Recorded in several forms including Friar, Frear, Freer, Fryer and the patroymics Friars and Fryers, this is usually an English surname. It has several possible origins. However whatever the origin, the derivation in all cases is from the original Roman word 'frater' meaning brother, and used in a transferred sense for a monk or holy man. The first possible origin is that it was a medieval nickname for a pious person, somebody who looked or acted like a friar, or given the robust humour of the medieval period, the complete reverse! Secondly it could have been an occupational name for someone employed in a monastery, and again something of a nickname, since actual members of the church were forbidden to marry. Thirdly it can be a short form of the Germanic name Frederick, also introduced into England and Scotland by the Normans after 1066. This name was composed of the elements 'frid', meaning 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 church recordings is that of Alexander Fryer who married Alice Holdon at the church of St Lawrence Pontney, in the city of London on November 21st 1548 in the reign of Edward V1 (1547 - 1554), whilst on July 14th 1583, Ann Fryers was christened at the famous church of St Dunstans in the East, Stepney. One of the earliest of American settlers was George Fryer (also recorded as Frier), and registered as 'belonging to the Corporation of James Citty, Maine' on January 30th 1624. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Robert le Frere. This was dated 1196 in the Pipe Rolls of Yorkshire, during the reign of King Richard 1st, known as 'The Lionheart', 1189-1199. Throughout the centuries, surnames in every country have continued to "develop" often leading to astonishing variants of the original spelling.
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