Small Surname Name Meaning, Origin, History, & Etymology
This popular last name is of Anglo-Scottish origin that developed as a nickname for a person who was of diminutive stature or slender build, deriving from the Middle English word small, Old English smael, and Old Saxon/Old High German/Scandinavian word smal, meaning “thin or narrow”. In some instances, it is an Anglicanization or Americanization of several other equivalent European surnames such as Klein (German), Keelty, Begg, or Kielty (Irish), and Petit (French). In 2004, Ohio State University found “Northern European men living during the early Middle Ages were nearly as tall as their modern-day American descendants, a finding that defies conventional wisdom about progress in living standards during the last millennium”.
Other names with this type of origin include Little, Bigg, and Large. Some spelling variants of names with similar etymologies include: Smalle, Smale, Smail, Smaile, Smalls, Smallman, Smally and others. It is believed the name was first found in Derbyshire, England at Smalley, a chapelry (a subdivision of ecclesiastical parishes in England and Scotland), in the parish of Morley. In Scotland, it was first established in Renfrewshire. The only Small family motto I have identified is Ratione non irâ, which translates from Latin to English as "By reason, not by rage".
Early Bearers of the Small Surname
The first known bearers of this surname was Elizabeth Small, wife of Hinge Wiehler, who was born in England c. 875 AD. William Smale was documented in the Assize Court Rolls of Ely, Cambridgeshire in 1221 AD. The Hundred Rolls of 1273 AD, a census of Wales and England, known in Latin as Rotuli Hundredorum lists two bearers of this surname: Robert le Small of Huntingdonshire and Henry le Smale of Cambridge. William Smale was listed in the Subsidy Rolls of Worcestershire in 1275 AD. Richard le Smale was documented in the Close Rolls of 1315 AD. Richard Smale or Smail was recorded in Glasgow, Scotland in 1329 AD. Thomas Smale was documented in Roxburgh, Scotland in 1338 AD. Thomas Small was documented in the village of Estir Softlawe in Teuidalle in 1360 AD. William Small was a tenant of Douglas in Linton, Scotland in 1376 AD. Simon Smale was found in Ellon, Aberdeenshire in 1402. John Smale was a burgess of Aberdeen in 1407. The Poll Tax Rolls of Yorkshire in 1379 AD also list one bearer: Willelmus Smale. Rinkin Small was recorded in Prestwick in 1446 AD. John Smalle was recorded in 1446 AD. Thomas Smale was the Rector of Lerling, Norfok in 1468 AD.
Popularity & Geographic Distribution
The last name Small ranks 681st popularity in the United Status as of the 2000 Census. The name ranks particularly high in the following five states: Maine (87th), Montana (318th), South Carolina (361st), New Hampshire (365th), and New York (389th).
The surname Small frequency/commonness ranks as follows in the British Isles: England (548th), Scotland (473rd), Wales (562nd), Ireland (1,206th) and Northern Ireland (451st). In England, it ranks highest in Hampshire. In Scotland, the surname ranks highest in Dundee. In Ireland, it ranks highest in Connaught. In Wales, it ranks highest in Newport.
The name is also present throughout the remainder English speaking world: Canada (895th), New Zealand (342nd), Australia (537th), and South Africa (1,139th).
Small Family Tree & Small Genealogy
Small of Toronto
John Small of Cirencester, Gloucester, England went to the Canadian colonies in 1792 with Governor Simcoe and was a clerk of the Crown and Pleas of Upper Canada and clerk of the Executive Council. He married Eliza Goldmsith of Broasdstairs, Kent, and had two issue with her as follows: James Edward and John. His son, John Small, of the city of Toronto, Dominion of Canada, was elected to the House of Commons in 1882 and was reelected in 1887. He was born in 1831. In 1856, he married Susan Margaret, daughter of James Boulton. The family bore the following coat of arms: Sable on a bend argent three roses gules barbed and seeded proper, in the sinister chief point a chessrook of the second. Crest: On a chessrook of the second.
Small of Fenne
Nicholas Small was born in Fenne, Devon, England in 1395 AD. He married Jane Finamour and had a son with her named John. John was born in the same town in 1419 AD. He had a son also named John. This son John was born in Fenne, Devon in 1439 AD. He married Jone Holway and had a daughter with her named Mabell. Maberll as born in 1455 and married William Stebbing.
