Origin of the FREER Surname

The Ancient History of the Distinguished Surname FREER

Amongst the family names emerging from the mists of time are the ones from Holland and Belgium such as the ancient posterity of Freer. The distinguished history of this surname is closely entwined within the colourful tapestry of the ancient chronicles of Britain. Some spoke in an old French dialect and were known as "Walloons", coming from southern Belgium.

The Flemish and Dutch presence in Britain commenced about the year 1150 A.D., and contributed more to British industrial development than any other race, The Flemings were the artisan Industrialists of the low countries. The Flemings were recruited firstly in Scotland to develop Scottish industry. They became ardent Scottish patriots, so much so that at the storming of Berwick by the English in 1296, the Flemings barricaded themselves in the Red Hall with such stubborn resistance, they were buried to a man.

They later migrated south to Wales and the west of England where they spawned the weaving and the woollen industry. In Norfolk, Suffolk, and Hertfordshire they were particularly involved in papermaking and erected several fine paper mills.

Professional researchers have carefully scrutinized such ancient manuscripts as the Ragman Rolls 12911296), a record of homage rendered to King Edward 1st of England, the Curia Regis Rolls, The Pipe Rolls, the Hearth Rolls, parish registers, baptismal, tax records and other ancient documents and found the first record of the name Freer, in Lothian where they were seated 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.

During the early and middle development phase of the name many different spellings were found in the archives researched. Although your name, Freer, occurred in many manuscripts, from time to time the surname was spelt Freer, Fryer, Frier, Frere, and these variations in spelling frequently occurred, even between father and son. It was not uncommon for a person to be born with one spelling, married with another and yet another to appear on his or her headstone. Scribes and church officials spelt the na me as it was told to them.

The family name Freer emerged as a notable English family in Lothian where they were recorded as a family of great antiquity seated with manor and estates in that shire, when William Frere became Archdeacon of Lothian (Map). He became English during the conflict of 1298 and asked for protection in England. He later became Professor of Canon Law ln the University of Paris. Adam Frere rendered homage to King Edward I of England on his brief conquest of Scotland in 1296. Meanwhile an English branch of the name starts at Wergs in Staffordshire and may have been connected with Professor William Frere. They erected a manor and moat at Thornes near Shenstone in Staffordshire. Meanwhile in Scotland the name became associated with astrologers to the Kings of Scotland. Notable in the family at this time was Professor William Frere.

In England the Flemings started the trades of paper making, book publishing, glass blowing, clothiers, glove making, and many more. Many Flemings rose to high office and became members of the Peerage, including the Earls of Radnor, and the Earls of Clancarty.

During the 16th, 17th and 18th centuries England was ravaged by religious conflict. Puritanism, the newly found political fervour of Cromwellianism, and the remnants of the Roman Church rejected all nonbelievers and fought for supremacy. During these turbulent times the conflicts between Church groups, the Crown and political groups all claimed their allegiances and their assessments, tithes, and demands on rich and poor alike broke the spirit of the people and many either turned away from religion, or, alternatively, desperately renewed their faith, pursuing with a vigour and ferocity, the letter of the ecclesiastical law.

The Flemings were responsible in Ireland for the development of the fine linen trade, for the development of Irish pottery, and gave their name to such streets ln Dublin as Combe, Pimlico, and Spitalfield. The leader of the Flemish contingent in Ireland was a General, the Marquis de Ruvigny of Port Arlington. There is no evidence that the family name migrated to Ireland, but this does not preclude the possibility of their scattered mi gration to that country. In the midst of this religious turmoil of the Middle Ages the Nev World beckoned the adventurous. They migrated, some voluntarily from Ireland, but mostly directly from England, their home territories. Some also moved to the European continent. They settled in Australia, New Zealand, the Carolinas, Virginia, Nova Scotia, Newfoundland and the West Indies.

Members of the family name Freer sailed aboard the armada of small sailing ships known as the "White Sails" which plied the stormy Atlantic. These overcrowded ships were pestilence ridden, sometimes 30% to 40% of the passenger list never rea ching their destination, their numbers decimated by illness and the elements.

In North America, included amongst the first migrants which could be considered a kinsman of the surname Freer, or a variable spelling of that family name was Martin Freer settled in Pennsylvania in 1773; Walgrave Freer settled ln Charleston S.C. in 1718; George Fryer settled ln Virginia with his wife Ursula in 1764; George Fryer settled in Virginia with his wife in 1623; John Fryer settled in New England in 1669.

From the port of entry many settlers made their way west, joining the wagon trains to the prairies or to the west coast. During the American War of Independence, many loyalists made their way north to Canada about 1790, and became known as the United Empire Loyalists.

Contemporary notables of this surname, Freer, includes many distinguished contributors Charles Freer, Churchman; Air Marshall Freer; Alexander Frere, Diplomat; James Frere, Surgeon; Professor Sheppard Frere, Archaeology.

The most ancient grant of a Coat of Arms found was:

Black with a silver chevron between three dolphins.

The Crest was:

A dolphin.

(Researched by Hall of Names Marketing, Inc.,1-800-265-7099)

NOTE: Colonel Arthur William Wellington Freer (Canadian Freers) also spelt his name (according to military rolls) as "FREEAR" on occasion, but his children spelt their surname FREER. (Stan Freer)

The following information on the Surname FREER comes from "A Dictionary of Surnames" by Patrick Hanks and Flavia Hodges, Oxford University Press, p. 194, 1988)

FREER 1. English: nickname for a pious person or for someone employed at a monastery, from ME, OF frere friar, monk (L frater brother)

Surname: Freear There are two possible sources of this interesting and unusual name, the first being that it is a nickname for a pious person, or an occupational name for someone employed in a monastery, from the Middle English, Old French 'frere', Latin 'frater', brother, meaning a friar or a monk. However, Freer is also a Flemish cognate of the personal name Frederick, which was introduced into England by the Normans after 1066, and is composed of the elements 'fred', peace and 'ric', power. The name Frederick was borne by a canonized 9th Century bishop, and was a hereditary name among the Hohenstaufen ruling family, hence its popularity in Central Europe. Amongst the early recordings in London is the christening of Edwarde Freer on August 1st 1574 at St. Andrew's, Enfield, and the marriage of Cecelie Freer and Henry Hyder on June 28th 1603 at Kensington. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Robert (le) Frere, which was dated 1196-1197, in the Pipe Rolls of Yorkshire, during the reign of King Richard 1, known as 'The Lionheart', 1189-1199. Surnames became necessary when governments introduced personal taxation. In England this was known as Poll Tax. Throughout the centuries, surnames in every country have continued to "develop" often leading to astonishing variants of the original spelling. Copyright: Name Orgin Research 1980 - 2007

2. Flemish:cogn. of Frederick.

Vars. (of 1): Fre(e)ar, Frere, Frier, Fryer, Friar

Cogns. (of 1): Sp.: Freire, Fraile. Port.:Freire.

Patrs. (from 1): Eng.: Frears(on), Frierson.

According to Richard Hollier from New Zealand who is doing research on the Freer Family the motto for the Freer Crest is "Aime Ton Frere" or "Love Thy Brother", which certainly relates to the above information.

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Description of Lothian, Scotland Region

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