Smithson History, Family Crest & Coats of Arms

The name Smithson is rooted in the ancient Anglo-Saxon culture. It was originally a name for someone who worked as a person who was the son of the smith. [1] [2]

"The smith in olden times was a very important person­age, as being the maker of armour and weapons, and since this trade, like others in that day, descended from father to son, its designation would soon become used as a surname. [3]

Early Origins of the Smithson family

The surname Smithson was first found in Yorkshire where the Yorkshire Poll Tax Rolls of 1379 include: Johannes Smytheson; Johannes Smyth' et Alicia uxor ejus; Johannes Smyth et uxor; Johannes Smythson; and Agnes Smythwyf as all holding lands there at that time. [4] Henry le Smithson was also found here in 1324 as was Peter Smitson in 1327. [5]

To the north in Scotland, "John Smythson was admitted burgess of Aberdeen in 1406, and a payment was made to William Smethissone in Cromarty in 1492." [6]

Back in England, Reginald le Smythessone was found in the Subsidy Rolls for 1296 Sussex in 1296. [5]

Early History of the Smithson family

This web page shows only a small excerpt of our Smithson research. Another 86 words (6 lines of text) covering the years 1765, 1829, 1765, 1754, 1782, 1784, 1786 and 1787 are included under the topic Early Smithson History in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

Smithson Spelling Variations

It is only in the last few hundred years that the English language has been standardized. For that reason, early Anglo-Saxon surnames like Smithson are characterized by many spelling variations. As the English language changed and incorporated elements of other European languages, even literate people changed the spelling of their names. The variations of the name Smithson include Smithson, Smythson and others.

Early Notables of the Smithson family (pre 1700)

Notables of the family at this time include James Smithson (1765-1829), chemist and mineralogist. He was born James Lewes Macie, the illegitimate son of Hugh Simthson Percy, Duke of Northumberland. His mother Elizabeth Macie was a direct descendant of Henry VIII and it was through this family that James Smithson inherited a fortune. He "was known in early life as James Lewis or Louis Macie. Born in France in 1765 (the date of 1754, long accepted as correct, is taken from the inscription on his tombstone), his mother, was cousin of his father's wife, Elizabeth Hungerford Keate (reputed to be daughter...
Another 179 words (13 lines of text) are included under the topic Early Smithson Notables in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

Smithson Ranking

In the United States, the name Smithson is the 3,847th most popular surname with an estimated 7,461 people with that name. [7]


United States Smithson migration to the United States +

Many English families tired of political and religious strife left Britain for the new colonies in North America. Although the trip itself offered no relief - conditions on the ships were extremely cramped, and many travelers arrived diseased, starving, and destitute - these immigrants believed the opportunities that awaited them were worth the risks. Once in the colonies, many of the families did indeed prosper and, in turn, made significant contributions to the culture and economies of the growing colonies. An inquiry into the early roots of North American families has revealed a number of immigrants bearing the name Smithson or a variant listed above:

Smithson Settlers in United States in the 17th Century
  • Robert Smithson who settled in Virginia in 1634
  • Robert Smithson, who landed in Maryland in 1634 [8]
  • William Smithson who settled in Virginia in 1652
  • William Smithson, who landed in Virginia in 1652 [8]
  • Tho Smithson, who arrived in Virginia in 1654 [8]
  • ... (More are available in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.)
Smithson Settlers in United States in the 18th Century
  • James Smithson, who arrived in Virginia in 1714 [8]
  • John Smithson, who landed in Virginia in 1714 [8]
  • John Smithson, who arrived in America in 1760-1763 [8]
Smithson Settlers in United States in the 19th Century
  • Mr. J. Smithson, (b. 1820), aged 18, Cornish settler departing from Falmouth aboard the ship "Cornwall" arriving in the United States on 3 June 1841 [9]
  • Thomas Smithson, who landed in New York in 1842 [8]

Canada Smithson migration to Canada +

Some of the first settlers of this family name were:

Smithson Settlers in Canada in the 18th Century
  • John Smithson, who landed in Nova Scotia in 1749
  • Robert Smithson, who landed in Nova Scotia in 1749

Australia Smithson migration to Australia +

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

Smithson Settlers in Australia in the 19th Century
  • Mr. George Smithson, English convict who was convicted in Lancaster, Lancashire, England for 7 years, transported aboard the "Camden" on 21st September 1832, arriving in New South Wales, Australia [10]
  • William Smithson, who arrived in Adelaide, Australia aboard the ship "Hooghly" in 1839 [11]
  • Mr. Arthur Smithson, English convict who was convicted in Leeds, Yorkshire, England for 7 years, transported aboard the "Bangalore" on 28th March 1848, arriving in Tasmania ( Van Diemen's Land) from Bermuda [12]
  • William Smithson, who arrived in Adelaide, Australia aboard the ship "Navarino" in 1849 [13]

New Zealand Smithson migration to New Zealand +

Emigration to New Zealand followed in the footsteps of the European explorers, such as Captain Cook (1769-70): first came sealers, whalers, missionaries, and traders. By 1838, the British New Zealand Company had begun buying land from the Maori tribes, and selling it to settlers, and, after the Treaty of Waitangi in 1840, many British families set out on the arduous six month journey from Britain to Aotearoa to start a new life. Early immigrants include:

