Fretwell History, Family Crest & Coats of Arms

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."

Early Origins of the Fretwell family

The surname Fretwell was 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.

Early History of the Fretwell family

This web page shows only a small excerpt of our Fretwell research. Another 138 words (10 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 and printed products wherever possible.

Fretwell Spelling Variations

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.

Early Notables of the Fretwell family (pre 1700)

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


United States Fretwell migration to the United States +

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 United States in the 17th Century
  • John Fretwell, who arrived in Maryland in 1657 [3]
  • G Fretwell, who landed in Virginia in 1665 [3]
  • Roger Fretwell, who arrived in Maryland in 1671 [3]
  • Peter Fretwell, who landed in New Jersey in 1677 [3]
  • Ralph Fretwell, who landed in Philadelphia, Pa, in 1683 [3]

Australia Fretwell migration to Australia +

Emigration to Australia followed the First Fleets of convicts, tradespeople and early settlers. Early immigrants include:

Fretwell Settlers in Australia in the 19th Century
  • George Fretwell, English convict from Warwick, who was transported aboard the "Albion" on May 29, 1828, settling in New South Wales, Australia [4]
  • Frances Fretwell, English convict from Warwick, who was transported aboard the "America" on December 30, 1830, settling in Van Diemen's Land, Australia [5]

Contemporary Notables of the name Fretwell (post 1700) +

  • Joseph Fretwell III (1915-1992), American costume designer, known for his work on The Exorcist (1973), The French Connection (1971) and Across 110th Street (1972)
  • Bill Fretwell, American actor, known for Kojak: Flowers for Matty (1990), Performance Pieces (1989) and Mathnet (1987)
  • Professor Elbert K. Fretwell PhD (1878-1962), American academic, 2nd Chief Scout Executive of the Boy Scouts of America (1943-1948), father of Elbert K. Fretwell Jr
  • Jerry and Lisa Fretwell, American 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
  • Estil Fretwell, American Democrat politician, Elected Missouri State House of Representatives 1st District 1980 [6]
  • C. E. Fretwell, American Democrat politician, Candidate for West Virginia State House of Delegates from Upshur County, 1942 [6]
  • David Fretwell (b. 1952), English retired footballer who played from 1970 to 1981
  • Sir John Emsley Fretwell GCMG (1930-2017), British diplomat, Deputy Under-Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs (1987-1990), British Ambassador to France (1982-1987)
  • Stephen Fretwell (b. 1965), Canadian actor, known for his work on The Joneses (2009), Gavin & Stacey (2007) and Degas and the Dancer (1998)
  • ... (Another 3 notables are available in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.)


  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)
  3. ^ 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)
  4. ^ State Library of Queensland. (Retrieved 2014, November 24) Albion voyage to New South Wales, Australia in 1828 with 192 passengers. Retrieved from http://www.convictrecords.com.au/ships/albion/1828
  5. ^ State Library of Queensland. (Retrieved 2014, November 26) America voyage to Van Diemen's Land, Australia in 1830 with 135 passengers. Retrieved from http://www.convictrecords.com.au/ships/america/1830
  6. ^ The Political Graveyard: Alphabetical Name Index. (Retrieved 2016, January 12) . Retrieved from http://politicalgraveyard.com/alpha/index.html


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