Fry family (chocolate)

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This Fry family was prominent in England, especially Bristol, in the Society of Friends, and in the confectionery business in the 18th, 19th, and early 20th centuries. They intermarried with many of the other prominent Quaker families and were involved in business and social and philanthropic causes. Although at their peak during the 19th century, the Fry family are still a very active family within England, specifically in Somerset.


The earliest ancestor that can be reliably traced is John Frye, who was born about 1474 in Wiltshire.[1] He married Johanna (possibly Bray) about 1499 in Corston. Some genealogies say his parents were Richard Frye (1445–1504) and Joan Beaufort (1433–1518), great granddaughter of John of Gaunt, but there is doubt about the linkage.[2] It is thought that this marriage was his second marriage, as it is shown in the Royal genealogical records that they had no children.

John and Johanna had a son John Frye, who was born in 1500 in Corston.[3] He in turn is an ancestor of Zephaniah Fry (1658–1728), who was the first known member of the family to embrace the Quaker faith. He did so while still single. He was a leader of his local Quaker meeting in Kington Langley.[4] A record of one meeting held in their house is given in George Fox’s Journals: "At ... Frye’s in Wiltshire we had a very blessed meeting and quiet, though the officers had purposed to break it up by thieves, and they were required to go back again with speed, to search after and pursue them; by which our meeting escaped disturbance and we were preserved out of their hands." However, meetings of more than five persons were forbidden by the Conventicle Act, and, once arrested, Quakers would be ordered to take the oath of allegiance, which they refused to do, taking the command ‘Swear not at all’ literally. Zephaniah was arrested in 1683 and sent to Ilchester Gaol for three months, but "emerged unscarred".[5] Zephaniah was a cloth worker as seen from this quote "There was a fuller in the parish in 1611, and clothworkers, among whom were Zephaniah Fry (d. 1724) and his son Zephaniah (d. 1716), in the later 17th century and the 18th."[4]

Zephaniah married Jane Smith on 8 April 1686 in Marden, Wiltshire.[6][7] and lived in Sutton Benger, Wiltshire. Their youngest son, John, described them as ‘industrious, frugal, pious’. Zephaniah died on 4 May 1724. Jane died on 15 November 1731 in Sutton Benger.[8] Zephaniah and Jane had four sons and four daughters.[9]

The patriarch of the most important branch of the family was Zephaniah's son, John Fry (1701–1775).[10] John moved to London at the age of 13 or 14, probably to take up an apprenticeship, but he disliked London. He is identified as the John Fry of Melksham whose clocks sometimes appear at auction, though it is possible that it was his son who was the clockmaker. He appears to have already made his fortune by the age of 25 and married Mary Storrs of Chesterfield, Derbyshire, on 23 March 1727[11] whom he met while in London. Mary was born on 25 February 1702 in Chesterfield, Derbyshire. With his wife John returned to Sutton Benger, where he built a small house, carved their initials above the door, fathered six children, employed one servant, and enjoyed to the end of his days a quiet, rural life. His house was certified for Quaker meetings. He was active in the unpaid ministry of the Society of Friends and wrote poetry. He was also an author. He published a Quaker book of ‘Selected poems Containing Religious Epistle etc.’ which was prefaced "Sutton Benger 25th March 1774".[12]

John's son, William Storrs Fry (1736–1808) was probably born in Wiltshire, where his parents stayed and he who moved to London. He married Elizabeth Lambert from Walsingham, Norfolk on 2 June 1769. William was a Tea Dealer, though Elizabeth is credited as being the one with "the financial acumen which had enabled money both to be acquired and prudently managed: it was a quality which perhaps neither of the sons inherited".[13] William and Elizabeth lived in Plashet House, a mansion in East Ham, which passed into the hands of William Storrs Fry in 1787.

William was the father of the Joseph Fry (1777–1861) the tea merchant who married the prison reformer Elizabeth Fry née Gurney (1780–1845). William Storrs Fry (1806–1844) was one of the 11 children of Joseph and Elizabeth Fry; he married Sally Juliana Pelly, daughter of Sir John Henry Pelly, first baronet Pelly, governor of the Bank of England.

The start of the chocolate dynasty[edit]

John Fry's other son, Joseph Fry (1728–1787), was apprenticed to Henry Portsmouth of Basingstoke as an apothecary and doctor. He married Portsmouth's daughter, Anna (1719/20–1803). Joseph Fry founded a chocolate company called Fry, Vaughan & Co. in Bristol. He also founded Fry and Pine later Joseph Fry & Co., a typefoundry.

