Sunday, 17 October 2010

Meaning of the SMIDDY name

From Webster's Revised Unabridged Dictionary (1913):
Definition:  Smiddy\Smid"dy\, n. [See {Smithy}.]
A smithy. [Prov. Eng. & Scot.]
From Webster's Revised Unabridged Dictionary (1913): 
Definition:  Smithy\Smith"y\ (-[y^]), n. [AS. smi[eth][eth]e, fr. smi[eth];
akin to D. , smidse, 
smids, OHG. smitta, G. schmiede, Icel.
smi[eth] ja. See Smith, n.]
The workshop of a smith, esp. a blacksmith;  smithery; a
stithy. [Written also {smiddy}.]

      Under a spreading chestnut tree  The village smithy stands.                                  --Longfellow.

Variant spelling of Scottish Smiddie, a habitational name from a place so called on the island of South Ronaldsay.
Dictionary of American Family Names, Oxford University Press, ISBN 0-19-508137-4
Spelling variations include: Smethwick, Smithwick, Smithick and others.
First found in Cheshire where they were seated from very ancient times as Lords of the manor of Smethwick, some say well before the Norman Conquest and the arrival of Duke William at Hastings in 1066 A.D.
Some of the first settlers of this name or some of its variants were: Henry Smithick who settled in Virginia in 1675; William Smithwick settled in the Barbados in 1679 with his servants; Ed Smithwike settled in North Carolina in 1675.
Motto Translated: 
Crest: An arm holding a gold tulip.
Coat of Arms: Gold with three black crosses.
Our name 'SMIDDY' appears to have been formed from SCHMID, and to be of German extraction. In Irish they call it Schmid. (The diary of Rev. Richard Cannon Smiddy - (October the 6th 1840)
The Irish for SMIDDY is Smíst. Found predominately around the town of Youghal in Co. Cork. Youghal (pronounced Yawl), nestled on the banks of the river Blackwater in on the sunny south coast of Ireland. It's name is pronounced "y'all," just like a well-known phrase in the southern United States, but it's derived from old Gaelic "Eochaill," means yew wood, and refers to the yew forests that once grew nearby. The trees were depleted over the years, but the name stuck.
The Market Square in Youghal which may look oddly familiar to fans of classic movies. It's where director John Huston recreated the 1840s New Bedford harbor scenes for "Moby Dick" (which was released in 1956.) Huston rebuilt an old ship he found in England to match Herman Melville's description of the Pequod and made Youghal into the Massachusetts' whaling center.
It's also full of history. Sir Walter Raleigh owned an estate here, where he planted the first potatoes in Ireland and smoked the first tobacco known to have been used there. Raleigh also brought cherry trees from the Canary Islands and domesticated them on his estate.
The "Smiddy", a Scots word for Smithy, or Blacksmith's Shop (
The surname Smiddy appears mainly in East Cork in Ireland. It exists in England, Wales, Scotland and U.S.A. also. It does not seem to be very old either. The Religious Census (1766) containing a return of Protestant and Papist (sic) Catholic Families of the Diocese of Cloyne has survived and not a single Smiddy appeared in the parishes of East Cork in 1766.
Smyesty appears twice in the lists for the Parish of Youghal and Smeesty once in Conna Parish. It is surprising then that Smithwick and Smiddy occurred in Imogeela parish from 1780 onwards and the Smithwicks also become quite numerous in Whiterock, Carrigshane and Dunsfort townlands of Middleton Parish very soon after 1800. Could it be that Smeesty(y) was anglicized to become Smithwick or Smiddy at the end of the penal times? (Bro. Hugh Cathal Smiddy, 2003).
  • Variant spelling of Scottish Smiddie, a habitational name from a place so called on the island of South Ronaldsay.  (Dictionary of American Family Names, Oxford University Press, ISBN 0-19-508137-4)
  • Smiddy is the 20,523rd most popular last name (surname) in the United States; frequency is 0.000%; percentile is 78.278 [SourceCBN]
Where SMIDDY families were living in 1920 in the U.S.A.
  Number of SMIDDY families
*Population distribution was
derived from the 1920
U.S. Federal Census.
 21-40 - TN (Tennessee) - 19% (40 of 215) - IL (Illinois)- 13% (29 of 215)
 8-20 - MA - 8% (18 of 215) - OH (Ohio)- 8% (18 of 215) - KY (Kentucky)- 8% (18of 215) - NY (New York) 6% (13 of 215) - TX (Texas) - 6% (12 of 215)  - MO- 6% (12 of 215) - CA (California)- 4% (9 of 215)
The Primary Valuation property survey of 1848-64 showed that there were 37 SMIDDY households in Cork and 1 in Waterford.
Origins of The SMIDDY Name
A Trek Through My Family, By Tony Servies
1236 Cloyd’s Church Rd.,Greenback, TN 37742
The Campbell Countian
A quarterly Newsletter of the Campbell County Historical Society
