John II. of Portugal was prosecuting inquiries regarding access to India his first object was to open communication with “Prester John of the Indies," who was understood to be a Christian potentate in Africa. And when Vasco da Gama went on his voyage from Mozambique northwards he began to hear of “Preste Joham” as reigning in the interior—or rather, probably, by the light of his preconceptions of the existence of that personage in East Africa he thus interpreted what was told him. More than twenty years later, when the first book on Abyssinia was composed-that of Alvarez-the title designating the king of Abyssinia is “Prester John,” or simply “the Preste.”
On the whole subject in its older aspects, see Ludolf's Historia Aethiopica and its Commentary, passim. The excellent remarks of M. d'Avezac, comprising a conspectus of almost the whole essence of the subject, are in the Recueil de voyages et de mémoires published by the Société de Géographie, iv. 547-564 (Paris, 1839). Two German works of importance which have been used in this article are the interesting and suggestive Der Presbyter Johannes in Sage und Geschichte, by Dr Gustav Oppert (2nd ed., Berlin, 1870), and, most important of all in its learned, careful and critical collection and discussion of all the passages bearing on the subject, Der Priester Johannes, by Friedrich Zarncke of Leipzig (1876-1879). See also Sir H. Yule's Cathay and the Way Thither, p. 173 seq., and in Marco Polo (2nd ed.), i. 229–233, ii. 539–543. (H. Y.)
PRESTIDIGITATION (from Lat. praesto, ready, and digitus, finger), the art of conjuring by nimble-fingered dexterity, particularly as opposed to the use of mechanical devices (see Conjuring). The Latin praestigium, illusion, praestigiae tricks, and praestigiator, juggler (from prae, before, and stingere, to prick), cover the same meaning though differently derived.
PRESTIGE, influence and authority exercised by reason of high reputation. It is one of the few words which have gained a meaning superior to that of original usage. The word in French, from which it has been borrowed by English, as in Latin praestigium or praestigtae, meant jugglers' tricks, deceit, imposture, and so is found in the 16th century. The Latin stands for praestrigium, from praestrtngere, to bind or fasten tight, hence to blindfold; others derive from praestinguere, to darken, obscure, deceive. The word was at first generally used as foreign and italicized; thus the New English Dictionary quotes Sir Walter Scott (Paul's Letters to his Kinsfolk, 1815) for the earliest example in English of the modern usage, “ Napoleon needed the dazzling blaze of decisive victory to renew the charm or prestige . . . once attached to his name and fortunes.” Other words derived from praestigiurn through the French retain the original meaning of juggling or conjuring (see Prestidigitation).
PRESTON, JOHN (1587-1628), English Puritan divine, was born at Heyford in Northamptonshire and was educated at Queens' College, Cambridge (fellow 1609). He took orders, and on becoming dean of his college drew large crowds to hear his preaching. On the duke of Buckingham's advice he was appointed chaplain to Prince Charles in 1620; in 1622 he became preacher at Lincoln's Inn and master of Emmanuel College, Cambridge. After the accession of Charles I. he worked hard on behalf of the Puritan cause, but could accomplish little or nothing against Archbishop Laud. In theology he was a stanch Calvinist and his writings had considerable popularity.
PRESTON, a municipal, county, and parliamentary borough and port, of Lancashire, England, on the river Ribble, 209 m. N.W. by N. from London by the London & North-Western railway, served also by the Lancashire & Yorkshire railway. Pop. (1891), 107,573; (1901), 112,989; at the beginning of the 19th century it was about 17,000. The nucleus of its site consists of a ridge rising sharply from the north bank of the river, while the surrounding country, especially to the west about the estuary, is flat. Among the numerous parish churches that of St John, built in Decorated style in 1855, occupies a site which has carried a church from early times. Among several Roman Catholic churches, that of St Walpurgis (1854) is a handsome building of Early Decorated character. Of public buildings the most noteworthy is the large town hall, with lofty tower and spire, in Early English style, built in 1867 from designs by Sir Gilbert Scott.
