This famous "border" surname is equally prominent in both England and Scotland, and also in the Irish province of Ulster. It derives either from the Gaelic "Labhraidh" meaning "the spokesman" and is therefore a descriptive semi-nickname, or from the Latin (Roman) "Laurentius" (Lawrence) meaning "victory", of which it is a diminutive or patronymic variant. St. Laurentius was martyred in Rome in 258 A.D., however, the early church at Edzell, Forfarshire, was dedicated to his name. This ancient shrine was no doubt a major contribution to the popularity of the surname, and it is probable that by the late medieval period the distinction between "Labhraidh" and "Laurence" was lost. The suffix "y" or "ie" to denote the diminutive form of endearment, i.e., little Laur(ence) is a popular Northern form. The early name recordings include: Coilbert Lowrie, of Coldinham (1497); David Lowry, a kings officer, of Edinburgh in 1529; and James Lowrey, appointed a Burgess and Freeman of the City of Glasgow in 1600, in the reign of James V1 of Scotland (1567 - 1603). The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Robert Lowri, which was dated 1332, in the "Subsidy Rolls of Land Tenure of Cumberland", 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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