This is a most unusual surname. It is recorded in the spellings of Lightwin, Lightwing and Lightning, the latter apparently being a variant which developed from 'Lightwing'. All surnames at their inception had a clear meaning, or at least were developed from words in relatively common usage. In this case however the spelling does not conform to any accepted pattern, and we must conclude that it is a variant of something else, and probably one of foreign extraction which has been given the 'sounds like' treatment by the registry clerk. The late 17th century was a peak period for the inflow of Huguenot refugees from all parts of the continent, and it is our opinion that this surname is an anglicization of the Old German 'Leitner' a topographical surname for one who lived on a hill. This surname (see below) is recorded some fifty years before the first Lightwing/Lightning's just long enough to develop its 'British' appearance. Examples of the surname recording taken from early registers include George Lightwing, the son of George and Mary, christened at St James Clerkenwell, on March 9th 1712, whilst on April 22nd 1730, Edward and Mary Lightwing were witnesses at St Giles Cripplegate, at the christening of their son Edward. The unusual feature here is that three years previously on May 3rd 1727, the same couple at the same church were witnesses at the christening of their daughter Elizabeth, but then their name was recorded as 'Lightning', the first known example of that spelling! The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Johannis Leitner which was dated August 21st 1675, a witness at St Martins in the Field, Westminster, during the reign of King Charles 11, known as 'The merry monarch', 1660 - 1685. 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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