This name SHERLAW was originally of English origin, but has had a long sojourn in Scotland. There are places in Shirley in County Derbyshire, and in Warwickshire, from either of which the original bearer may have taken his name. Walter de Skirlawe and his men were granted a safe conduct to travel into England from Scotland for a year in 1370, and appear to be the first of the name on record. Nicol Schirlaw was 'maide commoun herd' (the herdsman) in the burgh of Lanark in 1488. The burghs of Scotland owe much of their prosperity to the large immigration of foreigners which went on during the 12th and 13th centuries. The original founders of the towns, were in many cases wanderers from Flanders, who brought with them their habits of industry and knowledge of trade and manufactures. Settlers of this description came in great numbers to England in the reign of Henry I (1100-1135) and when Henry II (1154-1189) drove all foreigners out of his dominions they flocked into Scotland, where a more enlightened policy made them welcome. Other instances of the name include Matho Scherlaw and Alexander Scherlaw who were followers of the earl of Cassilis, and were respited (prosecuted) for murder in 1526, and William Schirrilaw was one of those hanged in 1570 for holding Paisley against the king and his regent. Walter Schirilaw was admitted as a guild brother of Glagow in 1619, and Janet Sherrilaw is recorded in Corro-Mylne, parish of Lesmahago in 1673. David Skierlaw appears in Eyemouth in 1792. The name is also spelt as Sherlaw, Sheirlaw, Shearlaw and Shirley. The associated coat of arms is recorded in Sir Bernard Burkes General Armory. Ulster King of Arms in 1884. (Shirley). It has long been a matter of doubt when the bearing of coats of arms first became hereditary and it was not until the Crusades that Heraldry came into general use. 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.
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