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It is believed that hereditary surnames were used by French Noblemen in the early 12th century and by the following century the average person begun to adopt them. 


Prevost was one of the early names to appear in France and opinion is divided as to the origin of the name.  Many historians believe it derives from the Old French word “prevost” meaning is “perfect” or “commander” but Duzat contends that because of its frequency it stems from a nickname.  When one looks at the more than forty coats of arms recorded to the Prevosts in many different parts of France, one would tend to say “They could hardly be all commanders”.


We find an extraordinary assortment of heraldic symbols on the armorial bearings of the Prevosts.  These range from eagles and beakless ducks to leopards’ heads and sculptures’ mallets.  It is in our opinion that the grant of arms made to Prevost in Toulose, showing crossed swords and the two laurel branches, is significant both in age and importance.

The Prevosts were rather like the “Wild Geese” in Ireland; “Wild Geese” being the description of thousands of Irishmen who left their homeland and traveled to all corners of Europe.  Prevosts are to be found in the most unexpected places on the European Continent and in many cases earned their places in historical records.

Perhaps the most famous Prevost was Augustine, the Huguenot refugee who fled to England and became a Major-General in the British Army.  He defeated the Americans at Briar Creek in 1779.  His son was knighted and commanded the British forces in North America.




Augustine  Prevost Biography