October, November, December 1996,Vol. 7, No. 3, page 41
 The surname SMIDDY is not very common in the U.S., outside of a few places. There are numerous SMIDDY families in upper East Tennessee, especially Campbell County, TN, but I have yet to run across many other places where they are so heavily populated. My clan of  SMIDDY’s came from family who were very prolific, each having many sons and daughters, but who mainly stayed in the upper East Tennessee area.
     Whenever old records are researched, especially of those prior to 1900, it is very common to see many variations of the same name. Few people could spell their last name and most of the ones who could learned to spell it from watching other people write it out.
              To trace the origin of the SMIDDY last name, one must start from a known ancestor and work our way backward to the earliest ancestor. For example Richard Elmore SMIDDY, my grandfather, is the son of Benjamin SMIDDY, who is the son of Calvin SMIDDY, Calvin SMIDDY (1818-1900) is my earliest ancestor for which I have verifiable proof, There is a trail of records that point directly to him as one of the early SMIDDY members of East Tennessee.
  The military pension application of Calvin SMIDDY gives a clue to the SMIDDY name. Calvin, who could not read or write, signed the application with an ‘X’ mark. But in 1893, as he was dictating his military service to the person who wrote it down, he mentioned this interesting fact:
  “It has been suggested to me that formerly my family name was spelled ‘SMITHERS’ which may be recorded that way [in his military record], but I am told that it frequently appears both ways, but of late years it is commonly spelled ‘SMIDDY’.”
  This is an amazing fact. Surnames have been changed throughout the history of the world, but very few times do you see evidence of a name change in a record that is only about 100 years old. Without a doubt, the name change occurred before Calvin was born – he never used any last name other than “SMIDDY.” He only indicates that it could have been “SMITHERS.”
  Another piece of evidence that support this finding comes from a SMIDDY researcher living in Cincinnati, Ohio. Ms. Betty Ann SMIDDY has been researching her SMIDDY family for many years. During her research she came across a book on IRISH surnames, In it, the following appears:
      “SMIDDY – a form of SMITHWICK or SMITHERS found in County Cork and peculiar to Ireland.”
Thus we have some evidence that SMIDDY is indeed derived from SMITHERS. And a letter from my deceased great-aunt Nora SMIDDY HEATHERLY helps me establish an Irish connection. In the letter she wrote:
  “My grandfather [Calvin SMIDDY] was born in Cork County, Ireland, December 30th.”
            There is a lot of proof that shows that Calvin was not born in Ireland. In several census records, he personally stated that he was born in Tennessee, not Ireland. But I do think that his grandparents may have been born there. If so, were they from Cork County where SMIDDY is a common, shortened version of SMITHERS?
            As mentioned before, I have verifiable proof that Calvin SMIDDY is my ancestor. What is not known is who Calvin’s father was, but, it is very likely that is was Reuben SMIDDY (1790 – 1866). Rueben had the distinction of fighting in the War of 1812. In the late 1860’s he applied for a pension. In his pension application he indicated that he was married in the year 1811 in Montgomery Co., Virginia. Thus, my ancestry most likely leads me to Virginia.
It is in Montgomery Co., VA that the strongest evidence of a name change can be found. In the marriage records for that county, the following record appears:
            “25 Sept 1790. Jesse SMUTHER and Jean RICHARDS. Consent was given by Robert SMEADY.”
In the complete marriage record (which is only partially listed above), the groom’s name appeared twice – once as Jesse SMUTHER and later as Jesse SMEADY. Notice that consent to get married was give by a man named Robert SMEADY. Typically, consent to marry was given by the bride or groom’s father or uncle, if they were living and approved of the marriage. To me, it seems very likely that Robert SMEADY was somehow related to Jesse.
            There are several other records in the Montgomery Co., VA area that relate to a man named Jesse SMITHERS. I believe that this one and the same person as Jesse SMEADY.
            Together, all of this information leads me think that originally the SMIDDY name might have once been SMITHERS. While we will probably never know for certain the exact origin of the name, without much doubt, the records tend to point to the fact that SMITHERS may have been the early name that changed over time to become SMIDDY.

