Frei History, Family Crest & Coats of Arms

The Frei surname comes from the Middle High German word "vri," meaning "free," and as a name, it referred to a free man, as opposed to a bondsman or serf in the feudal system.

Early Origins of the Frei family

The surname Frei was first found in Bavaria, where the name Frey came from humble beginnings but eventually gained a significant reputation for its contribution to the region's medieval society. The family later became more prominent as many branches of the family acquired distant estates which elevated in turn their social status.

Early History of the Frei family

This web page shows only a small excerpt of our Frei research. Another 54 words (4 lines of text) covering the year 1855 is included under the topic Early Frei History in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

Frei Spelling Variations

In the medieval era, many different cultural groups lived in the German states. There are thus many regional variations of German surnames from that era. Westphalians spoke Low German, which is similar to modern Dutch. Many German names carry suffixes that identify where they came from. Others have phrases attached that identify something about the original bearer. Other variations in German names resulted from the fact that medieval scribes worked without the aid of any spelling rules. The spelling variations of the name Frei include Frey, Freye, Frei, Freie, Frie, Fraie, Vrey, Vreye, Vrei, Vreie and many more.

Early Notables of the Frei family (pre 1700)

More information is included under the topic Early Frei Notables in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.


United States Frei migration to the United States +

The great European flow of migration to North America, which began in the middle of the 17th century and continued into the 20th century, was particularly attractive to those from Bavaria who wished to escape either poverty or religious persecution. For many Bavarian tenant farmers, the chance to own their own land was a major incentive. So the widespread colonization of the United States began in 1650, when many immigrants from Germany settled in pockets in Pennsylvania, Texas, New York, Illinois, and California. In Canada, German settlement centered in Ontario and the prairie Among those of this surname listed in various historical records were:

Frei Settlers in United States in the 18th Century
  • Jo Hendrik Frei, who arrived in New York in 1709 [1]
  • Hans Ulrich Frei, who arrived in Pennsylvania in 1729 [1]
  • Hans Frei, who landed in America in 1731 [1]
  • Samuel Frei, who landed in America in 1731 [1]
  • Jacob Frei, who landed in Pennsylvania in 1749 [1]
Frei Settlers in United States in the 19th Century
  • Peter Frei, who landed in Galveston, Tex in 1845 [1]
  • Andrew Frei, who arrived in St Clair County, Illinois in 1856 [1]
  • Joseph Frei, who landed in Allegany (Allegheny) County, Pennsylvania in 1871 [1]
  • Heinrich J Frei, aged 49, who arrived in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania in 1875 [1]
  • Haver Frei, who landed in America in 1886 [1]
  • ... (More are available in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.)

Contemporary Notables of the name Frei (post 1700) +

  • W. H. Frei, American politician, Member of South Dakota State Senate 8th District, 1931-32 [2]
  • Frei Paul Otto (1925-2015), German architect and structural engineer, awarded the RIBA Royal Gold Medal in 2006 and the Pritzker Architecture Prize in 2015, one day after he died


  1. ^ Filby, P. William, Meyer, Mary K., Passenger and immigration lists index : a guide to published arrival records of about 500,000 passengers who came to the United States and Canada in the seventeenth, eighteenth, and nineteenth centuries. 1982-1985 Cumulated Supplements in Four Volumes Detroit, Mich. : Gale Research Co., 1985, Print (ISBN 0-8103-1795-8)
  2. ^ The Political Graveyard: Alphabetical Name Index. (Retrieved 2016, February 2) . Retrieved from http://politicalgraveyard.com/alpha/index.html


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