There are three possible sources of this picturesque and interesting surname which is of medieval English origin. Firstly, it may be either a nickname for a happy, cheerful person, and is a derivation of the Olde English pre 7th Century "leoht", the Middle English "lyght", meaning light, or bright, or a nickname for someone who was busy and active, from the Olde English "lioht", the Middle English "lyght", nimble, quick. These two words were originally distinct but became confused. It is also possible that this name is topographical for a dweller in a light place or glade, with the same derivation as before. In the Census taken at St. Philip's Parish, Barbados, in 1680, Richard Light is recorded as owning twelve acres, and John Light, five. William Light (1784 - 1838), a colonel in the British Army, was surveyor-general of South Australia and was the founder of the city of Adelaide, the capital of South Australia, which today has a population of nearly one million people. A Coat of Arms was granted to Christopher Light of Horley in Oxfordshire, circa 1546, which depicts a chevron between three silver rising swans on a red shield. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Thomas de Leht, which was dated 1275, in the "Hundred Rolls of Kent", during the reign of King Edward 1, known as "The Hammer of the Scots", 1272 - 1307. 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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