Originating from the Roman word 'frater' meaning brother, this very interesting surname is recorded in its different forms throughout Europe. It gradually developed into the French word 'frere', and the Spanish 'freire', and in pre medieval times generally came to a person associated with religion in some way, but not a priest as members of the church were forbidden to marry. As such it was probably occupational for somebody who lived or worked at a holy place such as a monastery, or was a name given to an actor, one who played the part of a 'Brother' in the famous travelling plays of the medieval times. It can also be a development of the Germanic personal name Frederick meaning 'peace-power'. This was a popular name from the 7th century onwards, being introduced into England by the Norman French at the famous Conquest of 1066. Frederick was the name of a canonized 9th century bishop, and also a hereditary name among the Hohenstaufen ruling family, hence its popularity in Central Europe. Amongst the early church recordings is that in England of the christening of Edwarde Freer on August 1st 1574 at St. Andrew's Enfield, Middlesex, whilst in Spain we have the interesting recording on October 1st 1677 of Juan Antonio Freire de Andrage, who was baptised at Puentedeum, La Corunna. The first recorded spelling of the family name anywhere is believed 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. Surnames became necessary when governments introduced personal taxation. In England this was sometimes known as Poll Tax. Throughout the centuries, surnames in every country have continued to "develop" often leading to astonishing variants of the original spelling.
© Copyright: Name Origin Research 1980 - 2017