The surname of FRITH was a locational name 'the dweller at the bay or estuary or a wide valley' as at Chapel-le-Frith in County Derbyshire. The name was derived from the Old English word FRITHE. Local names usually denoted where a man held his land, and indicated where he actually lived. Early records of the name mention Richard de la Fryth, 1273, County Norfolk. Laurencius del Frith, witnessed a charter in Scotland in the year 1317. Thomas atte Frythe of Yorkshire was listed in the Yorkshire Poll Tax of 1379. William Powell Frith (1819-1910) English painter, whose 'Derby Day' and 'The Railway Station' were very popular in their day. 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.
The acquisition of surnames in Europe and England, during the last eight hundred years has been affected by many factors, including social class and social structure, naming practices in cultures and traditions. On the whole the richer and more powerful classes tended to acquire surnames earlier than the working class or the poor, while surnames were quicker to catch on in urban areas than in more sparsely populated rural areas. The bulk of surnames in England were formed in the 13th and 14th centuries. The process started earlier and continued in place names into the 19th century, but the norm is that in the 11th century people did not have surnames, whereas by the 15th century they did.
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