Brighten is a name that first reached England
following the Norman Conquest
of 1066. The Brighten family lived at Breighton in the East Riding of Yorkshire
where they were established since the early Middle Ages. Some have mistakenly thought the name came from Brighton in Sussex
, but until the late 1800s that place was called Brighthelmestone.
Early Origins of the Brighten family
The surname Brighten was first found in Yorkshire
where they held a family seat
as Lords of the Manor of Breighton in the East Riding. After the Battle of Hastings in 1066, William, Duke of Normandy
, having prevailed over King Harold, granted most of Britain to his many victorious Barons. It was not uncommon to find a Baron
, or a Bishop, with 60 or more Lordships scattered throughout the country. These he gave to his sons, nephews and other junior lines of his family and they became known as under-tenants. They adopted the Norman system of surnames which identified the under-tenant with his holdings so as to distinguish him from the senior stem of the family. After many rebellious wars between his Barons, Duke William, commissioned a census of all England
to determine in 1086, settling once and for all, who held which land. He called the census the Domesday Book
Williams, Dr Ann. And G.H. Martin, Eds., Domesday Book A Complete Translation. London: Penguin, 1992. Print. (ISBN 0-141-00523-8)
indicating that those holders registered would hold the land until the end of time. Hence, the sizeable village of Breighton was held Ralph de Mortimer, a battle of Hastings warrior, who was granted many 123 Lordships by Duke William of Normandy, his chief seat being that of Wigmore Castle in Herefordshire
. Which of his under-tenants or relatives held Breighton is unknown, but we feel certain that this is the ancient ancestor of the Brightons. He was succeeded by Roger, Hugh, William and others.
Early History of the Brighten family
This web page shows only a small excerpt of our Brighten research.Another 245 words (18 lines of text) covering the years 1328 and 1341 are included under the topic Early Brighten History in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.
Brighten Spelling Variations
It is only in the last few hundred
years that the English language has been standardized. For that reason, Anglo-Norman surnames like Brighten are characterized by many spelling variations
. Scribes and monks in the Middle Ages spelled names they sounded, so it is common to find several variations that refer to a single person. As the English language changed and incorporated elements of other European languages such as Norman French and Latin, even literate people regularly changed the spelling of their names. The variations of the name Brighten include Brighton, Bryton, Bryghton, Brighten, Bryten, Bryghten and many more.
Early Notables of the Brighten family (pre 1700)
More information is included under the topic Early Brighten Notables in all our PDF Extended History products
and printed products wherever possible.
Migration of the Brighten family to the New World and Oceana
Faced with the chaos present in England
at that time, many English families looked towards the open frontiers of the New World with its opportunities to escape oppression and starvation. People migrated to North America, as well as Australia
in droves, paying exorbitant rates for passages in cramped, unsafe ships. Many of the settlers did not make the long passage alive, but those who did see the shores of North America were welcomed with great opportunity. Many of the families that came from England
went on to make essential contributions to the emerging nations of Canada and the United States. Some of the first immigrants to cross the Atlantic and come to North America carried the name Brighten, or a variant listed above: Henry Brighton, a child immigrant to Virginia in 1626; Thomas Brighton, who arrived in New England
in 1635; Daniel Brighton, who came to Virginia in 1743.