The Many Forms of Smith

Smith NameJust about every family history researcher has at least one ancestral branch with the surname of Smith or one of the variations of spellings for the name. Yet the most surprising information to a researcher is that Smith branch may not have had that surname but for a couple generations.

This English-based name is not only very common in the English speaking nations of the United States, Great Britain, Australia, New Zealand, Canada, but is found in other non-English countries in another form. It is estimated that some 5 million people around the world have some form of a Smith surname.

The numbers in different countries is enormous. Just in the United States there are some 3 millions individuals with the Smith name. In the United Kingdom there are half-a-million Smiths.

These Old English terms of ‘smio’, ‘smib’, ‘smitan’ and ‘smite’ all referred to a person working with metal, one who hit metal pieces. From that form additional surnames came about such as Goldsmith, Silversmith, Blacksmith, Coppersmith and Whitesmith which all relate to an occupation. Other English forms include Smithson, Smythe, Smithfield, Smithman and Smither.

Over the last two hundred years the Smith name has multiplied, not just from births, but also because families have adopted the surname for various reasons. First, many immigrants may have had a German version of Smith such DeSmid, Smeets, Schmitz or Schmidt and then changed the name to the English version of Smith. Those from Poland had the name Kowalski wanted an Anglicized form and switched to Smith. This practice of switching continued during World War I and II when America was at war with Germany, so many Schmitz Americans permanently changed the surname to Smith.

Numerous Native American Indians wanted a more English name when dealing with the white settlers, so they called themselves Smith. With so many English Smiths owning slaves in the 19th century United States, in turn many of their slaves and later freed African-Americans took the name Smith. There are those who, for whatever reason, wanted to change their entire identity, many times choose John Smith as a name.

Even in non-English countries the other forms of Smith include Ferrai and Fabbri in Italy; Ferreira in Portugal; Herrero in Spain and Faber, Lefeuvre and Dufaure in France. In Russia the name would be Kovalev, In Hungarian it is Kovacs and Finland the Smith name is Seppala. The names still refer to someone working with metal.

So when looking for ancestors in the family tree make sure Smith or some version is investigated. However, if you are looking for any family members with the Li surname, that would be quite a few. In the world there are some 180 million individuals with the Li name.

< Return To Blog well sir very intresting and also very ionmrtapt to know about the geography the brief concept of geography in kannada from you shall bring awareness and its importence to every one not only to students and teachers.
Inocent 26/05/11

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