This apparently simple surname is in fact one of great complexity. It is of Olde English or Norse Viking pre 8th Century origins, and was originally considered to be habitational for one who lived or perhaps worked at a "hlaw", a burial ground, or in Scotland, a small hill. However, recent research suggest that from the late medieval period (15th Century), the development was more probably as a nickname form of the early Norse "lagu", meaning "the Law". The surname being a metonymic for either a lawyer or more probably a Court Official, a short form of Lawman. Further confusion arises through the popularity of the Roman Saints name "Lawrence", of which "law" was a well known contraction. The plural forms are medieval and usually patronymic, although with locational names the "s" can imply "of the", as in the French "de". The early recordings include William de Lawe in the 1229 Cloister Rolls of Essex, and Hugh del Law, of Wakefield, in 1309. Nicholas Lawes is registered in the Feudal Roll of Durham in 1539, whilst Francis Laws (or Lawes) is described in the lists of those "desirous of going to Bostone, New England, there to inhabitt", on April 8th 1637, as being a weaver with a wife, Liddea, a daughter, Marey, aged 11 yrs., and two (unnamed) servants. In 1641, Marey Laws is recorded in the Colonial Register of Salem, in the County of Essex, the state of Massachussets, as being married to a John Neale. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of John de la Law, which was dated 1208, in the "Curia Regis" rolls of Worcestershire.
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