Lightfoot History, Family Crest & Coats of Arms

The name Lightfoot is of Anglo-Saxon origin. It was name for a swift runner. The surname Lightfoot is derived from the Old English words leoht, which means light, and fot, which means foot. [1] Occasionally, this name was applied as an occupational surname to a messenger. [2]

"The name 'Martin with the Light Foot' is said to have been given to one of the followers of the Saxon hero Hereward, on account of his swiftness, but the modern English name is probably corrupted from the local name Lydford co. Devon." [3]

Lydford is an ancient Saxon village dating back to 997 when it "sustained severe injury from the Danes, who, after the destruction of Tavistock Abbey, burnt forty of the houses in the town." [4] Known as Hlydanforda c. 1000 and later as Lideforda in the Domesday Book of 1086 [5], it literally meant "ford over the River Lyd." [6]

While we cannot discount this learned writer's postulation, we wish to point out to the reader that more than five other similarly noted authors believe the name to be a nickname.

Early Origins of the Lightfoot family

The surname Lightfoot was first found in Oxfordshire where the first record of the family was William Lihfot who was listed there. Years later, Hugh Lihtfott was found in the Curia Regis Rolls for Lincolnshire in 1206 and John Lyghtfot was found in the Assize Rolls for Cheshire in 1296. [7]

The Hundredorum Rolls of 1273 included William Lightfot, Cambridgeshire and Henry Lithtot, Oxfordshire and later the Yorkshire Poll Tax Rolls of 1379 listed Willelmus Lightfote. [8]

There was only one ancient record found further to the north in Scotland, specifically "Duncan Lightfot, messenger from Dunfermline, recorded in 1303." [2]

Early History of the Lightfoot family

This web page shows only a small excerpt of our Lightfoot research. Another 102 words (7 lines of text) covering the years 1303, 1301, 1571, 1602, 1675, 1643, 1668, 1730 and 1759 are included under the topic Early Lightfoot History in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

Lightfoot Spelling Variations

Spelling variations in names were a common occurrence before English spelling was standardized a few hundred years ago. In the Middle Ages, even the literate spelled their names differently as the English language incorporated elements of French, Latin, and other European languages. Many variations of the name Lightfoot have been found, including Lightfoot, Lightford, Lightfoote and others.

Early Notables of the Lightfoot family (pre 1700)

Notables of the family at this time include John Lightfoot (1602-1675), an English churchman, rabbinical scholar, Vice-Chancellor of the University of Cambridge and Master of St Catharine's College, Cambridge. He was born in Stoke-on-Trent, the son of Thomas Lightfoot, vicar of Uttoxeter, Staffordshire. Lightfoot was one of the original members of the Westminster Assembly and was made Master of Catharine Hall (renamed St...
Another 62 words (4 lines of text) are included under the topic Early Lightfoot Notables in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

Lightfoot Ranking

In the United States, the name Lightfoot is the 3,348th most popular surname with an estimated 9,948 people with that name. [9]

Ireland Migration of the Lightfoot family to Ireland

Some of the Lightfoot family moved to Ireland, but this topic is not covered in this excerpt. More information about their life in Ireland is included in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.


United States Lightfoot migration to the United States +

Families began migrating abroad in enormous numbers because of the political and religious discontent in England. Often faced with persecution and starvation in England, the possibilities of the New World attracted many English people. Although the ocean trips took many lives, those who did get to North America were instrumental in building the necessary groundwork for what would become for new powerful nations. Among the first immigrants of the name Lightfoot, or a variant listed above to cross the Atlantic and come to North America were:

Lightfoot Settlers in United States in the 17th Century
  • John Lightfoot, who settled in Virginia in 1610
  • Francis Lightfoot, who settled in Lynn Massachusetts in 1630
  • Francis Lightfoot, who landed in Lynn, Massachusetts in 1636 [10]
  • John Lightfoot, who arrived in Virginia in 1650 [10]
  • William Lightfoot, who settled in Virginia in 1689
Lightfoot Settlers in United States in the 18th Century
  • Philip Lightfoot, who arrived in Virginia in 1708 [10]
Lightfoot Settlers in United States in the 19th Century
  • Christopher Lightfoot, aged 31, who arrived in Ohio in 1812 [10]
  • George Lightfoot, who arrived in Allegany (Allegheny) County, Pennsylvania in 1861 [10]

Canada Lightfoot migration to Canada +

Some of the first settlers of this family name were:

Lightfoot Settlers in Canada in the 18th Century
  • Heny Lightfoot, who landed in Nova Scotia in 1749
  • Mr. Richard Lightfoot U.E. who settled in Parr Town, Saint John, New Brunswick c. 1784 he was a member of the first Grand Jury [11]
Lightfoot Settlers in Canada in the 19th Century
  • Elenor Lightfoot, aged 36, who arrived in Saint John, New Brunswick aboard the ship "Billow" in 1833
  • George Lightfoot, aged 13, who arrived in Saint John, New Brunswick aboard the ship "Billow" in 1833
  • Patrick Lightfoot, aged 11, who arrived in Saint John, New Brunswick aboard the ship "Billow" in 1833
  • Andrew Lightfoot, aged 6, who arrived in Saint John, New Brunswick aboard the ship "Billow" in 1833
  • Jane Lightfoot, aged 9 months, who arrived in Saint John, New Brunswick aboard the ship "Billow" in 1833
  • ... (More are available in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.)