WHAT'S IN A NAME … Are you called SMEDLEY?

This is very much a Derbyshire name with about 150 entries in the local directory. Although it has every appearance of being a place-name, there is nowhere listed as such in any gazetteer available to the "Advertiser" Having therefore, to resort to inspired guess-work, it is submitted that the surname is derived from a site just over the border in the West Riding and now called "Smithley" (4 miles s.e. of Barnsley).
The name is made up from two units: "Smith" and "Ley". The second is the word "Leah" which can be widely interpreted as "forest", "clearing", "pasture-land" or "meadow". It is submitted that in the case of "Smithley" reference is made to the low-lying land through which the minor river called the Dove wanders. (It is about six miles long and joins the Dearne at Darfield.) The original appearance of the district is heavily obscured under later development by the way of mineral workings.
As a starter it should be noted that the interchange of "th" with "d" is common in language development. Note the German "Bad" and "der" with the English equivalents of "bath" and "the". It is quite a feature in children's talk, especially in Liverpool vernacular.
It is very tempting to take it that "Smithley" referred to iron-workers and their forges. In North Country dialect, "SMIDDY" is often used. Hence "SMIDDY-LEAH" presents attractive possibilities and so the transition both to "Smedley" and "Smithley" is appealing. Persuasive evidence can be found in relation to "Smishy" (sometimes called "Smithsby") here in Derbyshire - 3 miles east of Swadlincote. In Domesday (1086) it appears as "Smidsby" which is not far removed from "Smidsley" and thence to "Smedley". However it is the opinion of the "Advertiser" that the name is based upon "Smeede" which is an alternative to "Smeeth" and signifies "level" or "smooth". It is interesting to note that in Old English the form "Smeethe" preceded and prevailed over the word "Smooth" until about the year 1400. There is a place in Lancashire incorporating the unit "Smith" and which originally appeared as "Smed". It is now a neighbourhood name in Liverpool and is known as "Smithdown". In the Domesday Book (1086) it is spelled as "Esmedune" and later, in the Taxation Lists (1185) as "Smededon". This can be interpreted as the "Smooth hill" or "dun."
The surrounding terrain supports this explanation. Most of the surrounding area is low-lying but the main road, now called "Smithdown Road" rises steadily over a mile, then reaching the vicinity of a place called "Edge Hill" descends perceptibly towards the city centre.
Another significant point is that "smeeth" is a dialect word which describes a level. In a Latin dictionary (1440) the word "planities" (i.e. a level surface on a plain) is set alongside "smeeth". Even as late as 1825 a guide book to East Anglia states that "smeeth" is an open level of considerable extent.
All this emphasis upon "smoothness" and "level land" and the benefits it conferred in facilitating communication is confirmed by referring to the features surrounding "Smithley". It is an extremely small settlement - so small in fact, that it might have been merely a neighbourhood name with few habitations. Today it stands alongside the Sheffield-Barnsley railway line and about 1½ miles from Wombwell. The surrounding land is open and is traversed only by a minor road. While the north-south route seems straightforward, east-west travel is noticeably restricted. When the mineral railway tracks were constructed an elaborate succession of embankments and cuttings had to be constructed to make their way over the land. The presence of small ponds alongside suggests regular flooding and there are indications of marsh-land.
So taking all in all it could very well have been that communications, especially between Wombwell and Barnsley followed what was possibly the only convenient route from the fact that there is another settlement about ¾ mile beyond Smithley called "Swaithe". This is a very old word which means "path" or "way". It can be found as early as 850 and its application to the "path" cut by a scythe does not appear until some six centuries later.
There are very few records of the surname "Smedley". This might arise from the fact that the place or origin was so very small that it was hardly known much beyond the immediate neighborhood and so was not widely resorted to as the basis of a surname. In fact the only record occurs in the Poll Tax lists for Yorkshire and only as late as 1379. It is to a "Willelmus de Smythlay." The name seems to be concentrated in Derbyshire, the West Riding, Lancashire, Nottingham and North Wales. A highly probable cause is that the local activity centred on mining and that there was much emigration from there to the mining organisations in the adjacent regions. No doubt such emigrants could have been identified as being from "Smedley" but that is something individual families should sort out for themselves.
The name does not seem to have made its way either to Scotland or Ireland except as a conscious import. An Irish example is Jonathan Smedley (1689-1729) a clergyman who made something of a stir in the literary circles of Dublin. Francis Smedley (1818-1864) came from a family settled in North Wales, (Flintshire). His novel about the school-boy, "Frank Fairlegh" (1850) was once tremendously. admired. The name is of course well-known here in Matlock on account of John Smedley, a native of Lea, a village about 3 miles beyond the town. He established the great Smedley's Hydro in 1853 and built the pretentious Riber Castle which remains a well-known landmark.

