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An excerpt from www.HouseOfNames.com archives copyright 2000 - 2016

Where did the English Pryor family come from? What is the English Pryor family crest and coat of arms? When did the Pryor family first arrive in the United States? Where did the various branches of the family go? What is the Pryor family history?

Pryor is a name of ancient Norman origin. It arrived in England with the Norman Conquest of 1066. It is a name for a monastic official immediately subordinate to an abbot having derived from the Old English word prior, meaning superior, and indicates that the original bearer of the name held this position.


A multitude of spelling variations characterize Norman surnames. Many variations occurred because Old and Middle English lacked any definite spelling rules. The introduction of Norman French to England also had a pronounced effect, as did the court languages of Latin and French. Therefore, one person was often referred to by several different spellings in a single lifetime. The various spellings include Prior, Pryor and others.

First found in Derbyshire where they held a family seat from very early times and were granted lands by Duke William of Normandy, their liege Lord, for their distinguished assistance at the Battle of Hastings in 1066 A.D.


This web page shows only a small excerpt of our Pryor research. Another 153 words (11 lines of text) covering the years 1125, 1664, 1721, 1680, 1751 and are included under the topic Early Pryor History in all our PDF Extended History products.


Another 43 words (3 lines of text) are included under the topic Early Pryor Notables in all our PDF Extended History products.


Some of the Pryor family moved to Ireland, but this topic is not covered in this excerpt. Another 153 words (11 lines of text) about their life in Ireland is included in all our PDF Extended History products.


Many English families left England, to avoid the chaos of their homeland and migrated to the many British colonies abroad. Although the conditions on the ships were extremely cramped, and some travelers arrived diseased, starving, and destitute, once in the colonies, many of the families prospered and made valuable contributions to the cultures of what would become the United States and Canada. Research into the origins of individual families in North America has revealed records of the immigration of a number of people bearing the name Pryor or a variant listed above:

Pryor Settlers in United States in the 17th Century

  • Thomas Pryor, who landed in Maryland in 1663
  • Mary Pryor, who arrived in Virginia in 1664
  • Joane Pryor, who arrived in Maryland in 1665

Pryor Settlers in United States in the 19th Century

  • Edward Pryor, aged 45, landed in Maryland in 1812
  • Joseph Pryor, who landed in America in 1831

Pryor Settlers in Australia in the 19th Century

  • Isaac Pryor, English convict from Essex, who was transported aboard the "Albion" on May 17, 1823, settling in Van Diemen's Land, Australia
  • John Pryor arrived in Adelaide, Australia aboard the ship "Cressy" in 1847
  • Joseph Pryor arrived in Adelaide, Australia aboard the ship "Eliza" in 1849
  • Thomas Pryor, aged 43, arrived in South Australia in 1849 aboard the ship "William Money"
  • Joseph Pryor, aged 38, a blacksmith, arrived in South Australia in 1849 aboard the ship "Eliza"


  • Elizabeth Brown Pryor (1950-2015), American diplomat and historian, awarded the Lincoln Prize for Reading the Man: A Portrait of Robert E. Lee through his Private Letters in 2008
  • William Holcombe "Bill" Pryor Jr. (b. 1962), American federal judge on the United States Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit, Attorney General of the State of Alabama (1997 to 2004)
  • Rain Pryor (b. 1969), American actress and comedian, daughter of Richard Pryor
  • Aaron Pryor (b. 1955), American former boxer, World Junior Welterweight Champion from 1980 to 1985, inducted into the International Boxing Hall of Fame in 1996
  • Nicholas Pryor (b. 1935), born Nicholas David Probst, is an American film and television actor
  • Alvin Pryor, American Democrat politician, Candidate for Missouri State House of Representatives from Barry County, 1956
  • Charles Pryor, American Democrat politician, Delegate to Democratic National Convention from Kentucky, 1964
  • D. B. Pryor, American Republican politician, Alternate Delegate to Republican National Convention from Alabama, 1900
  • David Hampton Pryor (b. 1934), American Democrat politician, Newspaper editor and publisher; Lawyer; Member of Arkansas State House of Representatives, 1961-66
  • Dick Pryor, American Democrat politician, Alternate Delegate to Democratic National Convention from Oklahoma, 1952



  • The Pryors, American Pioneers by John H. Cunningham.
  • A Study in Lineage of the Wiley Pryor Family of the Carolinas by Melvin B. Johnson.
  • A Wilson_Pryor Lineage by Gloria Stracke.

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: Speriamo
Motto Translation: We hope


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  1. Burke, John Bernard Ed. The Roll of Battle Abbey. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing. Print.
  2. Papworth, J.W and A.W Morant. Ordinary of British Armorials. London: T.Richards, 1874. Print.
  3. Leeson, Francis L. Dictionary of British Peerages. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing, 1986. Print. (ISBN 0-8063-1121-5).
  4. Library of Congress. American and English Genealogies in the Library of Congress. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing, 1967. Print.
  5. Hanks, Hodges, Mills and Room. The Oxford Names Companion. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2002. Print. (ISBN 0-19-860561-7).
  6. Colletta, John P. They Came In Ships. Salt Lake City: Ancestry, 1993. Print.
  7. Cook, Chris. English Historical Facts 1603-1688. London: MacMillan, 1980. Print.
  8. Robb H. Amanda and Andrew Chesler. Encyclopedia of American Family Names. New York: Haper Collins, 1995. Print. (ISBN 0-06-270075-8).
  9. Virkus, Frederick A. Ed. Immigrant Ancestors A List of 2,500 Immigrants to America Before 1750. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing, 1964. Print.
  10. 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.
  11. ...

The Pryor Family Crest was acquired from the Houseofnames.com archives. The Pryor 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 15 January 2016 at 14:20.

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