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Vikings, Redcoats, and the Frost Legacy

By Clare Coppa

“The Frosts are always in the thick of things,” laughs ASTM member Stephen Frost, who says his ancestors are linked to Viking invasions, Mayflower crossings, and king’s tax rebellions.

Frost says the American Revolution’s Battle of Bunker Hill took place on his forefather’s land: “The revolting colonists were trying to find a defensive position to threaten the British. They came to Breed’s Hill next to Bunker Hill, and said, ‘This is easier to defend, whose is it?’ The drummer, David Frost, said, ‘It’s mine, you can use it.’ He was a grandfather, many generations back.” Misnamed, Breed’s was the site of the 1775 revolt.

“His older brother John Frost was an aide to George Washington for two years,” he continues. “He was an attorney and was strongly opinionated, like all the Frosts. His diary shows that he greatly influenced Thomas Paine’s pamphlet, Common Sense [Philadelphia, 1776] that chastised the British government.” The pamphlet provoked debate that resulted in the Declaration of Independence. Frost says the diary is being investigated.
A project engineer with Jacobs Engineering Group, Houston, Texas, Frost is researching ancestors David, John, and their brother, Elijah who was “a catcher of spies.” “Their grandparents were Elizabeth Gray and William, the son of Edmund Frost. Edmund came to America on either the Great Hope or the Defense in 1635. His son William married Elizabeth Gray who came over as a child on the Mayflower. When the Mayflower sailed, three boats started to go out. Edmund and his son were on one, but it sank before it got out of London harbor. So they had to wait until the next year to come over,” he laughs.

“Our name, we discovered, was used in ancient form in Denmark as early as the fifth century. It was brought to England in approximately the eighth century during the period of resettlement, or what is known in the U.S. as the Viking Invasions. My grandchildren have the white blond hair and blue eyes of the Vikings,” he adds, saying the English surname Frost stems from the old English term meaning one with white hair. “The earliest recording that we have is in the Doomsday Book of England of 1086 of a man named Aluuin Frost. And later, the Abbey of Bury St. Edmunds, England, notes Lefstan Frost residing in Suffolk in 1095. We know they were farmers and landowners with tenants.”

Like his ancestors, Frost fought in armed combat. A retired U.S. Marine colonel, he is one of three survivors in a reconnaissance class of 186 marines who fought in Vietnam. “That was a very tough war. Based on that experience, I’m going to make my life count for something.” Today he supervises 80 employees who build oil refineries and chemical plants for Jacobs.

In ASTM Committee E48 on Biotechnology, he chairs Subcommittee E48.04 on Environmental Issues. “My involvement at ASTM is to be part of an activity that helps society along. You have a lot of benefits and education; don’t be selfish, share it.”

Frost and his wife, Tommie, an executive assistant, have six children. Their large, extended family is globally-based. “One of the things that we’ve always been taught is families last longer than nations, so we better build on them,” he concludes. “Family relationships are very precious. You’ve got a commonality of heritage and thought pattern that you want to carry forward.”

ASTM member Stephen Frost