This unusual and interesting name is a dialectal variant of a name of Scottish origin, although it is thought that it was introduced into Scotland by an Englishman from "Smalley" in Derbyshire. The name "Smalley" appears early in Scottish records in the form of one "Ricardus Smaley", a witness in the Glasgow Church Registers of circa 1280 - 1290. The placename means "narrow grove" or "wood", derived from the Olde English pre 7th Century "smael", meaning "narrow", and "leah", a grove or clearing in a wood. "Smillie", or "Smiley" can also derive from a medieval nickname for someone of a cheerful disposition, from the Middle English word "smile", meaning "smile" or "grin". Examples of church recordings include Alexander Smelley at the church of St. Mary Somerset on April 12th 1574, Simon Smiley at St. Margarets, Westminster, on September 11th 1681, and Margaret Smellie, at St. Dunstans, Stepney, on October 5th 1648. An interesting mis-spelt recording is that of John Smallie, a passenger to the "Plantacon of New England" on March 15th 1631 in the reign of Charles 1st. The Coat of Arms granted in London in 1744 has a blue field, charged with a gold bend between a lion rampant in chief and a silver buckle in base. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Thomas Smelie, which was dated 1612, Glasgow, during the reign of King James V1 of Scotland and 1 of England, 1603 - 1625. 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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