Recorded in the spellings of Arrow, Arrowsmith, Harrowsmith and Harrismith, this is quite a rare English surname. It describes a maker of the iron points of the arrow, which were specially tempered in order to pierce armour. It is one of the historical misconceptions of ancient times, that the countries of Europe spent their time at war. This is not so, most people had enough to do surviving in peace, and war was generally left to those who derived a living from it. These in numbers were very small, and probably included the arrow makers. The surname 'Fletcher' is often associated with the making of flights for arrows, and therefore logically there should be as many 'Arrowsmiths' as'Fletchers' in the surnames list, but this is far from the case. The discrepancy arises because most original 'fletchers' were not makers of 'flights', but 'fleshers', people who cleaned animal skins to prepare the leather. The guild list of England for the year 1400 gives 'Arow-heders, maltemen, and Cornmongers' as acceptable trades. Early examples of the recordings include: Roger le Aruesmith of Staffordshire in 1278, William le Arwesmyth of Essex in 1324, and Johanes Arrowsmyth of Yorkshire, in the 1379 Poll Tax rolls for that county.
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