Last name: Louis

This great and ancient name, which has inspired over fifty entries in "The Dictionary of National Biography", derives from the Old Frankish "Hludwig", a personal name composed of the elements "hlud", loud or famous, plus "wig", battle. This name was borne by the founder of the Frankish dynasty, recorded in Latin Chronicles as Ludovicus and Chlodovechus (the latter form becoming the Old French Clovis, Clouis, and later Louis). Louis the Pious, son of Charlemange, born in 778, was an early distinguished bearer of the forename. Lowis or Lewis is the Anglo-French form of the name. One, Lowis le Briton was entered in "The Red Book of the Exchequer", Essex, in 1166. The surname first appears on record at the beginning of the 13th Century (see below). William Lewys was noted as a witness in the 1267 Fines Court Rolls of Suffolk. In Wales, Lewis is used as an Anglicization of the Old Welsh name Llywelyn, from "llyw", leader, and "eilyn", likeness. Llewelyn ap-Madoc, alias Lewis Rede, was archdeacon of Brecon, Wales, in 1437. One of the most natable bearers of the name was the American explorer Meriwether Lewis (1774 - 1807), who, with William Clark, led an overland expedition from St. Louis to the Pacific Ocean in the early years of the 19th Century. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Robert Lowis, which was dated 1202, in the "Pipe Rolls of Lancashire", during the reign of King John, known as "Lackland", 1199 - 1216. 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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