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Thread: The Frisian Surnames Thread

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    Lightbulb The Frisian Surnames Thread

    The below is from A [-n English] Dictionary Of Surnames by Hanks & Hodges, 1996, p. 195:

    Fries--German, Jewish, and Swedish: I.--ethnic name for someone from Frisia (Friesland). The name of this region is ancient and of uncertain etymology; the most plausible speculation derives it from an Indo-European root prei- to cut, with reference to the dykes necessary for the cultivation of low-lying land. There is archaeological evidence of the construction of ditches and dams along the southern shores of the North Sea from at least the time of Christ.

    II.--occupational name for a builder of dams and dykes. The word was used in this sense in various parts of Germany during the Middle Ages, and is probably a transferred use of the ethnic term...dyke building being a characteristic occupation of Frieslanders....

    Variants--German: Friese, Freyse. Swedish: Fris, Frisell. Jewish (Ashkenazic): Friss, Friser, Frizner, Frieslander. Dutch: De Vries (in part borne by Jews). Danish & Norse: Friis.

    Diminutives (of I.)--Low German: Frieseke. Jewish: Friesel

    The names Defriez, Defries, and Devries were introduced into England by Dutch immigrants during the 17th century. One present-day family can trace their ancestry back as far as Joseph Defriez (ca. 1724-90), who was a customs officer in east London, as were his son and grandson. In Canada the Low German name Fr(i)esen has been altered to Reson.

    ...ALSO...

    Frisby-- English: habitation name from Frisby on the Wreake or Frisby by Gaulby, or another lost Frisby in Leicestershire, all so called from Old Norse Frísir, Frisians (see FRIES I) + býr, farm, settlement.

    ....

    My note on Frisby: if the English Frisbys (and I personally know an English-American Frisby) do indeed inherit their surname from the Vikings (whether Danish or Norse), what that means is that when the Vikings were in England and the Danelaw, etc. and they encountered this family they learned/discovered that they were NOT Anglo-Saxon but FRISIAN by heritage/blood/descent/language, etc. thus the appropriate application of the surname. So, it is of course true that there were non-Anglo-Saxons among the A.-S. in A.-S. 'England' of old including Frisians, Jutes, and even a Frank or 2, supposedly, etc.

    Of course, the above are but a sampling of specifically Frisian surnames, I welcome any and all others anyone might have.

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    Senior Member Linden's Avatar
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    I'm from Lincolnshire on the east coast of England, and about 4 miles from my home town there is a town called Freiston (so called because of the Frisians who settled there):

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Freiston

    Infact, the district next to mine is called South Holland (because of the Dutch who settled there and the resemblance of the landscape to that of the Netherlands):

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/South_H...,_Lincolnshire

    The Lincolnshire Fens were drained by the Dutch in the 17th century, and I guess many stayed behind, because Devries and Devry are not uncommon in the areas surrounding where I live. I also know a family of Friss' from Freiston.

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    Thumbs Up Thanks for the report.

    Quote Originally Posted by Linden View Post
    I'm from Lincolnshire on the east coast of England, and about 4 miles from my home town there is a town called Freiston (so called because of the Frisians who settled there):
    "Freiston" = "Frisian-Town." Aye, that's absolutely why it's called that...definitely an English(variety)-Frisian heritage area.
    Quote Originally Posted by Linden View Post
    The Lincolnshire Fens were drained by the Dutch in the 17th century, and I guess many stayed behind, because Devries and Devry are not uncommon in the areas surrounding where I live. I also know a family of Friss' from Freiston.
    ...fascinating, aye, Devries and Friss are definitely English-variety Frisian names...Devry might be too, but then again it might not (might be cognate to FRYE...i.e., "Of + FRY(E)"--the English "Frye" does not have ties/connections to Frisian, I've discovered. Of course, "Freiston" could be born borne by families too as a geographical surname (the same is very much applicable to "Frisby," which I forgot to type up above)...being a compound Frisian-English word, unless Sybren, Anlef, or someone else can translate "town" into Old Frisian for us. 'Town' , '-ton' , etc. are of Anglo-Saxon root.

    Thanks for posting the good links also.

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    I believe any surname ending in -stra is typically Frisian.

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    Senior Member Hilderinc's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Linden View Post
    I'm from Lincolnshire on the east coast of England, and about 4 miles from my home town there is a town called Freiston (so called because of the Frisians who settled there):

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Freiston
    Interesting, my English ancestors come from Boston and Freiston and the surrounding area.

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    Senior Member Linden's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Hilderinc View Post
    Interesting, my English ancestors come from Boston and Freiston and the surrounding area.
    I'm a Bostonian. When did your ancestors emigrate, if you don't mind me asking? For a town of its size, it has quite an interesting history.

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    Senior Member Hilderinc's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Linden View Post
    I'm a Bostonian. When did your ancestors emigrate, if you don't mind me asking? For a town of its size, it has quite an interesting history.
    They came in 1630, aboard the Winthrop Fleet. They were among the first settlers of Boston, Massachusetts.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Hilderinc View Post
    They came in 1630, aboard the Winthrop Fleet. They were among the first settlers of Boston, Massachusetts.
    Perhaps your ancestors not only helped to found Boston, Mass., but Boston, England too? At the time your ancestors emigrated Boston was one of Englands largest ports. I think wool was the major export of the town at that time, so perhaps your ancestors were shephards? Supposedly, the foundations of Boston were build upon wool, such was its importance.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Huginn ok Muninn View Post
    I believe any surname ending in -stra is typically Frisian.
    Yes. But there are more endings by which you can recognise a typically Frisian surname. A couple of examples off the top of my head:

    -stra
    Dijkstra
    Haanstra
    Troelstra
    Torenstra
    Swierstra

    -inga (and variants like -enga)
    Tamminga
    Elsinga
    Steringa
    Wieringa
    Boringa

    -a
    Ripperda
    Jorna
    Holwerda
    Dokkuma
    Algra

    -ma
    Tjeerdsma
    Ritsma
    Sikkema
    Takema
    Gjaltema

    There are many, many more in each 'category'.

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    In Ost-Friesland children were given a firstname and then as a surname the firstname of the father.

    For Ex.

    Sibo Okena would be Sibo (first name) son of Ocko
    (could also be named Ukena, son of Ucko)

    Fokena would be the son of Focko

    Lubena would be the son of Lubo

    Nanninga would be the son of Nanning


    etc.

    with foreign names like 'Albert' the ending ma or sma was used therefore

    Albertsma
    Reemtsma

    etc


    The firstnames were usually chosen to be the one's of the grandparents.

    The oldest son would get the father's father's name (paternal grandparent)
    the second son would get the mother's father's fistname (maternal grandparent)

    Same would be for girls:
    the oldest girl would inherit the name of the paternal grandmother
    the second girl would inherit the name of the maternal grandmother.

    Other children would be named after aunts, uncles etc.
    weel nich will dieken dej mot wieken

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