Show ContentsFriar History, Family Crest & Coats of Arms

The distinguished surname Friar emerged among the industrious people of Flanders, which was an important trading partner and political ally of Britain during the Middle Ages. As a result of the frequent commercial intercourse between the Flemish and English nations, many Flemish migrants settled in Britain. In early times, people were known by only a single name. However, as the population grew and people traveled further afield, it became increasingly necessary to assume an additional name to differentiate between bearers of the same personal name. Occupational surnames were derived from the common trades of the medieval era. The surname Friar is an occupational name for a friar. The surname Friar is derived from the Old French word frere, which means friar. [1] [2]

Early Origins of the Friar family

The surname Friar was first found in the Hundredorum Rolls of 1273 which listed: Benedictus le Frere, Cambridgeshire; and John le Frere, Norfolk. [3] Over in Somerset, Cecylia le Frere, was listed there 1 Edward III (during the first year of King Edward III's reign.) [4]

Another source notes that Robert (le) Frere was listed in the Pipe Rolls of Yorkshire, 1196-1195 and Roger le Frier was listed in the Assize Rolls for Somerset in 1243. [5]

Later the Yorkshire Poll Tax Rolls of 1379 listed: Margota Frere; and Isabella Frere as holding lands there at that time. [3]

"There were gentle families of the name in Great Wigston and Blaby, Leicestershire, during last century. John Freer was rector of Knossington in the reign of Anne. One of the name was mayor of Leicester about a century ago. The name also occurs in Yorkshire. Since Leicestershire, Rutlandshire, and Yorkshire are all of them homes of both the Freers and the Fryers, the two names are probably different forms of the same name." [6]

Early History of the Friar family

This web page shows only a small excerpt of our Friar research. Another 117 words (8 lines of text) covering the years 1296, 1296, 1563, 1517, 1521, 1525, 1525, 1571, 1563, 1544, 1548, 1555, 1672, 1563, 1623, 1733, 1671, 1605 and 1598 are included under the topic Early Friar History in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

Friar Spelling Variations

Flemish surnames are characterized by a large number of spelling variations. One reason for this is that medieval English lacked definite spelling rules. The spellings of surnames were also influenced by the official court languages, which were French and Latin. Names were rarely spelled consistently in medieval times. Scribes and church officials recorded names as they sounded, rather than adhering to specific spelling rules, and people often had their names registered in several different forms throughout their lives. One of the greatest reasons for change is the linguistic uniqueness of the Flemish settlers in England, who spoke a language closely related to Dutch. The pronunciation and spelling of Flemish names were often altered to suit the tastes of English-speaking people. In many cases, the first, final, or middle syllables of surnames were eliminated. The name has been spelled Freer, Fryer, Frier, Frere and others.

Early Notables of the Friar family (pre 1700)

Prominent in the family at this time was John Fryer (d. 1563), English physician, born at Balsham, Cambridgeshire, educated at Eton and elected thence to King's College, Cambridge, in 1517. "He graduated B.A. in 1521 and M.A. in 1525. On 5 Nov. 1525 he was incorporated at Oxford, being one of three masters of arts who had been preferred to Cardinal Wolsey's college in that university." [7] John Fryer (fl. 1571), the English physician, who has been erroneously described as the son of John Fryer, M.D. (d. 1563) [q. v.], was born at Godmanchester, Huntingdonshire, and educated at Cambridge...
Another 98 words (7 lines of text) are included under the topic Early Friar Notables in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

Friar Ranking

In the United States, the name Friar is the 14,911st most popular surname with an estimated 2,487 people with that name. [8]

Australia Friar migration to Australia +

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

Friar Settlers in Australia in the 19th Century
  • Mr. Richard Friar, British Convict who was convicted in Suffolk, England for 7 years, transported aboard the "Earl Spencer" in May 1813, arriving in New South Wales, Australia [9]
  • Mr. John Turnball Friar, British Convict who was convicted in Durham, England for 15 years, transported aboard the "Eden" on 12th March 1842, arriving in Tasmania (Van Diemen's Island) [10]

New Zealand Friar migration to New Zealand +

Emigration to New Zealand followed in the footsteps of the European explorers, such as Captain Cook (1769-70): first came sealers, whalers, missionaries, and traders. By 1838, the British New Zealand Company had begun buying land from the Maori tribes, and selling it to settlers, and, after the Treaty of Waitangi in 1840, many British families set out on the arduous six month journey from Britain to Aotearoa to start a new life. Early immigrants include:

Friar Settlers in New Zealand in the 19th Century
  • James Friar, aged 27, a farm labourer, who arrived in Wellington, New Zealand aboard the ship "Tongariro" in 1888
  • Hannah Friar, aged 29, who arrived in Wellington, New Zealand aboard the ship "Tongariro" in 1888
  • Walter Friar, aged 6 months, who arrived in Wellington, New Zealand aboard the ship "Tongariro" in 1888

Contemporary Notables of the name Friar (post 1700) +

  • G. Edward Friar, American Democratic Party politician, Candidate in primary for Governor of Tennessee, 1958 [11]
  • Kimon Friar (1911-1993), Greek-American poet and translator of Greek poetry
  • Emmett Friar (b. 1985), Irish professional footballer
  • Sean Friar (b. 1979), Irish footballer
  • John Friar (1911-1979), Scottish footballer

HMAS Sydney II
HMS Prince of Wales
  • Mr. Thomas Friar, British Stoker 1st Class, who sailed into battle on the HMS Prince of Wales (1941) and survived the sinking [13]

  1. Sims, Clifford Stanley The Origin and Signification of Scottish Surnames. 1862. Print.
  2. Arthur, William , An Etymological Dictionary of Family and Christian Names. London: 1857. Print
  3. Bardsley, C.W, A Dictionary of English and Welsh Surnames: With Special American Instances. Wiltshire: Heraldry Today, 1901. Print. (ISBN 0-900455-44-6)
  4. Dickinson, F.H., Kirby's Quest for Somerset of 16th of Edward the 3rd London: Harrison and Sons, Printers in Ordinary to Her Majesty, St, Martin's Lane, 1889. Print.
  5. Reaney, P.H and R.M. Wilson, A Dictionary of English Surnames. London: Routledge, 1991. Print. (ISBN 0-415-05737-X)
  6. Guppy, Henry Brougham, Homes of Family Names in Great Britain. 1890. Print.
  7. Smith, George (ed), Dictionary of National Biography. London: Smith, Elder & Co., 1885-1900. Print
  8. "What are the 5,000 Most Common Last Names in the U.S.?".,
  9. Convict Records Voyages to Australia (Retrieved 8th September 2021). Retrieved from
  10. Convict Records Voyages to Australia (Retrieved 15th December 2021). Retrieved from
  11. The Political Graveyard: Alphabetical Name Index. (Retrieved 2015, October 30) . Retrieved from
  12. HMAS Sydney II, Finding Sydney Foundation - Roll of Honour. (Retrieved 2014, April 24) . Retrieved from
  13. HMS Prince of Wales Crew members. (Retrieved 2014, April 9) . Retrieved from on Facebook