This interesting and unusual surname, recorded in Church Registers of England and Germany, is believed to be a variant of the English surname Freer, Freyer, or of the German name Freyer, Freier. The first mentioned originated as a nickname for a pious person, or for one employed at a monastery, deriving from the Middle English and Old French "frere", friar, monk. Early examples of the surname from this source include: Roger le Frier, noted in the 1243 Somerset Assize Rolls, and Philip Fryer or Freear, entered in the Oxford University Register (1519). Nicknames, from which a sizeable group of early European surnames derive, were given, in the first instance, with reference to occupations, mental and moral characteristics, and to habits of dress and behaviour. The German name "Freier, Freyer, deriving from the Middle High German "freie(r)", freeman, originated as a status name in the feudal system for someone who was born a free man, as distinct from a serf emancipated in later life. One Hermann Freier was recorded in medieval documents of Munchen, dated 1302, and a Johannes Freyer appears in documents pertaining to Lahr, dated 1421. On September 23rd 1685, Elizabeth Frewer and William Robinson were married at St. James', Duke's Place, London, and on June 8th 1721, the birth of Herman Christophel Frewer was registered at Cappel Blomberg, Lippe, Germany. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Robert Frere, which was dated 1196, in the "Pipe Rolls of Yorkshire", during the reign of King Richard 1, known as "Richard 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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