Small or Smale of Newbury
William Smale was born in Newbury, Berkshire, England in 1496 AD. He married Katherine Packer and had two sons with her: Peter and Thomas. Thomas Smale was born in Swimbridge, Devon, England in 1521. He married Grace Shorting and had two sons with her: Peter and William.
Small of Winterbourne
Peter Small was born in Winterbourne, Berkshire, England in 1540. He had a daughter named Johanne. She was born in the same town in 1562. She married Gilbert Pruitt and had a son with him named John.
Small of Bideford
Edward Small, possible was born in Bideford, Devon, England in 1600. He went to colonial American where he passed away in Maine in 1664. He was an Indian trader, Magistrate, and merchant of woolen goods. He married Elizabeth, daughter of John Shurt and Mary Lugge, and had the following issue with her: Francis, Elizabeth, Mary, Edmond, and William. His children are discussed as follows:
1) Francis Small was born in Devon, England in 1625. He had the following issue: Edward, Daniel, Mary, Francis Jr., Benjamin, David, Samuel Sr., Alice, and Elizabeth.
2) Elizabeth Smalle was born in Devon, England in 1627.
3) Mary Smalley was born in Bideford, Devon in 1629.
4) Edmond Smalley was born in Bideford, Devon in 1630.
5) William Smalley was born in Bideford, Devon in 1634. He married and had a daughter named Elizabeth. Elizabeth was born c. 1673 and she married Thomas Hooper and had several issue with him.
Small of Devon
John Small was born in Devon, England in 1606. He came to colonial America. He married Anna Grove and had a son with her named John Jr. John Small Jr. was in Salem, Essex County, Massachusetts in 1644. He married Alice, daughter of Thomas Hollowell Sr. and Alice Their, and had the following issue with her: Joseph, Benjamin, Thomas, John III, Joshua, Nathan, Elizabeth, Isaac, and Samuel.
1) Joseph Small was born in Virginia c. 1690. He married Ann, daughter of Gilbert Owens, and had a son named Benjamin. Benjamin was born in the early 1700s and he had a daughter named Anna Ward.
2) Benjamin Small was born in Chuckatuck, Suffolk City, Virginia c. 1691. He married Mary, daughter of John Knight, and had the following issue with her: Sarah, Benjamin, and Amos. Amos was born in Carteret, North Carolina c. 1719. He married Sarah and had a son named Reuben.
3) Thomas Small was born c. 1694.
4) John Small III was born in Nanesmond, Virginia in 1695.
5) Joshua Small was born in Chowan County, North Carolina, in 1715.
6) Nathan Small was born between 1669-1723.
7) Elizabeth Small was born between 1669-1723.
8) Isaac Small was born between 1669-1723.
9) Samuel Small was born between 1669-1723.
Marriages of Smalls
1) Michaell Small married Alice Frinyer in Sandwich, Kent, England in May 1570
2) George Small married Mille Wailsbye in Wickenby, Lincoln, England in May 1577
3) Robarte Small married Emlynge Hyte in Ticehurst, Sussex, England in June 1578
4) Thomas Small married Amye Woulsye in Sall, Norfolk, England in May 1578
5) William Small married Jane Smith in Downpatrick, Down, Ireland in May 1718
6) Simon Small married Martha Ambrose in Saint John, Limerick, Ireland in February 1779
7) Amos Small married Sarah Hawbuck in Cartetet, North Carolina in 1755
8) Samuel Small married Molly Water in Sutton, Massachusetts in 1771
9) Captain Samuel Small married Deborah Peirce in Sutton, Massachusetts in 1786
10) John Small married Rebecca Griffin in Cumberland, North Carolina in 1829
11) John Small married Isabella Gillis in Washington, New York in August 1848
12) John B. Small married Mary A. Beech in Miami, Ohio in June 1867
Early American and New World Settlers
Some of the earliest settlers in colonial America bearing this name include:
1) Robert Small came to Virginia in 1606
2) William Small, age 18, came to Virginia aboard the Assurance in 1635
3) Mary Small, age 30, came to New England in 1635
4) Edward and Francis Small came to Maine between 1620-1650
5) John Small came to Salem, Massachusetts in 1635
