Preston History, Family Crest & Coats of Arms

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. [1] "Thirty-five parishes and places are named [Preston] in the Gazetteer, and there are many others in various counties. The origin of the name, from preostes-tun. 'the priest's enclosure or homestead ' is undoubted." [2]

Early Origins of the Preston family

The surname Preston was first found in Lincolnshire, where Laurence de Preston was one of the first records of the name.

The Hundredorum Rolls of 1273 also list Alice de Preston in Northamptonshire. Years later the Yorkshire Poll Tax Rolls of 1379 listed Johannes de Pryston and Isabella de Preston. [3]

The Scottish branch of the family was established long ago and in this case, the family claim descent from "the barony of Preston or Prestoun, afterwards known as Gourtoun and now Craigmillar in Midlothian. Alured de Preston appears as a charter witness in 1222, and Lyulph, son of Lyulph de Preston, c. 1240-50, had a charter from John Albus of a piece of land in Linlithgow which lie made over to the Abbey of Neubotel. Johannes de Prestun witnessed a quitclaim by Johannes Gallard apud Muskilburg in 1248. Alured de Preston appears as a charter witness in 1222, and Lyulph, son of Lyulph de Preston, c. 1240-50, had a charter from John Albus of a piece of land in Linlithgow which lie made over to the Abbey of Neubotel. Johannes de Prestun witnessed a quitclaim by Johannes Gallard apud Muskilburg in 1248." [4]

"Beeston Hall, a Gothic mansion in a small park [in Beeston, Norfolk], has long been the residence of the Prestons, one of whom, Jacob Preston, received an emerald ring, still preserved in the family, from Charles I. when upon the scaffold, as a last tribute of affection." [5]

This latter source also notes that some of the family were found in the hamlet of Meerbeck in the West Riding of Yorkshire: "Here is the seat of John Preston, Esq., whose family have been settled in this part of the West riding for more than four centuries." [5]

Gilbert de Preston (died 1274) was Chief Justice of the Court of Common Pleas, son of Walter de Preston (d. 1230), or Walter Fitz Winemar, who was sheriff of Northamptonshire in 1207 and 1208. [6]

Early History of the Preston family

This web page shows only a small excerpt of our Preston research. Another 196 words (14 lines of text) covering the years 1086, 1827, 1826, 1332, 1617, 1421, 1453, 1503, 1585, 1655, 1415, 1538, 1570, 1291, 1587, 1628, 1659, 1748, 1715, 1745, 1637, 1616, 1753, 1807 and are included under the topic Early Preston History in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

Preston Spelling Variations

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.

Early Notables of the Preston family (pre 1700)

Outstanding amongst the family at this time was John de Prestone, Lord Mayor of London in 1332; Sir Amyas Preston of Somerset (died 1617), English naval commander; Robert Preston, British MP for Westmorland in 1421; Robert Preston, 1st Viscount Gormanston (1453-1503), Irish politician; and Thomas Preston, 1st Viscount Tara (1585-1655), an Irish soldier of the 17th century. Sir John Preston (fl 1415), was an English judge member of an ancient Westmorland family seated at Preston Richard and Preston Patrick in the southern part of the county. Sir Simon Preston ( fl. 1538-1570), of Preston and Craigmillar, provost of Edinburgh in the time of Mary...
Another 130 words (9 lines of text) are included under the topic Early Preston Notables in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

Ireland Migration of the Preston family to Ireland

Some of the Preston family moved to Ireland, but this topic is not covered in this excerpt.
Another 89 words (6 lines of text) about their life in Ireland is included in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.


United States Preston migration to the United States +

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 United States in the 17th Century
  • John Preston, who sailed to Virginia in 1634
  • Daniell Preston, who 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
  • ... (More are available in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.)
Preston Settlers in United States in the 18th Century
  • Eliza Preston, who arrived in Virginia in 1714 [7]
  • Captain Preston, who arrived in Boston in 1765
  • Jedediah Preston, who arrived in New England in 1770 [7]
Preston Settlers in United States in the 19th Century
  • Alexander Preston, aged 29, who arrived in Tennessee in 1812 [7]
  • John Preston, who landed in Charleston, South Carolina in 1834 [7]
  • George Preston, who landed in New York in 1842 [7]
  • James Preston, who landed in San Francisco, California in 1850 [7]

Canada Preston migration to Canada +

Some of the first settlers of this family name were:

