This interesting surname is of Anglo-Saxon origin, and is an ethnic name for someone from France, derived from the Middle English (1200-1500) "frensche", from the Old English pre 7th Century "frencisc", meaning, French. In some cases it may originally have been no more than 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; a branch of his descendants settled in Co. Wexford in circa 1300. Some of the same family settled in Co. Roscommon circa 1620, and this was the branch that produced Field Marshal Sir John French (1852-1925), commander-in-chief of the British Expeditionary Force in the First World War. One John Ffrench was recorded as living in St. Lucy's Parish, Barbados in December 1679. Among the recordings in London are the christenings of Mary, daughter of William and Mary Ffrench, on January 6th 1705 at St. Mary's, Whitechapel, Stepney, and of Susan Ffrench on December 28th 1705, also at St. Mary's, Whitechapel, Stepney. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Simon le Frensch, which was dated 1273, The Hundred Rolls of Wiltshire, during the reign of King Edward 1, "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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