This interesting surname is of Anglo-Saxon origin, and derives from the Olde English pre 7th Century "smitan", composed of the elements "smith", smith, with the agent suffix "en", denoting one who does or works with; therefore it was an occupational surname for one who worked with metal. Metal-working was one of the earliest occupations for which specialist skills were required, and its importance ensured that this term and its cognates and equivalents were perhaps the most widespread of all occupational surnames in Europe. Medieval smiths were important not only in making horseshoes, ploughshares, and other domestic articles, but above all for their skill in forging swords, other weapons and armour. The surname is first recorded in the latter half of the 10th Century (see below) and has many variant spellings ranging from Smith, Smithend and Smithin to Smythen and Smythin. Recordings of the surname from London Church Registers include; Thomas Smithen, who married Dorothie Croxon on July 6th 1626 at St. Dunstan's, Stepney; their son, Thomas, who was christened on January 23rd 1628 at the same place; and Francis Smithen who married Ann Berryman on February 16th 1645 at St. Giles', Cripplegate. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Ecceard Smith, which was dated 975, in the "Olde English Bynames Register", during the reign of King Edward the Martyr of England, 975 - 979. 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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