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2,405 study surnames with us
and a further 6,120 variant names.

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About the study

I have been researching my mother's maiden name, Freathy, and its variants for nearly 40 years. I was a founder member of the Guild and am happy to share the information I have with anyone interested.

Variant names

The main variants are Freathy, Freethy and Frethey or Frethy.

Name origin

The surname derives from a farm of that name on the boundaries of the parishes of Antony and St John in SE Cornwall, just over the Hamoaze from Plymouth. The farm was owned by Tavistock Abbey before the Dissolution of the Monasteries in the 1530s and so the surname was probably that of the tenants of the farm. The origin of the farm name has defeated surname experts. The expert on Cornish names, Oliver Padel, in his 'A Popular Dictionary of Cornish Place-Names' (1988), writes:

'Vridie, 1286; compare Roger Fridia living in the parish (St John) in 1327, and Thomas Fredea in the Hundred (East Wivelshire) in 1428. It is unknown whether the place-name or the surname is the original. If the place-name, it is of unknown derivation. If the surname is the original, it might be compared with the surname Friday, found in Devon in 1332 and elsewhere.'

Historical occurrences of the name

From Y-DNA research, I now have proof that most people with the surname today descend from a Roger Freathy of the parish of St Veep in SE Cornwall who died in 1599, one of his direct male ancestors or descendants. He left a will but that was unfortunately lost in the 18th century when the records were moved from Bodmin to Truro. My own branch of the family, the Antony branch, cannot be traced before a Charles Freathy who was living in the parish of St John in the late 17th century. The parish registers do not survive before then. He was born in about the mid 17th century but I do not know where. The likelihood is that he also was a descendant of Roger Freathy.

Name frequency

The surname is now very rare in UK but seems to be faring better in North America, Australia and New Zealand.

Distribution of the name

The surname spellings were used indiscriminately before the mid 19th century, when most people were illiterate, but from then on "Freathy" was used mostly by the families then in Antony and the Plymouth area; "Freethy" was used by families in the far west of Cornwall, and in the north around St Issey, and "Frethy" or "Frethey" was used by families on the mid south coast of Cornwall. Families outside Cornwall often used the spelling denoting from where their branch had emigrated in Cornwall.


I have a large amount of data on Freathy families all over the world but none of it is in computer form. If you want details on your family, please ask and give me your postal address so that I can send you photocopies.


As my own surname is not Freathy, it was my mother's maiden name, I cannot have my own Y Chromosome DNA tested. However, one of my cousins, Edward Freathy, has taken the Y-DNA37 match test and his results are interesting. He was originally in the R-M269 Haplogroup. After arranging a further test he is now in the R-A6087 Haplogroup. As the ancestry is in Cornwall, he is now also part of the Cornwall Advanced Project on FTDNA.

The late Richard Freethy of Michigan, USA, had also taken a Y-DNA test and he matches 35/37 with Edward.  Richard's ancestry came to USA from Cornwall in the 19th century and descends from the family in Perranuthnoe in the 18th century.  The match with Edward's ancestry is probably in the 17th century. 

In August 2017, I received the Y-DNA37 test results for Bruce Frethey of New Zealand. His ancestor emigrated to New Zealand via Australia in the early 1840s.  They came from the parish of Lanreath in Cornwall and I have a paper family tree for him back to Roger Frethy of Lanreath who died in 1599. His results match closely with those of Edward Freathy and Richard Freethy.  

So three men with proven ancestry in three different branches of the family who use different spellings but have all been traced back, using traditional genealogical methods, to three widely separate parts of Cornwall, all match the DNA of Roger Frethy of Lanreath who died in 1599.

However, if other male Freathys are willing to have their DNA tested, it would be very helpful. In particular it would be useful to know whether anyone who is descended in the male line from the William Freathy of Cornwall who emigrated to Maine in the 1630s, is willing to test. He appears to have come from the parish of Landrake in eastern Cornwall. It would be interesting to know whether he too was descended from Roger or Roger's ancestral line.