Show ContentsPressley History, Family Crest & Coats of Arms

Of all the Anglo-Saxon names to come from Britain, Pressley is one of the most ancient. The name is a result of the original family having lived in or near a clearing in a wood owned by priests. Further research showed the name was derived from the Old English elements preost, which means priest, and leah, which means forest clearing. The name as a whole therefore means "dweller in or near the forest clearing owned by priests." [1] There are several places that have this name; they are found in Bedfordshire, Hertfordshire, and the West Riding of Yorkshire.

Early Origins of the Pressley family

The surname Pressley was first found in the West Riding of Yorkshire where the "surname is derived from a geographical locality. 'of Priestley' (i.e the priest's meadow), some small estate in the near neighbourhood of Bradford." [2]

However, we must look to the Pipe Rolls of Bedfordshire to find the first record of the family. For it is there that Samson de Presteleia was listed in 1198. From this Latin version, the name had evolved to Richard de Presteley who was listed in Yorkshire in 1297. [1]

Kirby's Quest lists Walter Prestlegh in Somerset, 1 Edward III (during the first year of Edward III's reign.) [3] Later, the following two entries were found at Hipperholme, near Bradford, Yorkshire during the Yorkshire Poll Tax Rolls of 1379: Elena de Presteley; and Johannes de Presteley. [2]

Another source agrees with the Yorkshire origin, but notes "the ancient seat and inheritance of the family was in Soyland and Sowerby, in the parish of Halifax." [4]

Early History of the Pressley family

This web page shows only a small excerpt of our Pressley research. Another 69 words (5 lines of text) covering the years 1250, 1733, 1804, 1700, 1779, 1739, 1733, 1777, 1661, 1745, 1742, 1764, 1734, 1814, 1734 and 1760 are included under the topic Early Pressley History in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

Pressley Spelling Variations

The first dictionaries that appeared in the last few hundred years did much to standardize the English language. Before that time, spelling variations in names were a common occurrence. The language was changing, incorporating pieces of other languages, and the spelling of names changed with it. Pressley has been spelled many different ways, including Priestley, Priestly, Preistley,Pressley and others.

Early Notables of the Pressley family (pre 1700)

Distinguished members of the family include Joseph Priestley (1733-1804), English theologian and man of science, eldest of six children of Jonas Priestley (1700-1779), a cloth-dresser, by his first wife, Mary (d. 1739), only child of Joseph Swift of Shafton, near Wakefield, was born at Fieldhead, a wayside farmhouse in the parish of Birstall, West Eiding of Yorkshire, on 13 March 1733. His father became bankrupt in 1777. Timothy Priestley [q. v.] was a younger brother. His parents were members of the congregational church at Upper Chapel, Heckmondwike; but his grandfather, Joseph Priestley (1661-1745), a woollen manufacturer, attended the parish church at...
Another 147 words (10 lines of text) are included under the topic Early Pressley Notables in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

Pressley Ranking

In the United States, the name Pressley is the 2,330th most popular surname with an estimated 12,435 people with that name. [5]

United States Pressley migration to the United States +

Thousands of English families in this era began to emigrate the New World in search of land and freedom from religious and political persecution. Although the passage was expensive and the ships were dark, crowded, and unsafe, those who made the voyage safely were rewarded with opportunities unavailable to them in their homeland. Research into passenger and immigration lists has revealed some of the very first Pressleys to arrive in North America:

Pressley Settlers in United States in the 17th Century
  • Margaret Pressley, who arrived in Maryland in 1678 [6]
Pressley Settlers in United States in the 18th Century
  • John Pressley, who landed in South Carolina in 1772 [6]
Pressley Settlers in United States in the 19th Century
  • Samuel Pressley, who landed in South Carolina in 1830 [6]

Contemporary Notables of the name Pressley (post 1700) +

  • Henry Roosevelt Pressley Sr. (1945-2005), American blues and soul instrumentalist
  • DeMario Pressley (b. 1985), American NFL football defensive tackle for the Chicago Bears
  • Toni Pressley (b. 1990), American professional soccer defender
  • Chris Pressley (b. 1986), American professional NBA football player for the Cincinnati Bengals
  • Harold Pressley (b. 1963), American former professional NBA basketball player
  • Robert Pressley (b. 1959), American former NASCAR driver
  • Gloria B. Pressley, American Democratic Party politician, Delegate to Democratic National Convention from Florida, 1996, 2000 [7]
  • E. F. Pressley, American politician, Mayor of DeRidder, Louisiana, 1912-14 [7]
  • Steven John "Elvis" Pressley (b. 1973), retired Scottish footballer, current manager of Scottish First Division club Falkirk
  • Gordon Pressley Fought (1877-1964), American Democratic Party politician, Mayor of Wheeling, West Virginia, 1932-35; City manager of Wheeling, West Virginia, 1932-35; Member of West Virginia Democratic State Executive Committee, 1945-49; Presidential Elector for West Virginia, 1948 [8]

The Pressley Motto +

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: Respice finem
Motto Translation: Regard the end.

  1. Reaney, P.H and R.M. Wilson, A Dictionary of English Surnames. London: Routledge, 1991. Print. (ISBN 0-415-05737-X)
  2. Bardsley, C.W, A Dictionary of English and Welsh Surnames: With Special American Instances. Wiltshire: Heraldry Today, 1901. Print. (ISBN 0-900455-44-6)
  3. Dickinson, F.H., Kirby's Quest for Somerset of 16th of Edward the 3rd London: Harrison and Sons, Printers in Ordinary to Her Majesty, St, Martin's Lane, 1889. Print.
  4. Lower, Mark Anthony, Patronymica Britannica, A Dictionary of Family Names of the United Kingdom. London: John Russel Smith, 1860. Print.
  5. "What are the 5,000 Most Common Last Names in the U.S.?".,
  6. 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)
  7. The Political Graveyard: Alphabetical Name Index. (Retrieved 2015, November 17) . Retrieved from
  8. The Political Graveyard: Alphabetical Name Index. (Retrieved 2015, November 4) . Retrieved from on Facebook