Posted by on 14 February 2013 in General, Guest Bloggers, What's in a name?

Authored by David Spencer.  David started research in to his family tree over 10 years ago and after collecting lots of names he decided to start looking to the Surnames it contained when he was thinking about what to give his parents for Christmas so he came up with the idea of a book of Surnames.  So he stared by making a list of all the Surnames in his Family Tree and then set about finding out the meaning of each one. So Far he has covered A to M and is currently working on N to Z.

ARROWSMITH –

Type – Occupational

ARROWSMITH is a rare English surname used to describes a maker of the iron points of the arrow, which were specially tempered in order to pierce armour.

This surname is NOT to be confused with the “Fletcher” who works on the other end of the arrow and is associated with the making of and attaching the flights. With this being the case one would therefore logically believe that there should be as many ‘ ARROWSMITHS’ as ‘Fletchers’ in the surnames list, but this is far from the case.  In the case of my own tree I have found in my research 3 ARROWSMITH’S and only 1 Fletcher. The reason for discrepancy arises because most original ‘fletchers’ were not makers of ‘flights’, but ‘fleshers’, people who cleaned animal skins to prepare the leather.

The guild list of England for the year 1400 gives ‘Arow-heders, maltemen, and Cornmongers’ as acceptable trades.

Alternative Spellings -  Aruesmith, Arwesmyth and Arrowsmyth

Also found as – Harrowsmith, Harrismith

Name Distribution of ARROWSMITH Families – According to the 1891 England and Wales Census the greatest number of ARROWSMITHS were located in Lancashire with 774 of 2672 which is 29% of the results.  This may account for why Henry Tudor of Lancaster beat King Richard 3rd of York (figures show that there were only 141 of 2672 or 5% of ARROWSMITHS in Yorkshire) in the War of the Roses. His archers were better supplied.

Early examples of the recordings include: Roger le Aruesmith of Staffordshire in 1278, William le Arwesmyth of Essex in 1324, and Johanes Arrowsmyth of Yorkshire, in the 1379 Poll Tax rolls for that county.

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Authored by David Spencer.  David started research in to his family tree over 10 years ago and after collecting lots of names he decided to start looking to the Surnames it contained when he was thinking about what to give his parents for Christmas so he came up with the idea of a book of Surnames.  So he stared by making a list of all the Surnames in his Family Tree and then set about finding out the meaning of each one. So Far he has covered A to M and is currently working on N to Z.

About Emma

Emma Pulman is a Social Media and digital Marketing Executive for Ancestry.co.uk. Based in Ancestry's London office in Hammersmith, Emma regularly tweets and posts on Ancestry's Facebook page.

2 Comments

Brian Swann 

I have a very good friend of mine who has done some work on Arrowsmith. He can claim Aaron Arrowsmith, the well-known map-maker, as a distant relation and I helped him do some work on his ancestry in Durham. He wrote an article on him for one of the Map Journals.

14 February 2013 at 9:15 pm
James Baxter 

It’s strange that we don’t have surnames deriving from occupations in Wales but we do call people after their occupations. For instance Alan the milk. John the coal and in my youth while I was wholesaling fishing bait I was known as James the worms!

17 February 2013 at 10:09 pm