This unusual and interesting name is of English origin and forms a status name for someone who lived on a piece of land that he was under no obligation to pay rent for, or to work for in lieu of rent. The derivation is from the AngloNormanFrench word "frank", meaning "free" with the Middle English "land", land. Interestingly, "frank" in medieval times was used in the sense of "free" because in Frankish Gaul only those of Frankish race enjoyed the status of free men. The Franks were a Germanic people from around the river Rhine, during Roman times. Their Empire in central Europe, established in the 16th Century, formed the basis of the "Holy Roman Empire". The equivalent and more common surname in the modern idiom, is "Freeland", first recorded in "Watter Freland", 1198, Norfolk. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Elizabeth Franklind, married Thomas Johnson. which was dated 23rd January 1599, St. James, Clerkenwell, London. during the reign of Queen Elizabeth I, Good Queen Bess, 1558 - 1603. Surnames became necessary when governments introduced personal taxation. In England this was known as Poll Tax. Throughout the centuries, surnames in every country have continued to "develop" often leading to astonishing variants of the original spelling.