Smithson Settlers in New Zealand in the 19th Century
  • William Smithson, who landed in Auckland, New Zealand in 1843
  • Mr. James Smithson, (b. 1826), aged 32, British carpenter travelling from Gravesend aboard the ship "Indiana" arriving in Lyttelton, Christchurch, South Island, New Zealand on 28th November 1858 [14]
  • Mrs. Hannah Smithson, (b. 1827), aged 31, British settler travelling from Gravesend aboard the ship "Indiana" arriving in Lyttelton, Christchurch, South Island, New Zealand on 28th November 1858 [14]
  • Miss Margaret Ann Smithson, (b. 1846), aged 12, British settler travelling from Gravesend aboard the ship "Indiana" arriving in Lyttelton, Christchurch, South Island, New Zealand on 28th November 1858 [14]
  • Mr. William Smithson, (b. 1848), aged 10, British settler travelling from Gravesend aboard the ship "Indiana" arriving in Lyttelton, Christchurch, South Island, New Zealand on 28th November 1858 [14]
  • ... (More are available in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.)

West Indies Smithson migration to West Indies +

The British first settled the British West Indies around 1604. They made many attempts but failed in some to establish settlements on the Islands including Saint Lucia and Grenada. By 1627 they had managed to establish settlements on St. Kitts (St. Christopher) and Barbados, but by 1641 the Spanish had moved in and destroyed some of these including those at Providence Island. The British continued to expand the settlements including setting the First Federation in the British West Indies by 1674; some of the islands include Barbados, Bermuda, Cayman Island, Turks and Caicos, Jamaica and Belize then known as British Honduras. By the 1960's many of the islands became independent after the West Indies Federation which existed from 1958 to 1962 failed due to internal political conflicts. After this a number of Eastern Caribbean islands formed a free association. [15]
Smithson Settlers in West Indies in the 18th Century
  • John Smithson who settled in Jamaica in 1761

Contemporary Notables of the name Smithson (post 1700) +

  • William Smithson, American Democratic Party politician, Alternate Delegate to Democratic National Convention from Minnesota, 1912 [16]
  • Robert H. Smithson, American Democratic Party politician, Delegate to Democratic National Convention from Ohio, 1948 [16]
  • Maria Smithson, American Democratic Party politician, Delegate to Democratic National Convention from Oregon, 2000; Presidential Elector for Oregon, 2000 [16]
  • C. J. Smithson, American politician, Mayor of Fairfield, Alabama, 1957-60 [16]
  • Forrest Custer Smithson (1884-1962), American gold medalist athlete, winner of 110 m hurdles at the 1908 Summer Olympics
  • William Michael "Mike" Smithson (b. 1955), American former Major League Baseball pitcher
  • Robert Smithson (1938-1973), American artist
  • Gerald Arthur Smithson (1926-1970), English cricket player
  • John Smithson, British film and television producer
  • Henrietta Constance "Harriet" Smithson (1800-1854), Irish actress, the first wife of Hector Berlioz, and the inspiration for his Symphonie Fantastique by the French composer Hector Berlioz
  • ... (Another 2 notables are available in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.)


  1. ^ Smith, Eldson Coles, New Dictionary of American Family Names New York: Harper & Row, 1956. Print
  2. ^ Lower, Mark Anthony, Patronymica Britannica, A Dictionary of Family Names of the United Kingdom. London: John Russel Smith, 1860. Print.
  3. ^ Moore, A.W., Manx Names. London: Elliot Stock, 62 Paternoster Row, 1906. Print
  4. ^ Bardsley, C.W, A Dictionary of English and Welsh Surnames: With Special American Instances. Wiltshire: Heraldry Today, 1901. Print. (ISBN 0-900455-44-6)
  5. ^ Reaney, P.H and R.M. Wilson, A Dictionary of English Surnames. London: Routledge, 1991. Print. (ISBN 0-415-05737-X)
  6. ^ 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)
  7. ^ https://namecensus.com/most_common_surnames.htm
  8. ^ 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)
  9. ^ Cornwall Online Parish Clerks. (Retrieved 2018, April 30). Emigrants to New York 1820 - 1891 [PDF]. Retrieved from http://www.opc-cornwall.org/Resc/pdfs/emigration_new_york_1820_1891.pdf
  10. ^ Convict Records Voyages to Australia (Retrieved 2nd December 2020). Retrieved from https://convictrecords.com.au/ships/camden
  11. ^ State Records of South Australia. (Retrieved 2010, November 5) HOOGHLY 1839. Retrieved from http://www.slsa.sa.gov.au/BSA/1839Hooghly.htm
  12. ^ Convict Records Voyages to Australia (Retrieved 15th September 2020). Retrieved from https://convictrecords.com.au/ships/bangalore
  13. ^ State Records of South Australia. (Retrieved 2010, November 5) NAVARINO 1849. Retrieved from http://www.slsa.sa.gov.au/BSA/1849Navarino.htm
  14. ^ New Zealand Yesteryears Passenger Lists 1800 to 1900 (Retrieved 17th October 2018). Retrieved from http://www.yesteryears.co.nz/shipping/passlist.html
  15. ^ https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/British_West_Indies
  16. ^ The Political Graveyard: Alphabetical Name Index. (Retrieved 2015, November 2) . Retrieved from http://politicalgraveyard.com/alpha/index.html


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