This interesting surname is often confused with the surname "Bligh and Blythe". It is not clear why this should be so. "Blight" derives from the Olde English pre 6th century baptismal or given name "Blitha", which means "Merry or Gentle", and as such was a term of endearment. Bligh and Blythe are locational from the town and villages of the same name. "Blith" was used as an adjective, a blith person ie. a merry soul, until the 13th century according to the 1883 New English Dictionary. Thereafter it died out of use and the surname took it's place. "Blight" is a surname well recorded in the south of England, again distancing itself from the other spellings which are northern, although curiously in the late 18th and early 19th centuries William Bligh (1754 - 1862) Captain of the Bounty and later Rear Admiral was only slightly better known than William Blight (1785 - 1862), Lieutenant at Trafalgar in 1805, and later Rear Admiral, and still serving at the time of the Crimean War in 1854 - 1855. Recordings of the surname include William Blight who married Sybbell Tiblefyld at St. Margarets church, Westminster on April 22nd 1585, and Sarah Blight, christened at St. Stephens, Wallbrook, London on February 2nd 1633. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Robert Blithe which was dated 1221, in the "Register and Accounts of the Abbey of Ely, Suffolk". during the reign of King Henry 111, known as "The Frenchman", 1216 - 1272. 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.
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