1) An area of woodland preserved for hunting deer, possibly within a forest. It developed from ‘frith’ by metathesis and seems to be predominantly a west Yorkshire spelling.
It was the name of territories in Saddleworth and Sowerby, and survives as the suffix in Holmfirth. Early references in the Wakefield court rolls include: 1275 ‘land in le Holnefrith’, Holme
1307 ‘John del Rediker for escape of 6 beasts and 5 pigs in le Frith’, Sowerby
1315 ‘Hobekyn of Sourby for 1 stirk in the Frith not agisted’. The surname established itself in this early period, probably derived from Sowerby Frith: 1285 ‘Alexander del Fryth’, Sowerby. The term was used in other parts of Yorkshire well into the seventeenth century: 1629 one close or parcell of grownde called the firth … containing Forty Acres … parcell of the sayd Forest of Longstrothdale … to be a fyrth and solely kepte for the breedinge … of the game or deere, Buckden. In the North Riding the early spelling was retained: 1642 ‘the highway leading from Stitnam to Le Frith’, Malton.