The name Light is of Anglo-Saxon origin and derives its name from one of two sources. The first source being the ancient English word lioht. This word translates to mean agile or energetic. The second source is from the medieval English leoht. This word translates to mean joyful or glad. In this context, it is believed the words may have been originally used as nicknames.
Surnames in Britain prior to the Norman conquest were largely unheard of. In the small settlements and villages which existed during earlier times, residents found little need for surnames as everyone in these communities new each other and a given name would usually suffice. However, with the passage of time, population growth and expansions of communities as villages gave way to towns and cities, it became necessary to add a qualifier to a people's names to distinguish them, one from another. Therefore one person may have been identified by their given name plus their occupation while another may have been identified by their given name and one of their parent's names. The introduction of surnames by the Norman aristocracy after the invasion seemed to be the next logical step in this evolution. There was a boundless supply from which surnames could be formed, in addition to the use of patriarchal/matriarchal names or reference to the individuals occupation, there were things such as defining physical traits, a familiar geographical location or a topographical landmark found near the individuals home or birthplace, the name of the village in which the person lived, and so much more. Soon, surnames would come not just to represent an individual but whole families.
There often exists variations in spelling of many surnames, as with many given names which date back to the early centuries. The variation in spelling of both given and surnames during this time period can be attributed to a lack of continuity regarding guidelines for spelling which was compounded by the diversity of languages in use in European countries at this time. The variations in the spelling of the surname Light include but not limited to; Light; Lyte; Leight; Light; Lett; Litte; Lite; and Litt among others.
The earliest record of any variation of this surname is that of Thomas de Leht which appears in the Kent tax rolls from 1272. These rolls, were a series of census and tax records kept by the English Treasury by order of King Edward I, with the oldest dating back to the 12th century. They hold the distinction of being the oldest consecutive set of records detailing English governance in the United Kingdom. These records span a period of over 700 years and have proven invaluable to researches over the years.
The first recorded immigrant to America bearing the surname or any variation of the spelling were brothers, Elais and Richard Light who arrived in 1636 and settled in Virginia. George Light landed and settled in Virginia in 1648.
There were also many immigrants to the British Common Wealth countries of Australia and New Zealand bearing the surname Light. William Light landed in 1836 and settled in Canada as did brothers, Andrew and William Light who landed in 1849 and settled in Adelaide, Australia. Philip and Mary Ann Light along with their children, William, Henrietta, and George, landed in 1874 and settled in Hawkes Bay, New Zealand.
Worldwide, the highest concentration of people with the surname Light are found in the United Kingdom, the United States, Australia, New Zealand, and Canada. By state, the largest percentile of those with the surname Light live in Alabama, North Carolina, Tennessee, Virginia, and West Virginia.
There are many persons of note who bear the surname Light. Richard Upjohn Light was born in Kalamazoo, Michigan. His mother was Winifred Upjohn, daughter of William E. Upjohn, founder of Upjohn Company.
Light was renowned for the many acomplishments he achieved in his life; he was a neurosurgeon, having received his medical degree from the University of Michigan; he was an aviator, he flew around the world in 1934; he was a cinematographer, he often took aerial photographs; and he had been president of the American Geographical Society.
H. Wayne Light, PhD is an American psychologist, scholar, and author. His main interest is aimed toward childhood education. He has researched and written books on the subject. Dr. Light has also developed a system to determine if children should be retained to ensure the child receives full benefit of their education. Dr. Light also worked for many years as a police psychologist, lending his expertise in various law enforcement situations.