According to the famous Professor Black, who wrote the definitive and largely accurate dictionary known as 'The surnames of Scotland' in 1933, this is a surname which upto the Second Word War (1939 - 1945) was almost unheard of outside of its native Orkney and Shetlands. It is said to be of locational origin, whilst most Gaelic surnames are overwhelmingly patronymics, and from the village of Flawis in South Ronaldsay. As to the meaning of 'Flawis' this is probably from the pre 7th century Norse-Viking 'flaga' meaning a ridge or flat area, although it could originate from the more exotic 'flagd' pronounced 'flaw,' and meaning a female troll or witch! The seafarers and people generally of those far off times were both brave and highly superstitious, and 'trolls' were regularly recorded, as in the English villages of Flawith in North and East Yorkshire, and possibly Flawforth in the county of Nottinghamshire. This surname is very early the first known recording being that of James Flawis of Marwick in 1492, and Magnus Flaws or Flawis at Kirkwall in 1509.
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