There are in Scotland several places named Wardlow, from which this surname may have been derived. The place Wardlaw, near Beauly 'the hillock where watch and ward was kept by the retainers of the Norman lord of the Aird, John Byset', occurs as early as 1210. The first of the name in Scotland, appears to have been Henricus de Wardlaw who received a charter from Robert I of half the barony of Roxburghshire. Walter de Wardlaw was the archdeacon of Lothian in 1363. Henry of Wardelawe, was granted a safe conduct into England in 1397. Originally the coat of arms identified the wearer, either in battle or in tournaments. Completely covered in body and facial armour the knight could be spotted and known by the insignia painted on his shield, and embroidered on his surcoat, the draped garment which enveloped him. Between the 11th and 15th centuries it became customary for surnames to be assumed in Europe, but were not commonplace in England or Scotland before the Norman Conquest of 1066. They are to be found in the Domesday Book of 1086. Those of gentler blood assumed surnames at this time, but it was not until the reign of Edward II (1307-1327) that second names became general practice for all people. The associated arms are recorded in Sir Bernard Burkes General Armory. Ulster King of Arms in 1884.
Registered in Pitreavie, Fife. 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.
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