Recorded as Lared, Larrad, Larat, Larratt, and Lorait, this unusual surname is English and French, but ultimately of Roman origin. It is one of the many variants of the male name Laurence and its female equivalent Laura. Often recorded as Lorens in the Medieval period, the name means "from Laurentum", a town in Italy called after its laurel trees. The popularity of the given name in Europe was largely due to St. Laurence, a 3rd century Roman martyr; but was rare in England before the Norman Conquest of 1066. Laura from the same source is also the emblem of victory and poetic inspiration, the most celebrated bearer of the name being the lady to whom Petrarch addressed his sonnets, in circa 1327. The surname occurs in English church registers from 1535 and an eary recording example is that of Elizabeth Larrat christened at St. Dunstan's Stepney, in 1572. A coat of arms granted to the family has the blazon of a shield divided per pale silver and gold, a blue chevron between three black escallops in the silver part; and a red chevron, with two black martlets in chief and a green pine tree in base, on the gold section. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of John Larens of Suffolk in 1268 during the reign of King Henry 111rd, 1216 - 1272. Surnames became necessary when governments introduced personal taxation. In England this was sometimes 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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