Show ContentsHarlow History, Family Crest & Coats of Arms

The ancestors of the name Harlow date back to the days of the Anglo-Saxon tribes of Britain. The name is derived from their residence 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 Harlow family

The surname Harlow 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 Harlow family

This web page shows only a small excerpt of our Harlow 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 Harlow History in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

Harlow Spelling Variations

Harlow has been spelled many different ways. Before English spelling became standardized over the last few hundred years, spelling variations in names were a common occurrence. As the English language changed in the Middle Ages, absorbing pieces of Latin and French, as well as other languages, the spelling of people's names also changed considerably, even over a single lifetime. Many variations of the name Harlow have been found, including Harlow, Harlowe and others.

Early Notables of the Harlow 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 Harlow Notables in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

Harlow Ranking

In the United States, the name Harlow is the 2,987th most popular surname with an estimated 9,948 people with that name. [7]

United States Harlow migration to the United States +

In an attempt to escape the chaos experienced in England, many English families boarded overcrowded and diseased ships sailing for the shores of North America and other British colonies. Those families hardy enough, and lucky enough, to make the passage intact were rewarded with land and a social environment less prone to religious and political persecution. Many of these families became important contributors to the young colonies in which they settled. Early immigration and passenger lists have documented some of the first Harlows to arrive on North American shores:

Harlow Settlers in United States in the 17th Century
  • John Harlow, aged 28, who landed in Virginia in 1619 aboard the ship "Sampson" [8]
  • John Harlow, who arrived in Virginia in 1619, before the "Mayflower"
  • John Harlow, who arrived in Virginia in 1623 [8]
  • Anthony Harlow, who landed in Virginia in 1623 [8]
  • Anthony Harlow, who arrived in Jamestown, Va in 1624 [8]
  • ... (More are available in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.)
Harlow Settlers in United States in the 18th Century
  • Mary Harlow, who settled in Maryland in 1722
Harlow Settlers in United States in the 19th Century
  • John P Harlow, who landed in Arkansas in 1869 [8]
Harlow Settlers in United States in the 20th Century
  • Ernest James Alfred Harlow, who arrived in California in 1902 [8]

Canada Harlow migration to Canada +

Some of the first settlers of this family name were:

Harlow Settlers in Canada in the 18th Century
  • William Harlow, who landed in Quebec in 1784
Harlow Settlers in Canada in the 19th Century
  • Robert Harlow, who arrived in Canada in 1831

Australia Harlow migration to Australia +

Emigration to Australia followed the First Fleets of convicts, tradespeople and early settlers. Early immigrants include:

Harlow Settlers in Australia in the 19th Century
  • Mr. George Harlow, (b. 1811), aged 20, English labourer who was convicted in Warwick, Warwickshire, England for life for burglary, transported aboard the "Elizabeth" on 3rd October 1831, arriving in Tasmania (Van Diemen's Land) [9]
  • John Harlow, aged 21, a bricklayer, who arrived in South Australia in 1849 aboard the ship "Sir Edward Parry" [10]
  • John Harlow, who arrived in Adelaide, Australia aboard the ship "Sir Edward Parry" in 1849 [10]
  • George Harlow, who arrived in Adelaide, Australia aboard the ship "Pestonjee Bomanjee" in 1851 [11]

New Zealand Harlow migration to New Zealand +

Emigration to New Zealand followed in the footsteps of the European explorers, such as Captain Cook (1769-70): first came sealers, whalers, missionaries, and traders. By 1838, the British New Zealand Company had begun buying land from the Maori tribes, and selling it to settlers, and, after the Treaty of Waitangi in 1840, many British families set out on the arduous six month journey from Britain to Aotearoa to start a new life. Early immigrants include:

Harlow Settlers in New Zealand in the 19th Century
  • Mr. Charles Harlow, (b. 1850), aged 24, British settler travelling from London aboard the ship "Peter Denny" arriving in Port Chalmers, Dunedin, Otago, South Island, New Zealand on 26th July 1874 [12]

Contemporary Notables of the name Harlow (post 1700) +

  • Bryce Harlow (1916-1987), American corporate lobbyist adviser to American presidents, recipient of the Presidential Medal of Freedom
  • Jean Harlow (1911-1937), born Harlean Harlow Carpenter, American film actress and top sex symbol of the 1930s also known as the "Blonde Bombshell" and "Platinum Blonde"
  • Larry Harlow (1939-2021), American salsa music performer, composer and producer, recipient of the Latin Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award (2008)
  • Mary Harlow, American jurist, magistrate for the Superior Court, Family Division in Chittenden and Orange Counties, Vermont
  • Joel Harlow, American Academy Award winning makeup artist, known for his work on the Pirates of the Caribbean movies
  • Chief Master Sergeant of the Air Force Donald L. Harlow (1920-1997), American second Chief Master Sergeant of the Air Force
  • Bob Harlow (1899-1954), American golfer, founder of Golf World magazine in 1947, inducted into the World Golf Hall of Fame in 1988
  • Richard Cresson "Dick" Harlow (1889-1962), American football player and coach, inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame (1954)
  • Larry Duane Harlow (b. 1951), retired American Major League Baseball outfielder
  • Francis Harvey Harlow, American theoretical physicist known for his work in the field of fluid dynamics
  • ... (Another 20 notables are available in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.)

Suggested Readings for the name Harlow +

  • The Cummington Harlows: Line of Ancestry from Sergeant William Harlow of Plymouth and Descendants of Matthew Harlow (1775-1847) of Sixth Generation by Cummington Harlows Association.
  • Richard Penhallow (also Harlow): His Life and Descendants by Aileen Smock Delong.

  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. "What are the 5,000 Most Common Last Names in the U.S.?".,
  8. 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)
  9. Convict Records Voyages to Australia (Retrieved 9th March 2022). Retrieved from
  10. State Records of South Australia. (Retrieved 2010, November 5) The SIR EDWARD PARRY 1849. Retrieved from
  11. State Records of South Australia. (Retrieved 2010, November 5) PESTONJEE BOMANJEE 1851. Retrieved
  12. New Zealand Yesteryears Passenger Lists 1800 to 1900 (Retrieved 26th March 2019). Retrieved from on Facebook