Recorded as Smethurst and Smithurst, this is an English surname. It is locational from a "lost" medieval hamlet probably in the neighbourhood of Rochdale in Lancashire. The name derives from the pre 7th century Olde English elements 'smippe' meaning a smith, and 'hyrst', a wood. As such it probably described a smithy in a wood. Locational surnames were usually given to people after they left their original homestead and moved elsewhere. It was in medieval times, and it remains so today, that one of the easiest ways to identify a stranger was to call him or sometimes her, by the name of the place from whence they came. Early examples of the surname recording including Rebecca Smithurst the daughter of John Smithurst, who was christened at the church of St Andrews Holborn, in the city of London, on July 17th 1684, and John Smethurst (1793 - 1859), unitarian minister of Hampstead, who undertook a mission to Ulster in 1821. The "arms" granted to the family of Smethurst from Chorley and Rookwood in the county of Lancaster has the blazon of an ermine shield, a green eagle displayed. The first recorded spelling of the family name may be that of Richard Smethurst. This was dated 1581, in the Wills records at Chester, during the reign of Elizabeth 1st of England, 1558 - 1603. Throughout the centuries, surnames in every country have continued to "develop" often leading to astonishing variants of th original spelling.
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