Frea History, Family Crest & Coats of Arms

The origins of the Anglo-Saxon name Frea come from its first bearer, who was a person who was referred to as the fry, which literally means free. It has also been suggested that Frea comes from the Middle English word fry, meaning "small person," or "child." In either instance, the origins of the name are as a nickname which referred to characteristics of the first person who used the name. [1] [2]

Early Origins of the Frea family

The surname Frea was first found in Wiltshire where the Hundredorum Rolls of 1273 has two listings: Thomas le Frye; and Geoffrey le Frye as both holding lands there at that time.

Another source notes that William Frie was listed in the Pipe Rolls for Sussex in 1195 and Robert le Frye was listed in Warwickshire c. 1248. [3]

In Cornwall, the Cornish version of the name denotes "a hill, a town or house on the most prominent part of a hill or eminence." [4]

"Of the old Wiltshire families of yeomen, few can boast a greater antiquity, and few have shown more love of their county by remaining in it, than those bearing the name of Fry. Numerous as they now are, especially around Chippenham, we find that as far back as in the reigns of Henry III. and Edward I., the Fryes or Fries found in Wiltshire their main abode. The Frys of Ashgrove, in the parish of Donhead St. Mary, appear to be one of the parent stocks; they gave the burial ground for Quakers in that parish, which has been used for this purpose ever since the Society of Friends was first established in England." [5]

The famed English prison reformer Elizabeth Fry, (1780-1845) born Elizabeth Gurney, hailed from Norfolk into a prominent Quaker family. After her first visit to Newgate Prison in 1813, she was horrified and vowed to make changes. One of her admirers, Queen Victoria granted her an audience that led to the Gaols Act of 1823. England still regards her with so much importance that her likeness appeared on the £5 note from 2001 to 2016.

Early History of the Frea family

This web page shows only a small excerpt of our Frea research. Another 87 words (6 lines of text) covering the years 1273, 1307, 1312, 1461, 1426, 1448, 1474, 1609, 1657, 1666, 1748, 1777, 1861, 1780 and 1845 are included under the topic Early Frea History in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

Frea Spelling Variations

The first dictionaries that appeared in the last few hundred years did much to standardize the English language. Before that time, spelling variations in names were a common occurrence. The language was changing, incorporating pieces of other languages, and the spelling of names changed with it. Frea has been spelled many different ways, including Fry, Frye, Free and others.

Early Notables of the Frea family (pre 1700)

Notables of the family at this time include Sir John Fray (died 1461), an English lawyer who served as Baron of the Exchequer from 1426 and Lord Chief Baron of the Exchequer in 1448; Walter Frye (c. died 1474), an English composer of the early Renaissance; John Fry (1609-1657), Member of the English Parliament and sat as...
Another 57 words (4 lines of text) are included under the topic Early Frea Notables in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

Ireland Migration of the Frea family to Ireland

Some of the Frea family moved to Ireland, but this topic is not covered in this excerpt. More information about their life in Ireland is included in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

Migration of the Frea family

Thousands of English families in this era began to emigrate the New World in search of land and freedom from religious and political persecution. Although the passage was expensive and the ships were dark, crowded, and unsafe, those who made the voyage safely were rewarded with opportunities unavailable to them in their homeland. Research into passenger and immigration lists has revealed some of the very first Freas to arrive in North America: John Frie, who settled in New England in 1638; George Frie, who settled in St. Christopher in 1635; Jacob Frie, who settled in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania in 1739.



  1. ^ Bardsley, C.W, A Dictionary of English and Welsh Surnames: With Special American Instances. Wiltshire: Heraldry Today, 1901. Print. (ISBN 0-900455-44-6)
  2. ^ Smith, Eldson Coles, New Dictionary of American Family Names New York, Harper & Row, 1956. Print
  3. ^ Reaney, P.H and R.M. Wilson, A Dictionary of English Surnames. London: Routledge, 1991. Print. (ISBN 0-415-05737-X)
  4. ^ Arthur, William , An Etymological Dictionary of Family and Christian Names. London: 1857. Print
  5. ^ Guppy, Henry Brougham, Homes of Family Names in Great Britain. 1890. Print.


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