Lightforthay History, Family Crest & Coats of Arms

The origins of the Anglo-Saxon name Lightforthay come from its first bearer, who was a swift runner. The surname Lightforthay 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 Lightforthay family

The surname Lightforthay 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 Lightforthay family

This web page shows only a small excerpt of our Lightforthay 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 Lightforthay History in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

Lightforthay Spelling Variations

The first dictionaries that appeared in the last few hundred years did much to standardize the English language. Before that time, spelling variations in names were a common occurrence. The language was changing, incorporating pieces of other languages, and the spelling of names changed with it. Lightforthay has been spelled many different ways, including Lightfoot, Lightford, Lightfoote and others.

Early Notables of the Lightforthay 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 Lightforthay Notables in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

Ireland Migration of the Lightforthay family to Ireland

Some of the Lightforthay 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.

Migration of the Lightforthay family

Thousands of English families in this era began to emigrate the New World in search of land and freedom from religious and political persecution. Although the passage was expensive and the ships were dark, crowded, and unsafe, those who made the voyage safely were rewarded with opportunities unavailable to them in their homeland. Research into passenger and immigration lists has revealed some of the very first Lightforthays to arrive in North America: John Lightfoot settled in Virginia in 1610; ten years before the "Mayflower"; another John Lightfoote settled in Virginia in 1623; William Lightfoot settled in Virginia in 1689.



  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)


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