The surname of PRESSLEY was a locational name 'of Priestley' a small estate in the neighbourhood of Bradford, in the West Riding of Yorkshire. Many factors contributed to the establishment of a surname system. For generations after the Norman Conquest of 1066 a very few dynasts and magnates passed on hereditary surnames, but the main of the population, with a wide choice of first-names out of Celtic, Old English, Norman and Latin, avoided ambiguity without the need for a second name. As society became more stabilized, there was property to leave in wills, the towns and villages grew and the labels that had served to distinguish a handful of folk in a friendly village were not adequate for a teeming slum where perhaps most of the householders were engaged in the same monotonous trade, so not even their occupations could distinguish them, and some first names were gaining a tiresome popularity, especially Thomas after 1170. The hereditary principle in surnames gained currency first in the South, and the poorer folk were slower to apply it. By the 14th century however, most of the population had acquired a second name. Early records of the name mention Samson de Presteleia, 1198 County Bedfordshire. Elena de Presteley was listed in the Yorkshire Poll Tax of 1379. Richard de Presteley, 1400 Yorkshire. The name is also spelt PRIESTLY, PRESSLEY, PRESSLEE, PRESSLIE and PRISLEY. A notable member of the name was Elvis Aaron PRESLEY (1935-77) the American popular singer, born in Tupelo, Mississippi. From a religious family, he began singing in his local choir and taught himself the rudiments of the guitar. He was discovered in 1953 by Sam Phillips, president of Sun Records in Memphis, Tennessee, who heard a record Presley had made privately for his mother. By 1956 the singer was the most popular performer in the USA, and shortly after, the world. 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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