Show ContentsPrater History, Family Crest & Coats of Arms

The Prater surname comes from the word Latin "praetor," and was a term used for a reeve, the chief magistrate or bailiff of a district. Additionally, the name could have meant "leader." The Pretorius variant is a common Afrikaans surname which is unique to South Africa.

Early Origins of the Prater family

The surname Prater was first found in Lincolnshire where they held a family seat as Lords of the Manor. The family name was first referenced in the year 1150 when Willelmus Pretor held estates in that shire. Later, Robertus Preter was listed in the Curia Regis Rolls of Gloucestershire in 1208. [1]

By the 16th century, early spelling variations of the name appeared in Germany including Jacob Praetorius the Elder (c. 1520-1586), the German organist and composer. He was the first of many listed in this century, but how the English and German families are related is unknown. Moreover how the South African variant Pretorius became so popular there is again unknown.

Early History of the Prater family

This web page shows only a small excerpt of our Prater research. Another 71 words (5 lines of text) covering the years 1455 and 1487 are included under the topic Early Prater History in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

Prater Spelling Variations

Spelling variations of this family name include: Prater, Preater, Prather, Pretor, Prether and many more.

Early Notables of the Prater family (pre 1700)

More information is included under the topic Early Prater Notables in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

Prater Ranking

In the United States, the name Prater is the 1,520th most popular surname with an estimated 19,896 people with that name. [2]

United States Prater migration to the United States +

Some of the first settlers of this family name were:

Prater Settlers in United States in the 17th Century
  • Thomas Prater, who landed in Virginia in 1622 [3]
  • Israll Prater, a servant sent to Virginia in 1667
  • Maren Prater, who arrived in Virginia in 1697 [3]
Prater Settlers in United States in the 19th Century
  • William Prater, who arrived in New York in 1836 [3]
  • Charles Prater, who settled in Santa Clara Co. CA in 1861
  • Ceclia Prater, aged 49, who immigrated to the United States, in 1895
  • Nicholas Prater, aged 49, who landed in America, in 1895
Prater Settlers in United States in the 20th Century
  • L. Richard Prater, who landed in America, in 1904
  • Louis Prater, aged 24, who immigrated to the United States from New Quay, England, in 1906
  • Emma Prater, aged 36, who landed in America, in 1911
  • J.M. Prater, aged 50, who immigrated to America, in 1919
  • W. R. Prater, aged 24, who settled in America, in 1921
  • ... (More are available in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.)

Canada Prater migration to Canada +

Some of the first settlers of this family name were:

Prater Settlers in Canada in the 17th Century

Australia Prater migration to Australia +

Emigration to Australia followed the First Fleets of convicts, tradespeople and early settlers. Early immigrants include:

Prater Settlers in Australia in the 19th Century
  • Isaac Prater, aged 23, a labourer, who arrived in South Australia in 1851 aboard the ship "Reliance" [5]

New Zealand Prater migration to New Zealand +

Emigration to New Zealand followed in the footsteps of the European explorers, such as Captain Cook (1769-70): first came sealers, whalers, missionaries, and traders. By 1838, the British New Zealand Company had begun buying land from the Maori tribes, and selling it to settlers, and, after the Treaty of Waitangi in 1840, many British families set out on the arduous six month journey from Britain to Aotearoa to start a new life. Early immigrants include:

Prater Settlers in New Zealand in the 19th Century
  • Thomas Prater, aged 21, who arrived in Hawkes Bay aboard the ship "Inverness" in 1875
  • Mr. Thomas Prater, (b. 1854), aged 21, Cornish navvy departing on 21st August 1875 aboard the ship "Inverness" going to Hawkes Bay, New Zealand arriving in port on 28th November 1875 [6]

West Indies Prater migration to West Indies +

The British first settled the British West Indies around 1604. They made many attempts but failed in some to establish settlements on the Islands including Saint Lucia and Grenada. By 1627 they had managed to establish settlements on St. Kitts (St. Christopher) and Barbados, but by 1641 the Spanish had moved in and destroyed some of these including those at Providence Island. The British continued to expand the settlements including setting the First Federation in the British West Indies by 1674; some of the islands include Barbados, Bermuda, Cayman Island, Turks and Caicos, Jamaica and Belize then known as British Honduras. By the 1960's many of the islands became independent after the West Indies Federation which existed from 1958 to 1962 failed due to internal political conflicts. After this a number of Eastern Caribbean islands formed a free association. [7]
Prater Settlers in West Indies in the 17th Century
  • Henry Prater, who settled in Barbados in 1666

Contemporary Notables of the name Prater (post 1700) +

  • Ollie Joe Prater (d. 1991), American stand-up comedian and television personality who appeared frquently on The Tonight Show
  • Shaun Prater (b. 1989), American NFL football cornerback for the Cincinnati Bengals
  • Troy Dean Prater (1958-1996), professional American football player
  • Kyle Prater (b. 1992), American football wide receiver
  • Matthew Phillip "Matt" Prater (b. 1984), American NFL football placekicker for the Denver Broncos
  • David Prater (1937-1988), American musician
  • Luther D. Prater Jr., American fighter pilot and flying ace in the U.S. Navy, during World War II, credited with 8 aerial victories
  • Wesley E. Prater, American Democratic Party politician, Supervisor of Ypsilanti Township, Michigan, 1988-96; Defeated in primary, 1996; Washtenaw County Commissioner, 2001-06, 2009- [8]
  • Jeff Prater, American Republican politician, Delegate to Republican National Convention from Kentucky, 1896 [8]
  • Diana L. Prater, American Democratic Party politician, Alternate Delegate to Democratic National Convention from Michigan, 1984 [8]
  • ... (Another 3 notables are available in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.)

  1. Reaney, P.H and R.M. Wilson, A Dictionary of English Surnames. London: Routledge, 1991. Print. (ISBN 0-415-05737-X)
  2. "What are the 5,000 Most Common Last Names in the U.S.?".,
  3. Filby, P. William, Meyer, Mary K., Passenger and immigration lists index : a guide to published arrival records of about 500,000 passengers who came to the United States and Canada in the seventeenth, eighteenth, and nineteenth centuries. 1982-1985 Cumulated Supplements in Four Volumes Detroit, Mich. : Gale Research Co., 1985, Print (ISBN 0-8103-1795-8)
  4. Seary E.R., Family Names of the Island of Newfoundland, Montreal: McGill's-Queen's Universtity Press 1998 ISBN 0-7735-1782-0
  5. State Records of South Australia. (Retrieved 2010, November 5) RELIANCE 1851. Retrieved
  6. Cornwall Online Parish Clerks. (Retrieved 2018, April 30). Emigrants to other ports, 1872 - 84 [PDF]. Retrieved from
  8. The Political Graveyard: Alphabetical Name Index. (Retrieved 2015, November 13) . Retrieved from on Facebook