This interesting and unusual surname is of Anglo-Saxon origin, and is from an occupational name for a worker in gold, derived from a compound of the Olde English pre 7th Century "gold", similar to the Old High German "gold", and the Middle English (1200 - 1500) "smith", from the Olde English "smith", a smith, probably a derivative of "smitan", to strike, hammer. To a large extent it is an Anglicized form of the German "Goldschmid(t)". Metal-working was one of the earliest occupations for which specialist skills were required, and its importance ensured that these terms and their cognomens and equivalents were perhaps the most widespread of all occupational surnames in Europe. The surname was first recorded in the mid 13th Century, and early recordings of the surname include: Thomas Goldsmith, witness in the 1255 Assize Rolls of Essex; and John le Goldesmethe in the 1309 "Calendar of Letter Books of Devonshire". Probably the best known namebearer was Oliver Goldsmith (1728 - 1774), the Irish poet, dramatist and novelist, whose works include the novel "The Vicar of Wakefield" (1766), the poem "The Deserted Village" (1770), and the comedy "She Stoops to Conquer" (1773). A Coat of Arms granted to a Goldsmith family in Hampshire is a red shield, a chevron silver three crosses crosslet black on a chief gold, a lion passant red, the Crest being a stork black bezantee. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Roger Goldsmiz, which was dated 1250, in the "Middle English Surnames of Occupation", Norfolk, during the reign of King Henry 111, known as "The Frenchman", 1216 - 1272. Surnames became necessary when governments introduced personal taxation. In England this was known as Poll Tax. Throughout the centuries, surnames in every country have continued to "develop" often leading to astonishing variants of the original spelling.
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