As Close As We Get
It seems to me that those who survived the plagues and problems of
the 1300s may have realized that there were some problems in their world
that they needed to fix. Through divine intervention and some good
ole fashion ingenuity (and don’t forget hard work), the 1400s as we saw
before was a result of this “will” to change. Necessity always overcomes
insatiability. Attitudes towards humanity (which began in 1215 with
the Magna Carta) were being shaped allowing some to think on things other
than where their next meal was coming. These thinkers were the beginning
of a cultural revolution of which we now call the Renaissance. This new
beginning which started in Italy with the help of the Medici Family spread
like wild fire through out Europe. It reached England a bit later
due to it locality as an Island, but the Height of the Renaissance period
was sure to be found in England towards the end of the Sixteenth Century.
But just what was the Renaissance? It was a recovery, revitalization,
a new beginning at a better life. It was and is the very foundation
upon which our society today has based itself on. Oh, today is quite
different than it was then and in many aspects doesn’t even resemble its
own beginnings, yet it was these beginnings that provided for men to step
up and think, ponder, and prove possibilities. Who better to
use to describe the period than Leonardo Da Vinci. Born in 1452, he
lived till 1519. As far as thinkers go, he brought us to the 1500s.
He dabbled in every thing the world had to offer, from the Arts, to engineering,
to medicine. It
was in 1503
that he painted his Mona Lisa and in 1510 invented the water wheel,
just to quote a couple of his countless accomplishments. His creativeness
helps spawn others to be creative.1 In 1504, Michelangelo
sculpted the David. Now they were not the only ones doing the thinking.
Don’t forget Copernicus and his theory on the solar system. Do you
remember that printing press, well it was in 1500s that the pocket watch
was invented, the first flushing toilet, Bottled Beer, the Thermometer,
and a microscope. And probably just as famous as Leonardo was a writer
by the name of William Shakespeare. Born in 1564, he wrote plays,
poems, sonnets all of which were not original but were a description of
the times. He would twist some of the stories to suit public opinion,
but the way he did it, ensured his spot in the history forever.
It was during this time in England that many phrases [some according to
old wives tales] we use today were created as well. In England,
Ale was ordered in Pints or Quarts [types of glass to drink from], so when
some of the customers began to get rowdy the bartender would remind them
to “mind their Pints and Quarts, and settle down”, thus, when your mother
told you to watch your “Ps and Qs”, she really only had a vague idea what
it meant. Some of these containers were baked with a whistle on the
side of them. Why you ask? When you needed a refill, you just
blew the whistle for service. The phrase “Wet your Whistle” derived
from this custom. But back to the thinkers, we must not forget Martin
Luther, John Knox, or John Calvin in their quest for religious freedoms.
And lastly, we must remember those explorers such as De Gama and Columbus.
At the beginning of the 1500s, the world was in a blaze of learning, stretching
the mind to extents that it never regained its original shape. But
don’t get me wrong, it still wasn’t perfect (neither is it today).
The Golf ball was invented in the early 1400s. It was so popular
amongst the wealthy men of the day that the game of Golf developed into
an elite sport. Only men could join, and of course only men who had
the time to play as well. This is how the game, according to an old
‘wives tale’ got its name, GOLF (Gentlemen Only…Ladies Forbidden).2
Laws also still existed from the fifteenth century that were absurd.
Have you ever heard the saying “the Rule of Thumb”. Do you actually
know what it means and where it came from? In the late 1400s and early
1500s, a law existed that stated a man was not allowed to beat his wife
[good stuff for the ladies right? – read on…] with a stick that was no thicker
than his thumb. What? You could still beat her but only with
a smaller stick. Not to say they didn’t need it. Ouch, I just
felt my wife hitting me as I wrote that! Do you see that the thoughts
of the day still had a long way to go? But the idea here is that change
was inevitable, needed, and it began in this time in history.
Politically, the world was growing by leaps and bounds. Although,
Leif Erikson of the Vikings landed on North America about 1000 A.D., no
one passed it on to the other Vikings taking over Europe. Therefore,
when the Spanish explorer Juan Ponce De Leon discovered Florida in 1513,
new worlds began to exist. In 1524, the French learned of the
Spanish discoveries and went to look for themselves and found what we know
as the New England coast line and New York Bay. The Spanish were
quiet and kept delving into the land. Hernando Desoto investigated the
south-eastern portion of the new land of America discovering the Mississippi
River. By 1556, tobacco seeds were found and sent back to Spain which spawned
the first settlement on American soil in 1559 but failed. In 1564, the
French thought they could do it but failed. In 1565, the Spanish tried
again and succeeded for a while with a colony named St. Augustine [with in
modern day Florida]. With all the excitement of the new lands and all
it promised, the English attempted the colonization of America in 1587 and
landed in what we know today as Virginia. But we will get back to this
point later. In 1580, Sir Francis Drake is given credit for circumnavigating
the globe. It took almost 100 years, but people finally realized the
earth was round.
The Spanish had become a local powerhouse due to some political restructuring.
From 718 A.D. till 1516 A.D., Spain was under the rule of 8 different
kings at the same time. They were the Kingdoms of Castile, Leon,
Navarre, Aragon, Galicia, Almoravid, Barcelona, and Portugal. By
1516 there were three Kingdoms left, Castile and Aragon, and Portugal.
Ferdinand II of Aragon married Joanna the Mad of Castile to unify the two
lands leaving their son the throne of that which we call Spain.
Portugal maintained its independence. Once the unification, Spain
in the 1500s became a contender on the international playing field, with
such rulers as Charles I, Phillip II, and Phillip III. France, on
the other hand, already established, was being governed by Louis XII from
1498 till 1515. During the 1500s, France had 7 monarchs (Louis XII,
Francis I, Henry II, Francis II, Charles IX, Henry III, and Henry IV) all
with their different agendas but always kept their hand in the cookie jar
of exploration and conquest. And the third and last superpower of
the day was England. This was partly because of the Tudor House ruling
over England (Henry VII, Henry VIII, Edward VI, Jane, Mary I, and Elizabeth
I) during the 1500s and their shrewdness in business and due to the new governing
Merchants and their Guilds. In the beginning, Guilds were formed
in the late 1400s to protect production/trade of a town, but these grew
into several different guilds that worked to protect smaller, but skilled
poor workers; the first signs of a union. Times were very tough to
our standards, yet they were much better than they had ever been for commoners.
These guilds became the most dominant trading establishments and made
the members some of the most powerful men in the land. So influential,
that through their weight with in parliament, they challenged Kings and
Queens in 1600s. But for now the Guilds were just growing and were
the support of the entire economy with imports and exports – and Cloth
being the biggest of them all. Of the Tudors, Henry VII was the best
with money. He operated the country as a business. He did little
with parliament and never made a deal that didn’t make sense or Cents.
He created much of the wealth England had by staying out of the many costly
wars. In contrast, his son, Henry VIII spent most of the wealth.
Henry VIII tried to be more than he was and did not respect or appreciate
what his father had done. To help pay for his extravagance and some
squabbles with Scotland, Ireland, and others, he wanted to raise taxes.
As his father was a good manager and didn’t need to use parliament, Henry
VIII was quite different and was forced to use them to pass taxes.
This innately gave the Merchants via parliament power and control.
For years these two fought back and forth until eventually in the 1600s the
King was reduced in his control over national affairs. Elizabeth I
became a mixture of her Grandfather and her father. She only used parliament
to accomplish a few things. As a matter of fact, in her 44 years of
reign she only used them 13 times. She wouldn’t have done that, but
her father, brother, and sister had created the need for them, unknowingly.
If it was not enough for England to be dealing with international competition
and changing temperaments with in the ranks of the rising middle class,
the biggest changes that arrived in the 1500s [that affected the world]
derived from Religion. Catholicism was the religion of the hour, but
the greed and mistreatment of the masses were becoming too much to bear.
I mean the masses had to purchase from the church a pardon of their sins
to be allowed into heaven! How ridiculous was this? This was
just one of the points of the 95 that Martin Luther posted on the church
door in October of 1517. This letter spread through out the land and
by 1521 he had created such a problem that Luther was condemned by the church
and excommunicated. In 1523, some of his followers were burned at
the stake for their beliefs. Henry VIII, although promoted protestant
views because it supported his claim as head of the church in England over
an argument of his divorce / death with his many wives, wrote an essay proclaiming
his faith in the Catholic Church and the pope gave him the title of Fidei
Defenso, meaning Defender of the Faith. This title was signified
by the initials “F. D.” on all the coins of the day, which still exists
today. By 1535, Henry officially changed his mind on Catholicism
and supported the Protestant view by breaking with the church and claiming
to be the Head of the Church in England. Through this, he intended
to justify his actions in marriage, remove any opposition from the church
and keep any taxes to the church in his pocket (as he was having trouble
getting taxes through parliament). Luther wrote his translation of
the Bible in German so the layman could read the bible for themselves [remember
that printing press]. This news spread so far, that people like John
Calvin in 1536 in Switzerland and John Knox in 1541 in Scotland started
their own movements in Presbyterianism. France eventually in 1598
had to issue the Edict of Nantes to calm things down with allowed religious
freedom. With all the confusion going on, a few others who had been
secretly researching for fear of reprisal from the church now felt they could
finally publish their controversial (however true) works, such as Andres
Vesalius with his book on the Human Body and Copernicus with his book
on Celestial orders. They still caused uproars, but no one was burned
at the stake.
Now when Henry VIII died they tried to bring in Edward VI. He
was worse at dealing with the public than his father as he was a child and
died at age 16. When he died, as there was no clear heir of the throne,
Lady Jane Grey was put there, but there was no support and was removed within
9 days and the throne was given to Mary, Queen of the Scots (or Bloody
Mary). She lasted for 5 years and with in that 5 years, tried to
undo everything that had been accomplished. She made several bad
decisions like trying to bring back the Catholic Religion and murdering
those who opposed it (which was most of England). Lastly, she married
the very unpopular heir to the throne of Spain, Prince Phillip who was
also Catholic. As she offended just about everyone in the country
she fled to Scotland for refuge. The throne was passed down to Elizabeth
I as no one recognized Phillip as their leader. She, although encouraged
many dishonest deeds, was one of the wisest rulers of England. She
took England to the pinnacle of the renaissance. As Mary was still
on the run, she came back to England and took refuge under Elizabeth for
until she was found out still consorting with enemy and she was executed
for treason. In order to manage things her way and not involve
the parliament, she encouraged under the table such as sale of political
positions in her name and the piracy Sir Francis Drake and Sir John Hawkins.
