It is said that in the year 2011 the surname Shmyr has some 500 registered holders in the Canadian provinces of Alberta, Saskatchewan, and Manitoba, and a smaller number in the state of New Jersey, USA. The origin of Shmyer is almost certainly Eastern European and recent research suggests that in about 1850 the forefathers of the North American name holders lived in the Ukraine, then part of Russia, - and previously part of Poland. As such it may contain elements from three countries. In spite of the recording in New Jersey we have not been able to find Shmyr in the port of entry records for either the USA or Canada. This is not unusual. Record keeping in the past was rudimentary, and it is said that before the 1st World war in 1914 many registers were burnt to save space. In the surviving registers of Ellis Island, New York, there are a number of onamatopeic or 'sounds like' surnames from which Shmyr might derive - or vice versa . These include Csmyr, Szmir, Schmier, Shmer, Shmeer, Shmier, and others. Our research suggests that most of these are variants of Schmier - a Germanic word which described an untidy writer or a journalist! As to when the spelling as Shmyr was first created is not known, but must have been before 1894 in the USA and possibly Canada. In both Russia and the Ukraine it would have been written in Cyrillic, and the form in English 'onamatapeic' or 'sounds like'. Interestingly one researcher thought that there may be a Muslim influence as the Islamic male names Zamee and Zamir both meaning 'conscience' sound the same as Shmyr and all the others! Overall about 30% of surnames in the USA have 'sounds like' spellings, - and this is a good example of the genre.
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