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Rosser, Prosser and (presumably) Prossor. 

I was not aware of the Prossor spelling until this interesting note from Mr. William Bramhill :

"I have been researching the name Prossor for some years, and I think it might mean son of the swordmaker - or could it just be the son of Ross? I started off by thinking the name was Welsh, and almost fell into the same trap as some Mormon family members in the 1910s who tried without success to establish a link between the Prossors of Southampton/Portsmouth and Wales, then gave up.

The root of the name appears to be Irish, at least as far back as the late 1600s, though it would appear to have been a Welsh family which emigrated and settled, possibly in Tudor times. My family is descended from two Tipperary-born brothers, Anthony and Samuel, who set up business in England in the 1820s/30s.

I have detail of my research here: http://bramhill.net/ProssorIreland/notableprossors.html

The spelling Prossor is almost exclusively Irish, although there are a few Welsh Prossors who use the second "o". Likewise, Prosser with an "e" seems rare in Ireland, and I cannot find any Irish Prosso(e)rs in the current Irish telephone book.

If it helps, please feel free to add my research to your excellent work on Welsh surnames."

My reply to Mr. Bramhill follows - we would both be interested if you have comments.

I think we have to look at the origin of the name. I'm not an expert on Irish names but the Welsh origin of names of this type is clear. In Welsh there was no sound for "j" or the "g" in Roger. The nearest sound in Welsh was "s" or "si". Thus, in the Welsh context the name appeared as Roser, Rosser, Rhoser, and Rhosier. The origin of the modern Prosser (and I think that Prossor is just a variant) can be seen as early as 1292. Morgan and Morgan (Welsh Surnames) give the example of Cadugan ap Roser. It seems that Rosser became the favoured spelling, although a Rhosier fought at the battle of Agincourt in 1415. Of course ap Rosser (son of Rosser) became Prosser.

The Welsh would have become familiar with the name Roger soon after the Norman Conquest of 1066. It is possible that an ap Rosser appeared in Ireland with the Geraldine invasion. The Fitzgeralds were kinsmen of Giraldus Cambrensis (Gerald of Wales), with a family home in west Wales.

To settle the question of origin, you would need to consult a standard text on Irish surnames, but I'm betting that the early Prossors were Welsh! Your theory of a settlement in Tudor times might well be correct but the name could have been brought to Ireland much earlier. The Prossor spelling might simply reflect an aspect of Irish pronunciation.


See also:  Evans - Bevan - Biven - BivinsGriffiths, Hughes, JenkinsJonesMorganRees and Price etcStackpole , Van, Place names as surnames , names from 1327 and Mysterious names from Wales. 

2002/7  John Weston


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