This interesting and unusual surname is of Anglo-Saxon origin, and has a number of possible origins. Firstly, it may be a topographical name from residence on a piece of smooth, level ground, from the Olde English pre 7th Century "smethe", smooth, or a nickname from the same word used in a transferred sense for someone of an amiable disposition. Topographical surnames were among the first created, since both natural and man-made features in the landscape provided easily recognizable distinguishing names in the small communities of the Middle Ages. Smestow Brook in Staffordshire, recorded as "Smethestall" in 1300, and as "Smestall" in 1577, is named with the Olde English "smethe", smooth, still, with "stall", stagnant. Smees may also have originated as an occupational name for a worker in metal, or for a soldier, deriving from the Olde English "smith", a derivative of "smitan", to strike. As metal-working was one of the earliest occupations for which specialist skills were required, its importance ensured that surnames resulting from this term were perhaps the most widespread in Europe. Early examples of the surname include: Richard Smethe (Cornwall, 1202), and William del Smethe (Suffolk, 1327). In November 1688, one Johannes Smees was recorded in Westfalen, Germany, and on May 7th 1736, Samuel, son of David and Agnes Smees, was christened at St. Mary Whitechapel, London. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Thomas Smee, which was dated October 23rd 1575, marriage to Agnes Chillicombe, at Ilfracombe, Devonshire, during the reign of Queen Elizabeth 1, known as "Good Queen Bess", 1558 - 1603. 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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