Origins Available: English
The illustrious surname Smethe finds its origin in the rocky, sea swept coastal area of southwestern England
known as Cornwall
. Although surnames were fairly widespread in medieval England
, people were originally known only by a single name. The process by which hereditary surnames
were adopted is extremely interesting. As populations grew, people began to assume an extra name to avoid confusion and to further identify themselves. Under the Feudal
System of government, surnames evolved and they often reflected life on the manor and in the field. Lords and their tenants often became known by the name of the feudal
territory they owned or lived on. Unlike most Celtic peoples, who favored patronymic
names, the Cornish predominantly used local
surnames. This was due to the heavy political and cultural influence of the English upon the Cornish People
at the time that surnames first came into use. Local
surnames were derived from where a person lived, held land, or was born. While many Cornish surnames of this sort appear to be topographic surnames, which were given to people who resided near physical features such as hills, streams, churches, or types of trees, many are actually habitation surnames derived from lost or unrecorded place names. The name Smethe is a local type of surname and the Smethe family lived at the village of Smeeth,
in the county of Kent.
Early Origins of the Smethe family
The surname Smethe was first found in Cornwall
, where they held a family seat
during the Middle Ages.
Early History of the Smethe family
This web page shows only a small excerpt of our Smethe research.Another 171 words (12 lines of text) covering the years 1202, 1275, 1279, 1573, and 1746 are included under the topic Early Smethe History in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.
Smethe Spelling Variations
Cornish surnames are characterized by a multitude of spelling variations
. The frequent changes in surnames are due to the fact that the Old and Middle English languages lacked definite spelling rules. The official court languages, which were Latin and French, were also influential on the spelling of a surname. Since the spelling of surnames was rarely consistent in medieval times, and scribes and church officials recorded names as they sounded rather than adhering to any specific spelling rules, it was common to find the same individual referred to with different spellings of their surname in the ancient chronicles. Moreover, a large number of foreign names were brought into England
, which accelerated and accentuated the alterations to the spelling of various surnames. Lastly, spelling variations
often resulted from the linguistic differences between the people of Cornwall
and the rest of England
. The Cornish spoke a unique Brythonic Celtic
language which was first recorded in written documents during the 10th century. However, they became increasingly Anglicized, and Cornish became extinct as a spoken language in 1777, although it has been revived by Cornish patriots in the modern era. The name has been spelled Smeed, Smead, Smee, Smeeth, Smethe, Smeath, Smye and many more.
Early Notables of the Smethe family (pre 1700)
More information is included under the topic Early Smethe Notables in all our PDF Extended History products
and printed products wherever possible.
Migration of the Smethe family to Ireland
Some of the Smethe family moved to Ireland
, but this topic is not covered in this excerpt.Another 178 words (13 lines of text) about their life in Ireland is included in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.
Migration of the Smethe family to the New World and Oceana
An examination into the immigration and passenger lists has discovered a number of people bearing the name Smethe: George Smee, who sailed to Virginia in 1665; William Smead sailed to Dorchester, Massachusetts in 1658; Mr. Smede sailed to San Francisco in 1850; George Smee moved to Mobile Alabama in 1879..