The French surname of DE PREZ was a topographic name for someone who lived near a meadow. The name was derived from the Old French word PRED, and rendered in medieval documents in the Latin form PRATA. It was also a habitation name from any of the numerous places named with this word. The name has many variant spellings which include PREE, PREY, LAPRAYE, DUPRE, DEPUY, DESPRES and PRADA. The earliest French hereditary surnames are found in the 12th century, at more or less the same time as they arose in England, but they are by no means common before the 13th century, and it was not until the 15th century that they stabilized to any great extent; before then a surname might be handed down for two or three generations, but then abandoned in favour of another. In the south, many French surnames have come in from Italy over the centuries, and in Northern France, Germanic influence can often be detected.
Surnames derived from placenames are divided into two broad categories; topographic names and habitation names. Topographic names are derived from general descriptive references to someone who lived near a physical feature such as an oak tree, a hill, a stream or a church. Habitation names are derived from pre-existing names denoting towns, villages and farmsteads. Other classes of local names include those derived from the names of rivers, individual houses with signs on them, regions and whole countries. A noteworthy person of the name was Jules DUPRE (1812-89) the French landscape painter, born in Nantes. He studied in England with Constable, and was a leader of the Barbizon school. Another notable member of the name was Jacqueline DU PRE (1945-87) the English cellist, born in Oxford. She studied at the Guildhall School of Music, and in Paris, Switzerland and Moscow. She made her concert debut at the Wigmore Hall aged 16, and subsequently toured internationally. In 1967 she married the pianist Daniel Barenboim.
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