They disrupted the Spanish shipping in so many ways that it crippled them
severely. The two captains would share the bounty with Elizabeth.
So she won on two accounts, she was getting money on her own terms and
crippled the Spanish at the same time. Fed up with the underhandedness
of Elizabeth, the Spanish who had the biggest Navy at the time sent their
armada in 1588 toward the Dutch to help their holding there by the way
of England to stop their meddling. Once they were close to the channel,
fortunately for the English, a huge storm came [funny how things like storms
just come out of no where – gives me the feeling that some one greater
that me is in control] and destroyed the bulk of the Armada. Elizabeth,
always using events and situations to her advantage, sent her ships and
destroyed that which was left. Therefore, by a strange turn of events, the
English were now the most dominant nation around. Elizabeth also declared
she was the Head of the Church and established the Church of England [Protestant].
She now had international control, religious control, and for the most
part due to fear and respect, domestic control. The world was British
till she died in 1603. It remained British for quite some time, but
the more they expanded the thinner their control and many things slipped
through their fingers (such as America). During all her reign the
second greatest things she did other than unify England under her control
was promote a trade empire. This empire included encouraging English
traders to form colonies. They began to colonize West Africa, India,
and my favourite, America. In 1587, Sir Walter Raleigh was given the
Charter [originally given to his half brother Sir Humphrey Gilbert who was
lost at sea] and started a colony in the Americas; Roanoke, Virginia to
more exact which only lasted till 1590. It disappeared and to this
day no one knows what happened. Now some say that Virginia was named
after Elizabeth, as she was the Virgin Queen and never married. Others
say it was named for the first English person born in the new world, Virginia
Dare. I believe the latter, but who is to say both the girl and the
land were not named for Elizabeth?
Despite the religious problems and the political issues, some people
faired very well. Those who did were the merchant class and the
Yeomen land owners and by the mid 1550s, almost half the population could
read and write. Those who did not own land or used common land to
farm where left out in the cold (much like the nobles did in earlier times).
The land was now being used for sheep to produce wool. To show off
the successfulness of the Merchant class, many built big houses with eight
or more rooms; they only ate certain foods, and wore special clothing.
The typical family upper and lower classes, expected to work hard and
die young; the children even began work as early as six. Those who were
to be punished for what ever crime were still placed in “the Rack, Hung,
burned at the stake, and Beheaded.” The only good thing though was
that there had to be a good reason to do any of the above. No longer
were the Monarchs able to take out their wrath on the masses. Another
way Elizabeth brought in money was to sell monopolies. No, not the
game, but she would give particular people or companies total control over
a trade. One monopoly was given to a merchant clothier company, Antwerp
Merchant Company, by way of royal charter. My ancestors were
among those who did well in this time. As a matter of fact, this was
as close as we came to royalty. We were among the Merchants and Yeomen
that were successful. Let’s backtrack just for a second to something
mentioned about Richard’s father in the previous chapter.
“We have a hint that his name was William or John,
but no proof whatsoever, and based on Richard’s date of birth; this William/John
is estimated to have been born about 1430. Remember earlier we considered
the avenue of Nobles renting out their land under Firma contracts that
lasted for generations. In order for Richard to have been of some
stature to further a business (farming and exporting), he had to have had
the means to reach this high. I speculate that “William/John” was
one of the earlier peasants (if not already established from his father)
who took advantage of the changing times and put his hard work into the lands
with the promise of bettering himself and his family. William/John
was one of the new Yeomen. He was smart enough (therefore assuming
some education) to foresee the future and probably had a good relationship
with some of the nobles. This line of thinking also presumes something
else. For “William/John” to be able to move up to a Yeoman, he must
have been a peasant before hand as well as his father. I say this just
to remind us to be humble. God places us where he deems it best.
Our group of Smith’s, as you will see, were not the movers or shakers of
the world, but the Lord kept us close to them and gave us the wisdom to manage
it in order to preserve our heritage. I am sure our ancestors did not
see it exactly as I just said, but the Lord had a plan for us or I wouldn’t
be here today. Keep this thought in mind as you read on, you will see
that it is a theme that proves true time and time again…. The document [from
the inquisition of Richard’s will] provided us with a continuation of our
line; A link to keep the tree alive. It tells us who he gives his possessions
to. He gave everything to his son and heir, John Smyth. If John
had any brothers or sisters, the document didn’t say. It did give us
John’s wife’s names, Joan. Then by a stroke of luck, the judge placed
in the document the age of John at the time of the hearing. John was
31. If it was 1527 when Richard died and John was 31, then we estimate
John’s birth to have been around 1495/96. As we find that John was
born about 1495, it would also be reasonable to assume that Richard, his
father, would have been between the ages of 25 to 35 at the time of his birth.
Therefore, using the birth of John as a reference, Richard would have been
born between 1460 and 1470. And there you have the transition from
Richard to his son, John. John Smyth, we know was born about 1495.
We know he was married to a lady named Joan. And we know that at the
age of 31, John was the owner of many estates, a clothing company, and very
wealthy. John fit the picture perfectly of the new Yeoman Clothier
We have an unconfirmed William/John Smyth as the father of Richard
Smyth who was a merchant clothier and a Yeoman. But just to confirm
it here is one more source:
"After the death of the said Richard Smyth,
the said Wm Wilforde & his co-feoffees were seised of the sd premises
to the use of the sd John Smyth. ... "The sd John Smyth being so seised
enfeoffed thereof Tho Crumwell, John Bylsdon, Rd Ryche, Guy Crafforde,
Wm Gynkes, Rd Holte, John Bodnam, & John Stuk'ey: to hold to them and
their heirs to the use of the sd John Smyth & Joan his wife, &
the heirs of the sd John Smyth for ever" (Abstracts of IPM relating to the
City of London returned into the Court of Chancery: Part I, I Henry VIII
to 3 Eliz, 1485-1561 (124 Chancery Lane: British Record Society,
Ltd., 1896). Hereinafter cited as London IPM 1.). Died in 1538. Probate
on 8 Oct 1538 Wiltshire PCC 21 Dyngeley (Squibb, Visitation Pedigrees.).
This meant that John was given land as payment for services rendered to
be used as his will or to whom ever he willed it to.4
These records denote that he owned not only the land and sheep that
produced wool, he owned or was partner in the factories that produced the
cloth and was involved in the import/export of said wool. And as we
discovered the trade of wool in England, we know that it was their main
export. We also found out that many of the factories shut down due
to certain monopolies granted by royal charter, except for one, the Antwerp
Merchant Company, which had the charter. Understand this is only speculation
here, but if our ancestors were among this crowd of merchants and remained
this way (as we will find out) for the course of the century, I feel it safe
to assume that we were a part of, at the very least, this Merchant Company.
Let me explain a bit further. Shown above we also found out that Richard
had a son, John Smyth born in 1495. He was 31 years old and was the
sole heir of his father’s estate which was quite considerable for the times.
We even know that his wife’s name was Joan. Joan, after some research
turned out to have a family name of Brounker and that they were married
about 1520. There are other reports that John was married to an Agnes
Charnock of Lancashire. I don’t know if this was a second wife, mistress,
or even belonged to another John Smyth, but I will believe the document
found so far. As the average life span was around 60 to 65 for the
well to do, John was set for life in the prime of his life. He had
the money, the property, the family, and the contacts.
John was apparently quite the socialite and entrepreneur. Not
only did he grow up learning the trade of a yeoman clothier and merchant,
he also was a surveyor around 1536 as a letter revealed to a Sir Cromwell
on 29 Jun 1536 as he was about the Queen’s [Henry VIII’s third wife, Jane
Seymour who just happens to be considered as an ancestor to the maternal
line of some other Smith’s connected to us somehow] business:
"We have been in the west parts and surveyed
all the Queen's lands in Hampshire, Dorsetshire, Somersetshire, Wiltshire.
We have found all the Queen’s farmers and tenants as glad of her Grace
as heart can think, and have been well entertained. On our return
to the Court, which will be within 10 or 12 days, I trust you will see we
have done her good service, and that the king will be pleased ... Bromeham,
Wiltshire, at Mr. Bayneton’s house, 29 June.”5
Bromeham, Wiltshire is just only a few miles from the place being surveyed
and his own house. Mr. Bayneton is recorded in this source to be
the Queen’s Vice-Chamberlain, which suggests he is like the Assistant Chief
of Staff for the Queen. These connections of his enabled him to be
close to the King. Now being close to the King was the best connection
a man could have in these days as long as you didn’t upset him. Henry
VIII was obviously distracted with other matters going on and needed trusted
advisors around him to help him run things. John was of good standing
in the community, influential within the community with money and power,
and was sequestering work from the Queen. This would account for
John’s appointment as the King’s Assistant. He served his Crown well
during the next couple of years to where John was recorded as given the
office of High Sheriff of Essex County and Hertfordshire County in 1538-39.
John was never knighted, but in 1545 he was given the Grant of Arms.
“In England, recognition of existing arms and granting new coats is among
the responsibilities of the College of Arms. This body, founded in 1484,
is headed by Garter King of Arms under the supervision of the Earl Marshal
of England, a hereditary office held by the Duke of Norfolk. … [the grant]
comprises (1) a shield of arms, which is the "coat of arms" proper and the
heart of armorial expression; (2) a crest on top of (3) a helmet above the
shield; (4) mantling, the stylized fabric that falls from the top of the
helmet, and (5) a motto.”6 Now just a bit more of trivia as to
how John had his connection from a fellow researcher of Smith’s:
“As it happens, Bayneton had also served in the households
of Henry's two previous wives and there is a suggestion that he may have
been the person who helped to bring Jane Seymour to the Court. It may be
surmised, therefore, that the Seymour’s, Bayneton’s and Smythes were not
only neighbours but also well established in the politics of Court - and
already favoured by Henry. It is also clear that John Smythe was a Smythe
with connection to the Cromwells ... significant for this and later generation
Smyth/e family. Whoever Smithdike was, he would certainly have known this
John Smythe, given that Smithdike, too, was an "assistant to Henry VIII".
