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Ancient History of the Distinguished Surname

    The most ancient surname of Shucksmith makes an impressiveclaim to being one of the oldest Anglo-Saxon surnames on record. The history of the name is closely woven into the intricate tapestry of the ancient chronicles of England.

    Professional researchers have carefully scrutinized such ancient manuscripts as the Domesday Book (1086), the Ragman Rolls (1291-1296), the Curia Regis RollWilliam in 1066s, The Pipe Rolls, the Hearth Rolls, parish registers, baptismals, tax records and other ancient documents and found the first record of the name Shucksmith in Yorkshire where they were anciently seated, some say before the Norman Conquest by Duke William in 1066 A.D. They were anciently seated as Lords of the manor in Halifax in that shire.

    Many different spellings were encountered in the research of the surname. Although the name, Shucksmith, ocurred in many manuscripts and documents, from time to time the surname was also officially spelled Shucksmyth, Shucksmythe, Sixsmith, Sixsmyth, Sixsmythe, Sucksmith, Sucksmyth, Sucksmythe, Shuxsmith, Shuxsmyth, Shuxsmythe, Shoosmith, Shoosmyth, Shoosmythe, Shoesmith, Shoesmyth, Shoesmythe, Sexsmith, Sexsmyth, Sexsmythe and these variations in spelling frequently occurred, even between father and son. Scribes and church officials, often travelling great distances, even from other counties, frequently spelt the names they were recording as they heard it. As a result the same person could find different spellings of the same name recorded on birth, baptismal, marriage and death certificates as well as the other numerous records such as tax and census records.

    The Saxon race gave birth to many English surnames not the least of which was the surname Shucksmith. The Saxons were invited into England by the ancient Britons in the 5th century. They were a race of fair skinned people living along the Rhine valley as far north east as Denmark. They were led by General/Commanders Hengist and Horsa. The Saxons settled in the county of Kent, on the south east coast of England. Gradually, they probed north and westward, and during the next four hundred years forced the Ancient Britons back into Wales and Cornwall in the west, Cumberland to the north. The Angles, on the other hand, occupied the eastern coast, the south folk in Suffolk, north folk in Norfolk. Under Saxon rule England prospered under a series of High Kings, the last of which was Harold. In 1066, the Norman invasion from France occurred and their victory at the Battle of Hastings. Subsequently, many of the vanquished Saxon land owners forfeited their land to Duke William and his invading Norman nobles. Generally, the Saxons who remained in the south were not treated well under Norman rule, and many moved northward to the midlands, Lancashire and Yorkshire away from the Norman oppression.

    This notable English family name, Shucksmith, emerged as an influential name in the county of Yorkshire, where they were seated from early times. William Shosmith was recorded in Halifax in 1296 as was Henry who spelled his name Shughsmith. By the 13th century the family had branched to Lancashire at Atherton, and John Shosmith was recorded in Wigan in 1608. They also branched south into Cheshire where Brian Sexsmith was recorded, and into Somerset. Thomas Sexsmith was recorded in Atherton in Lancashire in 1602. Notable amongst the family at this time was Sexsmith of Cheshire.

    During the middle ages the surname Shucksmith flourished and played an important role in local affairs and in political development of England. During the 15th, 16th, 17th and 18th centuries England was ravaged by plagues and religios conflict. Puritism, the newly found political fervour of Cromwellianism, and the remnants of the Roman Church rejected all non believers, each promoting their own cause. The conflicts between Church groups, the Crown and political groups all claimed their followers, and their impositions, tithes, and demands on rich and poor alike broke the spirit of men and many turned away from religion. Many families were freely 'encouraged' to migrate to Ireland, or to the 'colonies'. Some were rewarded with grants of lands, others were banished.

    Some families were forced to migrate to Ireland where they bacame known as the 'Adventurers for land in Ireland'. Protestant settlers 'undertook' to keep their faith, being granted lands previosly owned by the Catholic Irish. They were known as th 'Undertakers'. There is no record of Shucksmith's migrating to Ireland, but this does not preclude the possibility of individual migration.

    The 'New World' offered better opportunities and some migrated voluntarily, some were banished mostly for religios reasons. Some left Ireland disillusioned, but many left directly from England, their home territories. Some also moved to the European continent.

    Members of the family name Shucksmith sailed aboard the huge armada of three masted sailing ships known as the 'White Sails' which plied the stormy Atlantic. These overcrowded ships such as the Hector, the Dove and the Rambler, were pestilence ridden, sometimes 30% to 40% of the passenger list never reaching their destination, their numbers reduced by dysentery, cholera, small pox and typhoid.

    In North America, included amongst the first migrants which could be considered a kinsman of the surname Shucksmith, or a variable spelling of that family name was John Sixsmith who landed in New England in the 18th century.

    From the port of entry many settlers made their way west, joining the wagon trains to the prairies or to the west coast. During the War of Independence, many loyalists made their way north to Canada about1790, and became known as the United Empire Loyalists.

    Contemporary notables of this surname, Shucksmith, include many distinguished contributors; General Eric Sixsmith of Somerset, who wrote the critique "Eisenhower as Military Commander"; Guy Sixsmith, Stipendiary Magistrate; W. Sucksmith, Professor of Physics, Sheffield University.

    During the course of research it has been determined that many different Coat of Arms have been granted to different branches of the family name. The most ancient grant of Coat of Arms found was; Red with three black crosses on a gold chevron between three gold discs.

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