The free public library and museum were established in 1879 by the trustees of E. R. Harris, a prominent citizen. A new building was opened in 1893. Here is placed Dr Shepherd's library founded in 1761, of nearly 9000 volumes, as well as a collection of pictures, &c., valued at £40,000, bequeathed by the late R. Newsham. The Harris Institute, endowed by the above-named trustees with £40,000, is established in a building of classical style erected in 1849, wherein are held science and art classes, and a chemical laboratory is maintained. For the grammar school, founded in 1550, a building in the Tudor style was erected in 1841 by private shareholders, but in 1860 they sold it to the corporation, who now have the management of the school. The blue-coat school, founded in 1701, was in 1817 amalgamated with the national schools. A Victoria Jubilee technical school was established under a grant from the Harris trustees in 1897. There is also a deaf and dumb school. Preston is well supplied with public recreation grounds, including Avenham Park, the Miller Park, with a statue of the 14th earl of Derby (d. 1869), the Moor Park, the Marsh, and the Deepdale grounds, with an observatory. Preston is one of the principal scats of the cotton manufacture in Lancashire. There are also iron and brass foundries, engineering works, cotton machinery works, and boiler works, and some shipbuilding is carried on. In 1826 Preston became a creek of Lancaster, in 1839 it was included in the new port of Fleetwood, and in 1843 it was created an independent port. The trade of the port was insignificant until the construction of spacious docks, in conjunction with the deepening of the river from the quays of Preston to its outfall in the Irish Sea, a distance of 16 m., was begun in 1884, and was carried out at a cost of over one million sterling. The main wet dock, opened in 1892, is 3240 ft. long and 600 ft. wide. The total quayage is over 8500 lineal feet. The channel of the river has been made straighter, and from docks to sea deepened, so that the dock is accessible for vessels of 17 ft. draught on ordinary spring tides. A canal connects Preston with Lancaster.
The parliamentary borough, which returns two members, falls between the Blackpool and Darwen divisions of the county. The corporation consists of a mayor, 12 aldermen and 36 councillors. Area of municipal borough, 3971 acres.
Preston, otherwise Prestune, was near the minor Roman station at Walton-le-Dale and the great Roman road running from Warrington passed through it. It is mentioned in Domesday Book as one of Earl Tostig's possessions which had fallen to Roger of Poictou, and on his defection it was forfeited to the Crown Henry II. about the year 1179 granted the burgesses a charter by which he confirmed to them the privileges he had granted to Newcastle-under-Lyme, the chief of which were a free borough and a gild merchant. This is the first of fourteen royal charters which have been granted to Preston, the chief of which are as follows: John in 1199 confirmed to Preston all the rights granted by Henry II.'s charter and also “ their fair of eight days ” from the Assumption (Aug. 15) and a three days' fair from the eve of Saints Simon and Jude (Oct. 28). Henry III. in 1217 confirmed the summer fair, but for five days only, and granted a weekly market on Wednesday. Edward III. (1328), Richard II. (1379), Henry IV. (1401), Henry V. (1414), Henry VI. (1425) and Philip and Mary (1557) confirmed the previous charters. The weekly market, though granted for Wednesday, was held as early as 1292 on Saturday. Elizabeth in 1566 granted the town its great charter which ratified and extended all previous grants, including the gild merchant, the weekly market on Saturday and the two annual fairs, in August for eight days and in October for seven days. Charles II. in 1662 and 1685 granted charters, by the latter of which an additional weekly market on Wednesday was conceded and a three days' fair beginning on the 16th of March. The most important industry used to be woollen weaving. Elizabeth's charter granted to the corporation all fees received from the sealing of cloth within the borough, and in 1571 the mayor reported that the cloths usually made near Preston were “ narrow white kearses.” Other early industries were glove-making and linen cloth. The first cotton-spinning mill was built in 1777 in Moor Lane, and in 1791 John Horrocks built the Yellow Factory. In 1835 there were forty factories, chiefly spinning, yielding 70,000 ℔ of cotton yarn weekly. A gild existed perhaps in Saxon times, but the grant of a gild merchant dates from Henry II.'s charter, about 1179. The first gild of which there was any record was celebrated in 1328, at which it was decided to hold a gild every twenty years. Up to 1542, however,
they do not appear to have been very regularly celebrated, but
- The Court leet was held twice a year up to 1835.