This interesting name has two possible sources, the first being as a variant of the nickname or status name 'Free' from the Old English pre 7th Century word 'freo' or 'frig' meaning 'free (born)' i.e., not a serf, not belonging to a lord. This source for the surname, also found as 'Frye' in the modern idiom is chiefly confined to the south and southwest of England. The second origin is from another nickname, here for a small person from the Middle English 'fry' meaning offspring, a child or small person.The surname is first recorded in the late 12th Century (see below). One, Thomas le Frye is noted in the Hundred Rolls of Wiltshire (1273). On November 26th 1589, David Fry married Judith Berry at St. Dunstan's, Stepney, and the marriage of John Fry and Eme Draper took place at St. Pancras, Soper Lane, London, on November 30th 1589. Elizabeth Fry (1780-1845), was a well known bearer of the name, she became a quaker minister at the age of 29 yrs., and thereafter was tireless in her work as a prison reformer, also inducing the government to regulate the transportation of criminals to Australia. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of William Frie, which was dated 1195, The Sussex Pipe Rolls, during the reign of Richard 1st 'Richard the Lionheart' 1189-1199. 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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