Preston Settlers in Canada in the 18th Century
  • Mr. Thomas Preston U.E. who settled in Saint John, New Brunswick c. 1784 he became a Freeman in 1790 as a Mason [8]
Preston Settlers in Canada in the 19th Century
  • Mrs. Mary Preston, aged 58 who was emigrating through Grosse Isle Quarantine Station, Quebec aboard the ship "Naomi" departing 15th June 1847 from Liverpool, England; the ship arrived on 10th August 1847 but she died on board [9]
  • Mr. Patrick Preston, aged 3 who was emigrating through Grosse Isle Quarantine Station, Quebec aboard the ship "Naomi" departing 15th June 1847 from Liverpool, England; the ship arrived on 10th August 1847 but he died on board [9]
  • Mr. Richard Preston, aged 20 who was emigrating through Grosse Isle Quarantine Station, Quebec aboard the ship "Naomi" departing 15th June 1847 from Liverpool, England; the ship arrived on 10th August 1847 but he died on board [9]

Australia Preston migration to Australia +

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

Preston Settlers in Australia in the 19th Century
  • Joseph Preston, English convict from Middlesex, who was transported aboard the "Asia" on September 3rd, 1820, settling in New South Wales, Australia [10]
  • Thomas Preston, English convict from Middlesex, who was transported aboard the "Arab" on July 3, 1822, settling in Van Diemen's Land, Australia [11]
  • Mr. George Preston, British convict who was convicted in Middlesex, England for 7 years, transported aboard the "Henry Tanner" on 27th June 1834, settling in New South Wales, Australia [12]
  • Mr. John Preston, British Convict who was convicted in Newcastle Upon Tyne, Northumberland, England for 7 years for breaking and entering, transported aboard the "Asia" on 5th November 1835, arriving in Tasmania ( Van Diemen's Land)1836 [13]
  • Morris Preston, who arrived in Adelaide, Australia aboard the ship "Fairlee" in 1840 [14]
  • ... (More are available in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.)

New Zealand Preston 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:

Preston Settlers in New Zealand in the 19th Century
  • Elizabeth Preston, aged 21, who arrived in Auckland, New Zealand aboard the ship "Stately" in 1851
  • Miss Eliza Preston, British settler travelling from London aboard the ship "Stately" arriving in Auckland, New Zealand on 1st June 1851 [15]
  • Mr. John Preston, British settler travelling from Liverpool aboard the ship 'Mermaid' arriving in Auckland, New Zealand on 19th October 1859 [16]
  • John Preston, who arrived in Auckland, New Zealand aboard the ship "Mermaid" in 1859
  • Mrs. Preston, British travelling from London aboard the ship 'Mermaid' arriving in Lyttelton, Christchurch, South Island, New Zealand on 8th January1869 [16]
  • ... (More are available in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.)

Contemporary Notables of the name Preston (post 1700) +

  • Kelly Preston (1962-2020), American actress and former model, wife of John Travolta [17]
  • Private Herbert Irving Preston (1876-1928), American Marine awarded the Medal of Honor
  • Lewis Thompson Preston (b. 1926), American banker, President of the World Bank (1991-1995)
  • 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
  • Billy Preston (1946-2006), American Rhythm & Blues player of organ, keyboards, and piano
  • John Smith Preston (1809-1881), American lawyer and Confederate general in the American Civil War
  • James Patton Preston (1774-1853), American politician, who served as the governor of Virginia (1816-1819)
  • Commander Arthur Murray Preston (1913-1968), United States Navy officer awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor in 1944
  • William Ballard Preston (1805-1862), American politician, U.S. Secretary of the Navy from 1849 to 1850
  • Keith Preston (1884-1927), American poet
  • ... (Another 15 notables are available in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.)

Air New Zealand Flight 901
  • Mr. Robert John Preston (d. 1979), New Zealander passenger, from, Auckland, New Zealand aboard the Air New Zealand Flight 901 for an Antarctic sightseeing flight when it flew into Mount Erebus; he died in the crash [18]
Empress of Ireland
  • Mr. John Edwin Preston, British Inspector from United Kingdom who worked aboard the Empress of Ireland and died in the sinking [19]
Halifax Explosion
  • Mr. George Henry  Preston (1879-1917), Canadian resident from Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada who died in the explosion [20]
  • Mr. R.  Preston, Irish 3rd Officer aboard the SS Curaca from Belfast, Ireland who died in the explosion [20]
HMS Cornwall
  • William Henry Preston, British Warrant Officer Engineer aboard the HMS Cornwall when she was struck by air bombers and sunk; he survived the sinking [21]
HMS Repulse
  • Mr. Walter A Preston, British Stoker, who sailed into battle on the HMS Repulse and survived the sinking [22]
HMS Royal Oak
  • Frederick Henry Preston (1906-1939), British Sergeant with the Royal Marine aboard the HMS Royal Oak when she was torpedoed by U-47 and sunk; he died in the sinking [23]
RMS Titanic
  • Mr. John Federick Preston (d. 1912), aged 30, English Bassist from Liverpool, Lancashire who played aboard the RMS Titanic and died in the sinking and was recovered by CS Mackay-Bennett [24]
  • Mr. Thomas Charles Alfred Preston, aged 20, English Greaser from Southampton, Hampshire who worked aboard the RMS Titanic and survived the sinking escaping on collapsible B [24]


