Early FREERS in England

Map of Leicestershire

This little excerpt might interest you. Andy Freer found it in a small book called:

"Leicestershire Yeoman Families and Their Pedigrees" by W. G. Hoskins

Reprinted with minor ammendments, from the Transactions of the Leicestershire Archaeological and Historical Society, Vol. XXIII Part I (1946), October 1974. Published by Leicester Research Services, Imperial Buildings, 4 Halford, Leicester, LE1 1JB, Printed by Barker & Co. (Leicester) Ltd., 19 Wellington Street.

Freer or Frear is another Leicestershire name of some age. The earliest references to the name seem to come from the neighbouring villages of Fleckney and Kilby, a few miles to the south of Leicester. Richard le Frere occurs at Fleckney in a court case dated 1290, and Nicholas le Frere is mentioned as a merchant in the same place between 1318 and 1336. In 1332 he was the most highly assessed taxpayer at Fleckney, next to "the parson of Wykingeston" who must have had property at Fleckney. The last mention of the Freres at Fleckney is in 1348, but they may have survived there to a somewhat later date as fifteenth century records are generally so uninformative about ordinary families. William Frere is mentioned at Kilby in 1312 and 1314 but that is all. He was probably a stray from Fleckney, the original home.

The Freers next appear at Burton Overy, about four miles northeast of Fleckney in 1428. "John Frere of Burton Overy" witnessed a Wigston deed dated 20 March 1428, but they were apparently not living at Burton Overy much earlier than this for they do not appear in the poll tax return of 1381. The historian of this family therefore has a gap of eighty years to bridge, between 1348 and 1428, but there may well be records waiting to be unearthed which will complete this story.

The Freers were substantial freeholders at Burton Overy in the sixteenth century, heading the subsidy list for the village in 1545, and they become freeholders at Wigston, purchasing land here as early as 1512. Their first recorded appearance in Wigston is in 1504 when William Frerres and Robert Frerres sued John Frere of Wigston, husbandman, for "dispasturing, trampling down, and consuming their herbage with certain cattle at Wykingeston" to the value of forty shillings. It seems fairly certain, in view of John Frere's witnessing a Wigston charter in 1428, that they had some connection with Wigston as early as that. Probably a younger son who had no prospects at Burton Overy moved to Wigston in or about that year.

The Freers had established themselves at Wigston by Elizabethan days and in 1606 Robert Freer (or Fryer, the frequent alternative form of the name) was one of the local men who bought the principal manor of Wigston from Lord Danvers for the sum of 800 lbs. Throughout the seventeenth century their transactions in land are numerous: they are typically solid and prosperous yeoman farmers on the middling scale. At some date a branch of the family established itself in Leicester, where it is now a well known name.

The Wigston hearth tax return of 1664 shows their commanding position in this village of yeoman families: Anne Freer had one of the largest houses in the place, with five hearths, Deliverance Freer had a house with four hearths, and William Freer one of three hearths. The majority of the village families had only one hearth dwellings at this period, certainly not more than two; but the eight Freer householders at Wigston were nearly all well above the average in affluence. At the enclosure award of 1766 they obtained nearly a hundred acres of land as their share.

Map showing Blaby, Wigston, Burton Overy, Kilby and Fleckney

(Map is a blowup, courtesy of Richard Hollier)

To Blaby Freer, Leicestershire, England

To Freer Family Research Directory