This English surname was brought to Ireland, mainly to Leinster, by settlers in the 17th century. 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. The St. Lawrence family have been at Howth since 1177, and this form of the name is also found in east Clare. When the sparse Irish population began to increase it became necessary to broaden the base of personal identification by moving from single names to a more definite nomenclature. The prefix MAC was given to the father's christian name, or O to that of a grandfather or even earlier ancestor. LAURENCE was a baptismal name 'the son of Lawrence' an ancient and still popular personal name. The name was borne by a saint who was martyred at Rome in the 3rd century AD; he enjoyed considerable cult throughout Europe, with the consequent popularity of the given name. Sir Robert Lawrence of Aston Hall, County Lancashire, accompanied Richard I. (1188-1199) to the Holy Land. Gilbert Laueronce, was documented in County Cambridge, in the year 1273, and John filius Laurence, ibid. James Lawrence of Yorkshire, was listed in the Yorkshire Poll Tax of 1379. Nicholas Lawrence of Poynton, County Chester, was listed in the Wills at Chester in the year 1545. A notable member of the name was Sir Thomas Lawrence (1769-1830) who was the English portrait painter. David Herbert Lawrence (1885-1930) the English novelist, poet, critic and writer of travel books.
Thomas Edward Lawrence (1888-1935). British soldier and scholar, was one of the leaders in the war of 1914-18.
The name was in Scotland early and Magister Laurentius, a cleric, was a charter witness in Elgin, circa, 1150.
Laurentius (without surname) was archdeacon of Brechin in the year 1368. John Lourance was the burgess of Aberdeen in 1541, and John Lourance was a notary public in Duns in 1663.
The associated coat of arms is recorded in Sir Bernard Burkes General Armory. Ulster King of Arms in 1884.
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