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An excerpt from www.HouseOfNames.com archives copyright 2000 - 2014

Origins Available: Irish, Scottish

Where did the Scottish Smiley family come from? What is the Scottish Smiley family crest and coat of arms? When did the Smiley family first arrive in the United States? Where did the various branches of the family go? What is the Smiley family history?

Scotland's western coastal mountains and the desolate Hebrides spawned the line of the Smiley family. The name Smiley was originally a nickname for a for a person noted for their smile, or happy personality. Smiley is thus, a nickname surname, which belongs to the category of hereditary surnames. Nicknames form a broad and miscellaneous class of surnames, and can refer directly or indirectly to one's personality, physical attributes, mannerisms, or even their habits of dress. The surname Smiley comes from the Old English word, smile, which means grin. Therefore, the surname Smiley would have been adopted by someone with a distinct smile, or grin.

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Spelling and translation were not standardized practices until the last few centuries. Spelling variations are extremely common among early Scottish names. Smiley has been spelled Smiley, Smellie, Smyly, Smyley, Smilley, Smilie and many more.

First found in Cumberland, where they held a family seat from very ancient times as Lords of the manor, some say well before the Norman Conquest and the arrival of Duke William at Hastings in 1066 A.D.


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This web page shows only a small excerpt of our Smiley research. Another 145 words(10 lines of text) covering the years 1600, 1774, 1795, 1787, 1697, 1763, 1740, 1795, 1630, 1670, 1660, 1689 and are included under the topic Early Smiley History in all our PDF Extended History products.

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Another 81 words(6 lines of text) are included under the topic Early Smiley Notables in all our PDF Extended History products.

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Some of the Smiley family moved to Ireland, but this topic is not covered in this excerpt. Another 199 words(14 lines of text) about their life in Ireland is included in all our PDF Extended History products.

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Settlers from Scotland put down roots in communities all along the east coast of North America. Some moved north from the American colonies to Canada as United Empire Loyalists during the American War of Independence. As Clan societies and highland games started in North America in the 20th century many Scots rediscovered parts of their heritage. Early North American records indicate many people bearing the name Smiley were among those contributors:

Smiley Settlers in the United States in the 18th Century


  • Margaret Smiley, who landed in New England in 1755
  • John and Jane Smiley who settled in Charles Town [Charleston], South Carolina in 1763 with their children Margaret and Robert

Smiley Settlers in the United States in the 19th Century


  • Hugh Smiley, who arrived in Allegany (Allegheny) County, Pennsylvania in 1803
  • Dominick Smiley, aged 24, arrived in New York, NY in 1806
  • Domk Smiley, who landed in America in 1806
  • John Smiley, who arrived in America in 1810
  • James Smiley, who arrived in New York, NY in 1811


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  • Gordon Smiley (1946-1982), American race car driver
  • Tavis Smiley (b. 1964), American journalist, talk show host, author, liberal political commentator, known for hosting The Tavis Smiley Show on NPR from 2002 to 2004
  • Jane Smiley (b. 1949), American Pulitzer Prize-winning (1992) novelist
  • Janelle Smiley (b. 1981), American ski mountaineer and mountain climber
  • Rickey Smiley, American standup comedian, television host, actor, and radio personality
  • John Smiley (b. 1965), American Major League Baseball pitcher who played from 1986 to 1997
  • Arthur Lee "Red" Smiley (1925-1972), American bluegrass and country musician, posthumously inducted into the International Bluegrass Music Hall of Honor in 1992
  • Tava Michelle Smiley (b. 1971), American actress and television host
  • Sir Hugh Smiley, Lord Lieutenant of Hampshire
  • Norman Anthony Smiley (b. 1965), British-born professional wrestler

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  • Genealogy of Smiley family and descendants (1971) by Jane Myrtle Hinkhouse
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The motto was originally a war cry or slogan. Mottoes first began to be shown with arms in the 14th and 15th centuries, but were not in general use until the 17th century. Thus the oldest coats of arms generally do not include a motto. Mottoes seldom form part of the grant of arms: Under most heraldic authorities, a motto is an optional component of the coat of arms, and can be added to or changed at will; many families have chosen not to display a motto.

Motto: Industria virtus et fortitudo
Motto Translation: Industry, valor, and fortitude.

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  1. Urquhart, Blair Edition. Tartans The New Compact Study Guide and Identifier. Secauccus, NJ: Chartwell Books, 1994. Print. (ISBN 0-7858-0050-6).
  2. Le Patourel, John. The Norman Empire. New York: Oxford University Press, 1976. Print. (ISBN 0-19-822525-3).
  3. Skene, William Forbes Edition. Chronicles of the Picts, Chronicles of the Scots and Other Early Memorials of Scottish History. Edinburgh: H.M. General Register House, 1867. Print.
  4. Barrow, G.W.S Ed. Acts of Malcom IV 1153-65 Volume I Regesta Regum Scottorum 1153-1424. Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 1960. Print.
  5. Burke, Sir Bernard. Genealogical and Heraldic History of the Landed Gentry Including American Families with British Ancestry 2 Volumes. London: Burke Publishing, 1939. Print.
  6. Leyburn, James Graham. The Scotch-Irish A Social History. Chapel Hill: UNC Press, 1962. Print. (ISBN 0807842591).
  7. Browning, Charles H. Americans of Royal Descent. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing. Print.
  8. Bloxham, Ben. Key to Parochial Registers of Scotland From Earliest Times Through 1854 2nd edition. Provo, UT: Stevenson's Genealogical Center, 1979. Print.
  9. Burke, Sir Bernard. Genealogical and Heraldic History of the Peerage and Baronetage, The Privy Council, Knightage and Compainonage. London: Burke Publishing, 1921. Print.
  10. Prebble, John. The Highland Clearances. London: Secker & Warburg, 1963. Print.
  11. ...

The Smiley Family Crest was acquired from the Houseofnames.com archives. The Smiley Family Crest was drawn according to heraldic standards based on published blazons. We generally include the oldest published family crest once associated with each surname.

This page was last modified on 22 January 2014 at 16:18.

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