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2,405 study surnames with us
and a further 6,120 variant names.

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About the study

The Prentice One Name Study is in the early stages of research and is currently being studied in England, Scotland and Wales although starting to branch out to Australia and the USA. As the study progresses it will become a global study.

Variant names

This study includes the surnames Prentice, Prentis and Prentiss

Name origin

During the middle ages, a student or a learner of a craft was known as an apprentice and a so called learner in those days would have attracted the surname of Prentice. This is not an occupational surname because it only describes a person who is learning and not the trade that they are learning. It is more likely to be a nickname, for example, John Smith may have been learning to be a blacksmith so his surname would have been Smith and his nickname would have been Prentice or Apprentice, his name over time may have been shortened to John Prentice.

Historical occurrences of the name

The Prentice family emerged as noteable Englishmen in Essex where they were seated as Lords of the manor and estates recoded from 1327 in Colchester, Essex. By this time they had also branched North into Scotland and were recorded in both Edinburgh and Glasgow. Of note was Henry Prentice of Edinburgh who introduced the potato into Scotland.

Later during the 16th, 17th and 18th centuries England was devestated by religious and political conflict between religious sects and between Parliamentary and Royalist forces that created an unstable society. Many families were banished by the prevailing powers for dissention and others chose to leave the turmoil behind.

In Ireland, Protestant settlers and soldier's in Cromwell's army were granted lands which had been confiscated from the native Catholic owners.

Upheavel at home forced some families to risk the dangerous journey to the New World in order to build a new future for themselves. Members of the Prentice family were among the settlers who boarded ships bound for Canada, the United States, Australia and other colonies held by the British crown

Settlers bearing the surname Prentice included Valentine Prentice who settled in Virginia in 1654, John Prentiss who settled in New York in 1823 and both John and Thomas Prentice who arrived in Philadelphia in 1808.

Name frequency

In the census for England and Wales of 1881 there were 3529 people with the surname Prentice and the surname ranked 1291.

Distribution of the name

According to Public Profiler today the heaviest concentration of the surname is in New Zealand, followed by Australia, the United Kingdom, Canada and the United States of America. In the United Kingdom the heaviest concentrations are in Glasgow, followed by Edinburgh, Ipswich, Birmingham and Belfast. The information from Public Profiler would appear to follow the routes of migration from the 1300's to the present day.


Currently the data that has been collected is the Birth, Marriage and Death registrations for England, Scotland and Wales for Sep 1837 - 1950 and Military data for the United Kingdom and Australia.
Family tree construction is in the early stages and is ongoing ...