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Irish Surname - Prendergast

Prendergast - de Priondragás. This famous surname is arguably English, Welsh, Irish and Scottish, but is ultimately of Norman-Flemish pre-10th century origins.

The Prendergast name in Ireland derives from one of the powerful families who came to Ireland at the time of the Anglo-Norman invasion - most notably the 12th century Norman Knight Maurice de Prendergast, who came to Ireland with Strongbow. Maurice was a great friend and neighbour of Strongbow, Earl of Pembroke. He accompanied Strongbow in the Anglo/Norman invasion of Ireland in 1169 and was rewarded with lands in Ireland in Waterford, Wexford, Tipperary, Mayo and Wicklow, he became the Governor of the County and City of Cork. Maurice died in 1205 at Kilmainham (near Dublin) and his descendants were listed among the leading gentry of the counties of Waterford, Wexford and Tipperary in 1598 and were also to be found in many other counties notably Mayo and Galway. Maurice De Prendergast had two sons, Phillip and Gerald Mc Maurice.

Maurice De Prendergast's younger son Gerald Mc Maurice founded a branch of the family in County Mayo, and some of those in Mayo assumed the name Fitzmaurice at an early date. The Prendergasts who assumed the Fitzmaurice name were also called MacMaurice or MacMorrish and gave name to the barony of Clanmorris (Claremorris).

Maurice De Prendergast's eldest son Phillip went with his father to Ireland and became the Lord of Duffry, an extensive district west of Enniscorthy. In about 1190 Phillip married Maude, daughter and sole heir of Robert de Quenci, Strongbow's standard bearer and hereditary Constable of Leinster, who was killed in a battle with the O'Dempseys and the Irish of Offailey, a few months after his wedding. During Maude's childhood Strongbow gave the Constableship of Leinster to Raymond le Gros but it was awarded to Phillip on his marriage to Maude - an office he held for many years. In 1217 he received the town of Enniscorthy in exchange for other lands and in 1225 he built a huge Norman castle on the banks of the Slaney river at Enniscorthy, County Wexford. The castle now houses the the Wexford County museum. Phillip De Prendergast witnessed the charters of King John and Edward 1.

William, the second son of Phillip de Prendergast, acquired large areas of land along the River Suir in Tipperary and the family continued to reside there. They extended into many branches until they were eventually ousted in the days of Oliver Cromwell, as were many other ancient noble families who supported the Catholic Revolution. Their inheritance was divided between the soldiers of the commonwealth army and the 'adventurers' - so called because they adventured money towards a joint fund for raising a private army to put down the Irish Rebellion of 1641. The Prendergasts were later restored - although to what extent is not apparent.

A distinguished namebearer was John Patrick Prendergast (1808-1893), the author of a book called 'The Cromwellian Settlement of Ireland', and other historical works.

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