Nesmith History, Family Crest & Coats of Arms

The surname Nesmith 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 Nesmith family

The surname Nesmith 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 Nesmith family

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

Nesmith 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. Nesmith has appeared as Naismith, Naysmith, Naesmyth, Nesmith, Nasmyth and others.

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

Nesmith Ranking

In the United States, the name Nesmith is the 4,388th most popular surname with an estimated 7,461 people with that name. [5]


United States Nesmith 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:

Nesmith Settlers in United States in the 18th Century
  • James Nesmith, who landed in New England in 1718 [6]
  • James Nesmith, who settled in New Hampshire in 1718
  • John Nesmith, who settled in Maryland in 1747
  • John Nesmith, who landed in Oxford, Maryland in 1747 [6]
Nesmith Settlers in United States in the 19th Century
  • Otto A Nesmith, who arrived in San Francisco, California in 1875 [6]
  • Helen Nesmith, aged 5, who settled in America, in 1894
  • James Nesmith, aged 37, who landed in America, in 1894
  • Thomas Nesmith, aged 42, who settled in America, in 1896
Nesmith Settlers in United States in the 20th Century
  • S. Nesmith, who landed in America, in 1903
  • T. Nesmith, aged 45, who landed in America, in 1903
  • Sarah Nesmith, who immigrated to the United States, in 1905
  • Mabel Nesmith, aged 27, who immigrated to the United States, in 1905
  • Mrs. Nesmith, aged 40, who immigrated to America, in 1905
  • ... (More are available in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.)

Australia Nesmith migration to Australia +

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

Nesmith Settlers in Australia in the 19th Century
  • James Nesmith, British convict from Gibraltar, who was transported aboard the "Asia" on September 3rd, 1820, settling in New South Wales, Australia [7]

Contemporary Notables of the name Nesmith (post 1700) +

  • Aaron Joshua Nesmith (b. 1999), American professional basketball player for the Boston Celtics from Charleston, South Carolina
  • Brian NeSmith, American technology entrepreneur, currently the CEO of Arctic Wolf Networks, a network security startup he founded in 2012
  • Sammy NeSmith, American professional boxer
  • Ottola Nesmith (1889-1972), American actress
  • John Nesmith (1793-1869), American politician
  • Christian DuVal Nesmith (b. 1964), American musician, and the eldest son of former Monkee Michael Nesmith
  • James Willis Nesmith (1820-1885), American politician and lawyer
  • Bette Nesmith Graham (1924-1980), American typist, the inventor of Liquid Paper, mother of Michael Nesmith
  • Jeff Nesmith, American Pulitzer Prize winning journalist
  • Robert Michael Nesmith (b. 1942), Grammy Award winning American musician, songwriter, actor, best known as a member of the musical group The Monkees
  • ... (Another 8 notables are available in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.)


The Nesmith 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. ^ https://namecensus.com/most_common_surnames.htm
  6. ^ Filby, P. William, Meyer, Mary K., Passenger and immigration lists index : a guide to published arrival records of about 500,000 passengers who came to the United States and Canada in the seventeenth, eighteenth, and nineteenth centuries. 1982-1985 Cumulated Supplements in Four Volumes Detroit, Mich. : Gale Research Co., 1985, Print (ISBN 0-8103-1795-8)
  7. ^ State Library of Queensland. (Retrieved 2016, October 27) Asia 1 voyage to Van Diemen's Land, Australia in 1820 with 192 passengers. Retrieved from http://www.convictrecords.com.au/ships/asia/1820


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