Recorded as Leight, Lett, Lite, Litt, Litte, Light, Lyte, and possibly others, this is a medieval English surname.There are several possible origins. Firstly it may be a nickname for a happy and cheerful person, and a derivation of the Olde English pre 7th century word "leoht". Secondly it may be a similar nickname for someone who was busy and active, from the Olde English "lioht", meaning nimble or quick. These two words were originally distinct, but ultimately became 'fused'. It is also possible that the name is topographical.If so it would have described a dweller at a 'light' place such as a glade in the forest, with the same derivation as before. Early examples of the surname recording include Thomas Lett, aged 22 who left the port of London for the West Indies in 1635, Peter Litte, a witness at St Botolphs without Aldgate, in the city of London, on February 7th 1697, whilst in the census of St. Philip's parish, in the island of Barbados, in 1680, Richard Light is recorded as owning twelve acres, and John Light, has five. A coat of arms was granted to Christopher Light of Horley in Oxfordshire, in1546. This has a blazon of a red field charged with a chevron between three silver rising swans. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Thomas de Leht. This was dated 1275, in the Hundred Rolls of Kent, during the reign of King Edward 1st of England, 1272 - 1307. Surnames became necessary when governments introduced personal taxation. In England this was sometimes known as the 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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