Recorded in a number of spellings including Naismith, Nasmith, Naesmith, Naysmith, Knifesmith, Neasmith, and possibly others, this is an Anglo-Scottsh medieval surname. It is occupational and originates from the pre 7th century Olde English words 'cnif smit'. The word 'smit' comes from the verb 'smitan,' meaning to smite, but whether this originally described what we now know or we think we know, as a smith, or a soldier is open to conjecture. For many years 'smith' has been used as a general description for a blacksmith, although there were never enough smiths of any sort engaged in trade to justify the the fact that 'Smith' is the Number One name in the Christian world, by a large margin. In medieval times all skills were quite specific. Whitesmith described a worker in hot metals, Blacksmith a worker in cold metal. These developed as surnames in their own right as did Greensmith, Coppersmith, Goldsmith, Silversmith, and many others. In ancient times all soldiers had to be skilled in maintaining or even making their own weapons, and hence would have become proficient in such work. So we may have had the situation that originally a knifesmith described a soldier who used a short sword, and a swordsmith, one who used a long sword. Perhaps not surprisingly this is a very old surname being first recorded as Roger Knifsmith in the records of St Bartholomews Hospital, in the city of London, in 1246. Later recordings include James Nasmite of York in 1379, Alan Nasmith, the owner of lands in Brechin, Scotland, in 1415, and James Nasmith, given as being the sheriff of Norwich in 1734. The coat of arms has the blazon of gules, a dexter hand couped proper, holding a sword, between two broken hammers or. The crest is a hand holding a hammer or, and the motto, 'Non arte sed marte', translating as 'Not by science, but by war'.
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