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Smith Family History
Family spelling variants include Smithe, Smeeth, Smyth, Smythe, Smye, Smy, Smiths.
There are approximately 4,296,003 Smith family members around the world. In general you can double this figure to include those related to the Smith names to allow for those connected to the name through maiden name connections.
It is estimated that the largest group of Smith family members live in USA with 2,975,649 (69.3%) members, England with 632,690 (14.7%), Canada with 192,207 (4.5%), Australia with 183,242 (4.3%), South Africa with 182,680 (4.3%), Scotland with 64,034 (1.5%), Ireland with 26,159 (0.6%), Wales with 25,670 (0.6%) and New Zealand with 13,672 (0.3%) members.
It is an English and Scottish occupational name, and comes from the Middle English ‘smith’ (Old English smið), denoting a worker in metal, especially iron, such as a blacksmith or farrier. It may have derived from smitan ‘to strike, hammer’). During the medieval period, as well as making horseshoes, smiths would have forged swords, weapons and armour.
In Scotland and Ireland, it was sometimes written as per the Gaelic Mac Gobhann, Irish Mac Gabhann meaning ‘son of the smith’, similarly McGowan.
Also, an English locative or occupational name from Middle English smithe , smethe ‘smithy, forge’ (Old English smiððe, smeðe). It may be topographic, for someone who lived in or by a blacksmith’s shop, occupationally as a blacksmith or toponymic for someone from a place so named, such as Smeeth (Kent) or Smitha in King’s Nympton (Devon).
The English surname has absorbed Dutch Smith and German and Jewish (Ashkenazic) Schmidt, by assimilation and translation, cognates and equivalents including many other languages.
In Wales the earliest examples of the surname are generally confined to certain parts of the country, including parishes near to the border with England as well as some southern Pembrokeshire parishes and parts of Glamorganshire where the Anglo-Norman influence was most evident. Later migration during the 19th century into the industrial areas of Wales brought more Smith families into the country.
Early bearers of the surname include: Laurence de Smethe, 1275 in Hundred Rolls (Kent); John de la Smythe, 1311 in Assize Rolls (Devon); William atte Smithe, 1313 in Ancient Deeds i (Sussex); John atter Smythe, 1330 in Subsidy Rolls (Devon); Robert atte Smyth, 1332 in Subsidy Rolls (Sussex); Guydo atter Smytthe, 1333 in Subsidy Rolls (Devon); Ralph atte Smythe, 1370 in Assize Rolls (Devon); Willelmus atte Smethe, 1377 in Poll Tax (Fairfield, Kent); Johannes de Smethe, 1379 in Poll Tax (Sheffield, WR Yorks); Johan atte Smithe, 1379 in Poll Tax (Mountfield, Sussex); Willelmus atte Smythe, 1381 in Poll Tax (Bramley, Surrey); Dorathia Smith, 1538 in IGI (Bayford, Herts); Esabell Smith, 1538 in IGI (Kirkby Lonsdale, Westm); Joan Smith, 1538 in IGI (Sandwich, Kent); Johis Smith, 1542 in IGI (Hennock, Devon).
By 1881, the surname was widespread, especially in Kent where there were 14,641 Smith family members recorded on that year's census. It was also a common surname in Nottinghamshire with 7,627 occurrences, and in Gloucestershire where 2,034 Smiths lived in and around Bristol.
In 1881, most Smith men were recorded as being agricultural labourers, followed by general labourers and farmers, while many worked as coal miners.
The 1891 census includes 412,363 references to the surname in England and Wales as a whole, with a further 47,085 in Scotland.
SOME NOTABLE SMITHS FROM HISTORY
George Smith was English convict from Kent, who was transported aboard the ship 'Ann' in August 1809, settling in New South Wales, Australia.
The noted Charles Smith (1715-1756), was born in Waterford and Ireland's early topographer and county historian. His excellent county histories are a great source of information on 18th century Ireland.
Worthington George Smith (1835 – 1917) was an English cartoonist and illustrator, archaeologist, plant pathologist, and mycologist. His expertise was in fungi, which he collected, studied, and illustrated, writing over 200 articles and papers, as well as several books. His first major work in 1867 was to produce coloured illustrations of poisonous and edible fungi.
Marilynn Louise Smith (1929 – 2019) was an American professional golfer, who was one of the thirteen founders of the LPGA in 1950. She won two major championships and 21 LPGA Tour events in total. She was a member of the World Golf Hall of Fame.
1881, 1891 Census
1881 Census in Kent
1881 Census in Bristol
1881 Census in Nottinghamshire
Dictionary of American Family Homes, P Hanks OUP 2003
Homes of Family Names in Great Britain, H.B. Guppy, London 1890
The Oxford Dictionary of Family Names in Britain and Ireland, P.Hanks, Coats, McClure OUP 2016
1860 Lower, Mark A Patronymica Britannica: a dictionary of the family names of the United Kingdom, London: J.R Smith. Public Domain
1857 Arthur, William An Etymological Dictionary of Family and Christian Names. New York: Sheldon, Blakeman. Public Domain
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