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About the study
I have been researching my family of Frearsons and the name Frearson / Freason for the past 15 years, during which time I have assembled over 100 Frearson trees and a considerable number of records of Frearson families in the UK and around the world including USA and Australia.
I registered with the Guild Of One-Name Studies - GOONS - in 2006, and subsequent work has reduced the number of separate Frearson family trees to about 50. Many of these are probably connected but more substantial evidence is still being sought. "Optimism is not Proof !!" Hopefully DNA tests may establish further links, and the main families and their potential for DNA testing are shown elsewhere.
Contacts are maintained with members of a large number of these Frearson family trees, however, new Contacts with Frearson connections and family information are always very welcome. For further information, or if you would like to assist in the study, write or email me at the address below.
Various origins for the name can be found and it is suggested that the Frearson surname is of early medieval English origin, and is a form of Frear, which derives from the Middle English and Old French 'frere', friar, monk, or from the Latin 'frater', a brother. The first record of the family name is apparently John le Frereson, in 1335, in 'A Descriptive Catalogue of Ancient Deeds', Staffordshire, during the reign of King Edward III.
The surname, and its varients, occur in early Church Registers, including: Henry Frierson - marriage, 2 July 1571, London; and Agnes Frearson - marriage, 4 August 1577, Hawkshead, Lancashire.
Historical occurrences of the name
Whilst there are no well known 'famous' Frearsons, there are characters of interest. Fuller details are given on Frearson web-site, and some are listed below:
Isaac and Joseph Frearson of Ockbrook
Isaac Frearson and his brother, Joseph Frearson, the 6 x great grandfather of the coordinator of this study, with three others, were sued in the 1740s by the Rector of Ockbrook, Derbyshire, for non-payment of tithes. After a long hearing at Lichfield Ecclesiastical Court, the case was found 'not proven', and all five defendants were found not guilty and awarded their costs. The vicar was later excommunicated. The documents are in Lichfield Record Office.
It was Isaac Frearson who later invited a preacher with Moravian connections to Ockbrook. This resulted in a Moravian community being set up, and Isaac later sold his land to the Moravian church. The Moravian community is still in the village today - and some of the Frearson family became members of the Moravian community and two are buried in their graveyard behind their chapel. The Moravian Archives have an abundance of Frearson material.
A talk on this early Frearson family and their connections with the present is available.
Mark Frearson of the 7th Dragoons
Mark Baguley Frearson is notable for his brief military service in the 1840 to 1850 period as found in his record at The National Archives. He served in the 'Red Dragoons' - the 7th Dragoon Guards in South Africa during the 'War of the Axe' and later in Ireland. He left the army, possibly dispirited by the peace keeping duties in Ireland. Having allowed the escape of a prisoner on escort, he was court marshalled and demoted back to Private. During this confinement, he became "drunk whilst on a charge of Court Marshall" and received a further three days 'bread and water'. Soon afterwards he left the service. He became a vet in Sheffield, benefiting from his experience with the Dragoons.
John Frearson of Birmingham
John Frearson moved from Leicestershire to Manchester and briefly to America to escape prosecution in the early 1840s, then to Birmingham. He was an engineer and inventor and is credited with the invention of the cross-head screw - the Frearson Head screw. For patent reasons this is now only well known in USA. In UK this screw-head was superseded by the slightly different style known as the Phillips screw. John Frearson was an early temperance and industrial relations campaigner, and introduced the Saturday half-day in Birmingham, so that his workers did not have to shop on the Sabbath, and were more likely to be in work on the Monday. His first wife was born on the field of Waterloo and his second wife ran a temperance hotel in Birmingham. whilst it was first thought that his forebears gained the Frearson name by adoption after their mother re-married a Frearson, it now seems that they were descended from Leicestershire Frearsons. A talk on this insufficiently known Frearson is available, and there is a booklet 'John Frearson - the forgotten socialist' summarising his life.
Joseph and Henry Frearson of Nottingham
Joseph and Henry Frearson were thought to be cousins, but now appear to have been brothers. They were both Lace Manufacturers in Nottingham and pillars of the Baptist church. In due course they both won seats on the first Town Council of Nottingham. Joseph was a founding partner of the Frearson and Vickers Lace Factory - both men were Baptists, and after Joseph left the firm, Vickers also went on to be a Councillor and later Mayor of Nottingham. Joseph died comparatively young in the 1840s. Henry lived into old age and was a philanthropist. He collected for the Chapel funds and made much of his land available for allotments for the workers who lost their jobs as a result of mechanisation. He also funded an expedition to North East Texas by his nephew-in-law, Dr Edward Smith, to investigate its suitability for colonisation - again with a view to assisting his fellow men. Dr Smith's daughter was later to marry the first Baron Younger.
First World War Frearsons
As was the case for most families in the land, a considerable number of Frearsons served, and a high proportion lost their lives in the First World War. They have all been studied and their family contexts established. Cecil Frearson, a pharmacist, having been wounded and found unfit for service, successfully fought his discharge, and remained in service, doing invaluable administrative work at his Regiment's home base. His Pharmaceutical College Medal was bought from EBay. It is hoped to include various details of Frearson family members on the website in monthly updates.
Distribution of the name
There are some early, isolated, instances of the name in London, Oxfordshire, Staffordshire and Yorkshire. These may be fortuitous similar spellings, but such earlier references do not, at present, develop into any defined family groupings and are difficult to categorize. The Frearson name in the seventeenth to nineteenth Century was concentrated across the borders of the counties of Derbyshire and Leicestershire, and in Derby and Leicester themselves, and to a lesser extent, and slightly later, in Nottingham and Nottinghamshire.
An apparently quite separate Frearson family grouping occurs from the sixteenth century and before in the southern Lake District and Lancashire.
Subsequent migration finds instances in many counties in UK, and of course overseas, with Frearson families migrating to the Australasian and North American continents. Many of these can be coneceted with their UK ancestors. The name in USA is more frequently found as Frierson / Frieson, in part due to the different transcription at Ports of Entry, but more often due to European names of similar spellings / pronunciation that have originated independently and migrated with the population movements of the nineteenth and twentieth century. Those versions are not yet fully incorporated into this study.
Relevant entries have been, or are being, abstracted from the following major sources:
- The England & Wales BMD index entries 1837 - 2005
- Census Index entries from England & Wales 1841-1911
- International Genealogical Index.
- National Burial Index.
- Times Digital Archive
- Derby Mercury Digital Archive
- British Newspaper Archive
- London Gazette
Additional information has been obtained from the following Archives:
- The National Archives (TNA)
- Derbyshire Record Office
- Hampshire Record Office
- Lichfield Record Office
- Leicestershire Record Office
- Lincolnshire Record Office
- Nottinghamshire Record Office
The advent of DNA testing means that many of the lines, where evidence is lost in the 16th and early 17th Century, especially in the Derbyshire and Leicestershire area, might be "connected".
Suitable male lines of these various Frearson family groups that can be traced down to present day male relatives, are being identified. It is hoped that sufficient funding can be attracted to undertake a DNA study of the presently separate Frearson families and to establish how they may be connected. The Australian line has already been confirmed through DNA testing, and confirms the Will of the unmarried butcher, John Frearson of Nottingham. Further information on the Frearson DNA study is available.