Last name: Outlaw

This is quite a rare, and certainly a very interesting English medieval surname. It would appear to mean what it says and describe 'an outlaw', one who lived outside of the community, either by choice or edict. This at first glance would seem to be confirmed by the original recordings of Alan le Utlage in the Tax Rolls known as the 'Feet of Fines' for the county of Essex in 1230, and Robert Outlawe in the Subsidy Tax rolls of the county of Sussex in 1327. However in both cases it will be seen that these are recorded in tax registers. It does not take a brilliant mind to realise that the authorties would hardly be in a position to tax a person who was outside of their jurisdiction, and even less that the person concerned, should he even receive 'The Final Demand', would then actually pay it! The tales of Robin Hood, the most famous of all outlaws, are all about robbing the sheriffs, who were the tax collectors. The thought of actually paying them, would surely raise a wry smile to your average neighbourhood outlaw. Strangely perhaps this surname is almost certainly a nickname or even a personal name, for an actor. In that it is similar to surnames such as Bishop, King or Pope, and describe one who played the part of a bishop, king, pope or outlaw, in the travelling theatres of the period.

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Surname Scroll

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liz outlaw
the name outlaw is a corruption of the saxon name utlagh

L. Smith
One branch of my English family tree is named "Outlaw." The story goes that the name originated from an encounter between the patriarch (called something entirely different at the time) and a landowner who objected to poachers taking game from his woods. The old man said, ":Outlaw ye call us, Outlaw shall we be." And they were from then on.

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