Typefounding Frys[edit]

Joseph Fry & Co., the typefoundry, was continued by Joseph Fry's middle son, Edmund Fry (1757–1835)[14] and renamed Edmund Fry & Co. Edmund Fry had two sons who survived to adulthood: Windover Fry (1797–1835) and Arthur Fry (1809–1878). Windover joined him in the business.[15] An example of a font that the firm designed is Fry's Ornamented.[16]

Chocolate-making Frys[edit]

In the 1850s, Englishman Joseph Fry invented the world's first solid chocolate.[17]

After Joseph Fry's death in 1787 his wife, Anna Fry, took over the chocolate company and it was renamed Anna Fry & Son. The son was the first Joseph Storrs Fry (1769–1835) who, after his mother's death, renamed the firm J. S. Fry & Sons under which name it became quite well known. Joseph Storrs Fry was the first to introduce factory methods into the making of chocolate and the first to use a Watt's steam engine to grind the beans.

The sons of Joseph Storrs Fry and his wife Ann Allen (1764?–1829) are

  • Joseph Fry (1795–1879) (See below)
  • Francis Fry (1803–1886) (See below)
  • Richard Fry (-1878)

They also had four daughters. The sons all became partners in the firm.

Francis Fry (1803–1886) - his interests and his family[edit]

Francis Fry was the son of Joseph Storrs Fry and his wife Ann Allen.[18] Besides the directorship of the chocolate firm, he was also involved in porcelain, typefounding, director of the Bristol Waterworks, and railways (including the Bristol and Gloucester Railway). He was also a well known collector of old Bibles. He headed the firm when it started producing the first chocolate bars in 1847.

He married Matilda Penrose (circa 1808–1888). They had four sons and three daughters including:

  • Francis James Fry (1835 – 15 November 1918) (See below)
  • Theodore Fry (See below).

Francis James Fry (1835–1918) - his family[edit]

F.J. Fry was the son of Francis Fry (1803–1886). He was Sheriff of Bristol in 1887. He married twice and had two daughters and four sons.[19]

Blue Plaque for Norah Cooke-Hurle in Brislington.

His daughter, Norah Cooke-Hurle born Fry (1871–1960), was an advocate of better services for people with learning difficulties.[20] In 1988, the University of Bristol named their new research centre after Norah Fry, because she did so much for people with learning difficulties.

One of his sons was Geoffrey Storrs Fry (1888–1960), from 1929, the first (and last) Baronet Fry of Oare in Wiltshire. He was private secretary to Bonar Law and Stanley Baldwin. He married Alathea Gardner, the second daughter of Lord Burghclere.[21][22][23]

Theodore Fry - his family[edit]

Theodore Fry (1836–1912), was the son of Francis Fry (1803–1886). He was Liberal MP for Darlington and made baronet. His wife, Sophia Fry née Pease (1837–1897) was a prominent philanthropist and political activist.[24] "Their son, John Pease Fry (1864–1957),[25] the second baronet, became Chairman and managing director of Bearpark Coal & Coke of Durham".

Joseph Fry and his family[edit]

Joseph Fry (1795–1879),[26] son of the first Joseph Storrs Fry (1769–1835), and Mary Anne Swaine (1797–1886)[27] were the parents of:

  • Joseph Storrs Fry II (1826–1913). Headed the chocolate firm after 1886 and very active in the Society of Friends. He never married but was known for his philanthropy.
  • Sir Edward Fry (1827–1918), a judge on the British Court of Appeal. Edward Fry was the father of the art critic and artist Roger Fry and the social reformers, Joan Mary Fry (1862–1955), Margery Fry (1874–1958) and Ruth Fry (1878–1962). His daughter, Agnes Fry (1869–1958) compiled his biography.
  • Albert Fry (1830?–1903). He worked with John Fowler (1826–1864)[28] to develop and manufacture a drainage plough in the mid-19th century. He founded the Bristol Wagon & Carriage Works.[29] He was a chairman of the council of the University of Bristol and, along with other members of his family and of the Wills family, a major donor[30]
  • Susan Ann Fry (1829–1917) married in 1856, as his third wife, Thomas Pease and was the mother of Edward Reynolds Pease who help found the Fabian Society[13] and Marian Fry Pease (1859–1954) who was the first female student and later a teacher at University College, Bristol.[31]
  • Lewis Fry (1832–1921) was the Liberal, later Liberal Unionist, MP for Bristol from 1878 until 1886 and from 1895 until 1900. He was chairman of Parliamentary Committee on Town Holdings, 1886–1892.[32] He was a member of the Privy Council. He was the first chairman of the Council of the University of Bristol.
  • Henrietta Jane Fry (1840–1911) who married an ironfounder named William Whitwell in 1862.[13]

and three other daughters, one of whom died in infancy.[13]

Other members of the family[edit]

  • Cecil Roderick Fry (1890–1952)[33] was the last member of the family to head the chocolate firm before it merged with Cadburys.
    • Jeremy Fry (1924–2005) was an engineer and inventor, son of Cecil Fry. Founded Rotork.
    • David Fry (1918–1967), engineer, son of Cecil Fry. Founded Frenchay Products.

