The Surname "Smith" and its Scottish Significance


Although every Clan had smiths, there was once a Clan Smith in old Scotland.  After 1745, the clan system was outlawed.  In 1978, Emery Smith, Jr. of Southern Pines, North Carolina re-formed Clan Smith under the name Clan Smith Society, Inc. (USA Branch).  It is an organization of people of Scottish or Scots-Irish Smith backgrounds and their spouses. 

Smith is the most popular name in Scotland and Smiths were scattered throughout the length and breadth of Scotland.  It is therefore difficult to assign a place of origin to this name.  It is recorded that a family of Smiths were settled in the parish of Strathblane at Craigend, first as tenants, and later as lairds.  The tradition of this family is that when surnames came into use they took their name from their occupation of the smiths and armourers of the Barony of Mugdock.

In the Gaelic-speaking highlands, the name is rendered smith, meaning not only a man who made ploughshares and horseshoes,  but also an armourer  who made weapons of all types --- is Gobha, which the origin for the names Gow, MacGow, and MacGowan;  however, even in the Gaelic-speaking Highlands the name appears to have been sometimes Anglicized as Smith and there are many Smiths in Lewis, where Gaelic is still generally spoken even now.

"The Clans on the Loch side (in the early 1600s were the MacFarlanes, Gows, (MacGows, MacGowans), Buchanans, Calquahauns, and the (then outlawed) MacGregors." As one can see in this listing, Gows or Smiths were considered as clans in this description..."

(Information from the late Emery Smith, Jr., Black's Surnames of Scotland, Clan Histories furnished by Lochacarron, Ltd., Scottish Clans and Tartans by Neil Grant, and the Historical Research Center.

Our current honorary clan "chief" is Emery Smith III, son of Emery Smith, Jr. and his wife, Alice.  According to the research of Emery Smith, Jr., former honorary Clan Smith "chief" and founder of Clan Smith Society, his line is descended from David, the son of David, Chief of the old Clan Smith in 1644, who lived in the area of Loch Lomond.  David had four sons and three daughters.  The four sons had large families.  Their sons left Scotland on a Williams ship  bound for America.  Some of this family came to Fayetteville, Elizabeth City, and Newbern, North Carolina, where many of their descendants still live today.Clan Smith was also associated with Clan Macpherson and an affiliate of the confederation of clans known as Clan Chattan.  For more information about the genealogy of founder, Emery Smith, Jr.  go to the articles listed below that he wrote about the Ancient History of the Clans and also  the Genealogy of Emery Smith, Jr.

Clan Smith Society, Inc. was incorporated in North Carolina in 1978, by Emery Smith, Jr.





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An old anvil and forge at the Smithy center in Scotland.  Photograph by Debbie Smith Clark




The old bellows at left in the Smithy center in Scotland.  Photograph by Debbie Smith Clark.


For more interesting information and fascinating research done by Emery Smith, Jr. the founder of Clan Smith Society please read the following articles:

Ancient History of the Clans

The Genealogy of Emery Smith, Jr.

When Pines were King (an interesting article about the Cape Fear Valley region of North Carolina