This interesting and unusual surname, with the variant spelling Laxe, is widely recorded in Durham church registers from the mid 16th Century; it has two related possible origins. Firstly, it may derive from the Old English pre 7th Century personal name Leaxa, initially recorded in the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle, dated 942, and found in the placenames Laxfield, (Suffolk), and Laxton, (Nottinghamshire), entered respectively in the Domesday Book of 1086 as "Saxefelda" and "Laxintune", and translating as "Leaxa's pasture", (feld), and "Leaxa's settlement", (tun). The name is believed ultimately to derive from the Old Norse "lax", meaning "salmon". One, Lax de Ludham appears in "Records of St. Benet of Holme", Norfolk, dated 1141. The second possibility is that the name is of Germanic origin, from the Old High German "lahs", salmon, with an original meaning of "leaping", "playful", and originally given either as a metonymic occupational name to a seller of salmon or as a nickname to a lively person. On September 17th 1559 Anthony, son of Christopher Lax, was christened in Auckland, Durham, and on January 25th 1564 one, William Laxe was christened there also. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Thomas Lax, which was dated 1351, in the Register of the Freemen of York City, during the reign of King Edward 111, known as "the Father of the Navy", 1327 - 1377. 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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