This Polish surname of SMOLA was a Polish occupational name for a distiller of pitch. The name was derived from the Polish word SMOLARZ (pitch-burner). Other spellings of the name include SMOLKA, SMOLAREK, SMOLEN and SMOLEK. Many of the modern family names throughout Europe reflect the profession or occupation of their forbears in the Middle Ages and derive from the position held by their ancestors in the village, noble household or religious community in which they lived and worked. The addition of their profession to their birth name made it easier to identify individual tradesmen and craftsmen. As generations passed and families moved around, so the original identifying names developed into the corrupted but simpler versions that we recognise today. Harry Peter SMOLLETT, OBE, born in 1944 is the author and journalist, born in Vienna on 17th September, 1912, the son of Albert and Vilma SMOLKA. He has been a naturalised British subject since 1938; changed his name by deed poll in 1938, but continues to use SMOLKA as a writer's name. The earliest Polish surnames were patronymic. The personal names from which they were derived were mainly Slavonic, but as the Middle Ages progressed, traditional Slavic given names, began to give way to saint's names, mainly of Latin origin. Surnames derived from Slavonic personal names are of early origin, and tend to be borne by aristocratic families. Many Polish people acquired their surnames by reason of former residence in a town or village. There are nearly 600 families bearing the arms of a horseshoe enclosing a cross. Some names were changed by immigrants whilst on the boat heading for America and Australia. These transformations were usually to names thought by the immigrants to be more respected in their native land than the one he bore. Many Poles added 'ski' to their names to attain a higher social status since such names were accorded more respect from people of Polish extraction. Thus a larger proportion of Polish names carried this termination in America and Australia than in Poland.
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