When the English ruled Ireland it was illegal to use your Irish name, so all names were "translated" into English.
Civil census was taken in Ireland from:
1. The first four were destroyed in 1922 during the Civil War. Some fragments were saved.  All Cork returns were lost except for 1851.  We have all of the civil parishes of Kilcrumper and Kilworth.  Leitrim and Macroney is partially available.
2. 1861,1871,1881,1891 were destroyed by order of the British Government
3. 1901 and 1911 are intact and can be viewed at the National Archives Dublin. -  
From: Ann Smiddy
Sent: Friday, January 06, 2006 7:19 PM
Subject: Smiddy, Smist, SCHMID.

Our name 'SMIDDY' appears to have been formed from SCHMID, and to be of
German extraction. In Irish they call it Schmid. (The diary of Rev. Richard
Cannon Smiddy - (October the 6th 1840)

I am researching the Smiddy surname and came across the above which was
included in the diary of Rev. Richard Cannon Smiddy 1840.

Has anyone heard of a connection between Smiddy and Schmid?

From: Karen Schmid 
Sent: Sat, 7 January, 2006 2:21:05
Subject: Re: Smiddy, Smist, SCHMID.

Hi Ann,

Schmid is actually a German name. It means "smith" and is as popular there as the name Smith, Jones or Wilson is here in the US.

It would not at all be unusual for that German name to migrate to the countries of the UK since many Schmids leaving Germany stopped off there for varying lengths of time. I know my family did, I just haven't been able to figure out where yet.

As far is as your name be a variation of Schmid, it certainly would not seem out of the question that a nickname was created and stuck. I have had all kinds of "adjustments" made to the pronunciation of my name. Some are much further off than Smiddy! :)


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