This surname of SMELLEY is a locational name meaning 'one who came from SMALLEY' a chapelry in the parish of Morley, County Derby, seven miles from Derbyshire. The name is also spelt SMALLEY, SMALLY, SMELLY, SMILLIE and SMILEY. Habitation names were originally acquired by the original bearer of the name, who, having lived by, at or near a place, would then take that name as a form of identification for himself and his family. When people lived close to the soil as they did in the Middle Ages, they were acutely conscious of every local variation in landscape and countryside. Every field or plot of land was identified in normal conversation by a descriptive term. If a man lived on or near a hill or mountain, or by a river or stream, forests and trees, he might receive the word as a family name. Almost every town, city or village in early times, has served to name many families. The earliest of the name on record appears to be Alicia SMALHAGHE of Yorkshire, who was listed in the Yorkshire Poll Tax of 1379. It was not until the 10th century that modern hereditary surnames first developed, and the use of fixed names spread, first to France, and then England, then to Germany and all of Europe. In these parts of Europe, the individual man was becoming more important, commerce was increasing and the exact identification of each man was becoming a necessity. Even today however, the Church does not recognise surnames. Baptisms and marriages are performed through use of the Christian name alone. Thus hereditary names as we know them today developed gradually during the 11th to the 15th century in the various European countries. Later instances of the name include James SMALLEY of Liverpool, who was listed in the Wills at Chester in 1682, and Edward SMALLEY of Blackburn was documented in the same Wills in 1689. The name was taken to Scotland by settlers at an early date and Thomas SMELIE was a merchant and guild-brother in Glasgow in 1612, and James SMILLIE was recorded in Strafrank, in the parish of Carstairs in 1754. William SMELLIE (1740-1795) was the printer and naturalist, from Edinburgh.
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