Skip to content
  • Start free trial

Origins of the Smith surname

A collage of historical images including two family portraits and a postcard of people boarding a ship

What does the name Smith mean?

One of the most popular surnames in the English-speaking world, Smith is the most prevalent in the United Kingdom, Australia, Canada, New Zealand and the United States. Particularly common among those of English, Scottish and Irish heritage, but also often used by African Americans as a result of the enslaved being given the surname of their slavers, and with variants of Smith common in almost every country in Europe. It dates back to the Anglo-Saxon era and derives from the occupation of 'smith', from the Old English 'Smid', which means to hit or to strike, and was used to describe someone who worked with metal (a blacksmith for example). The Smith surname would have been given to those with a connection to this occupation, in the era before surnames were inherited. Due to the occupational nature of this surname, there are many diverse branches of the Smith family, and there is believed to be no common line of origin to be traced back to.

Alternative variations of the name Smith

Smith, Smyth, Smythe, Smithe, Smit

I’ve managed to trace back to the mid-1500s! I can’t believe it! Utterly engrossing and I have uncovered some quite moving and heartbreaking stories attached to various ancestors. You don’t need any qualifications to start - just time patience, and some information.

TrustPilot review
1 of 3

Start your family tree

Trace your family back in time. Make new discoveries and see what other Findmypast family historians in our genealogy community have discovered about the Smiths.

Sign up to get started

Delve deeper into the Smith family's history

Where do most Smiths live?

In 1921, most Smiths lived in London.

Census records trace your ancestors through each generation, so you can follow where your relatives lived through each decade.

Interesting facts about Smiths

How common is your surname?

1st most common surname in the UK

We have 4,270,000 records for the Smith surname. The oldest one dates back to 1100.

Who were Smiths most likely to marry?




Our Marriage record sets tell us which families married Smiths.

What are the most common Smith first names?

  • John
  • William
  • Mary
  • Elizabeth

Our birth record sets tell us the names of Smith family members

Common jobs for Smiths

Men and women often performed different types of jobs, so these are displayed by gender to maintain their historical accuracy.

Common Female occupations for Smiths in 1921




Domestic Servant


General Servant Domestic


Cotton Weaver


Common Male occupations for Smiths in 1921
Agricultural Labourer


General Labourer


Coal Miner




Farm Labourer


An image of a census transcript and a picture of a dairy farmer holding two milk jugs

Census records provide incredible detail on names, ages, marital statuses, occupations and more.

We found over 2,900,000 family trees with the Smith surname

Trace your family back in time and see what other Findmypast family historians in our genealogy community have discovered about the Smiths.

Search for a relative in our family trees

Share your discoveries

Find out more about your family in our records

or try an advanced search

Start your family history journey

Start free trial

Start free trial