Naesmyth History, Family Crest & Coats of Arms

The surname Naesmyth is thought to be an occupational name for a maker of knives or nails, deriving from the Old English "cnif," meaning "knife," or "noegel," meaning "nail" combined with "smith." [1]

One source notes, the name is derived from "Nail-smith; but they bear two broken hammers in their Arms, as if the name were No smith !" [2]

Early Origins of the Naesmyth family

The surname Naesmyth was first found in Renfrewshire (Gaelic: Siorrachd Rinn Friù), a historic county of Scotland, today encompassing the Council Areas of Renfrew, East Renfrewshire, and Iverclyde, in the Strathclyde region of southwestern Scotland, where they held a family seat from early times and their first records appeared on the early census rolls taken by the early Kings of Scotland to determine the rate of taxation of their subjects. [3]

"Adam Nasmith, owner of lands at Brechin, died before 1420. The Nasmyths were an old family of burgesses at Hamilton. James Nasmytht, witness in Glasgow, 1543. George Nasmyth was one of those hanged for holding Paisley against the king and his regent, 1565, and John Nesmyt is mentioned by Moysie as one of those concerned in a conspiracy in Holyrood, 27 December 1591. There was a resignation of property in favor of Robert Nasmyth in Glasgow, 1552." [3]

Further to the south in England, Hugh Nasmith was listed in Yorkshire in 1277. [4]

And it is here in England that we find definitive proof of the former spellings of the family. Roger Knifsmith was listed in London 1246-1289; Adam Knyfsmith in the Assize Rolls for Lancashire in 1285; Saman le Knyfsmyth in Devon in 1310; William Knysmyt in the Assize Rolls for Staffordshire in 1326; and Robert Knysmithe was listed in 1594. [4]

Early History of the Naesmyth family

This web page shows only a small excerpt of our Naesmyth research. Another 129 words (9 lines of text) covering the years 1400, 1552, 1579, 1626, 1630, 1619, 1720, 1684, 1779, 1778, 1730, 1741 and 1779 are included under the topic Early Naesmyth History in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

Naesmyth Spelling Variations

Scribes in Medieval Scotland spelled names by sound rather than any set of rules, so an enormous number of spelling variations exist in names of that era. Naesmyth has been spelled Naismith, Naysmith, Naesmyth, Nesmith, Nasmyth and others.

Early Notables of the Naesmyth family (pre 1700)

Notable amongst the family at this time was John Nasmith or Naysmith (d. 1619?), Scottish "surgeon to James VI of Scotland and I of England, was second son of Michael Naesmith of Posso, Peeblesshire, and Elizabeth Baird. The family trace their descent to a stalwart knight, who while in attendance on Alexander III was unable to repair his armour, but so atoned for his lack of skill as a smith by his bravery in the fight that after its conclusion he was knighted by the king with the remark that, although ‘he was nae smith, he was a brave gentleman.’ Sir...
Another 212 words (15 lines of text) are included under the topic Early Naesmyth Notables in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

Migration of the Naesmyth family

The number of Strathclyde Clan families sailing for North America increased steadily as the persecution continued. In the colonies, they could find not only freedom from the iron hand of the English government, but land to settle on. The American War of Independence allowed many of these settlers to prove their independence, while some chose to go to Canada as United Empire Loyalists. Scots played essential roles in the forging of both great nations. Among them: James Nesmith, who settled in New Hampshire in 1718; as well as John Nesmith, who settled in Maryland in 1747.


Contemporary Notables of the name Naesmyth (post 1700) +

  • Sir James Naesmyth (d. 1720), 1st Baronet of Posso in the County of Peebles, Scottish lawyer and peer
  • Sir James Naesmyth (1704-1779), 2nd Baronet of Posso in the County of Peebles, Scottish peer, botanist and politician, Fellow of the Royal Society, Member of Parliament for Peeblesshire from 1731 to 1734, and from 1735 to 1741
  • Sir Douglas Arthur Bradley Naesmyth (1905-1928), 8th Baronet of Posso in the County of Peebles, Scottish peer
  • Sir James Tolme Naesmyth (b. 1864), 7th Baronet of Posso in the County of Peebles, Scottish peer
  • Sir Michael George Naesmyth (1828-1907), 6th Baronet of Posso in the County of Peebles, Acottish peer
  • Sir James Naesmyth (1827-1896), 5th Baronet of Posso in the County of Peebles, Scottish peer
  • Sir John Murray Naesmyth (b. 1803), 4th Baronet of Posso in the County of Peebles, Scottish peer
  • Sir James Naesmyth (b. 1829), 3rd Baronet of Posso in the County of Peebles, Scottish peer


The Naesmyth Motto +

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: Non arte sed marte
Motto Translation: Not by science but by war.


  1. ^ Bardsley, C.W, A Dictionary of English and Welsh Surnames: With Special American Instances. Wiltshire: Heraldry Today, 1901. Print. (ISBN 0-900455-44-6)
  2. ^ Dixon, Bernard Homer, Surnames. London: John Wilson and son, 1857. Print
  3. ^ Black, George F., The Surnames of Scotland Their Origin, Meaning and History. New York: New York Public Library, 1946. Print. (ISBN 0-87104-172-3)
  4. ^ Reaney, P.H and R.M. Wilson, A Dictionary of English Surnames. London: Routledge, 1991. Print. (ISBN 0-415-05737-X)


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