Last name: Speight
Found in a number of different spellings including Spieght, Spight, Spaight, and Speight, this unusual surname was originally recorded only in Yorkshire. Its origins lie with the Olde English and Saxon word 'Speoht' which describes a 'Wood Pecker' and it is one of a medieval group of surnames which derive from nicknames associated with creatures. These nicknames were given to people whose personal characteristics were believed to match the specific animal or bird or even fish in question. Examples include Hawk, Eagle and Sparrow. Sometimes the surnames were also job descriptive, many people called Hawk or Hawker actually trained these birds, although quite what 'Wood Pecker' meant is uncertain. What is certain is that if the name had been uncomplimentary, it would (like for instance Snail), have disappeared, and in anycase there is a Coat of Arms granted of an extremely warlike style. This has a silver field, a black fess charged with three pheons, and the crest of a hand holding a gold pheon. The pheon is the heraldic version of a spear head, and it is believed to imply power and speed of action. Examples of the recordings include John Speht (also spelt Speght) of Wakefield in 1313, and Elizabeth Spight of Dewsbury in 1540. Johis Speghte appears in Kirkburton, near Huddersfield in 1548, and for many years this village was an epi-centre of the original spelling form. A further example is that of Elizabeth Speight, who married James Burnett at Doncaster on September 29th 1596, in the reign of the first Elizabeth. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of William Speyt, which was dated 1297, The accounts of the Duchy of Cornwall in Yorkshire, during the reign of King Edward 1, known as 'The hammer of the Scots' 1272 - 1307. Surnames became necessary when governments introduced personal taxation. In England this was known as Poll Tax. Throughout the centuries, surnames in every country have continued to "develop" often leading to astonishing variants of the original spelling.
© Copyright: Name Origin Research www.surnamedb.com 1980 - 2015
Want to dig deeper into your family history? Take a look at our page on building a Family Tree
. Or get scientific and enter the exciting world of Ancestral DNA
We are currently experiencing a technical fault with our comments system we hope to have it working again shortly, sorry for any inconvenience. (19th of May 2015)
Jean Dorothy Speight (maiden name)
Interesting, I was told my father,s family Speight came from Southern Ireland
Steven Godfrey (Speight on mothers side)
Looking at the old variations of spelling on the surname it brings to mind the scandinavian word for spear - 'spjot' (the j is silent). Bearing in mind that the coat of arms has 3 spear-heads on the field and the crest is a gloved hand holding a spear-head and also taking into account the association with the woodpecker, whose beak is very spear-like, I think the surname is more likely to denote an Anglo-Saxon/Scandinavian warrior tradition. The coat of arms is a very military affair with a motto that speaks of strength and bravery - in a warrior society like old England such a motto would not have been granted along with a militaristic coat of arms to weavers. I live in South Yorkshire which has the country's highest population of Speights according to http://surname.sofeminine.co.uk/w/surnames/surname-speight.html. I understand why you would go down that train of thought but it is a very parochial view. There ar also high concentrations of Speighhts in parts of scotland - not famed for weaving.
Daniel Speight Waters
I believe that the majority of Speights are open hearted, sensitive, artistic intellectual beings with a side of unexpected aggression. Yes down through the years genes have mixed but the Speight gene for whatever reason seems to over power most others. This may be waffle but see for yourself by interacting with other Speight folk.