Similarly, Smithdike would have known John Smythe, High Sheriff of Essex,
if the two Johns were not one and the same person ...”7
As John was the assistant to the King, it is thought that he may have
actually filled a position as Secretary of State [However, the Secretary
position may have belonged to another John Smythe. There was another
John nearby – it just wasn’t clear], for in 1550 he was granted the former
lands of the dissolved Ankerwycke Priory by Edward VI because of said office.
For John to have accomplished so much, he had to have has a solid background
which could maintain itself. He was obviously a smart man to take
what his family had left him and create a great name, not only in the community,
but now on the national circuit. It is not know when, but he
changed the spelling of his surname. John added the "e" to the end
of their name, most likely after obtaining the post of High Sheriff in order
to help further distinguish himself as an up and coming Elite but he could
have changed it at anytime with each accomplishment. But there was
more to John than most realized. He was smart enough to even thwart
the system. It is unknown if others were aware at the time (such as
the dishonesty encouraged by Elizabeth I), but it is believed that John was
part of some shady deals. Now we know all those things he accomplished
while dealing with the royals, but what was going on behind the scenes, behind
some of his wealth and power? He had his beginnings in the clothing
industry, but his father ventured into the Merchant side of it.
John took the family business and expanded into imports/exports or shipping
in Bristol. Even though he was so busy, he still managed to keep
detailed records in a ledger of most all of his dealings.8
Many of his record were useful in telling the economics of the shipping
industry in 16th Century England as explained by Dr. Jones in his research.
Knowing that John actually lived in Corsham, Wiltshire, England, it seems
that he moved as we explained previously his business to the water ways
of Bristol, England in order to facilitate the raw wool into a finished
product as well as have a means of distribution - very innovative and smart.
As the industry had a royal charter to operate, accompanied with John’s
good name and reputation he could do most anything he wanted even to the
extent of carrying goods into and out of the country secretly in order to
avoid paying duties or taxes on the goods. Through some investigation
by other Smythe researchers, we have discovered that "… 15 Bristol merchants
from the 16th century recently identified as being involved in a smuggling
ring, ten served as mayors, sheriffs or MPs of the city. Some were all three.
Others included customs officers, a mayor of Gloucester and even senior officials
in the navy. The Bristol men included some of the city's most
important 16th century figures – including John Smyth, who founded the fortunes
of the Smyth family … and Nicholas Thorn, a major Bristol benefactor and
the son of Robert Thorn, the principal Bristol backer of Bristol's early
voyages of discovery to North America. For such men, with power and wealth
behind them, crime really did pay."9 The researcher made a point to
show that there was a John Smyth (of Ashton Court) and a John Smythe (of
Corsham) also in on it. Personally, I believe they were one in the
same. This research ties him into many things and reconfirms his being
a sheriff. John was indeed a powerful and influential man of his day.
It is believed that John lived until the age of 65 where he died about 1560.
Some say he died in 1538. But how could that happen if he was granted
arms in 1545 (unless it was granted to his first son, John, after his death,
upon which I have found no record to prove or disprove) and given an estate
by the crown in 1550. As you can see, there are so many avenues that
must be travelled before one can be certain of information ascertained.
Just trying to read all these records could make a person dazed and confused.
Therefore, it is possible that some of the information gathered can be misleading
and take us down the wrong path. I am constantly sensitive to this
and will never claim 100% accuracy. All I can do is to wade through
each piece of information and make judgement based on the information before
me. Ok, enough with the “what if’s”, let’s continue.
John still managed time to have a family amongst all his other
comings and goings. As we noticed in previous documents, John was
married to Ms. Joan Brounker, the daughter of Robert Thomas Brounker (b.
1465 in Melksham, Wiltshire / d. Jan 1537) and Ursula Ann Gouldinge (b.
about 1470). The Brounker Family history is not an exciting one but
a unique one as Joan’s brother, Henry, is the ancestor to a very famous
person. You find this out in the Smith Branches Section (II. Brounker
Family) of this book. Together they had 4 confirmed children with
a possible three more unconfirmed. They were John Smythe, Thomas
Smythe, Henry Smyth, and Elizabeth Smythe. The oldest was John who
was born about 1521. In a large essay written by J. F. Wadmore (an
essay that will be referred to numerous times in the next few pages),
one section tells us as John died he willed a “‘life interest in his mill’
to his wife and ‘the reversion of it to his son John as well as his other
property’”10 We know with certainty that the second son was born
in 1522; thus, it would be fair to say that if John and Joan were married
about 1520, that the first son was born about 1521. John’s second
son was named Thomas Smythe, after his maternal grandfather no doubt, being
born in 1522 in Wiltshire, England. We will examine him more in depth
in a smidgen. The third child is a mystery. Named Henry Smythe,
I have only found some comments that he is the son of John Smythe.
I do not know any dates or further data and am not positive he belongs here-
so there you go. The forth child, Elizabeth Smythe, we are quite sure
about. She was born about 1524 in Saffron Walden, England. Married
in 1540 in London, England to a Mr. Simon Horspoole, Elizabeth had one
son, William Horspoole. Although it is a few times removed, it is
noteworthy to mention that William married a Ms. Mary Washington, the
daughter of Lawrence Washington and Martha Newce. So what?
That’s what I said till I found out that she is of the ancestors of President
George Washington. Just more trivia stuff I have found along our
journey. Ok, back to the second son, Thomas.
Now John, the first son, according to the essay was given the bulk
of his father’s estate along with the wife, Joan. I don’t have to
mention that this was a comfortable and considerable amount. But
the father also remembered Thomas by giving him a farm in Amesbury, Wiltshire
which produced the sum of £20 per year. The order of the day
was the first born son received the glory of the father. And not to
say that John was not worthy, but this is the last we hear of him.
But it wasn’t the last of Thomas. Thomas was the one who inherited
the tenacity and determination of his ancestors to succeed.
At a young age, with £20 per year to more that support him, Thomas
moved to London to make a name for himself. He became one of the most
shrewd, influential, respected gentlemen, even greater than his father, in
the English 1500s.
Now this a good time to stop and tell you that when you start to go
back and research the Smith’s and verify what I have done, I will save you
some considerable time. There are three sets of Smiths in the
area at the same time and believe it or not, each family during this time
had a Thomas Smyth Sr. and a Thomas Smyth Jr. It was and is very confusing
to say the least. There was a Smyth Family of Essex Co.
who was scholars and statesmen. Their Thomas Smyth Sr. (1513 – 1577)
was a legal expert, an MP, and a Privy Councillor. The second sets
of Smyths were from Berkshire Co. (Oxford). Their Thomas
Smith (1556 – 1609) was not much more than scholars and MPs. Then
there was our set of Smyths. We were the entrepreneurial London merchants
from Wiltshire Co. who did many great things as we will see.
The following Essay written by J.F. Wadmore about Thomas Smythe, is
overflowing with information and in order to do it justice [as it is not
my work and I don’t want to alter it in anyway] I have chosen to include
it in my book. It is a lengthy read, but worth it. Afterwards,
we will dissect it, so if you skip the long essay you will get the gist
of it in the discussion.
THOMAS SMYTHE - COMMONLY CALLED CUSTOMER
by J.F. Wadmore, A.R.I.B.A. Published in
Archæologia Cantiana, being Transactions of the Kent Archæological
Society vol. XVII, 1887, pp 193-208.
The family of Smithe,1 or Smythe, from which sprang the Lords Strangford,
was settled at Corsham in Wilts in the time of Henry VIII.2 John
Smythe, a substantial yeoman and clothier, who married a daughter
of Thomas Brounker,3 died at Corsham in 1538, leaving his wife a life interest
in his mill, with the reversion of it to his son John, as well as his other
property. John Smythe's eldest son, named after his father, married a
daughter of John Lygon of Richard Castle, Herefordshire, to whom a grant
of arms was accorded.4 To Thomas, his younger son, born in 1522, he left
a farm in the Hundred of Amesbury, Wilts, of the value of £20 per
annum. Thomas, who must have been about sixteen years of age at the time
of his father's death, came up to London with the intention of seeking his
Before commencing business on his own account, which
he was able to do after disposing of his landed property, he took up his
freedom in his father's guild, the Haberdashers, and subsequently in that
of the Skinners5 also, which may account for his intimate connection with
Sir Andrew Judde.
In the reign of Queen Mary Mr. Thomas Smythe succeeded
in the office of the Customs one Mr. Cocker,6 to whom he paid a
sum of £2500 as a fine. Shortly afterwards he married his first and
only wife Alice, daughter of Sir Andrew Judde. This event must have taken
place somewhere about 1554, as his second son, John, who succeeded him—the
first-born, Andrew, having died in infancy—was born in 1556. Sir Andrew,
according to Hasted, settled upon Smythe the manor of Ashford,7 which he
had only recently purchased of Sir Anthony Aucher. At the time of this
marriage Mr. Thomas Smythe must have been about thirty-three years of age,
and his wife about twenty-four.
Mr. Smythe was confirmed in his appointment at the
Customs on the accession of Queen Elizabeth, and continued in the office
for a period of eleven years. In 1567 he appears to have incurred her Majesty's
severe displeasure,8 having been accused of issuing privy warrants or cockets
whereby a loss of revenue was sustained, to the extent of some £6000;
and it was only through the kind intervention of his friend Cecil that he
escaped imprisonment. Cecil persuaded her Majesty to be lenient, as if
time were allowed he would doubtless pay up, but if he were imprisoned her
Majesty would be the loser.
Previous to the commencement of her Majesty's reign,
we learn from Stow9 that the Customs of the Port of London were frequently
evaded. To remedy these abuses, an Act was passed in the 1st of Elizabeth,
and a Royal Commission appointed, which fixed landing-places for the reception
of all kinds of goods and merchandise. Fifteen principal quays were named
for the port of London. Billingsgate was set apart for fish, corn, salt,
and stores; The Three Cranes in the Vintry, for wines and oils; Johnson's
and Butler's Wharves, for pitch, tar, iron, deals, eels, hemp, cloths,
skins, etc. Newcastle coals might be shipped at any place in the port
of London, in the presence of a searcher; and the same privilege was granted
to goods entered in the Custom House books, the Bridge House was for corn
and provisions, and the Guildhalda Teutonica for foreign merchants; all
other places were ordered to be closed.
