Show ContentsNaismith History, Family Crest & Coats of Arms

The surname Naismith 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 Naismith family

The surname Naismith 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 Naismith family

This web page shows only a small excerpt of our Naismith 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 Naismith History in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

Naismith Spelling Variations

In the era before dictionaries, there were no rules governing the spelling or translation of names or any other words. Consequently, there are an enormous number of spelling variations in Medieval Scottish names. Naismith has appeared as Naismith, Naysmith, Naesmyth, Nesmith, Nasmyth and others.

Early Notables of the Naismith 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 Naismith Notables in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

United States Naismith migration to the United States +

The freedom, opportunity, and land of the North American colonies beckoned. There, Scots found a place where they were generally free from persecution and where they could go on to become important players in the birth of new nations. Some fought in the American War of Independence, while others went north to Canada as United Empire Loyalists. The ancestors of all of these Scottish settlers have been able to recover their lost national heritage in the last century through highland games and Clan societies in North America. Among them:

Naismith Settlers in United States in the 20th Century
  • John Naismith, aged 23, who settled in America from Glasgow, Scotland, in 1909
  • Henry Naismith, aged 59, who landed in America, in 1911
  • Isabella Naismith, aged 51, who immigrated to the United States from Glasgow, Scotland, in 1916
  • Andrew Walter Buchar Naismith, aged 34, who settled in America from Edinburgh, Scotland, in 1916
  • Benjamin Naismith, aged 11, who settled in America from Glasgow, Scotland, in 1916
  • ... (More are available in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.)

Australia Naismith migration to Australia +

Emigration to Australia followed the First Fleets of convicts, tradespeople and early settlers. Early immigrants include:

Naismith Settlers in Australia in the 19th Century
  • William Naismith, aged 39, a blacksmith, who arrived in South Australia in 1849 aboard the ship "Macedon" [5]

Contemporary Notables of the name Naismith (post 1700) +

  • Kal Naismith (b. 1992), Scottish association footballer from Glasgow
  • Jason Naismith (b. 1994), Scottish professional football defender from Paisley
  • William W. Naismith (1856-1935), Scottish mountaineer, key founder of the Scottish Mountaineering Club
  • Steven Naismith (b. 1986), professional Scottish association footballer
  • Wally Naismith (1881-1954), Australian rules footballer
  • Jon Naismith (b. 1965), English producer, known for his work on BBC Radio, since 1991 he has been the producer of I'm Sorry I Haven't a Clue
  • Charlie Naismith (b. 1881), former Australian rules footballer who played from 1902-1907
  • Albert "Alby" Naismith (b. 1917), Australian rules footballer
  • Laurence Naismith (1908-1992), British actor who appeared in 113 titles, best known for his roles in Diamonds Are Forever (1971), Jason and the Argonauts (1963) and Scrooge (1970)
  • Dr. James Naismith (1861-1939), Canadian educator, who in 1891 invented the sport basketball and introduced the first football helmet, eponym of numerous Naismith awards and the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame
  • ... (Another 1 notables are available in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.)

The Naismith 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)
  5. State Records of South Australia. (Retrieved 2010, November 5) The MACEDON 1849. Retrieved from on Facebook