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An excerpt from www.HouseOfNames.com archives copyright © 2000 - 2016

Origins Available: English, Irish

The surname lawless is derived from the Old English word "laweles," which means "lawless" and is ultimately derived from the Old English word "laghles," which means "outlaw." As a surname, lawless came from a nickname for a person who was an outlaw, or was uncontrolled or unrestrained. The Gaelic form of the surname lawless is Laighléis.


The surname lawless was first found in Glamorganshire (Welsh: Sir Forgannwg), a region of South Wales, anciently part of the Welsh kingdom of Glywysing, where they held a family seat from very ancient times, some say well before the Norman Conquest and the arrival of Duke William at Hastings in 1066 A.D.

Church officials and medieval scribes spelled names as they sounded; therefore, single person, could have his name spelt many different ways during their lifetime. While investigating the origins of the name lawless, many spelling variations were encountered, including: Lawless, Lovelace, Lovelass, Loveless and others.


This web page shows only a small excerpt of our lawless research. Another 231 words (16 lines of text) covering the years 1599, 1564, 1634, 1610, 1626, 1616, 1670, 1618, 1657, 1641, 1693, 1735, 1799, 1789, 1621 and 1675 are included under the topic Early lawless History in all our PDF Extended History products.


Another 187 words (13 lines of text) are included under the topic Early lawless Notables in all our PDF Extended History products.


A great number of Irish families left their homeland in the late 18th century and throughout the 19th century, migrating to such far away lands as Australia and North America. The early settlers left after much planning and deliberation. They were generally well off but they desired a tract of land that they could farm solely for themselves. The great mass of immigrants to arrive on North American shores in the 1840s differed greatly from their predecessors because many of them were utterly destitute, selling all they had to gain a passage on a ship or having their way paid by a philanthropic society. These Irish people were trying to escape the aftermath of the Great Potato Famine: poverty, starvation, disease, and, for many, ultimately death. Those that arrived on North American shores were not warmly welcomed by the established population, but they were vital to the rapid development of the industry, agriculture, and infrastructure of the infant nations of the United States and what would become Canada. Early passenger and immigration lists reveal many Irish settlers bearing the name lawless:

lawless Settlers in United States in the 17th Century

  • Nich Lawless, who landed in Virginia in 1698

lawless Settlers in United States in the 18th Century

  • Patrick Lawless, who arrived in Virginia in 1703
  • Cornelius Lawless, who arrived in Virginia in 1715
  • James Lawless who settled in Virginia in 1739

lawless Settlers in United States in the 19th Century

  • Mathew Lawless, aged 30, arrived in Maryland in 1812
  • Peter Lawless, who landed in New York in 1839
  • Rose Lawless, aged 41, landed in New York, NY in 1849
  • M Lawless, who landed in San Francisco, California in 1850
  • Richd Lawless, aged 30, arrived in New York in 1854

lawless Settlers in Canada in the 18th Century

  • Francis Lawless, who landed in Nova Scotia in 1750
  • Maras Lawless, who arrived in Nova Scotia in 1750
  • Mary Lawless, who landed in Nova Scotia in 1750
  • Mr. John Lawless U.E. (b. 1730) born in Ireland from Massachuettes, USA who settled in Digdeguash, Passamaquoddy Bay, St Patrick's Parish, Charlotte County, NB c. 1784 married to Catherine he died in 1814

lawless Settlers in Australia in the 19th Century

  • George Lawless arrived in Adelaide, Australia aboard the ship "Asia" in 1851
  • Edward Lawless, aged 41, arrived in South Australia in 1854 aboard the ship "Emerald Isle"
  • Mary Lawless, aged 21, a servant, arrived in South Australia in 1854 aboard the ship "Lord Raglan"
  • Patrick Lawless, aged 24, arrived in South Australia in 1858 aboard the ship "Frenchman"
  • Mary Lawless, aged 16, a domestic servant, arrived in South Australia in 1858 aboard the ship "Frenchman"


  • John A. Lawless, American politician, Member of the Pennsylvania House of Representatives (1991-2002)
  • Richard Burton Lawless (b. 1953), former American college and professional NFL football player
  • Blackie Lawless (b. 1956), born Steven Edward Duren, an American songwriter and musician, best known as the lead singer and rhythm guitarist for the heavy metal band W.A.S.P
  • Thomas James "Tom" Lawless (b. 1956), American Major League Baseball player who played from 1982 to 1990
  • Theodore K Lawless (1892-1971), American dermatologist, medical researcher, and philanthropist
  • John "Jack" Lawless (b. 1987), American musician
  • Cecil John Lawless (1821-1853), Irish politician
  • Frank J. Lawless (1870-1922), Irish politician
  • Frederick Lawless (1847-1929), 5th Baron Cloncurry, Irish peer
  • Valentine Lawless (1840-1928), 4th Baron Cloncurry, Irish peer




  1. Magnusson, Magnus. Chambers Biographical Dictionary 5th edition. Edinburgh: W & R Chambers, 1990. Print.
  2. Woodham-Smith, Cecil. The Great Hunger Ireland 1845-1849. New York: Old Town Books, 1962. Print. (ISBN 0-88029-385-3).
  3. Kennedy, Patrick. Kennedy's Book of Arms. Canterbury: Achievements, 1967. Print.
  4. Shaw, William A. Knights of England A Complete Record from the Earliest Time to the Present Day of the Knights of all the Orders of Chivalry in England, Scotland, Ireland and Knights Bachelors 2 Volumes. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing. Print. (ISBN 080630443X).
  5. MacLysaght, Edward. Mores Irish Familes. Dublin: Irish Academic, 1982. Print. (ISBN 0-7165-0126-0).
  6. Fairbairn. Fairbain's book of Crests of the Families of Great Britain and Ireland, 4th Edition 2 volumes in one. Baltimore: Heraldic Book Company, 1968. Print.
  7. Zieber, Eugene. Heraldry in America. Philadelphia: Genealogical Publishing Co. Print.
  8. Harris, Ruth-Ann and B. Emer O'Keefe. The Search for Missing Friends Irish Immigrant Advertisements Placed in the Boston Pilot Volume II 1851-1853. Boston, MA: New England Historic Genealogical Society, 1991. Print.
  9. Bullock, L.G. Historical Map of Ireland. Edinburgh: Bartholomew and Son, 1969. Print.
  10. Browning, Charles H. Americans of Royal Descent. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing. Print.
  11. ...

This page was last modified on 25 March 2016 at 12:32.

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