Can anyone help with the meaning and geographical distribution of the place name
The best source for the interpretation of PEM place names are the volumes of B.G.
Charles entitled The Place Names of Pembrokeshire published in 1992. But Prendergast
presented him with problems. Prendergast is a parish to the north east of Haverfordwest,
which has many references pre-1600 to it. In his research he found sixteen other examples
of Prendergast as a place name in the northern half of the county.
He continues It looks as if the first element could be Welsh pren meaning tree, wood,
timber. Prender could stand for oak tree, i.e. from Pren and derw. The only known
meaning of the Welsh gast is bitch, whore. If this analysis is correct the allusion may
be to an oak tree which was the haunt of the wild dog. But he concludes that such a
tentative interpretation as this did not explain the exceptional number of the other
examples of the name in the county.
He continues Prendergast, on the north-east of Haverfordwest, became a poor suburb of
the town and as such was well known to the folk of north Pembrokeshire. It would seem that
the name Prendergast, often pronounced Prengast, became an epithet in the Welsh dialect
for places situated in the east ends of villages where the poorer people often lived, and
later the appellative was applied to humble cottages in the vicinity. There are places
called Prendergast in the east ends of Llantwyd, Bletherston, Trevine and Solva. He could
also have included Nevern where Brengast, (Prendergast in the early 19th century parish
register) lies to the south east of the village.
In Newport, Prendergast (2 dwellings in the early 19th century) is to the north of the
town. The earliest reference thus far found to Prendergast in Newport is a lease in 1706
for 21 years of Place prenkergast otherwise Casel lands, between George Bowen of
Llwyngwair, Esquire and John Nicholas, a yeoman, the lessor.
Surprising Prendergast is absent from the recently published Dictionary of the
Place-Names of Wales and Y Llyfr Enw. Perhaps suggesting that the name is local to
Pembrokeshire and perhaps to only part of that county.
So is there a Prendergast near you? Any comment of the late B.G. Charles'
observations will be welcomed.
website at www.welshmariners.org.uk