How did “bylaw” originate?

By in bylaw is believed to be derived from the Old Danish word by or bye, meaning “town” or “dwelling place,” which still survives in -numer: ous English place names, such as Whitby, Grimsby, Derby, Rugby, Appleby and Netherby, all of which were named by the Danes. In Lincolnshire, one of the chief seats of the Danish settlements in England, the names of about a hundred towns and villages end in by,’ and the [ 429 ] , coast in that region is studded with these relics of the Danish occupation. The original “by-laws” were the laws of the town or by, that is, the localordinances as distinguished from the general laws of the county or realm. Gradually bylaw came to mean any minor or subordinate law or regulation. This transition was undoubtedly hastened by the analogy between the term and by in such words as bypath and byway. Later the real origin of bylaw was lost sight of and it was mistakenly supposed that by in this connection was merely an adverb meaning “aside” or “secondary.” In England a legislative decision of a municipality is still called a bye-law, and what Americans call a special election is known to the British as a by-election.