The surname Whitelaw, also seen as Whytelaw and Whytlaw, is of territorial origin, coming from the lands of Whitelaw, in the parish of Morebattle. In the parish of Bowden in Roxburghshire, there was also the barony of Whitelaw.
In 1296, John de Wytelowe, of the county of Edneburk, pledged his allegiance to England’s Edward I by signing, along with many other Scottish nobles, the Ragman Roll. His seal showed a seved-leaved flower and his name, S’ Joh’s de Vitlav. John was also an ancestor of the Whitelaws of that Ilk near Dunbar.
There is record of a John Whitelaw de eodem who was a juror in 1430 on an inquest concerning the bounds of the lands of Gladmor.
In 1470 Archibald de Quhitelaw was noted as being the archdeacon on St. Andrews ‘infra partes Laudonie’, and he is again mentioned between 1486 and 1488, but as Archibald Quhitelaw and Quhitlau. Archibald was also an eminent prelate and secretary of state to King James III (1460-1488).
James III of Scotland
Patrick Quhitlaw, in 1560, was recorded as being a ‘feufarmer’ of Pettindreich, and in 1578, a Bartholomew Quhytlaw was in possession of an instrument of sasine of land in Paxtoun.
In 1586, Margaret Quhytlaw was recorded as having been accepted as the heir of Patrick Quhytlaw de eodem. Other variations of the surname Whitelaw recorded include Quhitelau, Quhyetlaw, Quhytelaw, Whitlau, Whitlawe, Whytlaw, and Qwhytlawe.