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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.

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The surname Pretorius was first found in Lincolnshire where they held a family seat as Lords of the Manor. The Saxon influence of English history diminished after the Battle of Hastings in 1066. The language of the courts was French for the next three centuries and the Norman ambience prevailed. But Saxon surnames survived and the family name was first referenced in the year 1150 when Willelmus Pretor held estates in that shire.

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


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This web page shows only a small excerpt of our Pretorius research. Another 276 words (20 lines of text) covering the years 1208, 1455, and 1487 are included under the topic Early Pretorius History in all our PDF Extended History products.

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

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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.

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  • Ryan Pretorius (b. 1979), former South African American football place kicker
  • André Pretorius (b. 1978), South African rugby union footballer
  • Marthinus Wessel Pretorius (1819-1901), first president of the South African Republic


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  1. MacAulay, Thomas Babington. History of England from the Accession of James the Second 4 volumes. New York: Harper and Brothers, 1879. Print.
  2. Papworth, J.W and A.W Morant. Ordinary of British Armorials. London: T.Richards, 1874. Print.
  3. Colletta, John P. They Came In Ships. Salt Lake City: Ancestry, 1993. Print.
  4. Burke, Sir Bernard. Genealogical and Heraldic History of the Peerage and Baronetage, The Privy Council, Knightage and Compainonage. London: Burke Publishing, 1921. Print.
  5. Burke, Sir Bernard. Burke's Genealogical and Heraldic History of the Landed Gentry: Including American Families with British Ancestry. (2 Volumes). London: Burke Publishing, 1939. Print.
  6. Humble, Richard. The Fall of Saxon England. New York: Barnes and Noble, 1975. Print. (ISBN 0-88029-987-8).
  7. Samuelsen, W. David. New York City Passenger List Manifests Index 1820 - 1824. North Salt Lake, Utah: Accelerated Indexing Systems International, 1986. Print.
  8. Hanks, Hodges, Mills and Room. The Oxford Names Companion. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2002. Print. (ISBN 0-19-860561-7).
  9. Library of Congress. American and English Genealogies in the Library of Congress. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing, 1967. Print.
  10. Bullock, L.G. Historical Map of England and Wales. Edinburgh: Bartholomew and Son, 1971. Print.
  11. ...

The Pretorius Family Crest was acquired from the Houseofnames.com archives. The Pretorius 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 23 May 2014 at 09:00.

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