The surname of FREE was derived from the Old English word 'frere' an official name meaning one who was in a religious brotherhood, a man of the cloth. The name was originally brought into England in the wake of the Norman Invasion of 1066. The names introduced into Britain by the Normans during the Invasion of 1066 were of three kinds. There were names of Norse origin which their ancestors had carried into Normandy; names of Germanic origin which the Frankish conquerors had brought across the Rhine and which had ousted the old Celtic and Latin names from France, and Biblical names and names of Latin and Greek saints. These names they retained even after the customs and language of the natives of Northern France had been adopted by them. After the Norman Conquest not only Normans, but Frenchmen and Bretons from other parts of France settled in England, and quite a few found their way north into Scotland. Since the dawn of civilisation the need to communicate has been a prime drive of all higher mankind. The more organised the social structure became, the more urgent the need to name places, objects and situations essential to the survival and existence of the social unit. From this common stem arose the requirements to identify families, tribes and individual members evolving into a pattern in evidence today. In the formation of this history, common usage of customs, trades, locations, patronymic and generic terms were often adopted as surnames. The demands of bureaucracy formally introduced by feudal lords in the 11th century, to define the boundaries and families within their fiefdoms, crystallized the need for personal identification and accountability, and surnames became in general use from this time onwards.
Early records of the name mention Robert le Frere who was documented in the year 1196 in County Yorkshire and Roger le Frier, was recorded in 1243 in County Somerset. Magota Frere of Yorkshire was listed in the Yorkshire Poll Tax of 1379. Maynard Frere married Margaret Tonsounne at St. Peter, Cornhill, London in 1540. James Jacob married Sarah Friar, St. George's, Hanover Square, London in 1773.
The name has many variant spellings which include Frere, Frear and Freer.
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