Last name: French

This ancient surname is of Anglo-Saxon origin, and is from an ethnic name for someone from France, derived from the Middle English (1200 - 1500) "frennsee, frenche" a development of the Olde English pre 7th Century "frencisc", meaning french. In some cases it may originally have been more that a nickname for someone who adopted French airs. Irish bearers of the surname are said to be descended from Theophilus de Frensche, a Norman baron who accompanied William the Conqueror in 1066, a branch of whose descendants settled in County Wexford in circa 1300. Some of the same family settled in County Roscommon in circa 1620, this was the branch that produced Field marshal Sir John French (1852 - 1925), commander-in-chief of the British Expeditionary Forces in the First World WAr. Over nineteen Coats of Arms were granted to French families; one granted to a family in Cranfield, Essex, is an azure shield, a gold bend, between two dolphins embowed gold, the Crest being a crescent per pale silver and gold, between the horns a fleur-de-lis counterchanged. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Simon le Frensch, which was dated 1273, in the "Hundred Rolls of Wiltshire", during the reign of King Edward 1, known as "The Hammer of the Scots", 1272 - 1307. 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.

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