This surname of SCHMIT was an English and German occupational name for a worker in metal. The name was originally rendered in the Old English form SMID (to strike). Metal working was one of the earliest occupations for which specialist skills were required, and it is perhaps the most widespread of all occupations. The name has numerous variant spellings which include SCHMIDT, SMITH, SMYTH, SMITHER, SMED, SMDITZ, SMIDMAN, SMUTS, SMUTHER and SMITHSON, to name but a few. The smith was one of the most important men in medieval Europe. He served both the lord and the peasants. It was his duty to shoe the lord's horses, mend and sharpen his plows and make all the metal objects that were required. For these duties he would receive certain honours such as charcoal and wood from the lord's forest and the right to have his land ploughed by the lord's plows. He also did work for the serfs in the manor, from whom he would receive payment. Henry II of England in 1181, ordered every holder of land worth Z10 a year, to provide himself with a coat of mail, a helmet, a shield and a lance, and many smiths were required to make these articles. The smith, as a worker in metals was important in every country, and many surnames in America have been translated from SMITH from many different languages. A notable member of the name includes Wilhelm SCHMIDT (1868-1954) the German priest and ethnologist, born in Horde, Westphalia. He joined the society of the Divine Word Missionary order in 1883, and was ordained a priest in 1892. After studying oriental languages at Berlin Universtity, he became professor in the St. Gabriel Mission Seminary at Modling, where he remained until 1938. Because of the close relationship between the English and German languages, some Germans are able to transform their names to the English form just by dropping a single letter. Many Germans have re-spelt their names in America. A great number of immigrants from Germany settled in Pennsylvania. After the start of the first World War, Germans in great numbers Anglicized their names in an effort to remove all doubt as to their patriotism. Afterwards some changed back, and then during World War II the problem became acute once more, and the changing started all over again, although not with as much intensity.
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