Recorded in various forms including Lwless, Lawles, Laweles and possibly others, this is an English medieval surname. It is said to be a nickname for a licentious man, from the Early English word "laweles" meaning uncontrolled by the law, unbridled or licentious. Whilst this may be true, it is more likely that being a nickname it actually meant the very opposite of what it appears to describe, and that probably it was given as a mocking name for somebody who was law abiding! Very few if any nickname surnames have survived which cast aspersions on the nameholder, and as this name is quite popular it seems unlikely that the nameholders of seven centuries ago saw themselves as lawless. This is also born out by the early recordings, the first being for a member of Parliament, see below, whilst Thomas Laghelas was a Freemen of the city of York in 1360, whilst Richard Lawles appears in the charters known as the Testamenta Cantiana, for the county of Kent in 1535. Church register recordings include examples such as Margery Lawles, christened at St. Mary at Hill, city of London on November 19th 1551, and William Lawless in the parish of St. Michael's Barbados in 1678. Valentine Browne Lawless (1773 - 1853) was the second Baron Cloncurry. He received a B.A. at Trinity College Dublin in 1792. The first recorded spelling of the family name may be that of Huge Laghlese. This was dated 1314, in the "Writs of Parliament", during the reign of King Edward 11nd, 1307 - 1327. 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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