Pretorius History, Family Crest & Coats of Arms

The Pretorius 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 Pretorius family

The surname Pretorius 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 Pretorius family

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

Pretorius Spelling Variations

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

Early Notables of the Pretorius family (pre 1700)

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

Migration of the Pretorius family

Some of the first settlers of this family name or some of its variants were: John Prater, who settled in Newfoundland in 1622; Thomas Prater, who settled in Virginia in 1622; Jonathan Prather, who arrived in Virginia sometime between 1634 and 1789.


Contemporary Notables of the name Pretorius (post 1700) +

  • Ryan Pretorius (b. 1979), former South African American football place kicker
  • Jacobus "Jackie" Pretorius (1934-2009), South African racing driver
  • André Pretorius (b. 1978), South African rugby union footballer who made 198 appearances
  • Andries Wilhelmus Jacobus Pretorius (1798-1853), leader of the Boers who was instrumental in the creation of the South African Republic
  • Lieutenant General Hattingh Pretorius SD SM MMM (1942-2008), South African military commander, Chief of the South African Army (1993-1994)
  • Marthinus Wessel Pretorius (1819-1901), first president of the South African Republic


  1. ^ Reaney, P.H and R.M. Wilson, A Dictionary of English Surnames. London: Routledge, 1991. Print. (ISBN 0-415-05737-X)


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