This extraordinary surname is recorded in an amazing range of spellings. It can be described as of Norman French origins from the time of the conquest of England in 1066, but is now recognised as being both English and Irish. The surname spellings include Frisel, Frissell, Frizzell, Frissill, and Frossell, but these are only examples, and it has to be said that if it can be spelt in a certain way, it has been! Although widely popular in Ireland, it was also one of the first surnames to be recorded in the English church registers, introduced by King Henry V111 in 1535. Recent research suggests that the surname was occupational, deriving from the pre 9th century Olde French 'frisel', meaning a ribbon or tassel, and therefore a description for a maker or merchant of ornamental fabrics. In the 17th century it was claimed that the name was most popular in County Antrim, although one of its former homes was Freyzel's Castle, County Cork, the surname being recorded there in the 14th century. The original nameholders, however spelt, were soldiers in the army of Strongbow, Earl of Pembroke, who conquered most of Ireland in 1169. These 'Fresels' were rewarded with large land grants, John Freisals being recorded at Freisalstown, County Limerick in 1297, whilst Nicholas Freysel was excommunicated by the Bishop of Cork in the same year. Examples of church recordings include William Frissill, a witness at the church of St Mary Somerset, city of London, in 1568, John Frossell, a witness at St Margarets church, Westminster, on October 17th 1687, and Thomas Frissell, who married Kathleen Harris at St Dunstans in the East, Stepney, on July 1st 1690.
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