Recorded as Frale, Frail, Fraile, Frayle, Freal, Freel, Frestle, and others, this is one of the very first surnames recordings anywhere. It has early, possibly pre 7th century, French origins, but as the majority of French registers and records were destroyed in the infamous Revolution of 1792, we have to rely mainly on English records. The known background to this name is that in 1066, William, Duke of Normandy, invaded England, bringing several thousand followers. Instead of medals, many of these people were rewarded with estates or property in England. One of them seems to have been Robert Fresle, who in 1086 is recorded in the famous gazetter of England known as the Domesday Book, as holding property in the county of Nottinghamshire. The Domesday Book was the world's first true record of an entire country, - and the only one to survive to this day. The derivation of the surname is from the French words fraisle or fresle, meaning frail or sickly, and the surname is traditionally taken to be a descriptive name for a 'sickly' person. However as 'sickly' people were everywhere in those far off time, it is much more likely that it had a more specific meaning, - and on experience the opposite - someone who was hardy! An alternatively suggestion is that described a medical man. But that's the problem with nicknames, unless you were there when the name was created- you dont know for sure. Another recording from the early Norman period in England is Robert Frelle of the county of Hampshire, England. He appears in the Pipe Rolls, effectively tax lists, for the year 1115. Anne Frale was recorded at St Margaret's church, Westminster, on November 2nd 1581, whilst more recently Peter Frail was recorded as being a burgess (or magistrate) in the town of Dumbarton in Scotland in 1829.
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