Frisken Name Study

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Location: [unknown]
Surnames/tags: Frisken Friskin
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How to Join

Please contact the project leader Tracy Hope or post a comment at the foot of the page with any questions. To join the project, add your name at the bottom, thanks!

Family Origins

The Friskens are a Scottish family, heavily based around the Borderlands and the River Tweed. The name supposedly comes from a Flemish nobleman who was granted lands on the Firth of Moray. However, while the name presumably sounds Flemish, the Freskyns were never referred to as "le Fleming" or "Flandresis", implying they may not have been Flemish at all.

"[I]t is virtually certain that Freskin belonged to a large group of Flemish settlers who came to Scotland in the middle decades of the 12th century and were chiefly to be found in West Lothian and the valley of the Clyde."[1]

A study combining DNA and historical evidence at St. Andrews University indicates that the original Freskin may have settled first in Wales: "[...]a Flemish warrior knight: Fresechinus, residing near Wiston in Pembroke Wales in the year 1130. This progenitor was referred to later as Freskin or Freskyn of Moray- or de Moravia, son of Ollec."[2] This same study found close genetic matches between the Moray Sutherlands and the Douglases, and a potential genetic connection to the Murrays.

On that basis, Moncrieffe's The Highland Clans indicates that a "Comte Ollec de Flandre, II" is the father of Freskyn[3], which would finally, theoretically put to bed the question of whether Freskyn was Flemish. Without DNA evidence, nothing is certain. But while the Douglas, Sutherlands and Murrays all claim Freskin as their progenitor, there doesn't seem to be room for the Frisken name to survive! No, or few, Friskens are mentioned in documents between about 1300 and 1750.

Some Friskens appear in Perthshire, around Findogask, in the 17th and 18th century, but the majority from the 18th century onward lived in the region of Hutton, Duns and Ladykirk, Berwickshire, before a large group resettled on the Orkney Islands in the 19th century. At the same time, some family members emigrated to Canada and New Zealand, in regions that were and remained heavily Scottish in culture. Virtually all of the current Friskens can be found today in Canada, New Zealand and Scotland.

Connection to the Murrays

Murray coat of arms

James B. Paul's The Scot's Peerage (1904-1914) describes Freskin Moray (or de Moravia), whose sons acquired lands in Linlithgowshire and Murray, land which apparently Freskin Moray had held under the reign of David I (that is, the mid-12th century). That fits with the above information. The name Moray became Murray, so it's probable that the Murray name began with Freskin and his descendants. However, it appears that King David I granted lands to many Flemish noblemen, partly to destabilise the local gaelic population, around the Firth of Moray.

Connection to the Sutherlands

Freskin had one son, William, who had two sons, Hugh and Andrew. William took the name de Moravia. Hugh acquired land in Sutherland and his son William was created Earl of Sutherland in the 1230s.

Connection to the Douglases

Douglas coat of arms

A Bricius de Douglas became Bishop of Moray in 1203, and referred to an uncle called Freskin of Kerdal, a benefactor of Spynie Cathedral, the seat of the Bishops of Moray.

FRISKEN OF DOUGLAS, second son of [Andrew Douglas of Douglas in the early 14th century]. According to Douglas' Peerage, he, along " with his brother William, swore fealty to King Edward I. in 1296 for lands in the county of Linlithgow, and was ancestor of the Douglasses of Pompherstoun and other families of that name."[4]


This is a One Name Study to collect together in one place everything about one surname and the variants of that name. The hope is that other researchers like you will join our study to help make it a valuable reference point for people studying lines that cross or intersect.

Task List

  • Add project category to Frisken profiles
  • Connect unconnected Friskens on Wikitree to the wider global tree
  • Check out the Data_Doctors error page for Frisken profiles and help us clean up the Frisken family!
  • Add sources and detail to Frisken profiles
  • Add Canadian Friskens to the project
  • Connect Findogask Friskens to Berwickshire Friskens (if possible)
  • Connect currently unconnected Friskens (Leith)

Useful Resources

Project Members

  • Tracy Hope Project Coordinator: descendant of George and Agnes Frisken whose son John emigrated from Scotland (out of Glasgow) to New Zealand with his wife and two children aboard the Three Bells in 1858.


  • James B. Paul's The Scot's Peerage. 1904. Edinburgh: David Douglas. p. 474-5.
  1. G.W.S. Barrow, "Badenoch and Strathspey, 1130-1312: 1. Secular and Political" in Northern Scotland, 8 (1988), p. 3.
  2. Murray, Alexandrina. The Murray, Sutherland and Douglas families: were they related and were they Flemish?2016. Digital PDF:
  3. Sir Ian Moncrieffe & Hicks The Highland Clans (1967), pp 176, 222.
  4. Johnston, G. Harvey. The Heraldry of the Douglases. 1907. Edinburgh: W. and A.K. Johnston, Ltd. p.90.

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Comments: 4

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I am descended from John and Jane Frisken (nee Paulin) who were married in Coldstream in 1843.

They came to New Zealand on the Three Bells in 1858 and lived in Southland. Their daughter Elizabeth Frisken married my g grandfather John Tice Martin on 17 Nov 1965 in Invercargill My grandfather was John Robert Martin ( 1870-1948) and my father William Henry Martin (1907-1985) I was born in Wellington in 1944 and practised as a chartered accountant. I am now retired and live in the Summerset on Summerhill Palmerston North with my wife Heather. Would like to make contact with my Frisken relatives.,

posted by Alan Martin
Hi Alan, lovely to hear from you. You'll find John and Jane here on WikiTree as well as the next couple of generations. Please feel free to add to their profiles! We have a Friskens facebook group which is quiet but you'll be able to connect with lots of cuzzies within and outside of NZ:
posted by Tracy (Frisken) Hope
A 1713 record at Hutton, Berwickshire showed the birth of James Frisken, son of William Frisken & Elizabeth Blackater. Their son, James, married Elizabeth Clasie in 1734 at Hutton.

Clasie or Clazie seems to be originally a Flemish or Dutch name, found on both sides of the Channel. It was first documented at Hutton in 1665, when Jon Clazie delivered the bell to the kirk and was paid 16 shillings "for drink" to thank him. (The bell was made at Middleburg, in Flanders.)

I would be grateful to know if you find any further Frisken/Clazie connections.

posted by Rick Heiser
Every now and then I try to tackle the Frisken-Clasie/Blackater (Blackadder) connection and have so far had zero success. How's your progress?
posted by Tracy (Frisken) Hope