This notable surname is of early medieval English origin, and derives from the male given name Laurence, originally the Latin "Laurentius", from "Laurentium", the "city of laurels", in Italy. The idea of the laurel as a symbol of victory was probably the principal reason for the popularity of the name. Among Christians it became a favourite name through St. Laurence, Archdeacon of Rome in the mid 3rd Century, who was martyred under Valerian in 258 A.D., and the church of Edzel in Scotland is dedicated o him. There is only one example of the name in the Domesday Book of 1086, however, a century later, the name became popular, giving us clearly recognizable modern surnames ranging from Laurance, Lawrence and Lorence, to Laurens and Lorenz. Benedict Laurenz is listed in the Feet of Fines of Huntingdonshire (1292). On May 1st 1621, the marriage of John Laurence and Ellen Jones took place at the church of St. John the Baptist, Chester, Cheshire. A notable namebearer, Samuel Laurence (1812 - 1884), was a portrait painter. He executed oil or crayon portraits of contemporary celebrities, and exhibited them at the Society of British Artists (1834 - 1853), and at the Royal Academy (1836 - 1882). A Coat of Arms granted to the family depicts a red cross raguly on a silver shield, the Crest being a demi fish erect, tail upwards, divided per pale silver and red. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Magister Laurentius, a cleric, which was dated circa 1150, in "Episcopal Records of Glasgow", Scotland, during the reign of King David 1 of Scotland, 1124, 1153. 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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