Origin of Smith

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.

  1. United States United States
  2. England England
  3. Canada Canada
  4. Australia Australia
  5. South Africa South Africa
  6. Scotland Scotland
  7. Jamaica Jamaica
  8. Sierra Leone Sierra Leone
  9. Wales Wales
  10. Mozambique Mozambique
  11. Nigeria Nigeria
  12. Liberia Liberia

The surname Smith. Genealogy, origin, history, meaning, and significance

Adhering to what we know about the way surnames originated, it is possible to offer a realistic explanation of the origins of smith.

The surname Smith around the world

History of Smith

In the following lines, you will find everything we have been able to gather about the surname smith.

Notable Figures Named Smith

If you or someone you know bears the surname smith, you could potentially build illustrious lineages through your efforts and virtues. It is our desire to highlight in this section those individuals with the surname smith who, for various reasons, have left their mark on the course of history.

The surname Smith and its bibliographic sources

Accessing the archives of the town or towns where your ancestors were born and lived is, of course, a good way to trace the origins of smith.


These sources are essential for initiating the understanding of smith, and at the same time, of surnames in general.

  1. Smeth
  2. Smit
  3. Smite
  4. Smithe
  5. Smitt
  6. Smyth
  7. Smidth
  8. Smth
  9. Sumith
  10. Scmith
  11. Samith
  12. Shmith
  13. Smmith
  14. Smita
  15. Smoth
  16. Smuth
  17. Sameth
  18. Samit
  19. Schmith
  20. Smati
  21. Smet
  22. Smid
  23. Smida
  24. Smidt
  25. Smiht
  26. Smithee
  27. Smithey
  28. Smitty
  29. Smooth
  30. Smtih
  31. Smythe
  32. Snaith
  33. Sneith
  34. Simth
  35. Swinth
  36. Simita
  37. Smið
  38. Smatt
  39. Smitto
  40. Smety
  41. Szmit
  42. Smt
  43. Smata
  44. Simiti
  45. Simeth
  46. Smat
  47. Smidi
  48. Samite
  49. Smeeth
  50. Saint