Among the officers appointed by the commissioners
was Mr. Thomas Smythe to the office of collector for customs and subsidies
inwards; while those outwards were placed in the hands of Mr. Robinson;
and Mr. Chapman was appointed controller. Besides these, there were two
searchers and sixteen waiters, with other petty officers, and one packer
who acted for the City of London.
This new arrangement did not work satisfactorily,10
so Mr. Henry Smith within a short time presented a memorial to her Majesty,
as to certain abuses existing in the Custom House and Mint, whereby the
Crown sustained a loss; and he further prayed to be employed in superintending
the customs. The result appears to have been that he, in conjunction with
Mr. James Moreley, was rewarded with the farming of the customs on all11
woollen cloths and wines. Another charge was made by George Nedeham.12 Mr.
Thomas Smythe, however, was retained as collector of customs (petty) for
all foreign goods and merchandise brought into the ports of London, Sandwich,
and Chichester, for eleven years; when a clear and full account of all duties
and subsidies was drawn up by him, and submitted to Lord Burleigh.13 These
accounts are most beautifully and accurately entered even to farthings.
The total of the petty customs received in this time amounted to the sum
of £15,978 3s. 39d., and the subsidies of impositions to £134,274
7s.11d.: the average of both for the eleven years being £13,659 6s.
On this average Mr. Thomas Smythe15 submitted a
proposal to her Majesty to advance money yearly on all customs and subsidies
of all foreign goods and merchandise brought into the Ports of London,
Sandwich, and Chichester (wines only excepted), and further to pay over
to the Crown a fine of £5000. This was in May, and in August we
find the Queen16 writing to the Treasurer of the Exchequer, directing
him to pay over the moiety of the fine payable by Thomas Smythe, Farmer
of the Customs, into the hands of Richard Stonley, one of the Tellers. Some
further delay and correspondence appears to have taken place before the agreement
was completed, to expedite which Mr. Smythe17 wrote to Sir William Cecil
asking for his friendly assistance. The arrangement then made appears to
have given satisfaction to all parties, so much so that a fresh agreement
was drawn up by which the Crown granted to Mr. Thomas Smythe18 the farm of
the customs, subsidies, and duties of the Ports of London, Chichester, Sandwich,
Southampton, and Ipswich, with the Clerkship of Woodbridge, and provides
that, in consideration of the great increase of her Majesty's customs in
the two last demises, exceptions are to be made of tunnage, prisage, and
butlerage of all wines, and forfeitures, to be held by him for four years
from Michaelmas next (September, 1572), at a rental of £20,000, one
moiety to be paid on the 1st of June and the 10th day of January following.19
Covenants were introduced permitting Mr. Smythe to detain out of rent all
sums due for customs, etc., and dispensed with by her Majesty to any person,
the same being proved before the Lord Treasurer;20 also that no officer
by any colour of their office shall withhold customs.
All wares (by her Majesty's command) brought
from beyond the seas into any ports, havens, or creeks, within the realm,
were to be delivered to Mr. Smythe or his assigns before unlading.
The document further provides that, if Mr. Smythe
shall at any time fee the officers to conceal the customs, their offices
should be voided, and he himself incur a penalty of £6000, and be
further dealt with at her Majesty's pleasure. In this grant to Mr. Thomas
Smythe wines were accepted. 21 It may be interesting in passing to note
that, according to an ancient custom, it was not an unusual thing for
her Majesty,22 by an order in Council, to remit the duties altogether:
accordingly we find that, on the 21st of November 1571, ten bishops were
allowed to import from eight to twelve tuns each, certain of the nobility
from twelve to four tuns each, the Spanish Ambassador twelve tuns or more
if needful, State officers and noble ladies thirty-three kilderkins, each
esquire from one to ten tuns. To this order in Council the following curious
note is added: That any lady with a good reputation for hospitality, omitted
from the list, may have meet allowance, provided the total quantity does
not exceed 1000 tuns yearly. 23
Smythe's capacity for business was not, however,
wholly absorbed in the management of the customs; he entered largely into
mining speculation in company with Humphrey, Shutz, Cole, and Williams.
They obtained licence to dig for minerals and ores in England, with power
to impress workmen, wagons and horses,24 In 1568 the works had so far proved
successful that Humphrey writes and sends specimens.25
We find Mr. Customer Smythe26 at one time acting
as a banker to the Commissioners appointed for improving Dover Haven
as regards the tonnage money granted for the repair of the Haven, and giving
a bond in conjunction with Mr. John Bird and Mr. John Watts, his brother
officers, for the payment of £5000 to the Harbour Commissioners, for
which an indenture was drawn up between the Crown and the Mayor and Jurats
of the town of Dover for the payment of the same; and Sir Thomas Scott,
on or before the 7th of June 1584, signed a warrant authorizing Mr. Customer
Smythe27 to receive £5000 out of the Exchequer for the use of Dover
His intimacy with Sir Thomas Scott, Treasurer to
the Dover Harbour Commissioners, ultimately ripened into a closer connection,
when Sir Robert Smythe of Leeds Castle, 28 the fourth son of Mr. Customer
Smythe, espoused Elizabeth, the daughter of Sir Thomas Scott of Scott's
Hall, Kent; and many subsequent letters from Mr. Smythe are dated from Scott's
Smythe at this time became more mixed up in mining
matters, at Bokellyn in Cornwall, and at Treworthye. To William Carnsewe
and Ulric Frose,29 who appear to have had the local management of the mines,
he sent money from time to time to prosecute the works. Carnsewe, although
satisfied with the skill of the English miners, is nevertheless of opinion
that German labourers should be tried in competition with them.30 Mr. Smythe
writes in return to thank Carnsewe for his offer for the furtherance of
the mineral works, but the Company had resolved to go on with the lead mines
at Perrin Sands, requesting that Hans Hering should be discharged. He also
remonstrates against the high wages paid to the Dutch miners, when Cornishmen
do as well on less wages, and intimates at the same time that the great
expenses of the undertaking now fall on him, 31 as the partners will not advance
any more money; he further complains that the ore produced yielded but two
ounces of silver to the cwt., which did not pay. UIric Frose advised Carnsewe
to work the mines deeper, to yield a profit, as in Germany it is usual to
work from thirty to forty fathoms before they come to the ore. This advice
appears to have been followed: a new level was completed, and the assays
yield 50 lbs. of lead and 1/2 oz. of silver per cwt.32 He reports the ore
very good, and in great quantities in the copper mine at Logan. On this Mr.
Smythe replies from Fenchurch Street, London, that he has conferred with
Mr. Weston about the mineral works at Perrin Sands, from which the Company
expect to make 100 tons of copper per annum; he directs Ulric33 to confer
with Carnsewe, and to act on his advice. Shortly afterwards Ulric reports
the existence of a copper lode 4 feet broad, in a tin mine at St. Helliers,34
which he proposes to work. The new workings at Perrin Sands were soon 50
fathoms long under all the old works,35 and the copper mines at St. Ann's
or Logan furnished good ore, which, when raised, was sent round by sea to
be smelted at Neath in South Wales, where, at Michaelmas 1584, UIric Frose
was put in charge, and there in March 1587, with improved facilities, 36
24 cwt. were run in seven hours. .For all practical superintendence Ulric
Frose and Carnsewe appear to have had the management of the works, the Customer
and his friends finding the capital necessary, until Carnsewe was offered
a share in the undertaking, and made one of the directors. Early in 1587 the
works at St. Just were closed, and the miners discharged.
Nor was the active mind of the Customer satisfied
with the speculation, and the uncertain profits to be derived from mines.
His position brought him almost daily into connection with some of the
most adventurous and daring spirits of the age. Sir Walter Raleigh,37
the prime promoter of the Virginia Company, and Adrian Gilbert
of the Muscovy Company, who obtained grants from the Crown "to search
for, discover, and acquire and colonize new and unknown lands," with exemptions
from customs' duty for a period of sixty years, on condition of handing
over to the Crown a royalty of one-fifth of all gold, silver, and pearls
that might be obtained. Into such adventures the Customer entered with
hearty zeal, fitting out ships for long voyages and the discovery of new
countries.38 He appears to have been on intimate terms with all the principal
men of his time, at one time entertaining the Earl of Leicester and
the Spanish Ambassador at his residence in Gracious Street. He was
a patron and friend of the clergy in cherishing and promoting true religion,
as well as a liberal and generous encourager of learning.39
At this period of his life he appears to have so
far regained the esteem and affection of his Royal Mistress as to have been
singled out for her special regard. On the 26th of May 1585, at the Court
of St. Margaret's, Westminster, her Majesty directs her faithful counsellor,
Jacob Croft, to prepare a grant of the royal manors Eastenhanger 40 and
Westenhanger41 in the county of Kent, to Thomas Smythe, Esq., his heirs
and assigns, with all and singular the rights and customs, mills, houses,
workshops, and fisheries lately belonging to her Royal ancestors, Edward
VI and Henry VIII, to hold by military service, at an annual fine of £3
8s. 6 1/2 d.
In 1570, at the time of Lambard's Perambulation,
there were two very fine parks on these manors. The principal buildings
consisted of a moated castle and drawbridge, which were under the care of
Thomas, Lord Buckhurst, when Queen Elizabeth visited Westenhanger in 1573.42
The original name appears to have been Le Hangre, according to Hasted, 43
when the estate belonged to the noble families of Criol and Auberville in
the time of Henry III, from whom it passed to the Poynings. Hasted says that
Sir Edward Poynings, K.Q., "resided at Westenhanger, where he began building
magnificently, but died in 14 Henry VIII before his stately mansion here
was finished." Afterwards King Henry VIII expended large sums on completing
it.44 As there are but scanty remains of its ancient grandeur, I may perhaps
be excused for quoting Hasted's description of it:45
"The ruins of this mansion, though small, [show]
it to have been formerly a very large and magnificent building. From one
of the towers still retaining the name of Rosamond's Tower (where tradition
is that the fair mistress of Henry II was kept for some time), it should
seem to have been built even before his reign..... The site of the house,
moated round, had a drawbridge, a gatehouse and portal, the arch of which
was large and strong, springing from six polygonal pillars, with a portcullis
to it. The walls were very high and of great thickness, the whole of them
embattled46 and fortified with nine great towers, alternately square and
round, and a gallery reaching throughout the whole, from one to the other;
one of these on the N. side was Rosamond's Tower, and it is supposed that
she was kept there before her removal to Woodstock. The room called her
prison was a long upper one of 160 feet in length, which was likewise called
her gallery. Within the great gate of entrance was a court of 130 feet
square. Over the door of entrance into the house was carved in stone the
figure of St. George on horseback, and under it four shields of arms, one
of which was the arms of England, and another a key and a crown, supported
by two angels; on the right hand was a flight of twenty freestone steps,
8 feet wide, which led into a chapel, 33 feet long and 17 feet wide, curioualy
vaulted with stone, erected by Sir Edward Poynings, temp. Henry VIII, and
a curiously carved canopy at each corner of the window of the chapel.......
