The surname of SMETTEM as of the locational group of surnames meaning one 'of Smeaton' now Kirk Smeaton, near Womersley, County York. There is also a place called Smeetham Hall in County Essex, from where the original bearer may have acquired his name. Most of the place-names that yield surnames are usually of small communities, villages, hamlets, some so insignificant that they are now lost to the map. A place-name, it is reasonable to suppose, was a useful surname only when a man moved from his place of origin to elsewhere, and his new neighbours bestowed it, or he himself adopted it. The name was originally rendered in the Old English form SMETHETON, and the earliest of the name on record appears to be SMIDETUNE (without surname) who was listed as a tenant in the Domesday Book of 1086. SMITHETUNE (without surname) was recorded in Yorkshire in 1088, and SMETHETOM (without surname) was recorded in County Essex in the year 1199. Johannes Smeton of Yorkshire, was listed in the Yorkshire Poll Tax of 1379. The earliest English placenames were those taken over by the Anglo-Saxons from the Britons at the time of their settlement in Britain between the 5th and 6th centuries. It was after the Norman Conquest of 1066 that hereditary surnames began to be used. Many of the incoming Normans identified themselves by reference to the estates from which they had come in Northern France, and others took names from the places in England in which they settled. John Mason and Rosamond Smeton were married in London in 1620 (no church given). John Smeaton and Ann Jenkinson were married at St. George's, Hanover Square, London in 1756, and James Smeeton and Jane Sherwood, were married at the same church in 1769. In the Middle Ages heraldry came into use as a practical matter. It originated in the devices used to distinguish the armoured warriors in tournament and war, and was also placed on seals as marks of identity. As far as records show, true heraldry began in the middle of the 12th century, and appeared almost simultaneously in several countries of Western Europe. The name is also spelt Smeeton, Smeetham, and Smettom. The nobles and the upper classes were first to realise the prestige of a second name, but it was not until the 15th century that most people had acquired a second name.
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