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An excerpt from www.HouseOfNames.com archives copyright 2000 - 2016

Origins Available: Irish, Scottish


Scotland's western coastal mountains and the desolate Hebrides spawned the line of the Smiley family. The name Smiley was originally a nickname for a for a person noted for their smile, or happy personality. Smiley is thus, a nickname surname, which belongs to the category of hereditary surnames. Nicknames form a broad and miscellaneous class of surnames, and can refer directly or indirectly to one's personality, physical attributes, mannerisms, or even their habits of dress. The surname Smiley comes from the Old English word, smile, which means grin. Therefore, the surname Smiley would have been adopted by someone with a distinct smile, or grin.

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The surname Smiley was first found in Cumberland, where they held a family seat from very ancient times as Lords of the manor, some say well before the Norman Conquest and the arrival of Duke William at Hastings in 1066 A.D.

Spelling and translation were not standardized practices until the last few centuries. Spelling variations are extremely common among early Scottish names. Smiley has been spelled Smiley, Smellie, Smyly, Smyley, Smilley, Smilie and many more.


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This web page shows only a small excerpt of our Smiley research. Another 145 words (10 lines of text) covering the years 1600, 1774, 1795, 1787, 1697, 1763, 1740, 1795, 1630, 1670, 1660, 1689, 1968 and are included under the topic Early Smiley History in all our PDF Extended History products.

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Another 81 words (6 lines of text) are included under the topic Early Smiley Notables in all our PDF Extended History products.

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Some of the Smiley family moved to Ireland, but this topic is not covered in this excerpt. Another 313 words (22 lines of text) about their life in Ireland is included in all our PDF Extended History products.

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Settlers from Scotland put down roots in communities all along the east coast of North America. Some moved north from the American colonies to Canada as United Empire Loyalists during the American War of Independence. As Clan societies and highland games started in North America in the 20th century many Scots rediscovered parts of their heritage. Early North American records indicate many people bearing the name Smiley were among those contributors:

Smiley Settlers in United States in the 18th Century


  • Margaret Smiley, who landed in New England in 1755
  • John and Jane Smiley who settled in Charles Town [Charleston], South Carolina in 1763 with their children Margaret and Robert

Smiley Settlers in United States in the 19th Century


  • Hugh Smiley, who arrived in Allegany (Allegheny) County, Pennsylvania in 1803
  • Dominick Smiley, aged 24, arrived in New York, NY in 1806
  • Domk Smiley, who landed in America in 1806
  • John Smiley, who arrived in America in 1810
  • James Smiley, who arrived in New York, NY in 1811


Smiley Settlers in New Zealand in the 19th Century


  • Robert Smiley arrived in Auckland, New Zealand aboard the ship "Nimroud" in 1863
  • Alexander Smiley, aged 21, a servant, arrived in Auckland, New Zealand aboard the ship "Oxford" in 1874
  • Catherine Smiley, aged 23, a servant, arrived in Auckland, New Zealand aboard the ship "Oxford" in 1874

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  • Brett Smiley (1955-2016), American singer-songwriter
  • Edward Forbes Smiley III (b. 1956), convicted American art thief found guilty in 2006 of stealing 97 rare maps originally valued at more than US$3 million and sentenced to 42 months in prison
  • Charles Hugh Smiley (1903-1977), American astronomer and academic, eponym of the main belt asteroid 1613 Smiley
  • Charles Smiley (b. 1954), American politician, Member of the Michigan House of Representatives (2011-)
  • Jane Smiley (b. 1949), American Pulitzer Prize-winning (1992) novelist for her novel A Thousand Acres (1991)
  • Gordon Smiley (1946-1982), American race car driver, inducted into the Nebraska Auto Racing Hall of Fame in 2000
  • Tava Michelle Smiley (b. 1971), American actress and television host
  • Arthur Lee "Red" Smiley (1925-1972), American bluegrass and country musician, posthumously inducted into the International Bluegrass Music Hall of Honor in 1992
  • John Smiley (b. 1965), American Major League Baseball pitcher who played from 1986 to 1997
  • Rickey Smiley, American standup comedian, television host, actor, and radio personality

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  • Genealogy of Smiley family and descendants (1971) by Jane Myrtle Hinkhouse
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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: Industria virtus et fortitudo
Motto Translation: Industry, valor, and fortitude.

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  1. Shaw, William A. Knights of England A Complete Record from the Earliest Time to the Present Day of the Knights of all the Orders of Chivalry in England, Scotland, Ireland and Knights Bachelors 2 Volumes. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing. Print. (ISBN 080630443X).
  2. 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).
  3. Robb H. Amanda and Andrew Chesler. Encyclopedia of American Family Names. New York: Haper Collins, 1995. Print. (ISBN 0-06-270075-8).
  4. Weis, Frederick Lewis, Walter Lee Sheppard and David Faris. Ancestral Roots of Sixty Colonists Who Came to New England Between 1623 and 1650 7th Edition. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing, 1992. Print. (ISBN 0806313676).
  5. Egle, William Henry. Pennsylvania Genealogies Scotch-Irish and German. Harrisburg: L.S. Hart, 1886. Print.
  6. Scarlett, James D. Tartan The Highland Textile. London: Shepheard-Walwyn, 1990. Print. (ISBN 0-85683-120-4).
  7. Adam, Frank. Clans Septs and Regiments of the Scottish Highlands 8th Edition. London: Bacon (G.W.) & Co, 1970. Print. (ISBN 10-0717945006).
  8. Innes, Thomas and Learney. Socts Heraldry A Practical Handbook on the Historical Principles and Modern Application of the Art of Science. London: Oliver and Boyd, 1934. Print.
  9. Bell, Robert. The Book of Ulster Surnames. Belfast: Blackstaff, 1988. Print. (ISBN 10-0856404160).
  10. Fairbairn,. Fairbain's book of Crests of the Families of Great Britain and Ireland, 4th Edition 2 volumes in one. Baltimore: Heraldic Book Company, 1968. Print.
  11. ...

The Smiley Family Crest was acquired from the Houseofnames.com archives. The Smiley Family Crest was drawn according to heraldic standards based on published blazons. We generally include the oldest published family crest once associated with each surname.

This page was last modified on 12 January 2016 at 15:11.

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