Harlaw History, Family Crest & Coats of Arms

The name Harlaw is of Anglo-Saxon origin and came from when the family lived in Harlow, a parish, in the union of Epping, hundred of Harlow, S. division of the county of Essex. [1] The parish dates to pre-Conquest times when it was first recorded as Herlawe in 1045. [2] A few years later after the Norman Conquest, the parish was recorded as Herlaua in the Domesday Book of 1086. [3] Literally the place name means "mound of hill associated with an army (perhaps Viking)," from the Old English words "here" + "Hlaw." [2]

Harlow-Hill is "a township, in the parish of Ovingham, union of Castle ward, E. division of Tindale ward, S. division of Northumberland," and has a similar origin, having derived from "a corruption of Hare-law, 'the hill or station of the army,'" [1] In this later case, this township dates back to 1242 when it was known as Hirlawe. [2]

Early Origins of the Harlaw family

The surname Harlaw was first found in Essex where Richard de Herlawe was listed in the Hundredorum Rolls of 1273. The same rolls listed Nicholas de Herlawe, Northamptonshire. [4]

While Essex is the generally accepted place of origin of the name, we did find an earlier entry at Bury St Edmunds, Suffolk, Osbern de Herlaue in 1121. The same surname was also found in Hertfordshire in 1205, Thomas de Herlaue. Up to the north in Yorkshire, Walter de Harlow was listed there in the Subsidy Rolls of 1327 and in 1442, Thomas Harlowe was found in the Assize Rolls for London in 1442. [5]

The Harlaw variant was typical of Scotland and there, it was "of territorial or local origin from some place named Harlaw near the Border. There is a Harlaw Muir in Peeblesshire, and there appears to have been a Harlawbanks there also. A vill and lands of Hairlaw in Midlothian is recorded in 1565 (Retours). William de Harlau witnessed a charter in favor of the Abbey of Scone c. 1204-1241, and Richard de Harlau and William de Harlau were on an inquest held at the chapel of St. Katherine, Bavelay, near Edinburgh, in 1280. William de Harlau was on an assize at Berwick in 1296, and Matthew de Harlawe rendered homage in the same year." [6]

This noted author points toward a possible linkage the the Essex and Northumberland families with the variant Harle in Scotland: "probably derived his name from Kirkharle in Northumberland. The Harles of Kirkharle owned much property in Northumberland." [6] The reader should note the "Kirk" prefix for this last entry denotes "church" in Scottish Gaelic.

Early History of the Harlaw family

This web page shows only a small excerpt of our Harlaw research. Another 146 words (10 lines of text) covering the years 1273, 1599, 1601, 1795, 1647, 1566, 1528, 1604, 1609, 1741, 1689, 1690, 1692 and 1741 are included under the topic Early Harlaw History in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

Harlaw Spelling Variations

It is only in the last few hundred years that the English language has been standardized. For that reason, early Anglo-Saxon surnames like Harlaw are characterized by many spelling variations. As the English language changed and incorporated elements of other European languages, even literate people changed the spelling of their names. Scribes and monks in the Middle Ages spelled names they sounded, so it is common to find several variations that refer to a single person. The variations of the name Harlaw include: Harlow, Harlowe and others.

Early Notables of the Harlaw family (pre 1700)

Notables of the family at this time include Thomas Harlowe (d. 1741), English Captain in the Navy who on 19 March 1689-1690 appointed to command the Smyrna Merchant, hired ship, and took post from that date. In the following year he commanded the Burford of 70 guns, in the grand fleet...
Another 50 words (4 lines of text) are included under the topic Early Harlaw Notables in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.


United States Harlaw migration to the United States +

Many English families tired of political and religious strife left Britain for the new colonies in North America. Although the trip itself offered no relief - conditions on the ships were extremely cramped, and many travelers arrived diseased, starving, and destitute - these immigrants believed the opportunities that awaited them were worth the risks. Once in the colonies, many of the families did indeed prosper and, in turn, made significant contributions to the culture and economies of the growing colonies. An inquiry into the early roots of North American families has revealed a number of immigrants bearing the name Harlaw or a variant listed above:

Harlaw Settlers in United States in the 18th Century
  • Andrew Harlaw, who arrived in Virginia in 1721-1722 [7]

Prince of Wales colliery
  • Mr. William Harlaw (b. 1852), Welsh coal miner who was working at the Prince of Wales Colliery in Abercarn, Wales on the 11th September 1878 when there was a coal mine explosion; he died [8]


  1. ^ Lewis, Samuel, A Topographical Dictionary of England. Institute of Historical Research, 1848, Print.
  2. ^ Mills, A.D., Dictionary of English Place-Names. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1991. Print. (ISBN 0-19-869156-4)
  3. ^ Williams, Dr Ann. And G.H. Martin, Eds., Domesday Book A Complete Translation. London: Penguin, 1992. Print. (ISBN 0-141-00523-8)
  4. ^ Bardsley, C.W, A Dictionary of English and Welsh Surnames: With Special American Instances. Wiltshire: Heraldry Today, 1901. Print. (ISBN 0-900455-44-6)
  5. ^ Reaney, P.H and R.M. Wilson, A Dictionary of English Surnames. London: Routledge, 1991. Print. (ISBN 0-415-05737-X)
  6. ^ Black, George F., The Surnames of Scotland Their Origin, Meaning and History. New York: New York Public Library, 1946. Print. (ISBN 0-87104-172-3)
  7. ^ Filby, P. William, Meyer, Mary K., Passenger and immigration lists index : a guide to published arrival records of about 500,000 passengers who came to the United States and Canada in the seventeenth, eighteenth, and nineteenth centuries. 1982-1985 Cumulated Supplements in Four Volumes Detroit, Mich. : Gale Research Co., 1985, Print (ISBN 0-8103-1795-8)
  8. ^ Entombed in flood and flame (retrieved 3rd August 2021). Retrieved from https://web.archive.org/web/20120603025705/http://www.crosskeys.me.uk/history/prince.htm


Houseofnames.com on Facebook