This English topographical surname means 'someone who lived by a source of clear drinking water, from Middle English 'fresch' (fresh, not salty). Old French 'freis' of Germanic origin, plus 'water' (Old English WAETER). There is a place of this name on the Isle of Wight, which may be a source of the surname.Originally the name of the YARE. The name is also spelt FRESCOBALDI, FRESCHEWATERE and FRESCEWATRE. Surnames derived from placenames are divided into two broad categories; topographic names and habitation names. Topographic names are derived from general descriptive references to someone who lived near a physical feature such as an oak tree, a hill, a stream or a church. Habitation names are derived from pre-existing names denoting towns, villages and farmsteads. Other classes of local names include those derived from the names of rivers, individual houses with signs on them, regions and whole countries.
In the Middle Ages the Herald (old French herault) was an officer whose duty it was to proclaim war or peace, carry challenges to battle and messages between sovereigns; nowadays war or peace is still proclaimed by the heralds, but their chief duty as court functionaries is to superintend state ceremonies, such as coronations, installations, and to grant arms. Edward III (1327-1377) appointed two heraldic kings-at-arms for south and north, England in 1340. The English College of Heralds was incorporated by Richard III in 1483-84. Early records of the name are numerous and include John FRESHWATER, rector of Little Thorp, county Norfolk in the year l37l. Thomas King and Mary FRESHWATER were married at St. Georges, Hanover Square, London, W.l. in the year l750. Surnames as we know them to-day were first assumed in Europe from the llth to the l5th century. The employment in the use of a second name was a custom that was first introduced from the Normans. They themselves had not long before adopted them. It became, in course of time, a mark of gentler blood, and it was deemed a disgrace for gentlemen to have but one single name.
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