1) In general, the ‘smithy’ is thought of as the workplace of a blacksmith, a village forge.

In Sheffield the word had associations from an early date which require comment. Those associations are already evident in the poll tax returns of 1379 when one Sheffield resident had the by-name John de Smethe and paid 6d tax as a working smyth: no fewer than eight neighbours were also classed as smiths and there were twelve more near by in Handsworth. These were communities of smiths producing iron goods for a wider market, and the townspeople would have been familiar throughout their lives with the sound of hammers on iron. As a by-name ‘smithy’ survived in that part of Yorkshire well into the fifteenth century but perhaps not later: 1384-5 John del Smythy, Bradfield

1440 Thomas de Smythy, Ecclesfield. Even in later centuries, many Sheffield cutlers had what might be called a domestic smithy, and they literally worked from home: 1498 a house called a Smethy and iii gardens lying to the same

1615 one bay of housing … used for a smithy. The premises were humble buildings, often lean-tos or in backyards: Richard Kirk was taxed on two hearths in 1677, but protested that the former kitchen hearth had been converted into a smith’s forge three years earlier. When the burgesses of Sheffield leased a house in the Castlegreene in 1610, to a cutler called Laurence Braywell, with all smithyes fouldes, they used ‘fold’ in an urban context that foreshadows its development in the nineteenth century.

dates 1384-1385 1440 1498 1610 1615 1677

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