Recorded as Bright and the genitives Brightie, Brightey and Brighty, this is a medieval English surname. It was probably originally a baptismal name of endearment as the meaning is fair or beautiful, although it is also possible that as a surname it is a nickname for somebody who was considered very bright, or given the robust humour of the Caucerian period, perhaps the reverse. The derivation is from the Olde English pre 7th century word "beorht", although it may also be a short form of the personal name Beorhthelm - a compound of the elements beorht and helm, which literally means helmet, but was used in the sense of a head protector. The surname is first recorded in the mid 13th century and spellings of the name have included Brythe in the year 1278 and Brite in 1279. Adam Bright appears in the Subsidy Tax Rolls of Sussex in 1296. An interesting name bearer was Richard Bright (1789-1858) a physician who diagnosed and gave his name to Bright's disease. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of John Briht. This was dated 1252 in the Pipe Rolls of the county of Huntingdonshire during the reign of King Henry 111rd of England, 1216-1272. Surnames became necessary when governments introduced personal taxation. In England this was sometimes 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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