What are the origins of the Lightowlers surname?

The earliest recorded information known is that the name comes from Littleborough near Rochdale in Lancashire, England (Refer to Fishwick's book in links).

The arms on the home page are my attempt at recreating those depicted in Littleborough Parish church (see images). In heraldry speak - Lihtolers de Lihtolers - vert. a lion rampant, or, charged with galtraps sable. In plain english - a green shield with a gold lion covered in black galtraps. The colours and emblems all have significance, and it would appear we were a dangerous lot!

Green / Vert - Symbol of : Freedom, Beauty, Joy, Health, Hope

Gold / Or - Symbol of : Understanding, Respect, Virtue, Majesty, Generosity.

Black / Sable - Symbol of : Mourning, Constancy

The lion has always held a high place in heraldry as the emblem of deathless courage, and, hence, that of a valiant warrior. It is said to be a lively image of a good soldier, who must be "valiant in courage, strong of body, politic in council and a foe to fear."

A caltrap or galtrap, and sometimes a cheval trap, was an ancient military instrument with four points, arranged so that when it was thrown on the ground, it always had one point pointing up. Caltraps were scattered in the path of an enemy to impede and endanger horses. The emblem of the caltrap indicates a fierce warrior in battle.

Lightowlers in middle English is a direct translation from Lihtolers (Lihtolres, Lihtalres or Lihtalers) in old English (low saxon). Light (Liht) meaning sparse or not dense, and owlers (olers etc.) meaning Alder trees. In Littleborough in the 13th Century it appears that Lightowlers was the name of an estate and a farm, but the owners were Lihtolres. Which came first the place name or the surname? Are we descendents of Saxons, Normans, Brigantes or Vikings or even Romans?

In the absence of hard evidence, I can only guess at the answers.

I found this site (March 2010) - Rochdale's Surprising History - no answers to the last question, but gives more places to look!

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