This unusual surname is of medieval Scottish origin, and is a locational name from Grahamslaw, a village in the parish of Eckford, Roxburghshire. The component elements of the placename are believed to be the genitive case of the Old Norse personal byname "Grimr", a masked person, one who conceals his name, and the Olde English pre 7th entury "hlaw", low hill, mound. In placenames with a personal name as a first element the "hlaw" generally translates as "burial mound"; hence, "Grim(r)'s burial mound". Locational surnames, such as this, were originally given to local landowners, and the lord of the manor, and especially as a means of identification to those who left their birthplace to settle elsewhere. Early examples of the surname include: John of Grymslawe, juror on an inquisition at Roxburgh (1361) and Thomas Grymislaw, juror on an inquest at Jedburgh in 1464. The spelling Grahamslaw had emerged by the 16th Century. In 1530, Adam Grahamslaw of Newton, one of the lairds of Roxburghshire, submitted to the king's will at Jedburgh, and in 1576, William Grahamslaw, "servitor to my lord Boyd", was admitted burgess of Glasgow. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of John de Grymeslawe, of the county of Roxburgh, who rendered homage, which was dated 1296, in a "Calendar of Documents relating to Scotland", during the reign of John Balliol, Ruler of Scotland, 1292 - 1296. 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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