Recorded in the spellings of Smith, Smithe, Smythe, and the patronymics Smiths, and Smithson, this is the most popular surname in the English speaking world by a considerable margin. Of pre 7th century Anglo-Saxon origins, it derives from the word 'smitan' meaning 'to smite' and as such is believed to have described not a worker in iron, but a soldier, one who smote. That he also probably wore armour, which he would have been required to repair, may have lead to the secondary meaning. The famous Anglo-Saxon Chronicles sometimes known as the first newspaper, in the 9th century a.d.
uses the expression 'War-Smith' to describe a valiant warrior, whilst the later medieval Guild List of specialist trades has blacksmith, whitesmith, tinsmith, goldsmith and silversmith amongst its many members, but no trade of 'smith'. These descriptions of the skilled workers of the Middle Ages were exact, and it is our opinion after studying many early records that the original smiths were probably the guards of the local lord of the manor. This would account for the singular popularity of the name, as the early social records indicate that the trades of tailor and baker were much more prevalent than that of Smith in any form. What is certain is that over five hundred coats of arms have been granted to Smith nameholders, surely an indication of the soldier background, rather than a humble ironworker. The great family Smith is 'first' in all major cities of the English speaking world, yet curiously the greatest concentration of Smith's are in Aberdeenshire, Scotland! Why this should be so is far from clear. Not surprisingly the Smith name was one of the very first into the New American colonies, being held by the famous John Smith (1580 - 1631), explorer and writer, who helped to found the state of Virginia. He was reputedly saved from execution by Pocahontas, the Indian chief's daughter, who died in England in 1622. The first recorded spelling of the family name, and probably the first surname recorded anywhere in the world, is that of Eceard Smid. This was dated 975 a.d., in the English Surname Register for County Durham, during the reign of King Edward of England, known as "The Martyr", 975 - 979 a.d.
Clearly of British origin, it derives from the English term smith which means "blacksmith".
The Smith surname is well represented in Italy, with lineages in western Lombardy, Veneto, Friuli, Tuscany, Rome and the Neapolitan area, and presences in Sicily.
Discovering the historical origins of Smith is an incredibly exciting journey that takes us back to the ancestors and relatives who built this lineage. Like most surnames, the history of the surname Smith is a thorny and surprising journey into the past in order to find out the origin of the surname Smith, which leads us to have more knowledge about those who bear the surname Smith, their origin, their coat of arms, the bibliography in which it appears... It is possible to trace their genealogy and, in addition to the original places of Smith, we know where it is possible to find people with the surname Smith today.
View complete list of Smith in the world
The history of Smith is an interesting sequence of events that were protagonized by the people who have held the surname Smith throughout history, and it is possible to trace this history back to the first bearers of the surname Smith. Their feats, their way of life, the places they lived, their family relationships, the jobs they held... All of this is crucial for anyone who, like you, is interested in having more information about the historical, heraldic, coat of arms, and nobility of the surname Smith. In the following lines, you can find everything we have been able to compile about the surname Smith. However, if you have more information that you would like to share, we would greatly appreciate your contribution to expand the knowledge of people who, like you, are looking to increase their knowledge about the surname Smith.
Unfortunately, we do not have any more historical information about Smith than the one we have provided with pleasure. We invite those who visit us on this website to analyze the recommended bibliography and to come back often, since we often receive valuable collaborations from other people interested in the origin and history of surnames that could have information of special interest about the surname Smith, and that we would update on this website as soon as possible (after a previous verification). Similarly, if you consider yourself one of those people, we urge you to support us and send us the information about Smith that is available to you, thanking you in advance for your detail.
There have probably been some significant Smith throughout the history of humanity, even if, for some reason, not all of their contributions were included in the chronicles of the time or their data has not come down to the present day. Unfortunately, not all of the important contributions of people who have carried the surname Smith were taken into account at the time by the chroniclers of the time. Although a surname has the ability to link a person to a famous lineage and a glorious coat of arms, it is individuals who, throughout their lives and by virtue of some outstanding or important achievements for the society in which they lived, give their surnames renown and it is possible to establish prominent lineages. For this reason, we want to highlight on this website those people with the surname Smith who, for some reason, have left their mark on the course of history.
Based on all the research we have been able to gather so far, we can say that there is information available about the history, genealogy, and heraldry of the surname Smith thanks to bibliographic sources. This means that we can discover more about its original meaning, origin, history, coat of arms, and heraldry. Our recommendation is to consult the following sources if you want to conduct research on the surname Smith, as well as many other surnames:
These sources are essential for taking a step forward in the study of Smith, and of surnames in general.