The surname of FRY was derived from the Old English word 'frye' meaning a freeman, one not a serf or bonded tenant. Early records of the name mention Robert le Frye, 1248 Wales. Thomas le Freye, was documented in 1273 in the County of Worcestershire. Dorothie Frye was baptised at St. James's, Clerkenwell, London in 1595. Many factors contributed to the establishment of a surname system. For generations after the Norman Conquest of 1066 a very few dynasts and magnates passed on hereditary surnames, but the main of the population, with a wide choice of first-names out of Celtic, Old English, Norman and Latin, avoided ambiguity without the need for a second name. As society became more stabilized, there was property to leave in wills, the towns and villages grew and the labels that had served to distinguish a handful of folk in a friendly village were not adequate for a teeming slum where perhaps most of the householders were engaged in the same monotonous trade, so not even their occupations could distinguish them, and some first names were gaining a tiresome popularity, especially Thomas after 1170. The hereditary principle in surnames gained currency first in the South, and the poorer folk were slower to apply it. By the 14th century however, most of the population had acquired a second name. A notable member of the name was Elizabeth Fry (1780-1845) the Quaker reformer celebrated for her efforts to improve the state of the English prisons and of convicts on their deportation to Australia. The small villages of Europe, or royal and noble households, even large religious dwellings and monasteries, gave rise to many family names, which reflected the occupation or profession of the original bearer of the name. Following the Crusades in Europe in the 11th 12th and 13th centuries a need was felt for an additional name. This was recognized by those of gentle birth, who realised that it added prestige and practical advantage to their status. The associated arms are recorded in Sir Bernard Burkes General Armory. Ulster King of Arms in 1884. Arms registered at Witheridge, County Devon. Granted 1620.
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