This surname of PRESSEL was a German and Ashkenazic locational name for someone from Prussia, a former state of northern Germany, so called from the tribal name of the PRUSSEN, a Baltic tribe displayed by the Germans during the 13th century. The name is of unknown origin, although it is suggested that it may be connected with that of the Frisians. The name of this region is ancient and of uncertain etymology; the most plausible speculation is that it derives from an Indo-European root 'PREI' (to cut), with reference to the dykes necessary for the cultivation of low-lying land. There is archaeological evidence of the construction of ditches and dams along the southern shores of the North Sea from at least the time of Christ. It was also an occupational name for a builder of dams and dykes. The word was used in this sense in various parts of Germany during the Middle Ages, and is probably a transferred use of the ethnic term, dyke building being a characteristic occupation of Frieslanders. The name has numerous variant spellings which include PREUSSNER, PREISSNER, PREUSLER, PREISNALL, PRUSSMAN, PRUSKI and POROSZ. The first hereditary surnames on German soil are found in the second half of the 12th century, slightly later than in England and France. However, it was not until the 16th century that they became stabilized. The practice of adopting hereditary surnames began in the southern areas of Germany, and gradually spread northwards during the Middle Ages. Because of the close relationship between the English and German languages, some Germans are able to transform their names to the English form just by dropping a single letter. Many Germans have re-spelt their names in America. After the start of the first World War, Germans in great numbers Anglicized their names in an effort to remove all doubt as to their patriotism. Afterwards some changed back, and then during World War II the problem became acute once more, and the changing started all over again, although not with as much intensity. Many immigrants from Germany settled in Pennsylvania. 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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