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About the study
The LAWN one name study is a C category one that includes references predominantly from the 19C and 18C England. 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.
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.
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).
History 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).
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 at http://www.one-name.org/archives/lawn.html. 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.