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Ballyfrenis, County Down


Ir. Baile Freanais ‘Frenis’s townland’


The second element of Ballyfrenis seems to be a surname and, given the strong influence of the Anglo-Normans in this part of North Down, it could well be a corruption of the surname French, which comes from OE frencisc > ME frennsce, frenche.  Reaney (1958, 126) cites two variants of this surname: le Frensch, and le Frenche.  MacLysaght (1957, 152) states that there was another form, de Freynes and this seems to have been the form O’Donovan had in mind.  MacLysaght (ibid.) also claims that this surname was brought from France to England by one Theophilus de French, who was among William the Conquerer’s retinue.  It is interesting that there is another townland of the same origin now known as Ballyfrench in the parish of St. Andrews alias Ballyhalbert.  


Hannan R. J. (1992): Place-Names of Northern Ireland vol. 2 p. 183

Additional Information

Historical name form

Old FormRef. DateReference
Frenestoun1333Inq. Earldom Ulster iii 65
Ballifranish1605Inq. Ult. (Down) $2 Jac. I
Ballyfrenzies1617CPR Jas I 326a
Ballyfrainys1623Ham. Copy Inq. [1623] xxxiii
Ballyfrenish1636Inq. Ult. (Down) $75 Car. I
Ballyfrenish1650cMontgomery MSS 54 n.34
Ballyfrenish1650cInq. Ult. (Down) $109 Car. I
Ballyfrenis1659cCensus 1659 93
Ballefrennish1661BSD 88
Ballyfrenis1810Wm. Map (OSNB) E 167, E 24
Balyfrenis1830cBnd. Sur. (OSNB) E.167/E.32
Freynis Town1834cJ O'D (OSNB) E 167, E 24
Ards Lower
Parish in 1851
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