Friar 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.

Early Origins of the Friar family

The surname Friar was first found in Lothian where they held a family seat from early times and their first records appeared on the early census rolls taken by the early Kings of Britain to determine the rate of taxation of their subjects.

Important Dates for the Friar family

This web page shows only a small excerpt of our Friar research. Another 117 words (8 lines of text) covering the year 1296 is 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)

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

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 Democrat politician, Candidate in primary for Governor of Tennessee, 1958 [1]
  • 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

Historic Events for the Friar family

HMAS Sydney II
HMS Prince of Wales
  • Mr. Thomas Friar, British Stoker 1st Class, who sailed into battle on the HMS Prince of Wales and survived the sinking [3]


  1. ^ The Political Graveyard: Alphabetical Name Index. (Retrieved 2015, October 30) . Retrieved from
  2. ^ HMAS Sydney II, Finding Sydney Foundation - Roll of Honour. (Retrieved 2014, April 24) . Retrieved from
  3. ^ HMS Prince of Wales Crew members. (Retrieved 2014, April 9) . Retrieved from
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