The Origin of the Surname Fristad

Surnames in Norway were adopted from the farm name on which the individual was born. Thus the surname Fristad was taken from the Norwegian farm of the same name. The origin of the farm name "Fristad" seems to have two possibilities:


The first and most straight-forward option is the joining of the two Norwegian words "fri" (free) and "stad" (town). Thus, according to a straight dictionary translation, Fristad equals Freetown.

Fridrek's Place

The second option is along the same lines but a bit more complex. The following translation is from the 1885 Norwegian Farm Names Book1:

"The farm name Fristad occurs often, and is assumed to originate from Fridreksstadir, the root of which is the man«s name Fridrekr. Fridrekr is mentioned for the first time in Norway in 1060, in the Saga of Harald Haardraade, Chapter 91. Joined with the name "stadir" one has to assume it has been used earlier (see p. 77 below). This explanation is substantiated by the name Fristad found in Western Slidre municipality in Oppland County; spelled Fridighstadun in DN. IV 181, 1332. Also at Fristad at Klep municipality, spelled Fridikstad (NRJ. II P. 334). Fridreks is found twice in Names by Dissimilation (starting page 21) now spelled Fridiks, and at Fristad in S¿gne (spelled Fristadum DN. IV 702, 1465) assuming the pronunciation fri2est paa, which means that the first part can be spelled in two different ways. Judging by the old Form of the word ending, one has to assume that Fristad in Tj¿lling municipality (in "fristadum", RB. 207 Bishop Eystein's Red Book from 1398) has the same origin, confirmed Bd. VI, page 396 and page 97."

(This is the best translation to date (24 July 2007). Some of the characters are no longer in common use and thus are a bit difficult to translate. For anyone who would like to try an alternate translation, the original document (in Norwegian) is found at the bottom of this page.)

Following is my summary: The name Fridrekr is first found in the Saga of Harald Haardraade (1060 AD). This name is joined with an old Norwegian word "stadir", meaning "place" or "residence" - thus the meaning is Fridrek's place. The older word, stadir, means the name may be older than 1060 AD. The older root word is found as part of farm names in several municipalities across Norway mentioned in written accounts.

Gaardnavnet Fristad forekommer oftere og antages PnSt. S. 75 overalt at v¾re et gammelt *Fridreksstadir, sms. med Mandsnavnet Fridrekr, som tidligst kan paavises i Norge ved 1060 (Harald Haardraades Saga, Kap. 91); efter Sammens¾tningen med stadir maa det dog formodes at have v¾ret i Brug tidligere (jfr. Indl. S. 77 nederst). Bevislig er denne Forklaring ved Fristad i V. Slidre, skr. a Fridighstadum DN. IV 181, 1334 og ved Fristad i Klep, skr. Fridikstad NRJ. II 324, -- Fridreks- har i disse to Navne ved Dissimilation (Indl. S. 21) antaget Formen Fridiks-, -- og ved Fristad i Ogne (skr. a Fristadum DN. IV 702, 1465 tyder Udtalen fr’2est paa, at 1ste Led opr. har havt to Stavelser. Efter den gamle Form af det sidste Navn t¿r man vel ogsaa antage, at Fristad i Tj¿lling (i Fristadum RB. 207) har samme Oprindelse. Jfr. Bd. VI S. 396. X S. 97.

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