Australia Lightfoot migration to Australia +

Emigration to Australia followed the First Fleets of convicts, tradespeople and early settlers. Early immigrants include:

Lightfoot Settlers in Australia in the 18th Century
  • Mr. Samuel Lightfoot, (b. 1762), aged 25, English convict who was convicted in Exeter, Devon, England for 7 years for stealing, transported aboard the "Charlotte" on 13th May 1787, arriving in New South Wales, Australia, he died in 1818 [12]
Lightfoot Settlers in Australia in the 19th Century
  • Mr. Charles Lightfoot, British Convict who was convicted in Stafford, Staffordshire, England for 7 years, transported aboard the "Earl Cornwallis" in August 1800, arriving in New South Wales, Australia [13]
  • Mr. Samuel Lightfoot, English convict who was convicted in Pontefract, Yorkshire, England for 7 years, transported aboard the "Duke of Portland" in January 1807, arriving in New South Wales, Australia [14]
  • Thomas Lightfoot, English convict from Nottingham, who was transported aboard the "Asia" on September 3rd, 1820, settling in New South Wales, Australia [15]
  • Miss Sarah Lightfoot, (b. 1832), aged 17, Cornish housemaid travelling aboard the ship "Lysander" arriving in Port Phillip, New South Wales, Australia on 13th January 1849 [16]
  • Miss Sarah Lightfoot, (b. 1832), aged 17, Cornish general servant departing from Plymouth on 21st September 1848 aboard the ship "Lysander" arriving in Port Phillip, Victoria, Australia on 13th January 1849 [17]
  • ... (More are available in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.)

New Zealand Lightfoot migration to New Zealand +

Emigration to New Zealand followed in the footsteps of the European explorers, such as Captain Cook (1769-70): first came sealers, whalers, missionaries, and traders. By 1838, the British New Zealand Company had begun buying land from the Maori tribes, and selling it to settlers, and, after the Treaty of Waitangi in 1840, many British families set out on the arduous six month journey from Britain to Aotearoa to start a new life. Early immigrants include:

Lightfoot Settlers in New Zealand in the 19th Century
  • Mr. H Lightfoot, British settler travelling from London, UK aboard the ship "British Queen" arriving in Auckland, New Zealand on 30th August 1859 [18]
  • Mary Lightfoot, who arrived in Auckland, New Zealand aboard the ship "Bombay" in 1863
  • John Lightfoot, aged 24, who arrived in Bluff, New Zealand aboard the ship "Adamant" in 1875
  • Charlotte Lightfoot, aged 22, who arrived in Bluff, New Zealand aboard the ship "Adamant" in 1875
  • William J. Lightfoot, aged 34, who arrived in Wellington, New Zealand aboard the ship "Rakaia" in 1878
  • ... (More are available in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.)

Contemporary Notables of the name Lightfoot (post 1700) +

  • Gordon Lightfoot CC, O.Ont (b. 1938), Canadian folk singer and songwriter referred to as Canada's greatest songwriter and, internationally, as a folk-rock legend, recipient of sixteen Juno Awards, nominated for five Grammy Awards
  • David William Lightfoot (b. 1945), American linguist who served as an assistant director of the National Science Foundation from 2005 to 2009
  • Edwin Niblock Lightfoot (1925-2017), American chemical engineer and Hilldale Professor Emeritus in the Department of Chemical and Biological Engineering at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, the 2004 recipient of the National Medal of Science
  • Sheryl Lightfoot, American assistant professor in the First Nations Studies Program at UBC
  • William P. Lightfoot, American Democratic Party politician, Member, Platform Committee, Democratic National Convention, 2008; Presidential Elector for District of Columbia, 2012 [19]
  • W. W. Lightfoot, American Democratic Party politician, Delegate to Democratic National Convention from Texas, 1888 [19]
  • Phil M. Lightfoot, American politician, Mayor of Tuskegee, Alabama, 1956-59 [19]
  • James Ross Lightfoot (b. 1938), American Republican politician, U.S. Representative from Iowa, 1985-97; Candidate for U.S. Senator from Iowa, 1996; Candidate for Governor of Iowa, 1998 [19]
  • James R. Lightfoot, American politician, Member of Missouri State House of Representatives from St. Clair County, 1911-12 [19]
  • J. D. Lightfoot, American politician, Mayor of Chanute, Kansas, 1955-56 [19]
  • ... (Another 7 notables are available in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.)