The great hall was 50 feet long and 32 feet wide, with a music gallery at
one end, and at the other a range of cloisters which led to the chapel, and
other appointments of the house in which were 126 rooms, and by report 365
windows. In 1701 more than three parts of the mansion was pulled down."
Such was the mansion which, although somewhat mutilated
and damaged by a disastrous fire, Customer Smythe repaired and adapted
for his own use. The accompanying plans, one dated 1648 from Colepeper's
Adversaria47 and another representing the existing remains, will enable
our readers to form a more accurate idea of its former extent and importance.
The Rosamond Tower stands at the north-western angle, and may be a building
of the Norman period, as the windows and work attest, but in more modern
times it appears to have done duty as an oast-house, circa 1700, in connection
with some substantial farm buildings now occupied by farm servants. There
are still some remains of other towers, as well as of the principal entrance
under the gateway before mentioned, and the foss which at one time encircled
the building. These can be distinctly seen by travellers to Hythe and Folkestone,
on the south side of the South-Eastern Railway, near the Westenhanger station.
The increasing wealth of the Customer only tends
to [show] that his gains were large; and Elizabeth, ever on the watch to
replenish her exchequer, did not fail to require larger and larger fines
for a renewal of the leases; with these demands he at length found himself
unable to comply, and in consequence he again fell under her Majesty's severe
displeasure. I append a copy of his letter to Lord Burleigh.
STATE PAPERS DOMESTIC, ELIZABETH, Vol. 227, No. 22.
Right honourable beinge adv'tised yt her hignes
com'andement was that I should attende yor ho. to vnderstande by yor ho.
her matis plesure concerninge my gret busines. Truly my good Lord I am
most hartily sorry yt my sicknes cannot suffer me to accomplish her matis
com'andement herin; ffor were I as able as I am most desierous I should
have thought my selfe happie to have spoken wth yor ho. my selfe; But wheras
it plesed yor ho. to com'unicat wth my servant Toulderve what her matis
plesure was herin, & to requier my answer. It may plese yor ho. to
be adv'tised that I vnderstandinge of her matis high & heavie displeasure
concevid against me by the sinister informations of many my vndeserved adv'saris
wth rather fancied my overthrow then her matis benefit; And again consideringe
yt her matis ffavor vpon Erthe, as gods in heaven were yt true grounds of
all comfort bothe in heaven & Erthe . wth a sicke boddye, a diseaced
minde, & a tremblinge hande (all wch were occationed through my discomfort
for her matis displesure) I made an offer to her mati vnder my hande of Tenne
thousand poundes by my handes to be paide in Tenne yeres to her mati &
other ffyve thowsande pounds to be paide into her matis Exchequer by ffyve
hundred poundes a yere; what farder promes I made upon the yerely profit
of my ffarme I assuer yor ho. I doe not nowe remember, having nether kept
coppie of my offer, nor com'unicated it wth any man who might helpe my memory.
But to my best remembrance I was to paye her mati 1000 l. yerelye vpon my
ffarme for ffive yeres & so to make it vpp Twenty thowsand pounde: Being
in this case p'mised by the messinger from her mati that if by strange alteration
of Tymes thinges felle owte contrarily I should by her matis goodnes be no
loosor. Nowe my good L. to howe gret a portion of my welth this offer streacheth
& wth howe heavie a harte I was induced to it god & my selfe best
knowes. But being so faithfully assured by the messinger not only of my present
quietus est but also of her matis fformer most good & gracious ffavor
The assurance herof I estemed so inestimable a Treasure as I strained my
selfe to the vttermost to procure it. Wherfor my good L. being now againe
moved by yor ho. to an inlargement of my former offer (wherin I protest vnto
yor ho. I strained my selfe to the vttermost before) I am in all humilitye
by yor ho. good menes most humbly to crave pardon of her mati herin being
a thing wch without the vtter Ruin of my selfe & mine I canne by no menes
performe. Thus most hombly besechinge to free me from yt heavie burden, of
her hignes displesure (so presseth me to ye Erthe to cover bothe my discredit
& sorrowe). I most hombly comit yor ho. to god & submit my selfe
to her matis com'iseration hombly praiinge aswell her hignes as yor ho. yt
this my offer may not be knowne to many for my credit sake.
This xvi'h of Octo. 1589.
Yor ho. ever most hombly at com'ande.
This offer was not accepted. His increasing infirmities and the
weight of his Royal Mistress's displeasure combined to shorten a life already
marked with many honourable and worthy actions. He departed this life on
the 7th of June 1591, leaving his widow, then sixty years of age,
and twelve children, six sons and six daughters, "of whom more anon."
A breviate of five pages 48 (in the Record Office)[shows]
the total receipts of the four farms of Customs and Subsidy, as shewn
by the books of Mr. Thomas Smythe, for a period of eighteen years, from
the thirteenth of her Majesty's reign to the thirtieth, giving receipts
ranging from £20,000 to £42,000 per annum; also that during
the first twelve years of her Majesty's reign when Mr. Smythe was collector
of the London subsidy, inwards only, it averaged £11,599 16s. 10d;
whereas from the twenty-seventh to the thirtieth, when he was farmer, it
was £30,263 15s. 2 1/2 d., and that by the last farm he gained £16,119
5s. 5d. Also that from the nineteenth to the twenty-first his farm of the
Customs and Subsidies inwards on London and the ports averaged £25,486
8s. 6d.; but that during the last two years when it was in the Queen's hands,
under Mr. Alderman Billingsley, it was £35,823 16s. 5 3/4 d., [showing]
the losses her Majesty had sustained under the practices of Mr. Smythe.
Her Majesty's attention was also directed to the
duty on the export of49lead beyond the seas, the tax on which had continued
the same for the last forty years, although many of the European states
at this time obtained their chief supply from England.
As regards tin also, it appeared that 15s. 6 1/2
d. royalty was received by the Queen on every 1000 lb. weight raised in
Devonshire, and 40s. in Cornwall, the miners having the right to sell it
to whom they pleased unless required for the use of the state. In this respect
there was a loss of revenue of some £2000, which the miners and tinners
offered to give, but that if not left in the hands of the patentees there
were other merchants who were willing to give £5000 or £6000
for it. Such facts as these go far to [show] that the mining operations
carried out by Mr. Customer Smythe and his co-partners were not so unprofitable
a speculation as the correspondence between the managers and agents before
Mr. Thomas Smythe, by his wife Dame Alice, the daughter
of Sir Andrew Judde before mentioned, had (besides Andrew, who
died when an infant) six sons and the like number of daughters. First,
John; then Thomas, Henry, Richard, Robert, and Symon— the
latter was killed at the Siege of Cadiz, and he is represented on the
monument as having a skull in his hands. His daughters were Elizabeth,
unmarried at the time of his death; Mary, the wife of Robert Davy;
Joan, the wife of Thomas Fanshaw; Katherine, who was married
at the age of sixteen to Sir Rowland Hayward, a cloth worker, Lord Mayor
in 1571; Alice, the wife of William Harris; and Ursula, the
wife of William Butler. His will,50 dated the 22nd day of May in the 33rd
year of the reign of Elizabeth, was proved in the Prerogative Court of
Canterbury by his executors Sir Rowland Hayward, Knt., John Smythe, Thomas
Fanshaw, and Mr. Thomas Aldowsey. It commences with the lengthy preamble
usual at that time, expressing his faith in the merits of his Saviour, and
after providing that his body shall be buried by his executors in the Parish
Church of Ashford, he exhorts them to avoid "vain pomp as the World by customs
in times of darkness were used," but rather that the money may be expended
on the poor. His next charge is as to the payment of his debts, "first such
as I owe to my most gracious51 Sovereign the Queen's most excellent Majesty
whom God long preserve be duly satisfied," and for the more speedy arrangement
thereof he wills and appoints that the leases of Maniton and Thorndon Wood
in the county of Kent be sold for the payment of the same.
To his wife Dame Alice he leaves his lease and interest
in his messuage and tenement in London, for the term of her natural life,
together with all his household stuff therein, providing she does not
To his daughter Elizabeth he leaves the full sum
of £1500 for her orphan portion, according to the laudable custom
of the City of London; £1400, and the residue of his goods and chattels,
to his children who were unadvanced, to be equally divided according to
the custom of the said city.
To his daughter Mary Davy, wife of Robert Davy,
he leaves the sum of £500, and to their children, the like sum of
£500 to he equally divided.
To Thomas, Katherine, and William, the children
of his daughter Joan, wife of Thomas Fanshaw, and of his late wife Mary,
the sum of £500 to be equally divided.
To the children of his daughter Katherine, wife
of Sir Rowland Hayward, Knt., £500 to be divided.
To the children of his daughter Alice, wife of William
Harris, the sum of £550 to be divided.
To the children of his daughter Ursula, the wife
of William Butler, the sum of £550 to be divided.
To his son John plate of the value of £100,
to Thomas £100, to Henry Smythe £.100, and to his children,
not exceeding three at the time of his decease, £50 a year, to
Richard Smythe £100.
To his brother Horspoole and his wife £550,
and to every one of his brothers and sisters a ring of gold of the value
of 50 marks a piece. To his kinsman Henry Smith £20, and his brother
Richard £100. To his household servants at the time of his decease
£50 each. To William Bromley Rowland £20. To his loving friend
Thomas Owen, Sergeant-at-Law,£20; also to Christopher Toldervey,
for his great care of his affairs, £200. To Peter Loughton £20.
