Nasmith History, Family Crest & Coats of Arms

The surname Nasmith 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 Nasmith family

The surname Nasmith 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 Nasmith family

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

Nasmith Spelling Variations

Surnames that evolved in Scotland in the Middle Ages often appear under many spelling variations. These are due to the practice of spelling according to sound in the era before dictionaries had standardized the English language. Nasmith has appeared as Naismith, Naysmith, Naesmyth, Nesmith, Nasmyth and others.

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


United States Nasmith migration to the United States +

The North American colonies beckoned, with their ample land and opportunity as their freedom from the persecution suffered by so many Clan families back home. Many Scots even fought against England in the American War of Independence to gain this freedom. Recently, clan societies have allowed the ancestors of these brave Scottish settlers to rediscover their familial roots. Among them:

Nasmith Settlers in United States in the 20th Century
  • Clara Nasmith, aged 58, originally from Toronto, Canada, who arrived in New York in 1905 aboard the ship "Etruria" from Liverpool, England [5]
  • Samuel Jackson Nasmith, aged 26, originally from London, who arrived in New York in 1906 aboard the ship "Baltic" from Liverpool, England [6]
  • Frank Nasmith, aged 40, originally from Manchester, England, who arrived in New York in 1919 aboard the ship "Nieuw Amsterdam" from Plymouth [7]
  • Henry P. Nasmith, aged 48, originally from Toronto, Canada, who arrived in New York N.Y. in 1921 aboard the ship "Fort Hamilton" from Hamilton, Bermuda [8]
  • Alice Lilly Nasmith, aged 42, originally from Manchester, England, who arrived in New York in 1921 aboard the ship "Cedric" from Queenstown, Ireland [9]

Australia Nasmith migration to Australia +

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

Nasmith Settlers in Australia in the 19th Century
  • William Nasmith, who arrived in Adelaide, Australia aboard the ship "Macedon" in 1849 [10]

Contemporary Notables of the name Nasmith (post 1700) +

  • Charles Roy Nasmith (b. 1882), American politician, U.S. Vice & Deputy Consul General in Brussels, 1911-17; U.S. Consul in Ghent, 1918-22; Newcastle-on-Tyne, 1926; Porto Alegre, 1927-29; Marseille, 1932; Edinburgh, 1943 [11]
  • David Nasmith (1799-1839), Scottish founder of The City Mission Movement in the UK, the US and in Europe
  • James Nasmith (1740-1808), English clergyman, academic and antiquary
  • Rear Admiral David Arthur Dunbar- Nasmith DSC, DL (1921-1997), British Royal Navy officer, Naval Secretary (1967-1970), Flag Officer, Scotland and Northern Ireland (1970–1972)
  • Admiral Sir Martin Eric Dunbar- Nasmith KCB, KCMG (1883-1965), British Royal Navy officer and a recipient of the Victoria Cross
  • Ted Nasmith, Canadian artist, illustrator and architectural renderer, best known as an illustrator of J. R. R. Tolkien's works-The Hobbit, The Lord of the Rings and The Silmarillion
  • Joseph Nasmith (1850-1904), British consulting textile engineer, editor of the Textile Recorder


The Nasmith 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. ^ "New York Passenger Arrival Lists (Ellis Island), 1892-1924," database, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:JFWN-XY4 : 6 December 2014), Clara Nasmith, 09 Sep 1905; citing departure port Liverpool, arrival port New York, ship name Etruria, NARA microfilm publication T715 and M237 (Washington D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration, n.d.).
  6. ^ "New York Passenger Arrival Lists (Ellis Island), 1892-1924," database, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:JFFD-7T1 : 6 December 2014), Samuel Jackson Nasmith, 09 Mar 1906; citing departure port Liverpool, arrival port New York, ship name Baltic, NARA microfilm publication T715 and M237 (Washington D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration, n.d.).
  7. ^ "New York Passenger Arrival Lists (Ellis Island), 1892-1924," database, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:J64H-KMR : 6 December 2014), Frank Nasmith, 23 Sep 1919; citing departure port Plymouth, arrival port New York, ship name Nieuw Amsterdam, NARA microfilm publication T715 and M237 (Washington D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration, n.d.).
  8. ^ "New York Passenger Arrival Lists (Ellis Island), 1892-1924," database, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:J6JR-G3D : 6 December 2014), Henry P. Nasmith, 19 May 1921; citing departure port Hamilton, Bermuda, arrival port New York N.Y., ship name Fort Hamilton, NARA microfilm publication T715 and M237 (Washington D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration, n.d.).
  9. ^ "New York Passenger Arrival Lists (Ellis Island), 1892-1924," database, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:J6LF-P6D : 6 December 2014), Alice Lilly Nasmith, 04 Mar 1921; citing departure port Queenstown, arrival port New York, ship name Cedric, NARA microfilm publication T715 and M237 (Washington D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration, n.d.).
  10. ^ State Records of South Australia. (Retrieved 2010, November 5) The MACEDON 1849. Retrieved from http://www.slsa.sa.gov.au/BSA/1849Macedon.htm
  11. ^ The Political Graveyard: Alphabetical Name Index. (Retrieved 2015, November 12) . Retrieved from http://politicalgraveyard.com/alpha/index.html


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