This interesting and unusual name is probably an English nickname, from either the Old English pre seventh Century word "freo", free, denoting somebody who was not a serf, or who was not enslaved to another person, or the medieval English word "fry", small person, child, offspring (from the Old Norse "frio", seed) plus the dimunitive suffix "-at". The surname appears to be quite popular in the south and south-west of England. Moses, son of Robert Fryatt was christened at St. Bartholomew the Great, London on November 23rd 1617, while Aron, son of Robert and Elizabeth Fryat was christened there also on July 25th 1623. French Huguenots Richard and Magdellaine Friat, had a son Pierre Guillaume christened at la Patente, Spitalfields, London, on March 18th 1709, who probably fled from France because of religious persecution at the end of the seventeenth Century. At Nonington in Kent, Abram Friatt married Ann Neame on July 24th 1638. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Joane Fryett married William Staune, which was dated October 14th 1571, Church records at Cuxton, Kent, during the reign of Queen Elizabeth 1, "Good Queen Bess", 1558 - 1603. 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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