He further directs that his executors shall provide
him a suitable monument in Ashford Church, and that a sum of £40
should be given to the poor of Ashford, £10 to the poor of Corsham,
and to the prisons in and about London the sum of £40. Signed and
sealed in the presence of Mr. Christopher Toldervey. Witnesses, William
Whistler and William Offley.
Mr. Thomas Smythe's monument is on the south-east
side of the south transept in Ashford Church. The recumbent figures of
the Customer and Dame Alice, his wife, are admirably carved in alabaster.
The head of Smythe has a peaked beard and closefitting cap, and the features
are those of an able and cultivated gentleman; his dress that of a well-to-do
merchant, with doublet, hose, and furred gown; his hands are raised, holding
a book, which he appears to be reading. The features of his wife strike
one as being rather Flemish in character, on her head she wears a coif
or cap. Both effigies rest on a raised monument under an arch springing
from imposts, the soffit of which is richly ornamented, flanked with Corinthian
columns on short pedestals, supporting an enriched architrave, swelled
frieze and cornice, surmounted with an open balustrading, pedestals, and
obelisks. In the centre is a square coffer, carved, and enriched with the
arms of the Smythes, surmounted with the helmet and crest. In bas-relief,
on the face of the monument below, are the effigies of the children—six sons
and six daughters.
The arms of Smythe of Ostenhanger are thus described
by Edmondson, vol. ii: Azure, a chevron engrailed between three lions
passant-guardant or; Crest, a leopard's head erased argent, spotted sable,
collared and lined or; granted in 1591.
The following is a translation, made by the Rev. A. J. Pearman,
of the inscription on Smythe's monument:52
Sacred to memory. Here, in the certain hope of a
blessed resurrection, is interred the most illustrious man Thomas Smythe,
Esq., of Westenhanger, who, on account of his tried fidelity and obedience
towards his Sovereign, was deemed worthy to be set over the duties of the
Customs in the Port of London, which dues he afterwards purchased of the
Sovereign by the payment of an annual rent of £30,000, and he presided
over them with singular liberality towards those of higher rank, and love
towards the trading interests. He expended the means with which an Almighty
and Merciful Providence had blessed him freely and willingly, in relieving
the poor to the Glory of God, in cherishing the professors of true religion,
in promoting literature, and, for the advantage of the State, in fitting
out ships for long voyages, in discovering new countries, and opening copper
mines. And now, full of years, when he had completed his sixty-ninth year,
and brought up six sons and also six daughters, by his dearest wife, herself
sixty years of age, daughter and heiress of Sir Andrew Judde, Knt., Lord
of the Manor of this Town of Ashford, who are placed by marriage in families
of some distinction, he departed this life in firm faith in Christ on the
7th of June in the year of grace 1591.
John Smythe, his eldest son, most sorrowfully
erected this monument to the best of fathers
and the most beloved of mothers as a memorial of his duty and
and a record to posterity, the other sons and daughters joining in
Johannes Smythe filius primo genitus optimo patri matrique charissimæ
filiabus que collacrimantibus ad officiosæ pietatis et
posteritatis Memoriam Mæstissimus posuit.
His widow, the daughter of Sir Andrew Judde, Knt.,
before mentioned, survived him, living at her late husband's house in London,
until her decease in 1593.53
Her will was proved 11 May 1598 in the Prerogative
Court of Canterbury,54and we may fairly conclude from the bequests therein
contained that she was of a generous and large-hearted disposition, kind
and charitable to the poor and needy, a loving mother, and an affectionate
As the will extends over several folios, we can
only glance at a few of the bequests, although all have some matters of
interest for the antiquary. Her wish is expressed to be buried without
pomp by the side of her husband, and she directs that a mourning gown of
black cloth of the value of xx d a yard be given to her sons, daughters,
and relatives, and one cloak of the value of xii d a yard to her servants.
Out of the first moneys that shall come into the
hands of her executors, they shall purchase lands, of the yearly value of
£15 per annum at least, to be conveyed in trust to the Company of
Skinners of London and their successors; ten pounds to be paid in increasing
the pensions of the alms people in Great St. Helen's, founded by her worthy
husband; thirty shillings for the relief of the poor women in the Parish
of All Saints, Lombard Street, and twenty-four shillings per annum to poor
women of St. Gabriel's, Fenchurch Street, and the rest bestowed on the
Charity Warden for the time being.
To the Universities of Oxford and Cambridge £100
each; to threescore women of All Saints, Lombard Street, St. Andrew Undershaft,
and St. Gabriel's, Fenchurch Street, black gowns; to those of the Town
of Barnes and residue of the Parishes of London at the discretion of her
To her cousins, Constance Glover and Thomas Stubbesfield,
annuities of £5 a year each, and her man and maid servant annuities,
40s.; to the poor of Ashford, £20; the poor of Stamford, £5;
to Christ's Hospital, Little Bartholomew's, and Bridewell, £20; to
John Stoddard of Mortlake, and Mr. Roger, £5; to her brothers, Henry
and Robert, £3 each.
And further the will goes on to say, "And I give
and bequeath to my son Sir John Smith 55my flaggon, chain, and my great
bo[w]lls which were my father's, and the furniture of my best chamber, that
is to say the hanging, the tapestries, and the bedstead furnished with yellow
velvet, and the pillows of yellow-like sarcenet, and yellow little quilt,
a feather-bed and bolster, and pillows and blankets, and two chairs of
Arras wrought, one great and the other lesser, and two high (hoighe) stools
of yellow velvet, a table of wainscote, and two Turkey carpets, one pair
of andirons, one pair of tongues and a shovel."
To her daughter, Alice Smith, £50; her daughters,
Katherine and Margaret, £10 each; to her daughters, Katherine and
Elizabeth, £10 to be paid on their attaining their majority.
To her son Thomas she gives the furniture of her
own best chamber, the hangings of tapestry, and the bedstead, with the tester
and valance of crimson velvet, the bed, bolster, pillows, and blankets and
the great coverlid of Arras of the Story of Paris and Helen, her longest
Turkey carpet, whereof there was a finer sort of red worsted and an ordinary
sort; one tablecloth of damask of the Story of Holofernes, containing five
yards in length and three in breadth, and one long broad towel, and two dozen
napkins, and two hand towels of the same work, and one long needle-work carpet
with the cushions and covered cloth to it.
Her third son Henry receives a table-cloth of damask
of the Story of the Prodigal Child, and 100 oz. of white plate, i.e. silver.
To Richard Smith and his wife Elizabeth, daughter
of Sir Thomas Scott of Scott's Hall, she bequeathed a bedstead and furniture
of green taffany, a feather-bed, bolster, and pillow, a blue velvet chair,
six low stools, a feather-bed and bolster for serving, a table-cloth of
damask of the Story of the Creation, six yards long, and two dozen napkins,
a long towel, and two hand towels, one dozen of high stools covered with
Moikyndoe, a green velvet chair and four of the hangings of the guest chamber.
To his son Thomas Smith £100, and to John £50, to be paid on
attaining the age of 21.
To Robert Smith, the furniture of the bed chamber,
which was hung with carving (carved wainscot), the bedstead and furniture
of taffeta, one long and two high stools, two chairs of green velvet, bed,
bolster, and blankets, a coverlid of Arras of the Story of David and Abigail,
a table-cloth of damask, six yards long, a double towel, two dozen napkins,
and two hand towels of the same work, of a great flower, four yards of hangings
which were in the guest chamber beside the porch, and 40 oz. of white plate.
To her son Symon, the furniture of her son John's
chamber, with the bed and tester of green velvet, and curtains of green
silk, a bolster, blankets, a coverlid of Arras of the Story of Susanna,
a table-cloth of damask, five yards long, two dozen napkins, one large
towel, and two hand towels.
To her daughter Joan (Mrs. Fanshaw), her best chain,
a tablecloth of damask of the Story of Susanna, of five yards, a double
towel, a cupboard cloth, two dozen napkins, and £200 in money.
To the two sons of Mrs. Mary Davy, £200 on
their attaining the age of twenty-one, and the like sum to her daughter
on her coming of age or marriage, which should first happen.
To her daughter Ursula (Mrs. Butler), 100 oz. of
white plate, a small yellow satin quilt, £20 to her sons Thomas, Oliver,
and William, and a like sum to Alice and Catherine on attaining the age
To her daughter Fanshaw (Joan), the third chair
of Arras, a table-cloth of damask, seven yards long by five wide, of the
Story of Holofernes, a long broad towel, and two dozen napkins, and two
hand towels; to her son Thomas, £20; and to William, £10; to
Alice £20; and Katherine, £10.
To her daughter Katherine (wife of Sir Rowland Hayward),
her best chair of crimson velvet, embroidered with silk and gold, and
a long cushion suitable to it, and her best ring, being a diamond, to her
sons George and John, £10 a year at the age of twenty-one, to her
daughter Alice, £20, and to Katherine, Mary, and Amice, £10
on attaining the age of twenty-one or on marriage.
To her daughter Harris (Alice), her jewel ring and
Æ56 of diamonds, a table-cloth of long damask of the Story of Samuel,
containing five yards, a double towel, and two dozen napkins, and two chairs
of crimson enstuffa; to her son Thomas Harris, £14 per annum, and
to her daughter Dora, £10.
To her daughter Elizabeth Smith, a long table-cloth
of diaper, containing six yards in length, a long towel, and two dozen
napkins, her carpet of Arras work, a long cushion of green velvet, and
two end cushions, one pair of fine sheets of three yards breadth, a pillow
pursed and stuffed, a large quilt of crimson taffeta, a table-cloth of
damask, five yards in length, a double towel, and one dozen napkins, of
the work of a great flower, and £300 in money.
Then follow bequests of £20 each to her sons-in-law,
Sir Rowland Hayward, Thomas Fanshaw, and William Butler, and to William
Harris, £50; to Robert Davy, £20; Susanna Owen, a ring value
£3; and Dr. Smith of Wood Street, the picture of Geoffery. Legacies
are also given to Andrew Judd on his attaining the age of twenty-one, and
£20 to Mr. Fisher, together with memorial rings to her brother Horspoole
and her sister, his wife, value 40s. each, to — and Amice his wife, value
30s. each; to her sister Martha, a gold ring, a standing cup, and 40 oz.
of plate; to her children, rings value 30s. each; to her cousin John Mellor,
a ring of 30s.; John Gaythorne and his wife, rings of the value of £3;
to Alice Brome and wife of Harry Smith, a ring value 40s.; to John Gaywood,
Anne Cooke, Bridget Bird, and Mr. Rogers, rings value 40s.
