This interesting surname, of English origin with variant spellings Pratton, Pratten, Praten, and Praton, is a diminutive of Pratt, a nickname for a clever trickster, deriving from the Olde English pre 7th Century "praett" meaning "trick, cunning, astute", which is found in use as a byname in the 11th Century. The surname dates back to the late 12th Century (see below), and further recordings include one Edmund Pret (1192), the Pipe Rolls of Berkshire, and Dereman le Prat (1198), the Curia Regis Rolls of Kent. The London Church Records include one Joanna Prattin, who married Thomas Rowley on March 18th 1623, at St. Martin in the Fields, Westminster, Margaret Pratten married William Cockarell on June 3rd 1645, at St. Mathew's, Friday Street, and Thomas Pratten was christened on March 9th 1741, at Carter Lane, Blackfriar's Presbytery. One Robert Sidney Pratten (1824 - 1868), the flutist, made his debut at Clifton in 1835; he went to London in 1846, and attained the front rank in his art. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Wilfric Prat, which was dated 1179, in Sir Christopher Halton's Book of Seals, Suffolk, during the reign of King Henry 11, known as "The Builder of Churches", 1154 - 1189. Surnames became necessary when governments introduced personal taxation. In England this was known as Poll Tax. Throughout the centuries, surnames in every country have continued to "develop" often leading to astonishing variants of the original spelling.