Recorded as Golightly, Galletly, Gelletly, Gellately and others, this is an ancient Anglo-Scottish surname. It has two possible origins. The first is Anglo-Saxon and an occupational name for a messenger. Derived from the Old English pre 7th century words "gan", meaning to go, and "lihtly", lightly or swiftly, the literal meaning is "go swiftly". A second possible origin is Scottish, and locational from a from a now "lost" medieval village. It has been suggested that as many as five thousand surnames of the British Isles originate from lost place, so this may well be one of them. As to why they disappeared has been the subjedct of several books but changes in agricultural practices as well as natural disasters such as the Black Death of 1348, in which an estimated one third of the population perished, played their parts. Early examples of recordings include in Scotland William Galithi of Arbroath in 1221, Henry Gollithebye, the sherrif of Aberdeen in1296, Janet Gellatie in Brechin in 1683, and in London the marriage of James Golightly and Barbara King on June 20th 1719 at St. Benet's, Paul's Wharf. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Rannulf Golicthli, which was dated 1196, in the "Pipe Rolls of Cambridgeshire", during the reign of King Richard 1, known as "The Lionheart", 1189 - 1199. 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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