Recorded in a number of spellings including Blyth, Blythe, Blyde, Bligh, and Blything, this is a famous English surname. Forever associated with Captain and later Rear Admiral William Bligh of the ship HMS Bounty, who was given a bad press by Hollywood, but not by his compatriots at the time, it is of pre 7th century Olde English and Anglo-Saxon origins. It is usually locational from any of the the various places called Bligh, Blyth, or Blythe in the counties of Northumberland, Nottinghamshire, and Warwickshire. These places derive their name from being on the Rivers Blyth and Blide, and are so called from the ancient word word "blithe", meaning merry and cheerful. The surname from these sources was first recorded in the 12th century, and early recordings include: Gilbert de Blie, in the Pipe Rolls of Nottinghamshire, dated 1200, and Robert de Blythe, recorded in the Subsidy Rolls of Lancashire in 1332. In some cases the word "blithe" was given as a nickname to a bright cheerful person. This would seem to apply to Robert Blithe of Norfolk in 1221, and John Blythe, in the Subsidy Rolls of Sussex in 1296. Recordings from later English church registers include the christening of Marget Blythe on November 19th 1552, at Westbourne, Sussex, and the christening of Edward Blyth, on May 12th 1580, at Selston, Nottinghamshire. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of William de Blitha, which was dated 1177, in the Pipe Rolls of Essex, during the reign of King Henry 11nd of England, 1154 - 1189. Throughout the centuries, surnames in every country have continued to "develop" often leading to astonishing variants of the original spelling.
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