This interesting surname has no less that four origins. Firstly, it can be a topographical name for someone who lived near a hill, deriving from the Olde English pre 7th Century "hlaw", meaning hill or burial mound. Secondly, it may be a nickname for a short man, deriving from the Middle English "lah", low or short. Thirdly, it may be from a nickname for a crafty person, deriving from the Anglo-Norman French "lou, leu", meaning "wolf", originally from the Latin "lupus". Finally, it may be a pet form of the personal name "Lawrence", coming from the Middle English and Old French given name "Lorens, Laurence", itself deriving from the Latin Lurentius meaning "man from Laurentum", a town in Italy probably named from it's laurels or bay trees. The surname dates back to the early 13th Century (see below). Recordings from London Church Registers include: the marriage of Ellen Lowe and John Chamberlain on June 19th 1558, at St. Michael Cornhill, and the christening of Elizabeth, daughter of George Low, on April 25th 1577, at St. Dionis Backchurch. Mary Low, aged 18 yrs., a famine emigrant, sailed from Liverpool aboard the "Devonshire", bound for New York in April 1846. A Coat of Arms granted to a Low family is a red shield with two silver wolves passant, the Crest being a silver wolf passant. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of John le Lu, which was dated 1207, in the "Pipe Rolls of Gloucestershire", during the reign of King John, known as "Lackland", 1199 - 1216. 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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