To the men-servants residing with her at the time
of her decease, Thomas Wray, the bedstead in his chamber and £3,
and the like to William Payne; John Woodhouse, 40s.; Richard Smith, £5;
Johl Meeson, £3, David Jacob, 40s., and Christopher Moore, £3.
To her maid-servants, Bridget, £4; Grace,
40s.; Susan, £3, Sarah, £3; Mother Self, £3; to be paid
in full by her executors.
After mentioning the names of her executors, she
prays them to be careful in the performance of her will, according to the
meaning of every and all the above named; and "I pray them to be satisfied
with my good will towards the said several legatees, considering that at
this time I could not do better for them. In witness whereof, I, the said
Alice Smith, have set my hand and seal in the presence of Thomas Peake;"
and then following, as if omitted, "Item I give the remainder of my goods
and chattels to the discharge of my just debts and funeral charges; and I
do beg that the said remainder may be divided into six equal parts, five
whereof shall be paid to my sons, John, Thomas, Richard, Robert, and Symon,
and the sixth part be given to my executors. Signed in the presence of the
aforesaid Thomas Peake."
There is a codicil, dated 20 May, 1593, when the
following bequests were added: to John Smith £100, his wife £40;
to Thomas 200 oz. of plate, and £200 to his wife; to Henry £100,
and £40 to his wife; to Richard 200 oz. of plate, and £100 to
his wife; to Robert 60 oz. of plate; to cousin John, £10; Cousin Henry
Smith, £10, and his brother Richard £10; to Ambrose Davis,
a piece of plate; to William Mosey, £5; to Mrs. Clarke, £5;
to Mr. Greenham, £5; and other poor preachers, £10 a year:
the residue in equal proportions to her sons.
Witnesses, Robert Smith and Elizabeth Fisher.
1. The name is spelt Smithe in the will, and Smythe on the monument
in Ashford Church, and in original MSS. Three other gentlemen of distinction
each named Sir Thomas Smith were contemporary with "the Customer: " (1)
a Secretary to Lord Burleigh (died 1571); (2) a Latin Secretary to James
I (died 1606); (3) the High Sheriff of Cheshire in 1623.
2. Sir B. 0. Hoare's Wilts.
3. Fonblanque's Lives of the Strangfords, p. 2.
4. Fuller's Worthies, vol. ii., p. 551.
5. Haberdashers and Skinners' Court Books.
6. Appendix to Calendar of Dom. State Papers, A.D. 1567, p. 4.
7. Hasted, vol. vii., p. 529. This is not strictly correct. The manor,
once held by the College of St. Stephen's, Westminster, was surrendered
to the Crown in the time of Edward VI; and in the third year of the same
reign was granted to Thomas Colepeper, who, without licence from the Crown,
granted it to Sir Anthony Aucher. Sir Anthony, being in want of money,
mortgaged it to Sir Andrew Judde, who subsequently foreclosed. Sir Andrew
died seised of the manor of Essetesford or Asheford, of a water-mill in
the tenure of one Robinson, of the manor of Esture, 110 acres of pasture
and thirty-six acres of meadow, and a rental of £6 13s. 4d. (Furley,
in Archæologia Cantiana, Vol. XVI, pp. 164-5). Furley tells us that
lands held of the Crown can not be alienated without the royal licence
(Furley's Weald, vol. ii., p. ii., p. 504). It therefore became necessary,
when the estate passed to Sir Thomas Smythe and his wife Alice (on the
termination of the life interest of Dame Mary, the wife of Sir Andrew Judde),
to obtain a pardon or authority from Parliament for a licence to hold the
same; this was done, and a fee of £31 5s. 9d. exacted to remedy the
omission. The present lord of the manor is W. F. B. Jemmett, Esq.
8. 1567, Appendix to Calendar of Dom. State Papers, p. 4.
9. Strype's Stow, ed. MDCCII, book ii, p. 49.
10. 1560, Appendix to Calendar of Dom. State Papers, vol. XV, p. 166.
11. 1567, Domestic State Papers, vol. xliv, Calendar, p. 299.
12. Ib., vol. xlii, 1567, Calendar, p. 289.
13. 1570, Dom. State Papers, vol. lxix, Calendar, pp. 378, 382.
14. Shortly after the appointment of Thomas Smythe the following singular
incident occurred. The English Government being in want of ammunition,
Sir Thomas Gresham arranged for a supply from Antwerp. This required great
secrecy, as its export was forbidden under the severest penalties, and
various ingenious schemes were adopted to evade the law. Nevertheless the
ammunition was exported in comparatively small quantities, and Sir Thomas
Gresham's correspondence had frequent references to silks, satins, velvets,
and damasks, which were supposed to be imported. The continual arrival
of these stores at the Tower attracted attention, although the danger had
been pointed out by Gresham to the Council at home. On the 13th of June
1560, Sir Thomas was much disgusted (when he was informed by the searcher
who was in his confidence as conveyor of velvets) that an Englishman had
been with the Customer and informed him of the many velvets of all sorts
lately arrived in London, and that, if he made a general search now, he
would find a great booty; whereupon the Customer desired the searcher to
be with him on the 15th very early in the morning. As this would have led
to an exposé of the whole transaction, the parties conferred together,
and the matter was wisely and judiciously dropped. (Life and Times of Sir
Thomas Gresham, by Walter Burgon, vol. i, 381.)
15. Dom. State Papers, May 1570, vol. lxix, Calendar, p. 378.
16. Ib., vol. lxxiii, Calendar, p. 391.
17. Ib., 1570, Calendar, pp. 390-1.
18. Appendix, Domestic State Papers, 1572, vol. xxi, Calendar, p. 438.
19. Calendar of Dom. State Papers, p. 438.
20. A private arrangement was also made between the Lord Treasurer
and Mr. Smythe to allow of the exportation (D.S.P., vol. xc, Calendar,
p. 454) of 4000 barrels of beer.
21. The importation being regulated under the Act for the Importation
of Sweet Wines, I Eliz. (H. Hall, vol. i p. 306.)
22. Appendix, Dom. State Papers, vol. xx, Calendar, p. 372.
23. A table [showing] the Customs and Subsidy of Imports and Exports
in the year 1570 is given by Hubert Hall, vol. ii pp. 243, 244.
Imports, Foreign £45,336
Exports, English £26,665
Balance in favour of Imports
£18,671 14 2
24. 1565, Dom. State Papers, vol. xxxvii, Calendar, p. 259.
25. Ib., Calendar, p. 305.
26. 1583, Dom. State Papers, vol. clx, Calendar, p. 106; and 1584,
April 10, vol. clxx, No. 26, Calendar, p. 171.
27. Domestic State Papers, A.D. 1584, vol. clxxi, Calendar, p. 180.
28. C. Wickham Martin, Leeds Castle, p. 156.
29. 1583-4, Domestic State Papers, vol. clxiii, Calendar, p. 131; vol.
clxvii, Calendar, p. 153.
30. 1584, Feb. 10, Domestic State Papers, vol. clxviii, No. 13, Calendar
31. 1584, Dom. State Papers, vol. clxix, No. 16, Calendar, p. 164.
32. 1584. April 14 Dom. State Papers, vol. clxx, No. 37. Calendar,
33. Ib., vol. clxxi, No. 36, Calendar, p. 183.
34. Ib., No. 62, Calendar, p. 185
35. 1584, Dom. State Papers, vol. clxxii, No. 31, Calendar, p.191.
36. 1587, Dom. State Papers, vol. cxcix, No. 18, Calendar, p. 393.
37. Hakluyt, vol. ii, pp. 113, 114, l29, 132.
38. Inscription on monument. D.S.P., 1585, vol. clxxvi, Calendar, p.
39. Fonblanque's Strangfords, p. 4; see also Catalogue British Arms,
C 38 d., b. The Life, Acts, and Death of Prince Arthur, by John Leyland,
published in 1582, is inscribed by the author to his principal patrons
Lord Grey de Wilton, Sir Henry Sidney, and Customer Smythe; a second edition
was inscribed to him as Chief of the Worshipful Society of Archers, 1591.
40. Record Office, Originalia, 27 Eliz., p. 4, m. 44, 45, 46.
41. There is a view of Westenhanger in Groves's Antiquities; also in
the Gentleman's Magazine, 1823.
42. Hasted, vol.viii, p. 74.
43. Hasted, vol. viii, p. 68.
44. Camden's Brit., p. 348.
45. Hasted, vol. viii, p. 64.
46. Licence to wall and embattle was granted in the time of Edward
III. Vide Ric. Fogge's Chronicle, in Archæologia Cantiana, vol. v,
47. Harleian MS. 7599 in the British Museum, Adversaria, Letter O.
48. Calendar of Domestic State Papers, June 1591, 1594, p. 64.
49. Calendar of Domestic State Papers, A.D. 1591, pp. 133, 155, No.
50. Somerset House, vide St. Barbe, fol. 78.
51. Sir John Smythe, as his executor, received a remission of these
on consideration of resigning a bond of £3000 made to him by the late
Lord Cobham (Domestic State Papers vol. xii, Calendar p. 197).
52. Ashford: its Church, etc. By Rev. A. J. Pearman. Page 15.
53. Dame Alice's will is dated 1592. Mr. Pearman says that she was
buried in Ashford Church on the 21st of June 1593.
54. Somerset House, Lewin I, fol. 42.
55. Ancestor of the Lords Strangford (and connector to Hughes family/Jullion
pages on this site)
56. A monogram for Alice.
Wow… if you read the whole thing, you had to have fallen asleep at
least twice. But since you are still here, we will go through
most of it for revision – there is a test at the end! The beginning
reminded us that John Smythe was a yeomen and clothier who had settled
in Corsham of Wiltshire. The only thing new was the statement that
the Lords Strangford (or Viscount Strangford) came from this Smythe Line.
A Viscount is a British Nobleman who ranks just below an Earl and above
a Baron (about 5th from the top). The first recorded Viscount created
by Henry VII was in 1440. The Smythe peerage was created on 17
Jul 1628 as Thomas’ son, Sir John Smythe, was created a Viscount. This
title was passed down for eight generations till 9 Jan 1869 at the death
of Percy Smyth. 11 There I go again, getting off the subject.
