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English Origin

The name Smith is an occupational name for a metal worker (the blacksmith). It is derived from the Old English word "smid," probably derived form "smitan," which meant "to strike with a hammer." As metal worker was such a common and important profession in Medieval times, this name and its cognates are extremely widespread throughout the British Isles and Europe. However, there is some debate as to why the occupation of blacksmith would lead to such a populous surname. One might expect that Farmer, also an occupational name, but with far more people involved in the profession in the Middle Ages, would today be a much more populous surname than Smith.

First found in Durham, in present day Northumbria (North-Eastern England) where an Olde English version of the name is cited in circa 975, almost 100 years before the Normans would invade this part of England.[1]

Motto Translated

By Divine Providence.

Scottish Origin

It is thought that the ancestors of most Scottish bearers of Smith were Picts, an ancient Scottish tribe. Although Smith appears to be an occupational name for a blacksmith, it has been suggested that when surnames came into use in Scotland, several different families simply 'took on' the name whether they had been blacksmiths or not. Thus, Smith is a classic example of a polygenetic surname that was developed in a number of different locations and adopted by various families independently.

First found in northern England and Scotland, where they held a family seat from ancient times.[2]

Motto Translated

Always faithful.

Dutch Origin

First found in Holland, where the name became noted for its many branches in the region, each house acquiring a status and influence which was envied by the princes of the region.[3]

German Origin

First found in the northern provinces that were later to make up Prussia, where the name emerged in mediaeval times as one of the notable families of the region.[4]

Irish Origin

The Smith surname derives from the Irish Gaelic name Mac an Ghabhain, which means "son of the blacksmith." As such, the name was probably originally occupational. It has often appeared in its Anglicized form Smith.[5]

First found in County Cavan where the Sept originated.

Motto Translated

He drives forth the darkness and the foe.


Smith surname on Geni

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