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

Origins Available: Irish, Scottish


Smylie is an ancient Dalriadan-Scottish nickname for a for a person noted for their smile, or happy personality. Smylie 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 Smylie comes from the Old English word, smile, which means grin. Therefore, the surname Smylie would have been adopted by someone with a distinct smile, or grin.

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The surname Smylie 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.

Medieval translation of Gaelic names could not be referred to as an accurate process. Spelling was not yet standardized, and names in documents from that era are riddled with spelling variations. Smylie has been written as Smiley, Smellie, Smyly, Smyley, Smilley, Smilie and many more.


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This web page shows only a small excerpt of our Smylie 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 Smylie 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 Smylie Notables in all our PDF Extended History products.

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Some of the Smylie 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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Dalriadan families proliferated in North America. Their descendants still populate many communities in the eastern parts of both the United States and Canada. Some settled in Canada as United Empire Loyalists, in the wake of the American War of Independence. Families on both sides of the border have recovered much of their heritage in the 20th century through Clan societies and highland games. Analysis of immigration records indicates that some of the first North American immigrants bore the name Smylie or a variant listed above:

Smylie Settlers in United States in the 18th Century


  • Francis Smylie, who landed in New England in 1720
  • James Smylie, who arrived in North Carolina in 1775
  • William Smylie, who landed in North Carolina in 1775

Smylie Settlers in United States in the 19th Century


  • Andrew Smylie, who landed in Charleston, South Carolina in 1800

Smylie Settlers in New Zealand in the 19th Century


  • William Smylie arrived in Auckland, New Zealand aboard the ship "Queen of Beauty" in 1863

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  • Dennis Smylie, American bass clarinetist
  • James Hutchinson Smylie (b. 1925), American Emeritus Professor of Church History at Union Theological Seminary & Presbyterian School of Christian Education
  • Adarrial Smylie, American former basketball player
  • Mark Smylie (b. 1967), American comics creator, writer and illustrator
  • Robert Eben Smylie (1914-2004), American politician, 24th Governor of Idaho (1955-1967)
  • William S. Smylie, American politician, Mayor of Meridian, Mississippi, 1953-57
  • Robert Eben Smylie (1914-2004), American Republican politician, Governor of Idaho, 1955-67; Delegate to Republican National Convention from Idaho, 1960; Speaker, 1956, 1960
  • Michael J. Smylie, American Republican politician, Delegate to Republican National Convention from Pennsylvania, 1952, 1956, 1972
  • Dr. Roderick Thomas Smylie MD (1895-1985), Canadian professional ice hockey player, the last surviving member of the 1921-22 Stanley Cup championship team
  • Christopher Bradley "Chris" Smylie (b. 1982), New Zealand rugby union player, member of various National Teams (2002-2009)

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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. Fulton, Alexander. Scotland and Her Tartans: The Romantic Heritage of the Scottish Clans and Families. Godalming: Bramley, 1991. Print. (ISBN 0-86283-880-0).
  2. Bolton, Charles Knowles. Bolton's American Armory. Baltimore: Heraldic Book Company, 1964. Print.
  3. Bell, Robert. The Book of Ulster Surnames. Belfast: Blackstaff, 1988. Print. (ISBN 10-0856404160).
  4. Colletta, John P. They Came In Ships. Salt Lake City: Ancestry, 1993. Print.
  5. Passenger Lists of Vessels Arriving at Galveston Texas 1896-1951. National Archives Washington DC. Print.
  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. Barrow, G.W.S Ed. Acts of Malcom IV 1153-65 Volume I Regesta Regum Scottorum 1153-1424. Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 1960. Print.
  8. Papworth, J.W and A.W Morant. Ordinary of British Armorials. London: T.Richards, 1874. Print.
  9. Warner, Philip Warner. Famous Scottish Battles. New York: Barnes and Noble, 1996. Print. (ISBN 0-76070-004-4).
  10. Best, Hugh. Debrett's Texas Peerage. New York: Coward-McCann, 1983. Print. (ISBN 069811244X).
  11. ...

The Smylie Family Crest was acquired from the Houseofnames.com archives. The Smylie 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 27 February 2016 at 14:12.

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