This surname LAIN was derived from the Old English word 'lanu' a locational name, the dweller in the lane. Local names usually denoted where a man held his land, and indicated where he actually lived. The name is also spelt LANE and LAINE. Early records of the name mention Ralph de la Lane, 1176, County Kent. Osbertus in Lane, was documented in 1212, in County Surrey. Walter atte Lane was recorded in 1260 in Cambridge, and Nicholas atte Lone, 1275, County Surrey. William atte Lane, was recorded in County Oxford. 1300 Jurdan atte Lane of Yorkshire was listed in the Yorkshire Poll Tax of the year 1379. John Lane and Joanna Noxe were married in London in the year 1567. William Lane of County Berkshire, registered at Oxford University in the year 1580. During the Middle Ages, when people were unable to read or write, signs were needed for all visual identification. For several centuries city streets in Britain were filled with signs of all kinds, public houses, tradesmen and even private householders found them necessary. This was an age when there were no numbered houses, and an address was a descriptive phrase that made use of a convenient landmark. At this time, coats of arms came into being, for the practical reason that men went into battle heavily armed and were difficult to recognise. It became the custom for them to adorn their helmets with distinctive crests, and to paint their shields with animals and the like. Coats of arms accompanied the development of surnames, becoming hereditary in the same way. The name was taken to Ireland by settlers, but there is also evidence that some Lanes in Ireland have this name as a variant of a surname of Irish origin, such as LEHANE, LYNE and LYONS all from the province of Munster where most families of the name originate. Ireland was one of the earliest countries to evolve a system of hereditary surnames. They came into being fairly generally in the 11th century, and indeed a few were formed before the year 1000. A certain William Lane emigrated from England to Dorchester, Massachusetts about the year 1635. He was the ancestor of a prominent New England family. In Scotland, David Lane was a tenant in Balledy in the year 1510, and William Lain was the burgess of Dundee in 1539.