Recorded in several forms including Friatt, Friett, Fryatt, Fryott, and others, this interesting and unusual name is English, but with more than a touch of French. It derives from either the pre 7th century Old English word "freo", meaning free, and denoting somebody who was not a serf, or enslaved to another person, or from the medieval English word "fry", a term of endearment for a child or offspring. This derives from the Old Norse word "frio", meaning seed, plus the diminutive suffix "-at or -et" meaning small. The surname appears to be quite popular in the south and south-west of England. Early examples of the surname recording include Joane Friett who married William Staune at Cuxton in Kent on October 14th 1571, Moses, the son of Robert Fryatt who was christened at St. Bartholomew the Great, city of London, on November 23rd 1617, and Huguenots refugees, Richard and Magdellaine Friat, who had their son Pierre Guillaume christened at La Patente French church, Spitalfields, on March 18th 1709. They probably fled from France because of religious persecution at the end of the seventeenth Century. 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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