This name PREJEAN is also spelt PRETTJOHN, PRETTEJOHN, PRETTEJOHNS, PRETTYJOHN and PRETTYJONS. This very ancient surname was borne by a certain PRESTREIOHAN, a Lincolnshire attorney in medieval times. Tales of a great priest-king who ruled in central Asia were current in the 12th century in Europe. He is first mentioned by a western chronicler in the middle of the century, when Otto of Friesing, tells how Johannes PRESBYTER won a great victory over the Persians and Medes. Between 1165 and 1177 a forged letter purporting to come from him was circulated in Europe. Some rumour of this must have reached Lincolnshire and caused at least one English child to be christened by the name of this suppositious eastern king. The name never became common. Early records of the name include PRESTREIOHAN (without surname) who was recorded in 1219, and John PRESTREJOHAN was documented in Somerset in the year 1346. Over the centuries, most people in Europe have accepted their surname as a fact of life, as irrevocable as an act of God. However much the individual may have liked or disliked the surname, they were stuck with it, and people rarely changed them by personal choice. A more common form of variation was in fact involuntary, when an official change was made, in other words, a clerical error. Among the humbler classes of European society, and especially among illiterate people, individuals were willing to accept the mistakes of officials, clerks and priests as officially bestowing a new version of their surname, just as they had meekly accepted the surname they had been born with. In North America, the linguistic problems confronting immigration officials at Ellis Island in the 19th century were legendary as a prolific source of Anglicization. In the Middle Ages heraldry came into use as a practical matter. It originated in the devices used to distinguish the armoured warriors in tournament and war, and was also placed on seals as marks of identity. As far as records show, true heraldry began in the middle of the 12th century, and appeared almost simultaneously in several countries of Western Europe.
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