Fry family

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The Fry family is not one unitary genealogical entity, but rather many separate (often prominent) families with distinct genetic profiles and geographic origins.

Notable families[edit]

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.[1] 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[2]

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[3] 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).[4] 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.[5]

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 [6]

Other names of similar social class include "Franklin", which also survives as a surname, "Freeman", Free, Fries, Freeze, and Froese.

DNA-Delimited Fry Lines[edit]

Many male Fry descendants have submitted a Genealogical DNA test, allowing genetically distinct lines of the Fry family to be identified.[7] The process begins by determining the Haplotype of an individual. This is a broad category that indicates the geographic origins of a particular line. The individual genetic markers tested are then used to determine the number of generations you would have to go back to find the Most Recent Common Ancestor[8] between two individuals. This allows the Haplogroups to then be divided up into smaller groups that are most likely to find a recent common ancestor. These smaller groups are called Lineages.

The Haplogroups and Lineages listed here are based on the naming assigned to them by Family Tree DNA.[7] Individuals who have submitted tests to Family Tree DNA are assigned a kit number. This is displayed next to their results on the y-Results page.[7] This kit number can also be used to identify corresponding family trees on the Patriarchs page.[9] Other members of these Lineages have been identified by comparing tests from other testing companies using the Y-Utility.[10]

Haplogroup E – Lineage I[edit]

Several descendants of Johann Valentine Frey[9] who was born 9 May 1721[11] in Wingen, Bas-Rhin, Alsace, married Anna Maria Binckele, and died 13 Sep 1798[11] in Hope, Stokes County, NC, have submitted DNA tests identifying them as part of this group. The patriarch of this family is Gregorious Frey who was born in Zurich about 1810 and married Varena Oberdorfer.[9] Johann Valentine Frey immigrated to Pennsylvania aboard the Ship Samuel in 1733[12] and migrated to the Townfork Settlement[13] 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[14] & the Hope Moravian Church Graveyard.[15]

Haplogroup R1b – Lineage I[edit]

This is the family of the Heinrich Frey mentioned earlier as one of the earliest German (speaking) immigrants to the American Colonies. He came to Pennsylvania about 1685[16] and married Anna Catherine Levering there in 1692.[17] Much more can be found about the family at the Heinrich Frey Family Association.[3]

Haplorgroup R1b – Lineage II[edit]

Several families have been identified as part of this lineage, but it is not certain yet how the trees connect.[18] The earliest known ancestor is Johannes Frey who came to Pennsylvania in 1731 on the Ship Brittania[19] along with his wife Johaneva and young son Nicholas. Nicholas married Maria Elizabeth Pabst at Moselem Lutheran Church in Berks County, PA, in 1744,[20] moved his family to Burke County, NC, which became Lincoln County, and died there in 1784.[21]

The second patriarch is Henry Fry Sr[22] who acquired land on the west side of Abbotts Creek in what was then Rowan County in 1778. He died there in 1821. This Henry Fry is often thought to be connected to the Moravian Freys of the Townfork Settlement who belong to Haplogroup E Lineage 1, but the DNA is telling us that this is not the case.[23]



  1. ^ Rev. P., Slaughter (1880). Memoir of Col. Joshua Fry. 
  2. ^ Redheadkelly. "Col. Joshua Fry Misconception". 
  3. ^ a b "Heinrich Frey Family Association". Retrieved 7 June 2013. 
  4. ^ "Out of the Family Tree & into the Fry-ing Pan". Retrieved 7 June 2013. 
  5. ^
  6. ^ 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. 
  7. ^ a b c "The Frey DNA Project: y-Results". World Families Network. Retrieved 7 June 2013. 
  8. ^ "MRCA Calculation for entire Fry Family DNA Project". Out of the Family Tree & into the Fry-ing Pan. Retrieved 7 June 2013. 
  9. ^ a b c "The Frey DNA Project: Patriarchs". The Frey DNA Project. World Families Network. Retrieved 6 June 2013. 
  10. ^ McGee, Dean. "Y-Utility: Y-DNA Comparison Utility". Retrieved 7 June 2013. 
  11. ^ a b spotts (28 November 2006). "Johann Valentine Frey (1721–1798) – Find A Grave Photos". Retrieved 7 June 2013. 
  12. ^ "Palatine Project, Pennsylvania – German Passenger Lists, Samuel 1733". ProGenealogists. Retrieved 7 June 2013. 
  13. ^ Cardwell, Judy Stanley (May 2006). "Town Fork Settlers". Retrieved 7 June 2013. 
  14. ^ "Friedberg Moravian Church Cemetery". Find A Grave. Retrieved 7 June 2013. 
  15. ^ "Hope Moravian Church Graveyard Old". Find A Grave. Retrieved 7 June 2013. 
  16. ^ "Palatine Project, Pennsylvania – German Passenger Lists, Concord 1683". ProGenealogists. Retrieved 7 June 2013. 
  17. ^ John Levering (1897). Levering Family: History and Genealogy. Levering Historical Association. pp. 97–98. Retrieved 6 June 2013. 
  18. ^ "Most Recent Common Ancestor (MRCA) Analysis". Out of the Family Tree &amp into the Fry-ing Pan. 20 June 2011. Retrieved 7 June 2013. 
  19. ^ "Palatine Project, Pennsylvania – German Passenger Lists, Britannia 1731". ProGenealogists. Retrieved 7 June 2013. 
  20. ^ Stoudt, Rev. John Baer. "Marriage Records of Zion Lutheran Church, 1744–1758: Richmond Twp, Berks Co, PA". USGenWeb Archives. Retrieved 7 June 2013. 
  21. ^ "North Carolina, Estate Files, 1663–1979; Nicholas Fry, 1784". FamilySearch. Retrieved 7 June 2013. 
  22. ^ "Henry Fry Sr". Out of the Family Tree & into the Fry-ing Pan. Retrieved 7 June 2013. 
  23. ^ "Henry Fry Jr of Smith County vs. Henry H Fry of Giles County –". Out of the Family Tree & into the Fry-ing Pan. 26 July 2011. Retrieved 7 June 2013.