This unusual surname is English locational. There are three villages called 'Lightwood' all situated in Staffordshire, and an even smaller hamlet called 'Lightwood Green' not far away in Cheshire. Any or all of these villages could have given birth to the surname, since like most locational surnames it was either the name of the local Lord of the Manor, or it was an 'identification' surname. That is to say that the easiest way to identify a person, then and now, was by where they (formerly) lived, and this was particularly so with strangers. In this case 'Lightwood' remains a fairly popular surname in the Staffordshire area, suggesting that the first explanation has some credence. The name probably means 'the herb wood' from the Olde English pre 7th century 'leac wudu', but it may well derive from 'lycce', to describe an enclosure in a wood. It is curious that such a description if correct, only applies in one small area of the country. Early examples of the surname include Ann Lightwood of Standen, this village being the early epi-centre of the surname, who on April 27th 1594 married Andrew Boond, whilst on May 20th 1597, Thomas Lightwood married Frances Roos, at the same place. On June 18th 1593 William Lyghtwood was recorded at St Martins in the Field, Westminster, however on November 11th 1598 at the same church the spelling has become the usual 'Lightwood'. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Ann Lightwood, which was dated August 26th 1563, married John Salt at Standen, during the reign of Queen Elizabeth 1st, known as 'Good Queen Bess', 1558 - 1603. 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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