- This early surname is recorded in the spellings of Smither and Smithers, the later being a patronymic, and is associated with the more usual 'Smith', but its meaning is probably quite different. The old Sussex-Kent medieval 'language' added the Anglo-Saxon suffix 'er' to conventional surnames to create a toponymic, a name describing where one lives as in Brooker, one who lived by the brook. 'Smither' would seem to describe a person living by the 'smithy', although the New English Dictionary of 1880, quoted from a medieval manuscript of 1435 as follows, 'All Jorneymen of all other craftes except hakmen and smythers wurche in hur own houses and nott in hur master housz'. This would seem to indicate that 'smithers' were specialist tradesmen, although quite what work they did is unclear. The origination is from the Old German 'smitan' of the pre 7th century, meaning 'to strike', and it is almost certain that the original 'smits' were not workers in iron, but soldiers who wore armour. In fact it is probably correct to say that of all the surnames associated with 'Smith' of which there are some five hundred, ranging from Arrowsmith to Zugsmith, the only one not job descriptive of 'Smithing' is 'Smith'! Early recording examples of the surname include Robert Smythyman of Yorkshire in 1309, and John del Smythy of Lancashire in 1332. The coat of arms most associated with this surname has the blazon of a silver field charged with a green eagle displayed, and in the crest, a red eagles head. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of John Smythiere, which was dated 1379, the Assize Rolls of the city of Warwick, during the reign of King Richard 11, known as Richard of Bordeaux, 1377 - 1399. 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.
Surnames reference. 2013.