The village was until 1866 a township and a chapelry of Melton Mowbray parish. At the time of Edward the Confessor it was known as "Fretheby" and "Fredebi". It was referred to as "Frieby" as late as 1816. All the properties, except the United Reformed Church, still belong to the Freeby estate. It was granted as a manor to Hugh Despencer in the 13th century and is still a manor estate. The estate later passed to Lord de Ros, presumably at the demise of the Despensers. (Hugh the elder was hanged in Bristol in 1326 for his aid to Edward II who had fled the invasion of Isabella and Mortimer: Hugh Despenser the Younger was, after trial, hung, drawn and quartered later the same year). In 1568 the lord of the manor of Freeby was Edward, 3rd Earl of Rutland. Thirty years later the manor passed to Thomas Hartopp of that ancient family of Leicestershire. Sir John Hartopp, 3rd Baronet (1658) became Member of Parliament for Leicestershire (1678-1681), employed the non-conformist Isaac Watts and left an endowment for the education of dissenting ministers.
The estate was sold by Sir J. W. Cradock Hartopp, Bart., to Daniel Thwaites (of the Lancashire Thwaites brewery) upon whose death in 1888 it passed to his only daughter, Elma Amy, the wife of Robert Yerburgh, M.P. The estate was part of many others owned by Mrs Yerburgh and under management of the Woodfold Estates Company Management. Mrs. Yerburgh died in 1946 and from 1955 the estates and brewery were managed separately from adjacent offices at Eanam, Blackburn in Lancashire.
The parish was part of Melton Mowbray Rural District from 1894 until 1935 when the rural district was abolished and replaced by the Melton and Belvoir Rural District which covered a larger area. A year after the introduction of the new rural district its parishes were reorganized and reduced in number from 68 to 25.
In 1974 a new nationwide organization of local government was introduced in which rural and urban districts were replaced by "non-metropolitan" districts. In the northeast of Leicestershire this meant little save for the fact that the principal town of Melton Mowbray, formerly a separate urban district, was now governed by the same body (Melton District or Borough) as the rural area that surrounded it.
Maps on the place-pages for Belvoir Rural District and Melton and Belvoir Rural District illustrate the location of the various parishes and the geographical and administrative changes that occurred in 1936.