This name PROTO was an official name 'the provost' the prefect or chief magistrate, or mayor of a town. The name was commonly PREPOSITIUS in the Hundred Rolls. Occupational surnames originally denoted the actual occupation followed by the individual. At what period they became hereditary is a difficult problem. Many of the occupation names were descriptive and could be varied. In the Middle Ages, at least among the Christian population, people did not usually pursue specialized occupations exclusively to the extent that we do today, and they would, in fact, turn their hand to any form of work that needed to be done, particularly in a large house or mansion, or on farms and smallholdings. In early documents, surnames often refer to the actual holder of an office, whether the church or state. The name was brought into England in the wake of the Norman Conquest of 1066. The name is also spelt PREVORS, PROVORSE, PROVIS, PREVOST, PREVOT, LE PREVOST, PREVOSTEL, PREVOSTEAU and PREVOTET. Early records of the name mention Walter le Provost of County Wiltshire, 1273. Henry Prepositus, was documented in County Buckinghamshire in the same year. Nicholas le Provorse was recorded in County Somerset, during the reign of Edward III (1327-1377), and Edward Prevors of Yorkshire, was listed in the Yorkshire Poll Tax of 1379. Thomas Provis and Ann Robinson were married at St. George's, Hanover Square, London in the year 1766. At first the coat of arms was a practical matter which served a function on the battlefield and in tournaments. With his helmet covering his face, and armour encasing the knight from head to foot, the only means of identification for his followers, was the insignia painted on his shield and embroidered on his surcoat, the flowing and draped garment worn over the armour. The bulk of European surnames in countries such as England and France were formed in the 13th and 14th centuries. The process started earlier and continued in some places into the 19th century, but the norm is that in the 11th century people did not have surnames, whereas by the 15th century they did. A family of this name said to be from Poitou, settled in England from Geneva with General Augustine Prevost (1723-86). His family is recorded in Switzerland back to 1572. The General served in the British army in North America and fought under Wolfe at Quebec.
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