Recorded in a wide range of spellings including De Fries, Fries, Friese, Defries, De Vriese, Defriez, and several others, this is often English, but ultimately medieval French. It is has several possible origins. It may be ethnic or nationalistic and describe either a former inhabitant of Friesland in the Netherlands, or as Frise, Fries or Friese, it may be a nickname and describe a German. It can also be topographical from an ancient pre 10th century French word "friche" meaning fallow land, and hence describe somebody who lived by or owned such a place.The substitution and transposition of the letters "v" and "f" is commonplace throughout Northern Europe, and represents the differing dialects used over the centuries. It is unclear as to when the name was first introduced into the British Isles, indeed there may well have been several entries over the centuries commencing with the Normans at the 1066 Invasion. However he greatest influx would seem to have been with the Huguenot Protestants refugees after the repeal of the Edict of Nantes in 1685. Some fifty thousand, mainly skilled French artisans crossed the Channel at this time, and provided the backbone for the developing Industrial Revolution which Britain was to lead for two hundred years. Examples of the recordings taken from surviving church registers of the diocese of Greater London include: Jeanne Devreese at St Dionis Backchurch, on April 18th 1625, Maria de Vriese, who married Carolus de Heems at Lincolns Inn, Holborn, on December 10th 1777, Joseph de Friez, a witness at St George's in the East, Stepney, on August 11th 1793, and Jonas de Fries, a witness at the New Synagogue, city of London, on December 19th 1805.
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