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A french cook was abroad a french ship on its way to Ireland. The ship landed and the cook settled in Co. Donegal, Ireland. There he met a native woman, married and had several children. They all settled around Letterkenny and had great families themselves. the supposed cook's name is Pierre Ambrose Frize.

So is the family folklore of my father's mother's father. Columb Frize came to Scotland, from Ireland, in search of work. Married my great-grandmother and started a line of Scottish Frize. 

Columb Frize had 17 brothers and sisters. His father having been married twice. We know Columb Frize's birthday and the names he had for his parents and brothers and sisters. Thats really all we can be sure of.

We can find some records indicating that his family was from Derorra  in Letterkenny. His father's name was Columb and his mother was Winifred, but affectionately referred to as Unity. Columb Sr.'s father was a Denis and Pierre had a son Denis, but how many Denis's in-between we do not know. 

Columb Frize Jr. had many siblings, we have been able to find Roman Catholic baptism records for some in the 1870's. Columb Jr being born around 1890 and his father around 1848. His father married after the death of his mother to a woman named Susan Gallagher in 1896. 

We have found records of other Frize's living in Kilmacrennan, Glenswilly, and Gartan. Marriage banns from 1870's and on. But we have nothing before 1850 and how all these Irish Frize's are connected. We know they were most likely Roman Catholic. The Donegal Genealogy Resources webpage has been extremely helpful. I am a member of Ancestry and Family Search. 

I've tried to read tips and tricks on searching for family, one of them suggested a blog. So here I start my series of writing down everything I know and everything I think, for the whole internet to see, in hopes that finding a connection is possible. 

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Comment by Aidan Fries on May 4, 2020 at 6:49pm

Hi, any idea when this French story is supposed to have happened? :) Is there any records that show "Pierre Ambrose Frize"? I am very interested, but I am slightly skeptical for a few reasons.

The Frize/Fries family have been living in Kilmacrennan for many many generations. The name was originally spelled Frize by all of the families in Donegal but my great grandfather (Edward Fries) changed how he spelled it around 1900 and those in Kilmacreannan have spelled it Fries since then. If you take a look at the records from 1857, you will see there was 5 Frize households in Kilmacreann at that time, and I think there was 9 altogether in Donegal. With other Frize families living around Falbane/Gartan (less than 10 miles from Kilmacrennan). Its true that the name Denis does appear in a few of the houses, so that was a family name. The other thing that does seem to ring true is the name "Susan Frize". Did the Susan Frize that you are talking about die in Kilmacrennan? there is a Susan Frize buried in the old abbey cemetery in Kilmacrennan. Her gravestone reads "Erected by Francis Frize in memory of his beloved mother Susan Frize, died 1873 aged 76 years". I wonder is that the same Susan. I have tried to do a family tree, but I could never fit that Susan into the tree that I know about.

If there was any truth in the "French connection" story, then it would have to have happened earlier than 1700 (for enough time for a single man to spawn all the households that existed by 1857, I believe there were 9 households in 1857). The Fries's have been living in Kilmacrennan since at least 1750, and probably before long that. My great great great grandfather Neal Frize, was born in Kilmacreannan in 1780, and his family was already living in Kilmacrennan before that! The other reason I am skeptical is because that story was not passed down through the generations in Kilmacrennan. If that was the "origin story" of the Fries/Frize family in Ireland, it seems unlikely that it was only passed down by one member of the family who emigrated, but was forgotten by those who stayed behind. One other reason that I am skeptical is because I can assure you that the skill of cooking (never mind french cooking) has not been passed down the male descendants :)

But that does leave the question where the name comes from. And I would guess your French story is simply an attempt to explain how a name that does not appear gaelic arrived in Ireland. The truth is nobody knows the origin of the name, but keep in mind that the name "Frize" could be the anglicized form of some earlier gaelic name. There was a certain amount of randomness when names were written down in earlier centuries. A person might have been asked their name, and someone taking the census might have written down how they thought that name should be spelled (most common people probably couldnt spell their name in the 18th century!). Another possibility is that the name dates back to the arrival of the Normans in Ireland. I have seen some speculation that its related to the name Frizzell. But if that is the case, its goes back many centuries.

Comment by Trish O'Donnell Romano on February 13, 2018 at 8:08pm

Hi Dorothy Fiona,

I am the granddaughter of Charlotte Fries/Frize (b 1899) of Kilmacrennan.  Her father was Michael Frize (1865) and his Father was Hugh Frize.  Hugh Frize (1835) was the son of Neal Frize (1810) and Betty Houston and Neal was the son of Neal Frize (b1780) and unknown.  I am interested in your story of Pierre Ambrose Frize.  My grandmother and her family maintained that they were of Dutch descent.  My Grandfather, Charlotte's husband Peter Gallagher - believed that the Frize family hailed from Alsace Lorraine France.  He had an uncanny ability to tell folks where their people originated.  I'm not sure why he thought France - but he was very curious so he read a lot.  I am about to go on a trip which will include Strasbourg Fr and it triggered this comment from my Mom - which in turn made check the internet for a French connection - and I amazingly found your blog.  I wonder have you done your DNA?  I have  - my kit number A762346.  Would love to compare notes.  My email is if you want to discuss further.  I reside in the Philadelphia Pennsylvania suburbs .

Comment by Dorothy Fiona Robinson on July 5, 2016 at 8:12pm
Thank you! I will try there :)
Comment by Rosemary Harris on June 7, 2016 at 5:39pm

If you can access Find My Past you will find 412 entries for Frize in Ireland, Many of them in Letterkenny, most in Donegal. I only entered Frize in the surname and clicked Ireland in the dropdown under Great Britain. Good Luck.


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