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Smail Coat of Arms / Smail Family Crest

Smail Coat of Arms / Smail Family Crest

This surname SMAIL was from the nickname group of surnames 'the small man, one of short stature'. Surnames having a derivation from nicknames form the broadest and most miscellaneous class of surnames, encompassing many different types of origin. The most typical classes refer adjectivally to the general physical aspect of the person concerned, or to his character. Many nicknames refer to a man's size or height, while others make reference to a favoured article of clothing or style of dress. Many surnames derived from the names of animals and birds. In the Middle Ages ideas were held about the characters of other living creatures, based on observation, and these associations were reflected and reinforced by large bodies of folk tales featuring animals behaving as humans. Early records of the name mention Robert le Small, County Huntingdonshire, 1273. Willelmus Smale of Yorkshire, was listed in the Yorkshire Poll Tax of 1379. Thomas Smale was the rector of Lerling, County Norfolk in the year 1468. Many factors contributed to the establishment of a surname system. For generations after the Norman Conquest of 1066 a very few dynasts and magnates passed on hereditary surnames, but the main of the population, with a wide choice of first-names out of Celtic, Old English, Norman and Latin, avoided ambiguity without the need for a second name. As society became more stabilized, there was property to leave in wills, the towns and villages grew and the labels that had served to distinguish a handful of folk in a friendly village were not adequate for a teeming slum where perhaps most of the householders were engaged in the same monotonous trade, so not even their occupations could distinguish them, and some first names were gaining a tiresome popularity, especially Thomas after 1170. The hereditary principle in surnames gained currency first in the South, and the poorer folk were slower to apply it. By the 14th century however, most of the population had acquired a second name. Later instances of the name include Nicholas Small, who registered at Oxford University in the year 1508, and Elizabeth, daughter of John Small was baptised at St. James's, Clerkenwell, London in 1621. John Smale and Ann Collet were married at St. George's, Hanover Square, London in 1731. The name is also spelt SMALL and SMALE.


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Last Updated: January 15th, 2021

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