Lane Surname Genealogy

The surname Lane in England is topographical, from
the Old English lanu or “lane,” and
describing someone who lived by or in a lane (originally a narrow way
fences or hedges). Lane in England may in
addition have originated as an occupational name for a worker in wool,
from the
old French laine meaning “wool.”

The surname was also to be found in
Ireland. Here it was an anglicization of
the Gaelic names O’Laighhin (from laighean
meaning “spear”) or O’Luain (from luain
meaning “warrior).

Spelling variants are Laine and Layne.
Laine or de Laine could be a Huguenot name.

Lane Resources on

Lane Ancestry

The surname Lane probably came from several
different places in England. The
following were some early pre-Tudor Lane lines:

  • Lane first appeared in records in Canterbury, Kent in
    1387. Thomas Lane and his brother William
    were MP’s
    for Canterbury in the early 1400’s.
  • William
    Lane held Orlingbury Manor near Thingdon in Northamptonshire in 1469. The estate passed onto Sir Ralph Lane in
    Tudor times. He married Maud Parr, a
    cousin of one of Henry VIII’s wives.
  • The
    Lanes of Bentley Hall
    Staffordshire date from 1428 when Richard Lone or Lane acquired the
    estate. These Lanes were Royalist during
    the English Civil War, with Jane Lane playing an important part in the
    of Charles II after his defeat at Worcester in 1651.

From Devon came Sam Lane who started the
Britannia theatre in London in 1840. His
wife Sarah Lane took over the
theatre after his death and befriended the Lupino acting family (many
of whom
adopted her name). Also from Devon came
the Lane publishing family. John Lane
was born in north Devon in 1854. He
moved to London where he helped hound The
Bodley Head
publishing house. His
adopted son Allen started up Penguin books in the 1930’s.

By the late 19th century, the distribution of
the Lane name was very much in western England, in a line stretching
from Lancashire to Devon, with smaller numbers in London and the southeast.

Lanes in Ireland could be either of Irish or
English origin. Irish Lanes appeared
mainly in Cork and Kerry in SW Ireland. English
Lanes included those at Tulsk in Roscommon, starting with Captain
George Lane
in the 1590’s, and at Lanespark in Tipperary, granted to a branch of
Northamptonshire Lanes in the 1660’s.

There was an early and extensive coverage of the
Lanes who came to New England in 1891 in James Fitts and Jacob
Chapman’s three
volume Lane Genealogies. The
most noteworthy of these Lanes were the
Lanes of Hingham
Massachusetts. Tradition has it that
they were the descendants of the William Lane who arrived in Dorchester
1635. But they might alternatively have
been the descendants of another William Lane in Boston.

joined a Puritan colonizing project off Central America in
1632 and died
there. His son Samuel was more
fortunate, arriving in Maryland in 1664 and prospering there. Richard
Lane moved his family from Maryland to Pittsylvania county, Virginia in
1746. Other Lanes were early settlers in
SW Virginia and NE Tennessee. Lambert
Lane who fought in the Revolutionary War lived with his family in the
river settlement “in the wild woods near the Indians.”

Thomas Lane was an early
settler in Surry county, Virginia. His
descendants were to be found in Buncombe county, North Carolina where
Lane was born in a log cabin in 1801. He
moved with his family to Kentucky and then to Indiana where he fought
in the
Mexican War and entered politics.
President Polk appointed him as the first Governor of Oregon
territory in
1849 and he subsequently served as one of its Senators.
A son Lafayette was elected to Congress in
1875 and a grandson Harry was Oregon Senator in 1912, making Joe Lane
the patriarch
of one of the state’s most prominent political families.

Irish. By
the 19th century, there were more Lanes
coming to America
from Ireland
than from England. An early arrival in
1821, from county Cork, was Walter Lane.
He fought in the Mexican war and on the Confederate side in the
War. He subsequently settled in Texas (his memoirs, The Adventures and
Recollections of General Walter P. Lane
, were published
posthumously in 1928). The main number of Lanes came at or after
the potato famine in Ireland. Many of these Lanes went missing.

Australia and New Zealand.
James Lane and his
family from Norfolk had an eventful passage on the Shomberg to Australia in
1855. The vessel was shipwrecked off the coast of Victoria on its
maiden voyage. They survived. But they lost all their
furniture. Lanes from Ireland started arriving in Australia after
the potato famine. An early arrival was Thomas Lane from Limerick in
1863 to work at the Victoria gold diggings. Later came a number
of other Lane families from Clare and Limerick who also settled in

William Lane, the son of a drunken Irishman, came to Australia via
Canada and America in 1885. There he pursued a career as a
radical journalist, organizing the Queensland trade untions into the
Australian Labor Federation. He
then led 220 believing followers to found a new colony in an unsettled
part of Paraguay in South America which he named New Australia.
The colony turned out to be a failure and Lane retreated in his later
years to New Zealand.

Lane Miscellany

If you would like to read more, click on the miscellany page for
further stories and accounts:

Lane Names

Sir Ralph
was an English explorer of the Elizabethan age
who led an unsuccessful attempt to establish a colony on Roanoke Island
North Carolina in 1585.
Sir Allen Lane
was the British
publisher who found Penguin Books in 1936.  
Lupino Lane
was the English
singer and dancer who made his name with the show Me and
My Girl
in 1937 which popularized The Lambeth Walk.
Lois Lane
was a fictional comic book
character in America, the girlfriend of Superman.
, born Francesco LaVecchio, was a successful American singer,
songwriter, and actor whose career spanned 75 years.

Select Lanes Today

  • 38,000 in the UK (most numerous
    in London)
  • 49,000 in America (most numerous in California)
  • 25,000 elsewhere (most numerous in Canada)




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