The Brightley family of Suffolk and Cambridgeshire

The origins of the Brightley family were somewhat of a mystery until a census entry for my 4x Great Grandfather John Brightwell in 1851 revealed a place of birth as 'Eldon, Suffolk'.

After researching this placename, it became evident that it was most likely to be an incorrect spelling of Elveden, Suffolk, England. A spelling that Genuki also suggested as a variant of Elveden.

The surname of Brightley has also been victim of many variants frequently including Brightle, and when tracking down a copy of the Elveden parish registers at Bury St. Edmunds Records Office, I was soon presented with more - Brightwell, Brightall, Brightwall all in the parish of 'Eldon'. I was pleased to see the surname appear here and although some of the dates are a few years out, I feel that there must be a connection - or just two huge coincidences, rather than just the one.

Just under 200 years after a Robert Brightwell farmed the fields of Elveden, I lived and was schooled there. The Brightwell family occupied Elveden (or Eldon as it was then) between at least 1784 and 1806. Unfortunately the parish register appears to be in poor condition (I was viewing a microfiche copy of it) and it is difficult to read or see the writing.

The Brightle/Brightley family appear for the first time in Littleport, Cambridgeshire in 1806 when my 4x Great Grandparents John Brightwell and Elizabeth Brown were married.

Variants of the Brightley surname

Throughout my research, I've seen a few different variations for the Brightley surname, including:

  • Brightall
  • Brightle
  • Brightley
  • Brightly
  • Brightwall
  • Brightwell

Brightley family connections

The Brightley family is connected to only a few known ancestral families so far: