Sir John MacLean wrote
The name and family of Prideaux is of great antiquity in Cornwall. Soon after the Norman Conquest we find a family seated at Prideaux Castle in the parish of Luxullion and some have attributed to it a British origin. The first of the name of whom we have any record is Paganus or Pagan Pridieaux who in the pedigree registered in the Heralds College is described as Pagan Prideaux, Lord of Prideaux in the Conquest time.
There has been much debate about whether Paganus came to Cornwall with the Conqueror or whether he was already here. This stems from the fact that the family have been known by the French sounding Prideaux for so many years.There are various points of view on the origination of the name Prideaux. In French it could mean ‘praying or worshipping God’, or ‘by water’. I have also considered the idea that the Cornish Tredwr which means settlement by the water, could have been an origin of the name. The sea certainly used to lap the edges of the Prideaux holdings at one time, although no longer, as will be examined later.
However, the family were known as Pridias before they became Prideaux and later some branches of the family became Priddis, Priddy and combinations thereof. The Prideaux name was attached to Lord Paganus retrospectively. I have come to the conclusion that Pridias developed from the Old Cornish Prid (clay) and als/aus (cliff). The land stopped at what is now St. Blazey and the se came inland beyond Tywardreath and further inland.
Paganus Prideaux is not mentioned in the Domesday Book, the famous census of lands and its occupants which was drawn up twenty years after the Norman invasion as a means of collecting taxes. If Paganus came to this country with William, then his Prideaux name was dropped immediately he took over the lands around Tywardreath and Luxulyan, for his descendants were known as Pridias during the next generation. Had Paganus been a French invader, there would have been a more detailed family history and as there does not appear to be any record of a Prideaux on the continent prior to the invasion, I am convinced the roots of the family are Celtic. Indeed, the Normans would have been happy to write about the origins of Richard and his father, had they travelled from France. It was the Normans who wrote about Paganus when referring to Richard Pridias, a man accepted as an associate only a generation later. Richard was refered to as Richard Pridias in all documentation of the time.
Until relatively recently, people were known by the name of their trade or their land or their master. It was a way to identify one man from another. In Saxon times the clan would take the name of their chief. R.M. Prideaux who wrote the wonderfully researched work, ‘A West Country Clan’, considers the Prideauxs to be a clan. This book rarely comes on the market, but must be read by any serious family tree researcher of the Prideaux line. They will learn that every blood Prideaux descends from this man.
I believe that Paganus was living in Cornwall at the time of the invasion. He was a clan chieftain of a long established line, surrounded by family and neighbours and used to dealing and negotiating with invaders.
A Coat of Arms was granted to the Prideauxs on the 9th March 1874 by the College of Arms, making Paganus officially recognised. A Pedigree was submitted by Stephen Isaacson Tucker, Rouge Croix Pursuivant [junior office at arms] of the College. This was taken from the heraldic visitation of Cornwall in 1620.
Paganus was the father of two sons, Richard and Philip. Little is known of Philip, so I assume he did not survive long enough to produce a family.
The Domesday entry for the area reads,
Richard holds TYWARDREATH from the Count. Cola held it before 1066 and paid tax for one hide, 2 hides there, however land for 12 ploughs, in Lordship 4 ploughs, 7 slaves, 8 villagers and 18 small holders with 3 ploughs and the rest of the land. Woodland 6 acres, pasture 100 acres. Formerly £4, value now 40s, 11 cattle, 12 pigs, 200 sheep.
A hide tended to be about 120 acres and the pasture and woodland would have been in addition to that.
Domesday also notes that.
Lanescot is a much smaller manor and was held by Albert before 1066
Albert would have been another Saxon.
If Paganus was born in 1040, then he would have been around 26 years of age when William the Conqueror arrived. If he had his son Richard around 1070 and Richard died in 1122, Richard would have been aged 52 years old. Richard’s son Baldwin died in 1169 and he must have been born in 1109, because of a charter he signed when he just come of age. I admit to fitting these ages around the facts I know, Baldwin dying in 1169 and Paganus being around as a man when the Conqueror invaded, but I doubt they are far wrong.
More can be read about Paganus in ‘Blood of the Lyon Men’ in the book by A A Prideaux, Cornish Prideaux Ghost Stories which is now available.