Last name: Lawrence
This ancient surname is recorded in over one hundred spelling forms ranging from the Scottish and English Lawrence and Laurens, to Laurant (France), Lorentz (Germany), Lorenzo (Spain), Renzi (Italy), and Vavrik (Czech). However spelt the ultimate surname derives from the male given name "Laurentius", which itself originates from Laurentium, the "city of laurels", in Italy. The idea of the laurel as a symbol of victory was probably the principal reason for the popularity of the name. Among Christians it became a favourite name through St. Laurence, Archdeacon of Rome in the mid 3rd Century, who was martyred under Valerian in 258 A.D., the church of Edzel in Scotland is dedicated to him. There is only one example of the name in the earliest known public records, the Domesday Book of England in 1086; however, by a century later, the name had became popular at all social levels. This in turn lead to the recognisable modern English and Scottish surnames Lawrence, Laurence and Lawrance, and such variants as Laurie and Lowrie. Early examples of recordings include Johan Lauri of Ulm in 1376, and Lucas Laurenci of Mahren, Germany, in 1447. In the church registers of London, England from the time of Queen Elizabeth 1st we have the christening of Ann Lawrence, on January 12th 1555, at St. Pancras', and one of the earliest settlers in the New World was Richard Lawrence, aged 20 yrs. He left London in January 1634, bound for the Barbados Island. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Magister Laurentius, a cleric, which was dated circa 1150, in the "Episcopal Records of Glasgow", Scotland. This was during the reign of King David 1 of Scotland, 1124 - 1153. 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.
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