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


  1. ^ Mills, A.D., Dictionary of English Place-Names. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1991. Print. (ISBN 0-19-869156-4)
  2. ^ Lowe, Mark Anthony, Patronymica Britannica, A Dictionary of Family Names of the United Kingdom. London: John Russel Smith, 1860. Print.
  3. ^ Bardsley, C.W, A Dictionary of English and Welsh Surnames: With Special American Instances. Wiltshire: Heraldry Today, 1901. Print. (ISBN 0-900455-44-6)
  4. ^ Black, George F., The Surnames of Scotland Their Origin, Meaning and History. New York: New York Public Library, 1946. Print. (ISBN 0-87104-172-3)
  5. ^ Lewis, Samuel, A Topographical Dictionary of England. Institute of Historical Research, 1848, Print.
  6. ^ Smith, George (ed), Dictionary of National Biography. London: Smith, Elder & Co., 1885-1900. Print
  7. ^ 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)
  8. ^ Rubincam, Milton. The Old United Empire Loyalists List. Genealogical Publishing Co., Inc, 1976. (Originally published as; United Empire Loyalists. The Centennial of the Settlement of Upper Canada. Rose Publishing Company, 1885.) ISBN 0-8063-0331-X
  9. ^ Charbonneau, André, and Doris Drolet-Dubé. A Register of Deceased Persons at Sea and on Grosse Île in 1847. The Minister of Canadian Heritage, 1997. ISBN: 0-660-198/1-1997E (p. 92)
  10. ^ State Library of Queensland. (Retrieved 2016, October 27) Asia 1 voyage to Van Diemen's Land, Australia in 1820 with 192 passengers. Retrieved from http://www.convictrecords.com.au/ships/asia/1820
  11. ^ State Library of Queensland. (Retrieved 2016, October 27) Arab voyage to Van Diemen's Land, Australia in 1822 with 155 passengers. Retrieved from http://www.convictrecords.com.au/ships/arab/1822
  12. ^ Convict Records Voyages to Australia (Retrieved 7th January 2020). Retrieved from https://convictrecords.com.au/ships/henry-tanner
  13. ^ Convict Records Voyages to Australia (Retrieved 28th January 2020). Retrieved from https://convictrecords.com.au/ships/asia/1835
  14. ^ State Records of South Australia. (Retrieved 2010, November 5) FAIRLIE/FAIRLEE 1840. Retrieved from http://www.slsa.sa.gov.au/BSA/1840Fairlie.htm
  15. ^ New Zealand Yesteryears Passenger Lists 1800 to 1900 (Retrieved 26th March 2019). Retrieved from http://www.yesteryears.co.nz/shipping/passlist.html
  16. ^ New Zealand Yesteryears Passenger Lists 1800 to 1900 (Retrieved 17th October 2018). Retrieved from http://www.yesteryears.co.nz/shipping/passlist.html
  17. ^ Kelly Preston. (Retrieved 2011, January 21) Kelly Preston. Retrieved from http://www.kellypreston.com
  18. ^ Mount Erebus, Memorial, Roll of Remembrance (Retrieved 2018, February 21st). Retrieved from http://www.erebus.co.nz/memorialandawards/rollofremembrance.aspx
  19. ^ Commemoration Empress of Ireland 2014. (Retrieved 2014, June 17) . Retrieved from http://www.empress2014.ca/seclangen/listepsc1.html
  20. ^ Halifax Explosion Book of Remembrance | Maritime Museum of the Atlantic. (Retrieved 2014, June 23) . Retrieved from https://maritimemuseum.novascotia.ca/what-see-do/halifax-explosion/halifax-explosion-book-remembrance
  21. ^ Force Z Survivors Crew List HMS Cornwall (Retrieved 2018, February 13th) - Retrieved from https://www.forcez-survivors.org.uk/biographies/listcornwallcrew.html#A
  22. ^ HMS Repulse Crew members. (Retrieved 2014, April 9) . Retrieved from http://www.forcez-survivors.org.uk/biographies/listrepulsecrew.html
  23. ^ Ships hit by U-boats crew list HMS Royal Oak (08) - (Retrieved 2018 February, 9th) - retrieved from https://uboat.net/allies/merchants/crews/ship68.html
  24. ^ Titanic Passenger List - Titanic Facts. (Retrieved 2016, July 13) . Retrieved from http://www.titanicfacts.net/titanic-passenger-list.html


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