This unusual surname, recorded in English Church Registers from the mid 16th Century under the variant spellings Lethebridge, Lethabridge, Lethibridge and Lethbrig, is of Anglo-Saxon origin, and is a locational name from some minor, unrecorded, or now "lost" place, believed to have been in Devonshire because of the high incidence of early surname recordings from that county. The component elements of the placename are most likely the Olde English pre 7th Century "(ge)leat", an open water-course to conduct water for household purposes and mills, with "brycg", bridge; thus implying a type of medieval aqueduct. Locational surnames, such as this, were originally given to local landowners, and the lord of the manor, and especially as a means of identification to those who left their birthplace to settle elsewhere. On July 16th 1590, Elizabeth Lethbridge and Richard Sheere were married at St. Andrew's, Plymouth, Devonshire, and on July 13th 1673, the marriage of John Lethbridge to Priscilla Madgwick took place at St. Mary's, Marylebone Road, London. Walter Stephens Lethbridge (1772 - 1831), miniature-painter, exhibited miniatures at the Academy, 1801 - 1829. A Coat of Arms granted to the Lethbridge family of Devonshire is a black shield with two bars gemelles between six silver roses, two, three and one, the Crest being a stag's head erased per fess silver and black, attired gold, in the mouth a rose of the first, stalked and leaved green. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of John Lethbridge, which was dated December 10th 1543, marriage to A. Westlake, at Exbourne, Devonshire, during the reign of King Henry V111, known as "Bluff King Hal", 1509 - 1547. 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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