Mystery Monday: Pregyon

Every Monday we will post an entry that hasn’t yet been published with a view towards harnessing the collective onomastic power of the internet. If you have any thoughts about the name’s origin, other variants it might be related to, other examples of its use, etc., please share them in the comments! If you wish to browse other Mystery Monday names, there is an index.

Sometimes it’s easy to get lulled into a false sense that in the 16th C, the naming pool across England was relatively uniform and predictable. After all, going through parish register after parish register filled with Johns, Williams, Thomases, Roberts, Margarets, Janes, Elizabeths, and Alices can (dare we say it!) get a bit tedious sometimes (no, no, we don’t really mean it. Names are NEVER tedious and boring).

Sometimes, though, you get a name that reminds you that there was regional variation, and this variation can be seen most clearly in the liminal places — in the counties bordering the Welsh marches, in the Scottish border lands, and, in the case of today’s Mystery Monday name, in the far reaches of Cornwall.

Today’s name is a masculine one that shows up in a Cornish parish in 1562, 1577, and 1593. (All marriage records, so it’s unlikely to be the same person, but the third could be the son of the first.)


We’ve not found any examples of the name outside of Cornwall, and it isn’t clear at all what the origin of the name is, other than that it’s at least plausible that it’s ultimately of Cornish origin. Do you have any suggestions? Seen the name, or something like it, elsewhere? Please share in the comments!


Filed under crowd-sourcing, dictionary entries, monthly topic

8 responses to “Mystery Monday: Pregyon

  1. Brian M. Scott

    All three men with the forename Pregyon have the surname Rawe; the other two instances of Pregyon in the register are as a surname (John Pregyon 1562 and Moud Pregyon 1584). The name seems to be most common as a surname, in a variety of spellings. The Parish Register of Irby-upon-Humber, Co. Lincoln has 1558 entry signed by Jo: Pregion. The South Hykeham (Lincs.) marriage register has a Robte. Pregion 1658. What appears to be the same surname appears twice as Prigin in the late 16th century in Lincolnshire parish registers, and it occurs later in Lincolnshire as Pridgin and Pridgeon.

    P.H. Reaney & R.M. Wilson, A Dictionary of English Surnames s.n. Pridgeon, cite William Prygion 1392 and George Pridgeon 1695, both from Lincolnshire and offer only the very tentative suggestion ‘Perhaps Fr preuxjean “wise, brave John”’. The Cornish forename instances could be early examples of a transferred surname, especially since they may all be in the same family.

  2. Jörg Knappen

    Maybe, it isn’t a given name at all: Pregyon is also a surname in Cornwall, and in the records the second name is always Rawe that also can be a given name (already in the dmnes database under the entry Ralph, ). There is also the surname Pregnon which sounds very similar and may indicate a French background, but unfortunately, I have no explanation for either Pregnon or Pregyon.

  3. Jörg Knappen

    Here’s another hypothesis for the derivation of Pregyon: The surname Pritchard is explained as ap Richard with the Welsh word ap “son of”. Maybe Pregyon can be explained as ap Regyon but this leaves the excercise to identify Regyon as a given name (either English, French, Welsh, or Cornish).

    • Brian M. Scott

      The thought had occurred to me, but I found no plausible forename, and the Lincolnshire instance make the hypothesis less likely.

  4. Arabella Cawdrey-Wrest

    “lulled into a false sense that in the 16th C, the naming pool across England was relatively uniform and predictable”: Trawling through 18th-century parish registers I have gotten the sense that the name pool was smaller in Georgian than in Tudor England. There is certainly evidence, as compiled by economist Douglas Galbi, that popularity of the top 3 given names, for both men and women, was higher between 1690 and 1700 than at any prior time from 1570 onwards: – scroll down to Table 3.

    • Arabella Cawdrey-Wrest

      The table I cited wasn’t compiled by Galbi, but by Smith-Bannister in his Names and Naming Patterns in England, 1538-1700. There is other evidence in Galbi’s paper that complicates and/or rounds my picture of a smaller 18th-century name pool. Table 2 of his article provides an overview of name popularity and prevalence in different English regions between 1080 and 1825.

      • Brian M. Scott

        He doesn’t get to the Georgian period, but towards the end of Chapter 7 Smith-Bannister notes that the evidence ‘strongly suggests’ that the effective pool of forenames — the set of forenames actually in use at any given time — was shrinking throughout the period 1538-1700, and especially in the 17th century.

  5. Lauren Steenkamp

    I’m inclined to suggest that Pregyon might mean house near the water that’s used in the winter, Pre being a variation of Pri (as in Prideaux) means water and gyon being a variation of Gwavas means winter residence

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