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Smith Surname History

While the surname Smith probably originated in the United Kingdom (the earliest recorded instance of Smith was in 975 in England), the history of the surname spans many cultures and many times.  Most probably, the surname was originally related to someone who was a blacksmith, a goldsmith, or any type of person who worked with metals and would have been taken by those who practiced the profession and subsequently their family.  However, as time went on, the surname was also taken due to life circumstances.  For instance, many Native Americans took the name (which was common even in Colonial times) in order to make dealings with the colonists easier.  Also, freed slaves would take the name Smith because that was the name of the slaveholder.  In other cases, because of the frequency of the surname, Smith was often taken as an alias.  Especially during World War 1 and World War 2, in the United States, the German name Schmidt or Schmitt would be changed to "Smith" - "americanizing" it in order to hide German heritage. So the history of the Smith family (and related names) is one of the most complex and widely misunderstood family histories.

The surname Smith is a common surname in the United Kingdom, the United States, Canada, and other English speaking countries. This surname probably originated with "smith" - one who works metals - and is of Old English origin.  However, many people have taken the surname Smith for a variety of reasons (see "Smith History") so having the surname Smith does not necessarily mean that a particular family named Smith is of Anglo-Saxon roots.  There are many variations of "Smith" such as "Smyth" and "Smythe" in English but the surname, when originally related to a profession in other lands, may also be Schmidt or Schmieder or many other spellings.  Because of the wide variety of reasons for the taking of the surname Smith (and the changing to "Smith" from the original language), not all families named Smith are related.

Smith Discussion

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Orville Smith Union Colonel Charles Somers SMITH, GAR Infantry Gray Reserves, Philadelphia and spouse Maria Wilhelmina PALESKE. Is anyone else researching this family? I have no solid proof, but I Believe Charles and Maria could be my great great grandparents, parents of Charles Smith, born 1829 in Philadelphia, married Emeline Champion of southern NJ, and relocated to New Brunswick, NJ abt 1850, then to East Brunswick abt 1870.
Nov 14, 2013 · Reply

Smith Country of Origin, Nationality, & Ethnicity

The surname Smith originated in the area of the United Kingdom (especially England and Ireland) during Anglo-Saxon times.  But many families used a translation of "Smith" in their nativve lands and later adopted the surname Smith rather than the original surname. So a "Smith" family may be from the United Kingdom, the United States of America, Canada, Australia - or any country to which the family emigrated or in which the family "anglicized" their surname. Originally an Anglo-Saxon name, the "Smith" famiy was Caucasian.  However, the Smith family can be of any nationality and ethnicity since people all over the world have adopted "Smith" as their surname.

Smith Meaning & Etymology

Originally, the name Smith was an Anglo-Saxon (Old English) term meaning "one who works in metal."  However, some think that the surname "Smith" may also have been related to the word "smite," which was linked with being a warrior.

Smith Life Expectancy

According to our database of 980,471 people with the last name Smith that have a birth and death date listed:

Life Expectancy


Smith Family Tree

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Famous People named Smith

Captain William Smith Born 1790 Founded discovered the South Shetland Islands

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Most Common Smith First Names

According to our database of 1,644,671 people with the last name Smith that have a first name listed, these are the most common first names:

  • Virgil 5.3%
  • William 2.9%
  • John 2.7%
  • James 2.6%
  • Mary 1.9%
  • Robert 1.7%
  • Charles 1.6%
  • George 1.4%
  • Thomas 1.1%
  • Joseph 0.8%
  • Henry 0.7%
  • Edward 0.7%
  • Margaret 0.7%
  • Richard 0.6%
  • David 0.6%
  • Elizabeth 0.6%
  • Frank 0.6%
  • Smith 0.6%
  • Walter 0.6%
  • Helen 0.5%
  • Dorothy 0.5%
  • Arthur 0.5%
  • Harry 0.5%
  • Harold 0.5%
  • Donald 0.5%
  • Albert 0.5%
  • Willie 0.4%
  • Ruth 0.4%
  • Paul 0.4%
  • Raymond 0.4%
  • Anna 0.4%
  • Alice 0.4%
  • Annie 0.4%
  • Michael 0.4%
  • Kenneth 0.4%
  • Clarence 0.3%
  • J 0.3%
  • Samuel 0.3%
  • Sarah 0.3%
  • Florence 0.3%
  • Fred 0.3%
  • Roy 0.3%
  • Ethel 0.3%
  • Howard 0.3%
  • Frederick 0.3%
  • Alfred 0.3%
  • Frances 0.3%
  • Ralph 0.3%
  • Catherine 0.3%
  • Mildred 0.3%

Smith Pronunciation & Spelling Variations

In English,  variations of Smith may be Smyth, Smythe,Smijth Smithman, Smithson and Smithfield In German, Schmid, Schmidt, Schmitt, Schmitz, and Schmied  In Yiddissh: Schmieder In southern Dutch: De Smid, De Smedt, Desmedt, De Smet, Smeets, and Smets, and in northern Dutch and Afrikaans: Smit, Smid, Smidt, Smed, De Smet These are just a few of the variations of the "Smith" surname.

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