The surname of ORMSHAW was a locational name from an unidentified place apparently named with the personal name of ORME and the local element of SHAW (copse) and literally meaning the 'Orme who dwelt at the shaw'. Local surnames, by far the largest group, derived from a place name where the man held land or from the place from which he had come, or where he actually lived. These local surnames were originally preceded by a preposition such as "de", "atte", "by" or "in". The names may derive from a manor held, from working in a religious dwelling or from literally living by a wood or marsh or by a stream. The name was also a baptismal name from the Old Norman ORMR, originally a byname meaning 'Serpent or Dragon'.
Following the Crusades in Europe a need was felt for a family name. This was recognized by those of noble blood, who realised the prestige and practical advantage it would add to their status. Early records of the name mention Orm (without surname) who was listed in the Domesday Book of 1086. Augustas Orumme, 1327 County Surrey. Later instances of the name include a certain Gilbert Ormeshaw of Scarisbrick, who was listed in the Wills at Chester in 1590, and Roger Ormeshaw of Burscough was recorded in the same Wills in 1620. Richard Oram who registered at Oxford Univerity in 1609. Aaron Hawkins and Mary Ormishaw were married at St. Michael, Cornhill, London in 1718, and John Oram married Sarah Lamb at St. George's, Hanover Square, London in 1778. Family names are a fashion we have inherited from the times of the Crusades in Europe, when knights identified one another by adding their place of birth to their first or Christian names. With so many knights, this was a very practical step. In the 11th, 12th and 13th centuries the nobles and upper classes, particularly those descended from the knights of the Crusades, recognised the prestige an extra name afforded them, and added the surname to the simple name given to them at birth.
The associated arms are recorded in Sir Bernard Burkes General Armory.
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