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Surname:  Smith
Branch:  Smith
Origins:  Scottish
More Info:  Scotland

Background:  The name Smith comes from the metalsmiths, blacksmiths, bladesmiths, silversmiths, goldsmiths, and other workers in metal who supplied all of Scotland with swords, dirks, sgian dubhs, jewelry, spears, buckles, armour, and most anything else made of metal. Although the Gaelic name for Smith is Gow, Gowan, or MacGowan, the anglicized form of the name has been used in Scotland since the twelfth century. Today Smith is the most common name in Scotland.

Motto:  Luceo non Uro, I Shine not Burn.
Arms:  Az. three flames ppr. on a chief ar. a thistle vert.
Crest:  A Minerva`s head ppr.

View the Heraldry Dictionary for help.

Because of its origins, there are Smiths everywhere in Scotland, although the earliest recorded instance of its use as a surname is in Aberdeen in 1398. It is thought that the ancestors of most Scottish bearers of Smith were Picts, an ancient tribe predating much of British history.

Although Smith appears to be an occupational name for a blacksmith, it has been suggested that when surnames were mandated by British law and 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. The Venerable Bede, the "Father of English History" who was born in 673, tells us that the Pictish race, one of the founding races of the British Isles, arrived in Scotland from Brittany about the 5th century B.C.

The ancestors of the surname Smith are thought to have come from this founding race.

King Nechtan was one of the recorded Pictish Monarchs, in about 724 A.D. The Picts were invaded form the north by the Orcadian Vikings who penetrated as far south as Caithness. They were left with a territory on the eastern coast of Scotland from Aberdeen, south to Edinburgh.

Manuscripts such as the Inquisitio, the Black Book of the Exchequer, the Exchequer Rolls of Scotland, The Ragman Rolls, the Chronicles of the Picts and Scots, and various other cartularies of parishes in Scotland were used to research this name. From these archives and other sources, the Smith surname was found in northern England and Scotland, where they held a family seat from ancient times.

In trying to establish a single source for this amazing, monumentally prolific surname Smith, it is asserted that they desceded from Neil Cromb, a Chieftain who flourished in 1150. He was the third son of Murdoch, Chief of the Clan Chattan, a confederation of twenty-six Clans of which Smith was a member Clan.

During our research the surname Smith was found in many different forms and spellings. Spelling variations of this name include Smith, Smyth, Smythe, and some of these versions are still used today. These changes in spelling frequently occurred, even between father and son. One clanswoman on record was born with one spelling of her name, married with another, and died with yet another.

In the following centuries, bearers of this name could be found in the territories of North Britain and were later shown to have branched to the midlands of England, Scotland, and Ireland.

Mystified historians contend that the surname also included such traditional surnames and Shoesmith, Shearsmith, Whitesmith, Arsmith, Sucksmiths, Sexsmith, and many more. The surname Smith is also famous in more recent years as being a hotel name of anonymity. None of these explanations are satisfactory to the honour of these phenomenal name.

The name Smith since its first records in the 13th and 14th century has proliferated, births over deaths, annually, by an increase of between 35 and 40% while the rest of the population has enjoyed and average of between 5 and 10%.

If Niel Cromb was the stalwart scion of this family name, he created a race unto itself, having little to do with Blacksmiths or Sexsmiths.

Curiously, if this is a trade name, as is popularly believed, is it not suprising that Farmer, a like occupational name, much more numerous in the Middle Ages, would not have been considerably more populous than the Smiths in the present day?

As late as 1853, the reproduction rate of the Smiths was still at a 38% increase.

Name Variations:  Smith, Chattan, Gow, MacFarlane, MacIntosh, MacPherson, Smeayth, Smyith, Smyithe, Smytht, Shoesmith, Shearsmith, Whitesmith, Arsmith, Sucksmiths, Sexsmith.

One or more of the following publications has been referenced for this article.
The General Armory; Sir Bernard Burke - 1842.
A Handbook of Mottoes; C.N. Elvin - 1860.
Scottish Clans and Tartans; Neil Grant - 2000.
Scottish Clan and Family Encyclopedia; George Way of Plean and Romilly Squire - 1994.
Scottish Clans and Tartans; Ian Grimble - 1973.
World Tartans; Iain Zaczek - 2001.
Clans and Families of Scotland; Alexander Fulton - 1991.

The beautiful heraldry artwork for this family is available to purchase on select products from the Celtic Radio Store. We look forward to filling your order!





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