early Preston History in all our PDF Extended History products.

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Another 127 words(9 lines of text) are included under the topic Early Preston Notables in all our PDF Extended History products.

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Some of the Preston family moved to Ireland, but this topic is not covered in this excerpt. Another 165 words(12 lines of text) about their life in Ireland is included in all our PDF Extended History products.

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In England at this time, the uncertainty of the political and religious environment of the time caused many families to board ships for distant British colonies in the hopes of finding land and opportunity, and escaping persecution. The voyages were expensive, crowded, and difficult, though, and many arrived in North America sick, starved, and destitute. Those who did make it, however, were greeted with greater opportunities and freedoms that they could have experienced at home. Many of those families went on to make important contributions to the young nations in which they settled. Early immigration records have shown some of the first Prestons to arrive on North American shores:

Preston Settlers in the United States in the 17th Century


  • John Preston, who sailed to Virginia in 1634
  • Daniell Preston sailed to New England in 1635
  • Joseph Preston, who settled in Virginia in 1635
  • George Preston, who settled in Virginia in 1635
  • Lawrence Preston, who settled in Virginia in 1635


Preston Settlers in the United States in the 18th Century


  • Eliza Preston, who arrived in Virginia in 1714
  • Captain Preston, who arrived in Boston in 1765
  • Jedediah Preston, who arrived in New England in 1770

Preston Settlers in the United States in the 19th Century


  • Alexander Preston, aged 29, arrived in Tennessee in 1812
  • John Preston, who landed in Charleston, South Carolina in 1834
  • George Preston, who landed in New York in 1842
  • James Preston, who landed in San Francisco, California in 1850

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  • Ann Preston (1813-1872), American pioneer Quaker women doctor and educator
  • Sophonisba Preston (1866-1948), American social worker, author and educator
  • Keith Preston (1884-1927), American poet
  • William Ballard Preston (1805-1862), American politician, U.S. Secretary of the Navy from 1849 to 1850
  • Commander Arthur Murray Preston (1913-1968), United States Navy officer awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor in 1944
  • James Patton Preston (1774-1853), American politician, who served as the governor of Virginia (1816-1819)
  • John Smith Preston (1809-1881), American lawyer and Confederate general in the American Civil War
  • Robert Preston (1918-1987), American Academy Award nominated actor and singer, best remembered for his role as Harold Hill in the 1957 musical The Music Man
  • Lewis Thompson Preston (b. 1926), American banker, President of the World Bank (1991-1995)
  • Billy Preston (1946-2006), American Rhythm & Blues player of organ, keyboards, and piano

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The motto was originally a war cry or slogan. Mottoes first began to be shown with arms in the 14th and 15th centuries, but were not in general use until the 17th century. Thus the oldest coats of arms generally do not include a motto. Mottoes seldom form part of the grant of arms: Under most heraldic authorities, a motto is an optional component of the coat of arms, and can be added to or changed at will; many families have chosen not to display a motto.

Motto: Si Dieu Veult
Motto Translation: If God wills it.

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  1. Foster, Joseph. Dictionary of Heraldry Feudal Coats of Arms and Pedigrees. London: Bracken Books, 1989. Print. (ISBN 1-85170-309-8).
  2. Hanks, Patricia and Flavia Hodges. A Dictionary of Surnames. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1988. Print. (ISBN 0-19-211592-8).
  3. Le Patourel, John. The Norman Empire. New York: Oxford University Press, 1976. Print. (ISBN 0-19-822525-3).
  4. Colletta, John P. They Came In Ships. Salt Lake City: Ancestry, 1993. Print.
  5. Hinde, Thomas Ed. The Domesday Book England's Heritage Then and Now. Surrey: Colour Library Books, 1995. Print. (ISBN 1-85833-440-3).
  6. Hanks, Hodges, Mills and Room. The Oxford Names Companion. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2002. Print. (ISBN 0-19-860561-7).
  7. Magnusson, Magnus. Chambers Biographical Dictionary 5th edition. Edinburgh: W & R Chambers, 1990. Print.
  8. Bullock, L.G. Historical Map of England and Wales. Edinburgh: Bartholomew and Son, 1971. Print.
  9. Reaney P.H and R.M. Wilson. A Dictionary of English Surnames. London: Routledge, 1991. Print. (ISBN 0-415-05737-X).
  10. Shirley, Evelyn Philip. Noble and Gentle Men of England Or Notes Touching The Arms and Descendants of the Ancient Knightley and Gentle Houses of England Arranged in their Respective Counties 3rd Edition. Westminster: John Bowyer Nichols and Sons, 1866. Print.
  11. ...

The Preston Family Crest was acquired from the Houseofnames.com archives. The Preston Family Crest was drawn according to heraldic standards based on published blazons. We generally include the oldest published family crest once associated with each surname.

This page was last modified on 26 May 2014 at 12:41.

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