The Fry family is not one unitary genealogical entity, but rather many separate (often prominent) families with distinct genetic profiles and geographic origins.
One such distinct Fry Family was prominent in England, especially Bristol, in the Society of Friends, and in the confectionery/Chocolate business in the 18th, 19th, and early 20th centuries, described at Fry family (chocolate).
Another prominent Fry family (with ties to Dorset, England) is that associated with Col. Joshua Fry of US Revolutionary War fame. This family has been zealously documented for its many contributions to the founding of the United States (e.g., the commissioning of George Washington as commander), its role in the histories of Washington, D.C., Virginia, Tennessee and Kentucky, as well as in the establishment of institutions of higher learning. Although well-documented, there are many misconceptions regarding the descendants of Col. Joshua Fry. In recent years, advanced genealogical work and genetic testing have dispelled some of these misconceptions
Henrich Frey (b. about 1660 in Alsace, Germany) is considered the progenitor of another notable Fry family in the United States. Having arrived in Pennsylvania around 1685, Heinrich Frey and his family is credited with holding the first charter for the land that became Philadelphia and building what is considered today the historical "Old Town" section of that city. The Heinrich Frey Family Association is dedicated to promoting genealogical research and fostering connections between the descendants of Heinrich Frey (which are thought to include, among many others, Nicolas "Fry" Charney founder of Psychology Today and Bill Haslam, 49th Governor of Tennessee).
The name Fry has many spelling variations including Frey, Frye and Frei, all of which probably started out as a designation for someone who was free (i.e., not a serf and not belonging to a lord). The Old English root frig, meaning "free born", is associated with the name. Thus, anyone earning their freedom or who wished to be known for their free-born status, was potentially known by that name. Although the traditional no "e" spelling of Fry is typically associated with any number of British, Fry lines, it is by no means exclusive to those lines (particularly in the United States where genetically distinct Fry lines of British, Swiss, and Germanic origins have been identified). In Britain, the earliest records of this surname appear mainly in the west country. Thomas le Frye, recorded in the Wiltshire rolls of 1273 and the Malmesbury region of North Wiltshire, provides one such example.
The surname Fry is further associated with an inherent nobility of freedom. That is to say, the designation of freedom, as separable from serfdom, gave the individual bearing the name certain rights and privileges. In its earliest forms, depending on the source of the designation (e.g., as an honour won in battle or other service to a King, Lord or Nobleman), the name could also have included land ownership, knighthood, title or other privilege. It could also have been a designation bestowed upon a master craftsman who was "free" to travel to exercise his craft (e.g., in the tradition of a Free Mason who, due to the high demand for his skill, was given free and unmolested passage across borders). Later, those seeking religious and political freedom took the name themselves as an expression of their desire and love for freedom (e.g., the anabaptists who came to the American Colonies) or as a nickname given by others (e.g., as in the case of George Frey, born Eberhard (1732 in Germany)), whose story was recounted in the Pennsylvania church records of Rev. Traugott Frederick Illing 
Johann Valentine Frey, who was born 9 May 1721 in Wingen, Bas-Rhin, Alsace, married Anna Maria Binckele, and died 13 Sep 1798 in Hope, Stokes County, NC. The patriarch of this family is Gregorious Frey who was born in Zurich about 1610 and married Varena Oberdorfer. Johann Valentine Frey immigrated to Pennsylvania aboard the Ship Samuel in 1733 and migrated to the Townfork Settlement of what was originally Rowan, then Surry, then Stokes County, North Carolina. These are the Moravian Frey's that are buried in the Friedberg Moravian Church Cemetery & the Hope Moravian Church Graveyard.
Johannes Frey who came to Pennsylvania in 1731 on the Ship Brittania along with his wife Johaneva and young son Nicholas. Nicholas married Maria Elizabeth Pabst at Moselem Lutheran Church in Berks County, PA, in 1744, moved his family to Burke County, NC, which became Lincoln County, and died there in 1784.
Henry Fry Sr who acquired land on the west side of Abbotts Creek in what was then Rowan County in 1778. He died there in 1821.
- Mosley, James Mosley. "Fry, Joseph". Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (online ed.). Oxford University Press. doi:10.1093/ref:odnb/10212. (Subscription or UK public library membership required.); and the articles there on Francis Fry (1803–1886), Edmund Fry (1754–1835), Joseph Storrs Fry (1826–1913), Edward Fry (1827–1918), and Sophia Fry née Pease.
- Bristol Wagon & Carriage Works (references to Albert Fry)
- University of Bristol History (references to the Fry family support in founding the university)
- Frenchay Village Museum — Frenchay, South Gloucestershire is where many of the Frys lived.
- Rev. P., Slaughter (1880). Memoir of Col. Joshua Fry.
- Redheadkelly. "Col. Joshua Fry Misconception".
- "Heinrich Frey Family Association". Retrieved 7 June 2013.
- "Out of the Family Tree & into the Fry-ing Pan". Retrieved 7 June 2013.
- Illing, Rev. Traugott Frederick. "Register of Marriages Kept by Rev. Traugott Frederick Illing: In connection with the churches of St. Peter's (Lutheran), Middleton and Caernarvon (Episcopal), Lancaster County, Pennsylvania". Harrisburg Publishing Co, 1980.
- "Palatine Project, Pennsylvania – German Passenger Lists, Samuel 1733". ProGenealogists. Retrieved 7 June 2013.
- Cardwell, Judy Stanley (May 2006). "Town Fork Settlers". Retrieved 7 June 2013.
- "Friedberg Moravian Church Cemetery". Find A Grave. Retrieved 7 June 2013.
- "Hope Moravian Church Graveyard Old". Find A Grave. Retrieved 7 June 2013.
- "Palatine Project, Pennsylvania – German Passenger Lists, Concord 1683". ProGenealogists. Archived from the original on 21 May 2013. Retrieved 7 June 2013.
- John Levering (1897). Levering Family: History and Genealogy. Levering Historical Association. pp. 97–98. Retrieved 6 June 2013.
- "Palatine Project, Pennsylvania – German Passenger Lists, Britannia 1731". ProGenealogists. Retrieved 7 June 2013.
- Stoudt, Rev. John Baer. "Marriage Records of Zion Lutheran Church, 1744–1758: Richmond Twp, Berks Co, PA". USGenWeb Archives. Retrieved 7 June 2013.
- "North Carolina, Estate Files, 1663–1979; Nicholas Fry, 1784". FamilySearch. Retrieved 7 June 2013.
- "Henry Fry Sr". Out of the Family Tree & into the Fry-ing Pan. Retrieved 7 June 2013.