6) Henry Small came to Virginia in 1636
7) Margaret Small came to Virginia in 1637
8) Elizabeth Small came to Virginia in 1639
9) Edward Small came to Maine in 1640
10) William Small came to Virginia in 1651
11) Francis Small came to New England in 1658
12) John Small came to Virginia in 1663
13) Judith Small came to Virginia in 1667
14) Joseph came to Hempstead, New York in 1673
15) Grace Small came to Virginia in 1691
16) Anne and Elizabeth Small came to Virginia in 1704
17) James Small came to Maryland in 1716
18) Margaret Small came to Virginia in 1719
19) John Small came to Virginia in 1724
20) Joseph Small came to Virginia in 1729
Several thousand members of the Small family came to the United States through Ellis Island, during the nineteenth century, including:
1) Amos Small came from Barbados aboard the Trinidad in 1906
2) Owen Small came from Silverbridge aboard the Campania in 1906
3) Elizabeth Small came from England aboard the Virginia in 1870
4) Alice Small came from England aboard the Batavia in 1871
5) John Small came from Scotland aboard the Columbia in 1871
6) Emma Small came from England aboard the City of Paris in 1868
7) William Small came from Ireland aboard the City of Antwerp in 1871
8) Patt Small came from Great Britain aboard the Adirondach in 1844
9) Albert Small came from England aboard the Batavia in 1871
10) John Turnbull Small came from Toronto, Canada aboard the Cedric in 1904
11) Thomas Small came from Cork, Ireland aboard the Oceanic in 1903
12) Robert J. Small came from Derbyshire, England aboard the Kroonland in 1912
Some of the earliest settlers in Canada bearing this name include:
1) Dorill Small, Hanah Small, and Isabelah Small came to Nova Scotia in 1750
2) William Small came to St. John’s Newfoundland in 1756
3) Christian Small (and child) came to Nova Scotia, Canada in 1784
4) Robert Small, age 56, came to Prince Edward Island in 1811
5) Alexander Small came to Ontario sometime between 1826-1856
Some of the earliest settlers in Australia and New Zealand bearing this name include:
1) Jacob Small, a convict from London, England came to Van Diemen’s Land (present day Tasmania) aboard the Anson in 1843.
2) Robert Small came to Adelaide, Australia aboard the Hooghly in 1848.
3) Thomas Parrier Small came to Adelaide aboard the Thomas Lowry in 1848.
4) Harry Small came to Adelaide aboard the Navarino in 1849.
5) John Small, a Protestant, came to Kissing Point, New South Wales in 1786
6) George Small, a Roman Catholic, age 23, came to Evan, New South Wales aboard the Mangles in 1834
7) Robert Small, age 24, came to Victoria, Australia in 1861
8) David Small came to Auckland, New Zealand aboard the Chelydra in 1839
9) Charles Small, age 36, a saw miller by trade, and his wife Margaret, age 33, came to the city of Wellington, New Zealand aboard the Martha Ridgeway in 1840
10) Thomas Small, a farm laborer, came to Canterbury, New Zealand aboard the Rangitiki in 1875
11) William Small, a farm laborer, from Kent came to Lyttleton, New Zealand aboard the Stadt Haarlem in 1879
Grantees of Arms
1) Mathew Smale of Paddington, Middlesex, son of Nicholas, 1590, by Cooke
2) Small, of Lewisham, county Kent, and Ully and Minchinhampton, county Gloucester, England, (Quartering, escutcheon of pretence on, see Pybus), 1795
There are hundreds of notable people with the Small surname. This page will mention a handful. Famous people with this last name include:
1) Lennington Small (1862-1936) was the 26th Governor of Illinois from 1921-1929, having previously served as the state’s Treasurer, and as a member of the Illinois Senate, born in Kankakee County
2) Henry John Small (1881-1946) was an English football (soccer) player who plated from 1900-1905 for South Hampton, Manchester United, and Salisbury City
3) William Watson Small (1909-1978) was a Scottish Labour Party member who served a Member of Parliament for Glasgow Scotstoun from 1959-1974 and Glasgow Garscadden from 1974-1978.
