Uniquely Medfield: The Street Named Frairy

A weekly column by Town Historian Richard DeSorgher.


The street name "Frairy" is unique and often mispronounced. It hosts Medfield Day every September, is home to the historic Dwight-Derby House, is part of the shore-line of Meetinghouse Pond, has the only bridge in town where the cars travel under the train tracks, is the location of Basil's Restaurant (formerly the Frances Cafe), and was home to Medfield’s Italian immigrant population which first arrived in the early 1900s.  It runs from North Street to Dale Street.

Who was this Frairy family that the street was named after?

John Frairy was one of the founders of Dedham, Massachusetts. He came from England with his wife Prudence and one or more of his children. He was made a freeman in Dedham in 1638. He became a cordwainer or shoemaker by trade. We have on record an early land deed dated 1652 which “Edward Allen conveyed a piece of land to John Frairy, cordwainer.” So we are sure of his occupation. John Frairy brought his family to the new town of Medfield, as one of the first 13 settlers. He left his eldest son, Theophilis, in Dedham and came with his remaining sons to this frontier wilderness.  

The block of land Frairy was given stretched along present day Frairy Street up to Dale Street. His house was located at about the present intersection of Vinald Road and Frairy Street, near the Dwight-Derby House. John Frairy was elected to the first Medfield Board of Selectmen in 1651 and served on the Board in 1653, 1654, and 1661. John died in 1675, a few months before the burning of the town during the King Philip War. His wife Prudence went to live with her son Theophilus, who had moved from Dedham to Boston. She died in 1691 at the age of 91.

John and Prudence’s second son, named John was also born in England and came to Medfield with the first settlers. In 1656 he married Elizabeth Harding, widow of Abraham Harding, who had died the previous year leaving four young children. They settled on the Harding homestead, located on Bridge Street, on the Charles River side near the present intersection with West Street. This gave him 12 acres of farm land and 41 acres of pasture and meadows. They had three children, one of which died in infancy.

John and Prudence’s third son, Samson, also came to Medfield with the first 13 settlers. In 1660, he married Mary Daniel and they built a house in the north part of Medfield near the corner of North and Harding Streets. He and his family soon removed from Medfield and became the first white settlers of Deerfield.  He and his wife were both slain by the Native-Americans during the attack on Deerfield in 1704. They left five children. 

The last Frairy living in Medfield, Prudence, daughter of John and Elizabeth, married Henry Adams and died in 1750 at the age of 88.

While 262 years have passed since that last Frairy lived in Medfield, the street name today reminds us of one of our first settlers and founders of the town and brings to life the hardships and lives of those who came before us. 


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