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2,405 study surnames with us
and a further 6,120 variant names.

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About the study

The surname LIGHTBODY has been recorded reliably in my family for over 250 years. When a LIGHTBODY great uncle left me a copy of WILLIAM LIGHTBODY's “LIGHTBODY Records” (and I realised “our” branch was featured in the book) my interest in the surname grew. Later, William's nephew, PETER LIGHTBODY passed on to me much of the LIGHTBODY data he and his uncle had collected, including the notes for "LIGHTBODY Records" and "LIGHTBODY English Records".

Since then I have been updating, expanding and amending all the world-wide records that I have gathered and been given. I am very grateful to all those who have shared their LIGHTBODY information with me.

Variant names


Name origin

Although the name LIGHTBODY could be considered to mean “nimble fellow”, many LIGHTBODYs have believed that the “t” in the name should not be sounded and that the name is of French origin - even that there was a connection with William the Conqueror and his entourage.

This idea became strangely and possibly relevant when I noted the French surname LEBAUDY. Research by Harry Poole in France revealed that most LEBAUDYs with telephone directory entries actually lived in Normandy......

There are also the surnames LEEBODY and LEABODY which are found mainly in Ireland and which could be regarded as intermediate surnames between LEBAUDY and LIGHTBODY. (One Scottish branch even persisted in using the spelling “LIGHBODY”.) The late Nelson McKelvie’s photograph of a ROBERT LIGHTBODY’s gravestone in CREEVYCARNONAN burial ground in Ireland became highly significant when it was later discovered that ROBERT’s OWN SON registered his father's death as “Robert LEEBODY”.

Sometimes LEEBODY/LEABODY surnames in Ireland are registered in Scotland as LIGHTBODY. For instance Mary LEEBODY married Hugh SPRATT in May 1859 in County Down. But she was “Mary SPROTT, ms LIGHTBODY”, when she died in Glasgow in 1891. (Her brother ISAAC's surname was given as LIGHBODY in 1871 when he was living with the SPROAT family in Glasgow.)

Historical occurrences of the name

One of the earliest references to the name was JAMES LICHTBODY in the Register of the Great Seal in Scotland in 1501.

Selkirk Protocol Books refer to “A€nnual rent of 13s 4d from the tenement of the deceased JAMES LYCHTBODY” in July 1542.

An ANDREW LIGHBODY is mentioned in 1714 on the Armagh Rent Rolls, Eden Knapa, Country Armagh, Ireland.

GABRIEL LIGHTBODY was counted in the 1790-1830 Census Returns in New York State, USA.

Distribution of the name

The distribution of the surname LIGHTBODY in Scotland, England and Wales in the 1881 census

The distribution of the surname LIGHTBODY in Scotland, England and Wales in the 1881 census

The name and variants are mainly found in the Scottish Borders and Lanarkshire. Central Scotland becomes important and there was the usual influx of LIGHTBODYs/LEEBODYs etc from Ireland to the West of Scotland and to Liverpool. Many branches have descendants in the UK, but for other LIGHTBODY families in the “New World” much work still needs to be done to establish their true links with people and places. Passenger lists now provide valuable data as to LIGHTBODY emigrants and to those who returned on “visits” to the UK. “Chain migration”, when one family member follows another, to a new life elsewhere, can be an important consideration too.


I have built up extensive files, indexes, census returns, photographs, MIs, references and correspondence regarding the many Lightbodys/Leebodys who have lived and those who still flourish. Some cities, like Glasgow, have invaluable local records, not all of which are online.

Those interested in an important family who hailed from Dumfriess-shire and became successful in the city of Liverpool in the 18th and 19th centuries should find "The Diary of Hannah Lightbody 1786-1790", edited by David Sekers, a very useful source of information about her family and her life in Liverpool.

I also have many US records including Lightbodys featured in Find My Grave and Social Security Indexes, also in telephone directories and local papers. Australian Voters’ Rolls, MIs and New Zealand records and others are also among my references.

Several families have already compiled their own PRINTED family histories - unpublished but very useful - which they have shared with me. These histories can also be shared with family members, ensuring that the information can be handed down though the years. Your descendants and other relatives will have much cause to be grateful to you if you leave a record like this. What better memorial can you have?


If you are a male LIGHTBODY of proven LIGHTBODY ancestry, then having your DNA tested can be a very useful way to find out more about the branch (documented or undocumented) to which you belong. The test is simple (no ‘blood’ or ‘needles’, gentlemen!) and worth doing. There are many Lightbody branches in the UK, Eire and in the New World who are probably related, but the documentary PROOF has not, as yet, been found (or even “clues”). So many “earliest known ancestors” slip back into the mid or early 18th century, and ag labs and carters often only exist in their children’s death certificates. DNA is timeless.

If you live in the USA and Canada you can contact Harold E. Lightbody, from Illinois, USA, who has set up a Lightbody DNA Project at Family Tree DNA. Please go to the link below for more information.


Lightbody DNA Project

If you live in the UK, I may be able to help with advice and further details. I have had my mtDNA tested - NOT useful for the LIGHTBODY project but I now know what it all entails. (Hi, I’m U5a2a - Ursula.) If you have already had your DNA tested and are willing to share the results with me, I would be very grateful. All this in confidence, of course.

If you would like to know more, find out if I have information about your branch, or contribute data to my files, then please contact me.