Other Frys[edit]

Other Quaker Frys who might or might not be related to this family are:

For other people with the surname "Fry" but probably not related to the Quaker Chocolate manufacturing Fry family see Fry (surname).


  • 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 MuseumFrenchay, South Gloucestershire is where many of the Frys lived.


  1. ^ John P. Fry (1906) Pedigree of the Family of Fry.
  2. ^ Fry, Theodore (1887). A brief memoir of Francis Fry, F.S.A. of Bristol. "Barclay & Fry".
  3. ^ "5 John Fry". Frenchay Museum. Retrieved 14 August 2017.
  4. ^ a b
  5. ^ Spalding, Frances: Roger Fry, Art and Life
  6. ^ England & Wales, Quaker Birth, Marriage, and Death Registers, 1578–1837
  7. ^ Wiltshire, England, Marriages, 1538-1837
  8. ^ Wiltshire, England, Quaker Deaths, 1542-1897
  9. ^ "Zephaniah Fry". Frenchay Museum. Retrieved 14 August 2017.
  10. ^ Dates of Birth and Death of John Fry (1701–1775) are given in a catalogue entry in the online catalogue of the Library of the Society of Friends: Lately published (price 1s. 6d.) and sold by the author at Sutton Benger near Chippenham, Wilts; and by his sons Joseph Fry, apothecary in Bristol, and John Fry, cheesemonger in White-chapel, London: An alphabetical extract of all the annual printed epistles, which have been sent to the several quarterly-meetings of the people called Quakers, ... A proposal. As there remain, now unsold, but a few copies ... Those counties that are willing to encourage the printing a second edition, are desired to send their subscriptions to Luke Hinde, in George-yard, Lombard-street, where the subscribers will be supplied at ten-pence per book. - [London, 1765?].
  11. ^ England & Wales, Quaker Birth, Marriage, and Death Registers, 1578-1837 for John Fry Derbyshire, Nottinghamshire Piece 1034: Monthly Meeting of Chesterfield (1641-1775)
  12. ^ John Fry (1774) Select Poems: Containing Religious Epistles, &C., Occasionally Written on Various Subjects.
  13. ^ a b c d The Biographical dictionary of British Quakers in commerce and industry, 1775-1920, by Edward H Milligan, Sessions of York (2007) ISBN 978-1-85072-367-7. pp.190B-191A.
  14. ^ See DNB Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, 2015 [1] accessed 25 10 2015.
  15. ^ Windover Fry, Typefounder was listed as bankrupt 20 July 1824 in The Bankrupt Directory By George Elwick (1843) pg.153 (on Googlebooks)
  16. ^ Fry’s Ornamented typeface
  17. ^ "Chocolate History: Who Invented Chocolate?", Chocolate University, retrieved 15 August 2018
  18. ^ ODNB article by David J. Hall, ‘Fry, Francis (1803–1886)’, Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press, 2004 [2], accessed 13 Sept 2007.
  19. ^ F.J. Fry entry in Who was Who.
  20. ^ University of Bristol Norah Fry Research Centre: Brief biography of Norah Cooke-Hurle
  21. ^ G.S. Fry's entry in Who was Who.
  22. ^ The Times, Saturday, 15 October 1960; pg. 8; Issue 54903; col G: Obituary Sir Geoffrey Fry.
  23. ^ The Times, Friday, 28 May 1915; pg. 11; Issue 40866; col C: Forthcoming marriages.
  24. ^ Times obituary of Theodore Fry is at Durham Mining Museum website.
  25. ^ J.P. Fry entry in Who was Who.
  26. ^ Note: he was not the Joseph Fry (1777–1861), who was husband of Elizabeth Fry
  27. ^ The Biographical dictionary of British Quakers in commerce and industry, 1775-1920, by Edward H. Milligan, Sessions of York (2007) ISBN 978-1-85072-367-7. p191: article on Joseph Fry (1795-1879).
  28. ^ See ODNB article by Jonathan Brown, ‘Fowler, John (1826–1864)’, Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press, Sept 2004; online edn, May 2007 [3], accessed 15 Sept 2007.
  29. ^ "Obituary of Albert Fry". "The Times" (37063): 10. 24 April 1903.
  30. ^ The Library of the University of Bristol, 1876-1975 by Nicholas Lee at accessed 15 Sept 2007.
  31. ^ John B. Thomas, ‘Pease, Marian Fry (1859–1954)’, Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press, 2004 accessed 26 May 2014
  32. ^ Lewis Fry entry in Who was Who
  33. ^ C.R. Fry entry in Who was Who.

External links[edit]