There are two sources of this interesting and unusual name, the earliest being from France where there are various minor places called 'Fromentel', and where it is also the name of a forest. The derivation is from the Old French 'froid', Latin 'frigidus', meaning cold, with 'mantel', a cloak, thus cloak, later examples of the name may also derive from Freemantle in Hampshire, recorded in the Pipe Rolls of 1181 as 'Freit Mantell', in 1200 as 'Frigid Mantell', and as 'Freidmantel' in the Assize Rolls of 1236. The name cold cloak may be explained by the Swedish saying that 'the forest is the poor man's jacket'. The forest would at best be a cold jacket! Undoubtedly, the French source is the true source, and the placename in Hampshire is named in imitation of this. Two early examples of christenings in Hampshire are Emma Freemantle on October 27th 1590, and her brother Jeffrey Freemantle, on August 29th 1592, both at East Wellow. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Reginald Freitmantel, which was dated 1190, in the Oseney Abbey Charters, Oxford, during the reign of King Richard 1, known as 'The Lionheart', 1189 - 1199. 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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