The surname of LAWTHER is of the local group of surnames meaning 'one who came from LAUDER' in Berwickshire. The name is also spelt LAUTH and LAUT. Early records of the name mention William de LAWEDRE who was the sheriff of Perthshire in the time of Alexander III of Scotland. Robert de LAUUETER held lands in Dalkeith in 1316, and Robert de LAWEDRE was a merchant in Scotland in 1425. William LAUTER was a classical scholar in Scotland and died in 1771. The first people in Scotland to acquire fixed surnames were the nobles and great landowners, who called themselves, or were called by others, after the lands they possessed. Surnames originating in this way are known as territorial. Formerly lords of baronies and regalities and farmers were inclined to magnify their importance and to sign letters and documents with the names of their baronies and farms instead of their Christian names and surnames. The abuse of this style of speech and writing was carried so far that an Act was passed in the Scots parliament in 1672 forbidding the practice and declaring that it was allowed only to noblemen and bishops to subscribe by their titles. English heraldry predominated in North America, the first grant being in l586 to the City and Corporation of Ralegh in Virginia, relating to the first English Settlement on Roanoke Island, now situated in North Carolina. Heraldry was mostly dormant in North America until l694, when the first North American resident Francis Nicholson, received a grant of Arms. Soon after, the University (the College of William and Mary) received its own grant. Not until the present century has an agreement been reached whereby the English Kings of Arms were allowed to issue grants of honorary armorial bearings to American citizens able to prove male-line descent from a British subject. The lion depicted in the arms is the noblest of all wild beasts which is made to be the emblem of strength and valour, and is on that account the most frequently borne in Coat-Armour.
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