Empress of Ireland
  • Mr. George Lightfoot, British Officers Steward from United Kingdom who worked aboard the Empress of Ireland and died in the sinking [20]
Grover Shoe factory
  • Mr. William Lightfoot (b. 1857), American employee of the Grover Shoe factory in Brockton, Massachusetts on 20th March 1905 when the boiler exploded and collapsed the wooden building; he survived with burns [21]
HMS Prince of Wales
  • Mr. Norman Anthony  Lightfoot (1921-1942), English Marine from Darwen, Lancashire, England, who sailed into battle on the HMS Prince of Wales and survived the sinking, was listed as missing and presumed killed during the evacuation of Singapore 1942 [22]
USS Arizona
  • Mr. Worth Ross Lightfoot, American Gunner's Mate Third Class working aboard the ship "USS Arizona" when she sunk during the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor on 7th December 1941, he died in the sinking [23]


Suggested Readings for the name Lightfoot +

  • The Descendants of Samuel Lightfoot and Rachel Milhous by Dorothy Z. Milhous.
  • The History of the Lightfoot and Shirley Families by Annie Lightfoot Leith.

  1. ^ Lower, Mark Anthony, Patronymica Britannica, A Dictionary of Family Names of the United Kingdom. London: John Russel Smith, 1860. Print.
  2. ^ Black, George F., The Surnames of Scotland Their Origin, Meaning and History. New York: New York Public Library, 1946. Print. (ISBN 0-87104-172-3)
  3. ^ Charnock, Richard, Stephen, Ludus Patronymicus of The Etymology of Curious Surnames. London: Trubner & Co., 60 Paternoster Row, 1868. Print.
  4. ^ Lewis, Samuel, A Topographical Dictionary of England. Institute of Historical Research, 1848, Print.
  5. ^ Williams, Dr Ann. And G.H. Martin, Eds., Domesday Book A Complete Translation. London: Penguin, 1992. Print. (ISBN 0-141-00523-8)
  6. ^ Mills, A.D., Dictionary of English Place-Names. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1991. Print. (ISBN 0-19-869156-4)
  7. ^ Reaney, P.H and R.M. Wilson, A Dictionary of English Surnames. London: Routledge, 1991. Print. (ISBN 0-415-05737-X)
  8. ^ Bardsley, C.W, A Dictionary of English and Welsh Surnames: With Special American Instances. Wiltshire: Heraldry Today, 1901. Print. (ISBN 0-900455-44-6)
  9. ^ https://namecensus.com/most_common_surnames.htm
  10. ^ Filby, P. William, Meyer, Mary K., Passenger and immigration lists index : a guide to published arrival records of about 500,000 passengers who came to the United States and Canada in the seventeenth, eighteenth, and nineteenth centuries. 1982-1985 Cumulated Supplements in Four Volumes Detroit, Mich. : Gale Research Co., 1985, Print (ISBN 0-8103-1795-8)
  11. ^ Rubincam, Milton. The Old United Empire Loyalists List. Genealogical Publishing Co., Inc, 1976. (Originally published as; United Empire Loyalists. The Centennial of the Settlement of Upper Canada. Rose Publishing Company, 1885.) ISBN 0-8063-0331-X
  12. ^ Convict Records of Australia (Retrieved 4th February 2021, retrieved from https://convictrecords.com.au/ships/charlotte)
  13. ^ Convict Records Voyages to Australia (Retrieved 13th August 2021). Retrieved from https://convictrecords.com.au/ships/earl-cornwallis
  14. ^ Convict Records Voyages to Australia (Retrieved 28th July 2021). Retrieved from https://convictrecords.com.au/ships/duke-of-portland
  15. ^ State Library of Queensland. (Retrieved 2016, October 27) Asia 1 voyage to Van Diemen's Land, Australia in 1820 with 192 passengers. Retrieved from http://www.convictrecords.com.au/ships/asia/1820
  16. ^ Cornwall Online Parish Clerks. (Retrieved 2018, May 30). Ships' Passenger Lists of Arrivals in New South Wales on (1828 - 1842, 1848 - 1849) [PDF]. Retrieved from http://www.opc-cornwall.org/Resc/pdfs/emigration_nsw_1838_on.pdf
  17. ^ Cornwall Online Parish Clerks. (Retreived 3rd May 2018). Retrieved from http://www.opc-cornwall.org/Resc/pdfs/emigration_australia_victoria.pdf
  18. ^ New Zealand Yesteryears Passenger Lists 1800 to 1900 (Retrieved 17th October 2018). Retrieved from http://www.yesteryears.co.nz/shipping/passlist.html
  19. ^ The Political Graveyard: Alphabetical Name Index. (Retrieved 2016, January 8) . Retrieved from http://politicalgraveyard.com/alpha/index.html
  20. ^ Commemoration Empress of Ireland 2014. (Retrieved 2014, June 17) . Retrieved from http://www.empress2014.ca/seclangen/listepsc1.html
  21. ^ California Digital Newspaper from 21st March 1905 (retrieved on 5th August 2021.) Retrieved from https://cdnc.ucr.edu/?a=d&d=SFC19050321.2.19&e=-------en--20--1--txt-txIN--------1
  22. ^ HMS Prince of Wales Crew members. (Retrieved 2014, April 9) . Retrieved from http://www.forcez-survivors.org.uk/biographies/listprincecrew.html
  23. ^ Pearl Harbour: USS Arizona Casualties List Pearl Harbour December 7, 1941. (Retrieved 2018, July 31st). Retrieved from http://pearl-harbor.com/arizona/casualtylist.html


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