This interesting name derives from the Olde English pre 7th century 'beorht' or 'briht' meaning 'bright' or 'fair', plus 'mann', a man. These elements were combined to form the personal nickname Brihtmann recorded in its latinized form Brihtmanus in the Domesday Book of 1086. The surname adopted from this source first appears in the latter half of the 13th century (see below). The namebearer probably had fair, shining hair which gave rise to the nickname surname. One Robert Brithman appears in the Subsidy Rolls of Essex, dated 1327. In 1501 the marriage of William Brightman and Elizabeth Irvye is recorded in London. An interesting namebearer was Thomas Brightman (1562-1607) rector of Hawnes, Bedfordshire, who claimed to have written a treatise on the Apocalypse under divine inspiration.The Coat of Arms granted to the Brightman family of Paris Garden, Surrey, has the blazon of a blue field, three gold lion's rampant. The Crest being an arm in armour, holding a sword issuing from the sun's rays. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of John Brithman, which was dated 1273, in the Hundred Rolls of Norfolk, 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.
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