This is a surname of the British Isles. Recorded as Smy, Smye, Smyth, Smythe, Smithe and Smith, it derives from the Anglo-Saxon word "smitan" meaning to smite, which could be a description of a smith, but would equally have applied to a soldier. The famous records of those ancient times known as the Anglo-Saxon Chronicles of the 9th century use the expression War-Smith to describe a particularly valiant warrior, a suggestion that there was a duality of purpose in the later surname. Over five hundred coats of arms have been granted to nameholders called Smith, perhaps another indication of the warrior background. Although today the surname in its different forms represents about one in seventy of all persons with a British background, mathematically this ratio should be nearer to thirty to one. The shortfall is perhaps explained by the fact that many persons now called Black, White, Green or Brown formerly had the suffix "smith", and were workers in iron, tin, copper or bronze. Amongst the many interesting records of this surname is that of Arthur Smyth who was one of the very earliest settlers in the colonies of New England. He is recorded as being a resident of "Elizabeth Cittie" in Virginia in 1624, having arrived in the ship Margaret and John of London, in 1622. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Eaceard Smid, which was dated circa 975, in the English Surname Register for County Durham, during the reign of King Edward, known as "The Martyr", 975 - 979, A.D. Throughout the centuries, surnames in every country have continued to "develop" often leading to astonishing variants of the original spelling.
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