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Lawn Name Study

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Surname/tag: Larn(e), Laund(e), Laun(e), Lawn(e), Lawns, Lorn(e), Lown(e)
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The LAWN one name study is registered with the Guild of One Name Studies (GOONS). There is a profile page on the GOONS website.
The study is a C category one; i.e. a study that includes references predominantly from the 19C , 18C, 17C and 16C England. There is index and published material that goes back earlier. There are also references to LAWNs in Scotland, Ireland, USA and Australasia, but currently these tend to be from indexes rather than from primary sources. This has become a 'several name' study because of the number of variants.

Variant names

Variants of the surname LAWN include LARN(E), LAUGHN(E), LAUN(E), LAUND(E), LAWNE, LORN(E), LOWN(E), LONE and others. My family used the variant LARN in early 19C Great Yarmouth and then LAWN from about 1871 onwards in the London area. The spellings LOON, LORN and LEARN also appear in the family records. LARN(E) and LORN(E) are also registered as one name studies because at first LAWN appeared to be a variant of those names. LAWN now also appears to be a variant of LOWN(E) and LANE.

Historical occurrences of the name

The earliest instance of the surname occurs in the Pipe Rolls. Ralph de la LAUND and Adeliza his wife claimed 3 carucates of land in Thimbleby in 1183. (The Victoria County History of Yorkshire North Riding (VYNR)). The name could refer to a place rather than a surname, because of the early date, however the VYNR contains several more references to a family linked to Adeliza and using the de la LAUND suffix. The link with the modern form of the word occurs when Thomas LAWNE (de la LAUNDE) was dubbed a knight at the Bridge Foot on the King's entering London after the Battle of Blackheath in 1497 (The Knights of England, Vols I and II, W A Shaw, Heraldry Today).

Name frequency

According to census data, in 1881 just under 0.003 % of the UK population bore the surname LAWN. In the 1880 US census the proportion was 0.0013 %. This included the surname LAUN and LAUNTZ. The proportion in 1881 Canada was 0.6 %. In the UK LAWN ranks 6273 and in the US it ranks 334419 (SMITH ranks 1 in both countries).

Distribution of the name

The map above provides an indication of the distribution of the surname LAWN in England and Wales. In England most records for people with the surname LAWN occur in Yorkshire and East Anglia. Between 1837 and 1899, the registration district with the highest number of births registered under the surname LAWN was Tadcaster in Yorkshire, with just under a 100 entries. There are also people with the surname LAWN in Ireland, Scotland, Australasia and North America.


Some birth, marriage and death data are available in the archives section of the GOONS website. These are entries from the GRO birth, marriage and death indices for which I have transcribed details from either certificates or parish registers. Census data from 1851, 1841 and 1861 have been added. There is also a summary list. This lists the first year & place, marriage year & place and last year & place for each person (where known). It also gives their parents and spouses where known. 'First' refers to a birth (B) or a baptism (C) event. 'Last' refers to a death (D) or burial (B) event. If you find people on this list that are of interest, please let me know if you would like more details.


There are a number of references to the surname LAWN and variants on the FreeREG. I am also compiling references to the surname during the medieval period. The name was usually spelt LAUND or LAUNDE at that time. A useful wedsite is that of the University of Iowa which contains trancrisptions of the patent rolls.

