This is a very rare form of a surname which itself, is almost as rare. It derives from the ancient Irish (Donegal) "O'Friel", a clan which has most distinguished origins. They are descended from Eoghan, the brother of St. Columba, and the chief of the name possessed the hereditary right to inaugurate O'Donnell as Lord of Tirconnel. The records of the Diocese of Raphoe have many references to distinguished clerics of the surname, these include Bishop Feargal O'Friel, who died in 1299, and Flor O'Friel of the same period. The later recordings include the following examples which help to show the development of alternative spellings: Anne O'Freele, who married James Deniell at Derry Cathedral, on October 20th 1679; Frances O'Freile, who was christened at the same place on May 2nd 1655; Matthew Freel, who was christened at Lisburn, on January 6th 1814; and John Frill, who with his wife, Anne (nee Carr), was a witness at the christening of their daughter, Betty, at Dunkineely, County Donegal, on December 14th 1865, in the reign of Queen Victoria (1837 - 1901). The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Awley O'Friel, which was dated 1203, elected the Abbot of Iona, during the reign of King John (of England), known as "Lackland", 1199 - 1216. 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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