A History of Frieth

The Name Frieth

[ Snapshots in time ]
The Geographical Setting
The Early History
The Middle Ages
The Growth of a Community
1800 - 1860
1860 - 1900
1900 - 1973
The Name Frieth
Pillow Lace
West & Collier
[ The Colliers of West & Collier ]
West & Collier Catalogues
Notes on The Firm
Notes on Frieth
Further Notes on Frieth
Frieth as I knew it
Memories of bygone years
Frieth 45 years ago
The Posse Comitatus
[ Chisbridge Farm ]

Sections [in square brackets] are additions to the original content

[ The name of the village has been spelt in many different ways over the centuries :

1307 ffrith
1384 Oliver's fee or fief
1524 fyrthe ( Subsidy Roll )
1548 The Frith ( To John D'Oyly )
1571 frethe    }
         ffrethe   }
         fryth      }   as surnames in the Hambleden Parish Register
         ffreathe }
         ffrythe   }
1623 frith       }
1766 Freeth
1804 Frieth ( H.C. Ridley )
1826 Freeth
1841 Freath
1850 Frieth

The above is from a slide used in talks in the village from which I think comes the following:  ]

Extract from a letter [ Dated only "8th Dec" ] written  by Jane Everett to her parents Mr & Mrs W. Clark (Long Meadow)

I have been following up your enquiry about where the name Frieth comes from. The ffrith which you mention is first recorded in 1307 which is well into the Middle English period and it is therefore not an Anglo Saxon word (sorry but one gets pedantic about these things!). I looked up frið ( ð = th ) in the ME dictionary where it gives the meanings forest or game preserve and gives two possible derivations for it: either from Old English fyrhð which possibly meant fir wood or from OE frið which means peace, safety etc. The latter derivation would give the ME word the game preserve connotation as a preserve is a place of safety but the former is accepted in a book on Bucks place names that I looked in. (Mawer & Stenton "The Place Names of Buckinghamshire") . . . Whatever the derivation the ME frið can be accepted as meaning a preserve or forest and unless you know that there was a preserve there in early times I should think it was the forest meaning which gave the village its name.

The ME Dictionary gave some examples of how the word frið was used
1. "Ye huntieþ i þes kinges frið" (you are hunting in the king's preserve)
2. "þe floures in þe frith" (the flowers in the forest)
3. "in freþ and in feld" (An alliterative phrase in which feld, open land, is contrasted with freþ, wooded land)

Don't worry about the different spellings in all this. Double consonants (ffrith) are a characteristic of ME and spelling was an individual style. One writer would often spell the same word in many different ways. Hence frið, frith, freþ, ffrith are all the same word.

Incidentally these examples are interesting in showing the gradual change over from OE þ as in thorn and ð as in then to the one form th.  Quotation 2 above shows both the old and the new forms.