This Is Why There Are So Many People With The Last Name ‘Smith’ In The World
If your name isn’t Smith – chances are you know one.
A friend, a neighbour, a famous person. We’re looking at you Will Smith.
Smith is the most popular last name in England and Australia, and now there’s a pretty rational explanation behind the popular namesake.
So why are there so many Smiths in the world?
Well according to Paul Blake writing for the BBC, we can thank the Norman invasion for the popular surname.
Blake, who is Chairman of the Society of Genealogists, advises that it was the Normans who introduced the concept of surnames to England.
While some people chose their names based on a person’s location, (such as Bedford or Hampshire), others were based on occupation.
Smith, which is derived from the word ‘smite’ meaning to “strike with a hammer”, was tied to most of the more common jobs at the time – including goldsmiths, blacksmiths, coppersmiths, shoesmiths and ironsmiths.
The tradition then to pass on your family occupation to your children, while keeping your name, saw the Smith name rapidly populate the world.
Fast forward to the 1600s, and the first settlers to New England, America were ‘Smiths’.
Blake then explains how Native Americans adopted the name to become more Anglicized and slave owners gave the name “Smith” to African slaves.
Now 20 per cent of all Smiths in the US today are black Americans.
Immigration led to a sweep of Jewish settlers adopting “Smith” to blend into their new homeland, while Germans changed their name from Schmidt to Smith for acceptance in America.
Add to that the fact there have been a number of baby booms and suddenly the Smith overdrive suddenly makes sense.