The Scottish Border surname of Laidlaw was initially confined mainly to Selkirkshire and the vales of Ettrirk and Yarrow. There is a Laidlawstiel near Galashiels but this is thought to be from the surname rather than the surname being from the place. There is a tradition that the Laidlaws had their origin in England, and the name has been traced over the Border down to the south of England under the variants Laidlaw, Laidley, Laidler, Ladly, and Ludlow. As was sometimes the case the variants could sometimes appear within the same family! The name may have originally arisen from this English market town in Shropshire.
The tartan shown on the right is named Laidlaw Highland Drovers
Back in Scotland, however, a family of Laidlaw of Mosfennan, Peebleshireshire, was living there during part of the Seventeenth and eighteenth centuries.
Even later, William Laidlaw (1780-1845) was a confidential friend of Sir Walter Scott (see sculpture on the left) and also his steward at Abbotsford.
The name Laidlaw is thought to have descended originally from the Boernician race dating from around 400 to 1000AD. This was an Anglo-Saxon kingdom established by Anglian settlers of the 6th century in what is now southeastern Scotland and North East England.
William of Lodelawe was charged in 1296 with concealing a horse from the English which would have increased his approval rating amongst the Scotts nearby.
William Ladlaw was portioner of Newtoune in 1650 , John Laidlaw appears in Blackchester, parish of Lauder, 1674, and Thomas Laidlaw in Haugh, 1682.
Laidlaw was officially recognised in an Act of the Scottish Parliament as a border Clan with its own chief. In 1603 the Laidlaws appear to have moved to Mosfennan in Peebleshire and with King James VI now on the throne of a "United Kingdom" attempts were made to deal with the "unruly Border Clans". This included being banished or bribed to move to Northern Ireland where they were granted lands (so long as they swore to remain Protestant and loyal to the King). But for many the New World appeared even more attractive where they became known as Scotch/Irish. Among them were recorded a David Laidlaw who arrived in America in 1750, Douglas Laidlaw in 1750, James Laidlay in New England in 1718 and Thomas Laidler who arrived in North America in 1768 (as can be seen, immigration officials didn't always record the spelling of their names with total accuracy). In the United States Census taken in 2000, there were about 1,717 individuals with the last name "Laidlaw."