This very interesting name is of Old English origin and totally betrays its original meaning. The modern spelling derives from the compound 'wiht-mann' which translates as 'Elf-friend' 'mann' usually means 'servant' but in the context of a personal name is a term of endearment. In medieval times circa 13th Century 'Wihtman' came to mean a person of great strength or bravery. The name development includes William Wightman (1332, Cumberland), John Whightman (1639, Yorkshire) and Henry Weightman (1654, The Yorkshire Friary Rolls). Of the three notable namebearers listed in the National Biography Edward Wightman (died 1612) is the most dramatic, being the last person mentioned in Messianic prophecies, had anti-Trinitarian views, claiming to be the awaited Paraclete.The Coat of Arms granted to the family on 14th July, 1562, has the blazon of a silver shield, on a bend engrailed red, between three martlets, as many leopards faces in gold. The crest being a stork proper holding in the mouth a snake, with the motto; A wight man never wanted a weapon. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of William Wihtman, (witness), which was dated 1227, in the Bedford Assize Court Rolls, during the reign of King Henry 111, known as 'The Frenchman', 1216 - 1272. 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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