This ancient surname which can be confusingly English, Dutch, Germanic, Norman French or even Scottish in origin. It sometimes has identical spellings in different countries, but quite different meanings! If English it is usually spelt Low or Lowe, and derives from the pre 7th century word 'hlaw, meaning a prominent small hill, a barrow or burial mound, and hence somebody who lived by such a place. However in all countries it may be a medieval nickname derived from the Old Norse word 'lagr, meaning low or short, and hence probably given to a tall person!.The Norman French word 'lou', meaning wolf is also a possibility as a nickname in all countries. If so it described a ferocious individua, or again probably the reverse. In countries whose language is primarily German based the surname is recorded in many forms including Low, Lowe, Leeb (Germany), Lob and Lobe (Alsace), Leue, Leeuw, Leeuwink, Leeuwerink, Louw (Dutch), Lev (Czech) and others. Here it may derive from the pre medieval word 'lewo' meaning a lion, and hence was a name given to a brave or regal person. This explanation may have some connection with the Ashkenasic word 'leyb' and the lion of Judah. Lastly the name can be Scottish in origin, and a short form of male given name Lawrence. The first recorded spelling of the family name anywhere in the world may be that of John le Lu. This was dated 1207, in the Pipe Rolls of the county of Gloucestershire, during the reign of King John of England, 1199 - 1216. Throughout the centuries, surnames in every country have continued to "develop" often leading to astonishing variants of the original spelling.
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