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 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, it has been! It is also one of those few names where many examples of early recordings, at least back to the beginings of church registers around the time of Henry V111 and Elizabeth 1st, are easy to find. Recent research suggests that the surname was probably occupational, that it derived from the Olde French of the pre 10th century 'frisel', meaning a ribbon or tassel, and was therefore a description for a maker of ornamental fabrics. In the 20th century it is claimed that the name is most popular in Ireland, and particularly Copunty Antrim, although formerly Cork, and that it was first recorded there in 1216. The original nameholders were followers of the Earl of Pembroke, and Henry 11nd of England, who largely conquered Ireland in 1169, and were rewarded with large land grants. This seems possible, certainly one Nicholas Freysel was excommunicated by the Bishop of Cork in 1297, becoming the first known holder of the surname. Other later examples taken from authentic registers 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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