1) The word ‘smithy’ was used for the forge or workshop of a blacksmith but iron works on a larger scale were being called ‘smithies’, from the early 1400s at least.

A Derbyshire reference suggests that such smithies had a number of ancillary buildings, however modest: 1387 ‘houses, buildings and Smythyhouses’, Barlborough. In some early Yorkshire examples, ‘Smithies’ is a surname, possibly already hereditary: 1425 Thomas del Smythies, Sawley

1432 de Roberto oftheSmethies, York. Among early West Riding ironworks so named are: 1450 lez Smythiez in Tonge

1538 unius Molendini vocati le Yron Smithes, Rievaulx

1598 Ecclesoule Smithies, Sheffield. There is evidence in a Honley deed of how the plural usage may have originated: 1573 quoddam forgam vocat’ a paire of Smythies. The alternative ‘smithy place’ has a similar history and the two terms may have been interchangeable: 1482 usum et occupacionem tenure de Hundesworth et fabrice ibidem vocate Smythplace

1507 a Syte of a Smethe place to bylde an Irnesmethe both blome herth and strynge herth and also the Course of the Water … to turne the said Smethes, Hazlebarrow, Norton. In Spen Valley Past and Present, Peel refers on page 131 to one tenement made into two dwellings called the Smythies Place where some time stood Iron Smythies long since decayed. Such ‘smithies’ are distinct from the plural of ‘smithy’ as a blacksmith’s forge: in 1557 property leased to Francis Swift of Sheffield included tooe cotages and tooe smethes on the northweste syde of … Pinchen Crofte: a lease of Sir Francis Wortley’s ironworks in 1621 covered All those Iron Smythees … with all houses, buildings, stringe hearths, bloom hearths, dames, streames, goats [leats] and water-courses thereunto belonging … with all the bellowes, tools and implements now at the said smythees. Smithies and Smithy Place are still relatively common place-names in the West Riding.

spellings smithy place
dates 1387 1425 1432 1450 1482 1507 1538 1557 1573 1598 1621

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