History of the Surnames LAWN and LOWN

Family tree studies of the surname LAWN indicate a number of origins of the surname. In some of the Norfolk families the earlier version of the name is LARN or LAAN (see the LARN name study pages), LAYEN (in Mulbarton, Norfolk, England), LAIN (in Middleton, Norfolk, England) and occasionally the surname is spelt LANE. Other spellings across England include LAUN(E), LAUND(E) and LAWND(E) which is consistent with the surname studies listed in the paragraphs below. So far LOWN(E) appears to be both a deviant spelling of the surname LAWN and a surname in its own right. However, there might be a link between the names as mentioned in the surname books listed below. However, LOWN is a subject of a separate name study on the GOONS website.
The word LAWN is the modern form of the Old French word LAND or Middle English LAUNDE, an open space in a wood or a glade (C W Bardsley, Dictionary of English and Welsh Surnames, P H Reaney, A dictionary of English Surnames). The word may also derive from the Breton word 'LANN' which means heath (P Hanks and F Hodges, A Dictionary of Surnames). There are also places called LAUNDE in Lancashire and Leicestershire, Far Laund in Derbyshire and there is a LAUNDE House in North Yorkshire. In Ireland LAWN is a form of the names O' LAWN, O'LIATHAIN and LEHANE (Dictionary of Irish Surnames. The Surnames of Ireland. Edward MacLYSAGHT). In Donegal, where the surname LAWN occurs, LEAHAN means a 'broad space' (The Oxford Names Companion, Patrick Hanks and Flavia Hodges). Further details and references are in the next sections.

English and Welsh Surnames

The extracts below are from the Dictionary of English and Welsh Surnames by C W Bardsley, Heraldry Today. They illustrate a close link between the surnames Lawn and Lown, but also identify several other versions of the names.
Land, - Local, ‘at the land’, from residence beside the Launde or land, the open wood; v. Landman, and Lund or Lowndes. The modern word is Lawn.
William de la Lande, county of Oxford, 1275. (Hundred Rolls, 1273).
Jacob de la Lande, county of Warwick, 20th year of Edward I's reign. (Placita de Quo Warranto, temp. Edward I-III)
Richard de la Lande. (Calendarium Inquisitorium Post Mortem.).
William atte Land, c. 1300. (Writs of Parliament).
1579. Married - Richard Land and Eliz. Fuller: St James Clerkenwell, iii. 8.
1651. - Hugh Joanes and Susan Land: St. Peter, Cornhill, i. 258.
1741. Buried - James Land: Reg. Stourton, county of Wiltshire page 78.
London, 9; New York, 2; Philadelphia, 31.
Laund, - Local ‘ at the Laund’, v. Land and Lund.
Gernes de la Launde, county of Warwickshire: Henry III - Edward I. (Testa de Neville, sive Liber Feodorum, temp. Henry III - Edward I).
John de la Laund, county of Essex, 1273. (Hundred Rolls, 1273).
Nicholas atte - Launde, county of Norfolk, 1401: (Feet of Fines volume 6)
1585-6 Richard Westermyll and Dorothy Launde: Marriage Lic. (London), I. 148.
Lund, Lound, Lounds, Lowndes, Lownds, Lowne, Lond - Local, ‘at the laund’ or ‘lund’, i.e. lawn, which is a modern form, an open space in a wood, a glade. ‘Lawnde of a wode, saltus’: Prompt. Parv.
At the hartes in these hye laundes.’ Morte Arthur.
A property in my late parish (Ulverston) has been from time immerial called ‘The Lund’. A high piece of greensward, it once overlooked the forest of Furness. The final s in Lowndes, &c., is probably patronymic, as in Williams, Jennings, &c.; cf. Knowles, Styles, Brooks, Holmes.
Richard de la Lund, county of Norfolk, 1275 (Hundred Rolls, 1273).
Henry del Lund, county of Lincolnshire, (Hundred Rolls, 1273).
Robert de la Laund, county of Essex, (Hundred Rolls, 1273).
Thomas de Lound, county of Lincolnshire, (Hundred Rolls, 1273).
William de la Londe, county of Devonshire, (Hundred Rolls, 1273).
John de la Lound, county of Bedfodshire, 20 Edward I, (Placita de Quo Warranto, temp. Edward I-III)
Alice du Lund, (Close Rolls, 32nd regnal year of Edward I).
Beatrice atte Lound, county of Norfolk, temp. Edward III. (History of Norfolk (Blomefield and Parkin)).
Johannes del Lound, 1379: (Yorkshire - Poll Tax, West Riding of Yorkshire, 1379).
Lund is the commonest form of entry in early rolls.
1625-6 Thomas Madlocke and Catherine Lownes: Marriage Lic. (London), ii. 162
1628 Thomas Lowndes and Eliz. Spencer: ibid. p. 193.
London, 10, 1, 1, 4, 2, 2, 1; Philadelphia, 9, 0, 0, 1, 0, 1, 0.

