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An excerpt from www.HouseOfNames.com archives copyright 2000 - 2014

Where did the English Fretwell family come from? What is the English Fretwell family crest and coat of arms? When did the Fretwell family first arrive in the United States? Where did the various branches of the family go? What is the Fretwell family history?

The surname Fretwell is Anglo-Saxon in origin; the name is derived from "Fritwell," the name of a town located in Oxfordshire. This name is probably taken from the Old English "freht," meaning "augury," and "well," meaning "spring, stream."

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Until quite recently, the English language has lacked a definite system of spelling rules. Consequently, Anglo-Saxon surnames are characterized by a multitude of spelling variations. Changes in Anglo-Saxon names were influenced by the evolution of the English language, as it incorporated elements of French, Latin, and other languages. Although Medieval scribes and church officials recorded names as they sounded, so it is common to find one person referred to by several different spellings of his surname, even the most literate people varied the spelling of their own names. Variations of the name Fretwell include Fretwell, Fratwell, Fretevile, Frettwell and others.

First found in Oxfordshire, where the town of Fritwell is located. The name was recorded as Fertwelle [1] in the Domesday Book [2]. It is possible that the progenitor of the surname was a descendant of Reginald Wadard, who was granted land in Fritwell after the Norman Conquest of 1066, as recorded in the Domesday Book. The earliest recorded bearer of the name was Milo de Freteuill, who was listed in the Pipe Rolls of Oxfordshire in 1204.


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This web page shows only a small excerpt of our Fretwell research. Another 276 words(20 lines of text) covering the years 1204, 1219, 1240, 1510, 1574, 1765, and 1847 are included under the topic Early Fretwell History in all our PDF Extended History products.

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Another 38 words(3 lines of text) are included under the topic Early Fretwell Notables in all our PDF Extended History products.

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Searching for a better life, many English families migrated to British colonies. Unfortunately, the majority of them traveled under extremely harsh conditions: overcrowding on the ships caused the majority of the immigrants to arrive diseased, famished, and destitute from the long journey across the ocean. For those families that arrived safely, modest prosperity was attainable, and many went on to make invaluable contributions to the development of the cultures of the new colonies. Research into the origins of individual families in North America revealed records of the immigration of a number of people bearing the name Fretwell or a variant listed above:

Fretwell Settlers in the United States in the 17th Century


  • John Fretwell, who arrived in Maryland in 1657
  • G Fretwell, who landed in Virginia in 1665
  • Roger Fretwell, who arrived in Maryland in 1671
  • Peter Fretwell, who landed in New Jersey in 1677
  • Ralph Fretwell, who landed in Philadelphia, Pa, in 1683

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  • JerryLisa Fretwell, founders of Fretwell's Flutes, a Native American flute-making company
  • Elbert Kirtley Fretwell Jr. (1923-2012), American academic and Chancellor Emeritus of the University of North Carolina
  • Elizabeth Fretwell, well-known Australian opera singer
  • Stephen Fretwell, British singer and songwriter


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  1. ^ Mills, A.D., Dictionary of English Place-Names. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1991. Print. (ISBN 0-19-869156-4)
  2. ^ Williams, Dr Ann. And G.H. Martin, Eds., Domesday Book A Complete Translation. London: Penguin, 1992. Print. (ISBN 0-141-00523-8)

Other References

  1. Burke, John Bernard Ed. The Roll of Battle Abbey. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing. Print.
  2. Burke, Sir Bernard. Genealogical and Heraldic History of the Peerage and Baronetage, The Privy Council, Knightage and Compainonage. London: Burke Publishing, 1921. Print.
  3. Hanks, Hodges, Mills and Room. The Oxford Names Companion. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2002. Print. (ISBN 0-19-860561-7).
  4. Dunkling, Leslie. Dictionary of Surnames. Toronto: Collins, 1998. Print. (ISBN 0004720598).
  5. Egle, William Henry. Pennsylvania Genealogies Scotch-Irish and German. Harrisburg: L.S. Hart, 1886. Print.
  6. Papworth, J.W and A.W Morant. Ordinary of British Armorials. London: T.Richards, 1874. Print.
  7. Passenger Lists of Vessels Arriving at Galveston Texas 1896-1951. National Archives Washington DC. Print.
  8. Skordas, Guest. Ed. The Early Settlers of Maryland an Index to Names or Immigrants Complied from Records of Land Patents 1633-1680 in the Hall of Records Annapolis, Maryland. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing, 1968. Print.
  9. Hanks, Patricia and Flavia Hodges. A Dictionary of Surnames. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1988. Print. (ISBN 0-19-211592-8).
  10. Filby, P. William and Mary K Meyer. Passenger and Immigration Lists Index in Four Volumes. Detroit: Gale Research, 1985. Print. (ISBN 0-8103-1795-8).
  11. ...

The Fretwell Family Crest was acquired from the Houseofnames.com archives. The Fretwell Family Crest was drawn according to heraldic standards based on published blazons. We generally include the oldest published family crest once associated with each surname.

This page was last modified on 22 October 2012 at 15:14.

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