4) John Small (1746-1831) was a clerk, justice of the peace, and lieutenant colonel in the militia in Upper Canada, born in Cirencester, England. The following excerpt from Wikipedia provides an interesting story about John Small “In January 1800, he fought a duel with John White, the attorney general for the province. White had insulted Small's wife's honour after a quarrel between the two men's wives. Major John Small shot White in the hip, a wound he died from a few days later. He was charged with and acquitted of murder, even though the presiding judge, Henry Allcock, claimed to be a friend of White. Small's reputation in the elite society of York was ruined by the affair”.
5) William Stanton Small (1870-1943) was an experimental psychologist who is considered to be the firrt person to test the behavior of rats in mazes as a measure of learning
6) John Small was a British military officer born in Strathardle, Athole who played a critical role in raising and leading the Royal Highland Emigrants (84th Foot Regiment) during the American Revolution.
7) Michael Anthony Small (1962) was an English football (soccer) played, a Striker by position, burn in Birmingham, who played from 1981-1992 for various teams such as Luton Town, West Ham United, and Sligo Rovers.
8) Albion Woodbury Small (1854-1926) founded the first Department of Sociology in the US, at the University of Chicago and later was the 10th President of Colby College from 1889-1892, having grown up in Bangor, Maine
9) Sir Andrew Bruce Small (1895-1980) was an Australian businessman and politician from New South Wales who developed Malvern Star bicycles and also served as a Member of the Queensland Legislative Assembly for Surfers Paradise
10) Ambrose Joseph Small (1863-1919) was a Canadian theatre magnaute who owned several venues including the Grand Operate House in Toronto. Wikipedia states the following interesting fact about him “On 2 December 1919, Small disappeared and his body was never recovered. He was 56 years old. It was alleged at the time that Small's wife and her lover killed Small and cremated his body in the London Ontario Grand Opera theater furnace”.
Small America Civil War Veterans
There were numerous soldiers with the last name Small who served in the American Civil War, including the following:
1) Charles E. Small of the 27th Regiment North Carolina Infantry (Confederacy)
2) David G. Small of the 1st North Carolina Regiment (Confederacy)
3) Peter A. Small of the 1st Regiment Maryland Infantry (Union)
4) Arthur F. Small of the 150th Regiment New York Infantry (Union)
5) William J. Small of the 20th Regiment Kentucky Infantry (Union)
6) Henry B. Small of the 176th Regiment New York Infantry (Union)
7) Albert M. Small of the 194th Regiment New York Infantry (Confederacy)
8) Abner R. Small of the 3rd Maine Infantry (Union)
9) Cyrus S. Small of the 1st Maine Light Infantry (Union)
10) Warren J. Small of the 2nd Regiment Illinois Light Artillery (Union)
11) Lemuel P.M. Small of the 8th Regiment Tennessee Infantry (Confederacy)
12) Richard H. Small of Douglas’ Company Texas Light Artillery (Confederacy)
13) George Small of the 1st Regiment Michigan Light Artillery (Union)
14) Henry Small of the 10th Regiment Michigan Cavalry (Union)
15) Bailey W. Small of the 4th Regiment Indiana Cavalry (Union)
16) Arthur F. Small of the 25th Regiment Pennsylvania Infantry (Union)
17) William J. Small of the 20th Regiment Kentucky Infantry (Union)
18) Benjamin Small of the 7th Regiment Pennsylvania Reserve Infantry (Confederacy)
19) Charles E. Small of the 27th Regiment North Carolina (Confederacy)
20) Peter A. Small of the 1st Regiment Maryland Infantry (Union
Small America Revolution Veterans
There were several soldiers with the last name Small who served in the Revolutionary War, including the following:
1) Private David Small of Massachusetts
2) Corporal Henry Small of Virginia
3) Private Jeremiah Small of Massachusetts
4) Private John Small of Virginia
5) Private Benjamin Small of New Hampshire
6) Cesar Small of New Hampshire
7) Private Harry Small of Virginia
8) Hix Small of New Hampshire
9) Private Isaac Small of New Hampshire
10) Private John Small of New Hampshire
11) Private Samuel Small of New Hampshire
12) William Small Jr. of New Hampshire
13) Benjamin Small of New York
14) Sergeant Daniel Small of Massachusetts
15) Private George Small of New York
16) Private Ephram Small of Massachusetts
17) Private William Small of New Jersey
Other Small Sources
The Descendants of Edward Small of New England