British Surnames

The information below is from the Dictionary of Surnames by P. Hanks and F. Hodges, Oxford University Press, 1988.
LAWN: v: LAND. Thomas de la LANDE (NTH), James de la LAUNDE, ASSST Widdow LAWNE 1674
HTSF Dweller by the glade; as at Launde (Leics).
OFr LAND. De la LANDE is a common French name.
LAND (A-Fr) Dweller at the Lawn, a shrubby or grassy plain, Heath.
BRET LAWN; or the cognat teut Land.
William de la LANDE - Hundred Rolls
And to the launde he rideth hym ful right, for thider was the hert [hart] wont have his flight - Chaucer, Canterbury Tales.
Under a lynde [lime tree] upon a Launde - Piers Plowman.
LAND was the form of LANDE, and LANDA. We find it in Essex and Lincolnshire in the thirteenth century. Norfolk LAND [ME FR OE Akin to OHG LANT LAND OiF (GER LANT) (GER LANDER)].

Irish Surnames and the Surnames of Ireland

The information below is from Dictionary of Irish Surnames and The Surnames of Ireland by Edward MacLysaght.
(O)LAWN O LIATHAIN. The Irish form of this name is the same as LEHANE of Co. Cork. In Donegal it is the name of a sept of the Northern UI FIACHRACH originating in Co. Sligo.

Norfolk Surnames

The following is an extract from a thesis on Norfolk surnames on Norfolk Surnames. The hard copy was held by Reading Reference Library, Berkshire, England:
A family called Lounds, were already established in the Manor of Forncett, in south-east Norfolk, as early as 1305-6. In the late fifteenth century one of them migrated to Martham, in north-east Norfolk about eight miles north of Yarmouth, and in the early sixteenth century several lived at Martham and at the nearby village of Hemsby. In the Military Survey and in the returns for the subsidy granted in 1523, the bearers of the surname Lounde, or Lownde, were all save one in north-east Norfolk. Four who appear at Martham and Hemsby were almost certainly related to the family at Forncett. Of the others, one lived at Horsey, only about two miles from Martham, and three others at the villages of Paston and Beeston Regis, both in north-east Norfolk but considerably more distant. The only bearer of the name listed in the two main sources outside north-east Norfolk lived at Aldeby, in the south-east of the county. There is no evidence that the persons called Lounde living at Paston, Horsey, Beeston Regis, and Aldeby were related to the Forncett family, and they may well not have been. The surname is fairly common, and could easily have arisen independently in several places within one county. It is nevertheless a possibility that all the persons named Lounde or Lownde listed in the two main sources are related to the Forncett family, and that in this case a branch of the family had migrated to north-east Norfolk, become established there, and ramified to create a group bearing the surname in that part of the county.
The surname Lown or Lowne also occurs in north-east Norfolk in the 18th and 19th centuries, and Martham is where one family group occurs, but there are groups (probably related) in other parishes in the area as well such as Rollesby Flegg and Sheringham. It would be interesting to see if these are connected to the earlier Lounde and Lownde people. Unfortunately, the thesis did not mention Launde or Lawn.

Data for LOWN from the 1851 Census

In the 1851 census index for Norfolk, LAND is by far the most frequent spelling with 240 born in NFK. LOWN(E) was next in frequency with 119 born in Norfolk (This includes 4 people whose name had been spelt TOWN by mistake). There were 22 people with the surname LOUND, 3 LOWNS and 1 LOWND born in Norfolk. The count for the LAWN 130. The other versions of the name in Bardsley’s book do not appear in Norfolk in 1851 however small numbers occur in the 1851 Devon and Warwick including one LOWNDS born in Derby county. The most numerous of these was LOWNDES (18). These people were born in various counties, Devon, Goucestershire, Warwick, Buckinghamshire, Dorset, Staffordshire. A glance at the IGI reveals that LOWNDES occurs frequently in Cheshire and Staffordshire.

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