This interesting surname is of Anglo-Saxon origin, and is from a nickname for a brisk or active person, derived from the Middle English (1200 - 1500) "smart", quick, or prompt, itself from the Olde English pre 7th Century "smeart", stinging, painful, from "smeortan", to sting, hurt. This is an example of that sizeable group of early European surnames that were gradually created from the habitual use of nicknames. The nicknames were given in the first instance with reference to a variety of characteristics, such as physical attributes or peculiarities, mental or moral characteristics, supposed resemblance to an animal or bird's appearance or disposition, habits of dress, or to occupation.The modern surname can be found recorded as Smart and Smartman. An early emigrant to the New World Colonies was one William Smart, aged 20 yrs., who set sail from London on board the "Thomas and John" bound for "Virginea", in June 1635. Recordings from London Church Registers include the christening of Benjamin, son of John and Martha, on October 6th 1642, at St. Benet Fink. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Lifwinus Smart, which was dated circa 1180, in the "Canterbury Cathedral Archives", during the reign of King Henry 11, known as "The Builder of Churches", 1154 - 1189. 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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