Thomas, being born in 1522, had ventured to London at a young age, and with
the money he had from his father’s will, he leased a farm in London.
Why did he do this? To own property was to have wealth and influence.
In the city of London in the 1500s the farm very well could have been a block
of land to grow produce or raise animals, but it also could have been houses
as well. However, regions were farmed or managed by local leaders
(e.g. county sheriffs) or entrepreneurs; the aim was to be able to make
a profit from the revenues beyond the amount due for the farm, and this
could result in unreasonable methods. Hence the desire of the people
to purchase or lease farms for themselves, which sometimes necessitated
getting into the local administration. Thomas had learned this lesson
from his father and grandfathers. With his family name behind him,
he began to make a name for himself as a clever capitalist. As his
father did, he too joined the
powerful Guilds that controlled the business and influenced politics.
The Guilds were so persuasive they could elect their own Lord Mayors of
London. Thomas was a member of the Haberdasher Guild and the
Skinners Guilds. If we go back to see that there was some big political
troubles during this time based on succession and religion, Queen Mary
of Scotland came to power in 1553 till 1558. It was in 1553 that
Thomas took over the office of Customs. Therefore, he was forever
known as Thomas Smythe, Esq. of Ostenhanger, in Kent, Farmer of the Customs
to Philip and Mary, and to Queen Elizabeth [as she took over the country
in 1558], and thus given the nickname of “Customer” and upon his death he
had this monument to the left built for him and his wife that still exists
today. As Thomas was up and coming and self supported, he used his
connection to obtain what he wanted. In 1554, he was married to Ms.
Alice Judde, the daughter of Sir Andrew Judde. Sir Andrew was the
Lord Mayor of London and a member of the Skinners Guild. How funny
that Thomas had these connections. When Queen Elizabeth came to power,
she reconfirmed the appointment of Thomas as the Customs Officer; a position
which he held for 11 years. Whether he did or did not (I believe he
didn’t based on all his other dealings) act illegally in his office, the
essay points out that in 1567 he upset the Queen by loosing her money (£6000).
Due to Thomas’ connections [namely Sir William Cecil], the Queen was convinced
of Thomas’ worthiness and would be more profitable to her on the job rather
than in prison. But also as a result, the Queen rearranged the way
customs operated in order to better maintain and eye on them by closing down
many of the ports and limiting where goods could be traded. She even
appointed new officers under a new structure, but maintained Thomas’ services
as the Collector for Customs in the city. This apparently didn’t
work well as many of those she appointed were shady characters. Remember
she herself encouraged many underhanded dealings. Yet Thomas remained;
Why? It was recorded that Thomas’ work over that eleven years of service
had been accurate and true. He was someone she could rely on.
He later made a proposal to the Queen on how to better manage the customs
in order to increase her revenue as well as offering to pay her back the
sum of £5000 in restitution to clear his name from previous accounts.
Some would take this as omission of guilt yet I believe he was doing the
honourable thing by respecting the Crown even to his own detriment in order
to come out smelling good. Thomas was a thinker, a planner. According
to Mr. Wadmore, the Queen not only agreed to his terms, she made is clear
that “All wares brought from beyond the seas into any ports, havens, or
creeks, within the realm, were to be delivered to Mr. Smythe or his assigns
before unlading.” Talk about being able to turn a bad situation into
a good one! He was a great negotiator.
Wadmore also says that Thomas used his time wisely, for not only did
he run the Queen’s customs, he dabbled in the mining speculations.
Thomas understood the times in 1568 and had seen that iron and steel were
becoming a booming industry and he got in early. He also was recorded
as acting as the banker for improvements over royal houses, such as the
Dover Haven. Why did I mention this property? Thomas’
great grandson, Richard Smythe, was later named governor of this estate.
But one of the men overseeing the renovations was Sir Thomas Scott.
They became such good friends that Thomas’ son, Sir Robert Smythe, married
Sir Thomas Scott’s daughter, Elizabeth. Don’t get me wrong, Thomas
wasn’t doing all this for Queen and country, he was making a tidy profit
from it. All of these many dealings he had brought him into contact
with many influential people of the day. It was reported that he
almost had daily contact with a man named Sir Walter Raleigh (the man responsible
for the first Virginia English Colony) and a man not commonly known, Adrian
Gilbert, of a shipping company called the Muscovy Company. This shipping
corporation was the one who obtained the grants and charters from the Crown
to “search for, discover, and acquire and colonize new and unknown lands”
according to the essay. According to another source, Customer
even helped Sir Francis Drake, the man who was encouraged by the Queen to
do piracy and slavery.12 Customer even entertained Foreign Ambassadors
and Local Royalty in his own house. Now speaking of Customer’s house,
we know that his ancestors were from Corsham, Wiltshire [as early as the
15th century]. He has settled here as well. In 1575, he purchased
one the royal properties. The estates in Corsham had belonged to the
Queens of England as a part of their dowry. In 1572, Queen Elizabeth
sold the estate along with the mansion called Corsham Court, to a Sir Christopher
Hatton. As the estate was in dire need of repairs and his interests
lie elsewhere, he sold the property to Thomas in 1575. He tore down
the old house and built a new one by 1582. “The house was of a manageable
size, in typical local Cotswold style with high pointed roofs. It did have
a fine and rich interior with much wainscoting [ ?]. On his death he left
the house to his third son, who sold it in 1602 to Edward Hungerford. Between
1602 and 1745 the property was owned or leased by 10 different families,
but in 1745 it was bought by Paul Methuen. He set about turning the Elizabethan
house into the mansion that we know today.”13
Thomas, ever becoming the popular man and apparently regaining the
favour of the Queen, in 1585 was singled out, per Mr. Wadmore, and given
a grant of further royal manors – Eastenhanger and Westenhanger – in Kent
County with all the customary rights to give to his heirs. She gave
him everything in and on it. She only reserved the right to use
them for military purposes if the need arose and for him to pay an annual
tax on the property. If you want to know more about the property,
the essay goes into greater details. But this doesn’t suit our purpose
right now. It was apparent that Thomas was getting his hands on many
properties as well as managing his businesses. The Queen being a bit
greedy placed higher and higher taxes on his assets or leases to a point
that he was under duress. Wadmore gives us a copy of the letter from
Thomas to the Queen requesting reprieve from the pressure in 1589.
Elizabeth was not at all happy with the letter and was very upset with Thomas.
Yet, as he died in 1591, he did not reap any of her wrath.
Thomas, as his father, was very busy in life yet managed to have an
even larger family. We saw above that he married one Alice Judde,
the daughter of Sir Andrew Judde, in 1554 in Kent Co. England. Sir
Andrew Judde was a very popular man in his day. We even have a copy
of his brother’s portrait, but you can read about the Judde’s in the Smith
Branches Section (III. Judde Family). Based on the Will of Thomas
as described in the essay as well as from a letter written by one of his
daughters (of which I will show you next) we find out that together, Thomas
and Alice had as many as 13 children, if not more.
Below is the letter written by Joan, Thomas' daughter, to her grandson:
[Customer Smythe] ... had six sons
and six daughters: his sons were Sir John Smythe, Sir Thomas Smythe, Sir
Richard Smythe, Sir Robert Smythe, Mr. William Smythe, and Mr. Edward Smythe,
who died young: two were knighted by Queen Elizabeth, and two by King James;
the eldest was grandfather of the now Lord Strangford; the second had been
several times ambassador, and all married into good families, and left
great estates to their posterity, which remain to this day. The daughters
were Mrs. Fanshawe, your great-grandmother-in-law; the second married Sir
John Scott, of Kent; the third married Sir John Davies, of the same county;
the fourth married Sir Robert Poynz, of Leicestershire; the fifth married
Thomas Butler, of Herald, Esq.; and the sixth married Sir Henry Fanshawe,
your grandfather: these all left a numerous posterity but Davies, and
this day they are matched into very considerable families. [Footnote:
Lady Fanshawe is not quite correct in her account of the Smythe family,
and the statements in Peerages are equally erroneous. Thomas Smythe, Esq.
of Ostenhanger, in Kent, Farmer of the Customs to Philip and Mary, and to
Queen Elizabeth, was the second son of John Smythe, Esq., (whose ancestors
were seated at Corsham, in Wiltshire, as early as the 15th century,) by
Joan, daughter of Robert Brounker, ancestor of the celebrated Viscount Brounker.
Customer Smythe died in 1591, and had by Alice, daughter and heiress of
Sir Andrew Judde, Lord Mayor of London, and one of the representatives of
Archbishop Chicheley, seven sons and six daughters, 1. Andrew, who
died young. 2. Sir John, of Ostenhanger, father of Sir Thomas Smythe,
K.B., who married Lady Barbara Sydney, daughter of Robert first Earl of
Leicester, K.G., was created Viscount Strangford, in Ireland, in 1628, and
was the ancestor of Percy Clinton Sydney Smythe, sixth and present Viscount
Strangford and first Baron Penshurst, G.C.B. 3. Henry Smythe, of
Corsham. 4. Sir Thomas Smythe, of Bidborough, in the county of Kent,
ambassador to Russia in 1604, whose male descendants became extinct on the
death of Sir Stafford Sydney Smythe, Chief Baron of the Exchequer, in 1778.
5. Sir Richard Smythe, of Leeds Castle, in Kent, whose son, Sir John,
dying issueless, in 1632, his sisters became his co-heiresses. 6. Robert
Smythe, of Highgate, who left issue. 7. Symon Smythe, killed
at the siege of Cadiz in 1597. Of the daughters of Customer Smythe, Mary
married Robert Davye, of London, Esq.; Ursula married, first, Simon
Harding, of London, Esq., and secondly William Butler, of Bidenham, in Bedfordshire,
Esq.; Johanna was the wife of Thomas Fanshawe, of Ware Park, Herts,
Esq.; Katherine was first the wife of Sir Rowland Hayward, Lord Mayor
of London, and secondly of Sir John Scott, of Scott's Hall, in Kent; Alice
married Edward Harris, of Woodham, in Essex, Esq.; and Elizabeth,
the sixth and youngest daughter, was the wife of Sir Henry Fanshawe, Remembrancer
of the Exchequer, father of Sir Richard Fanshawe, the ambassador. Sir ROBERT
Poyntz, of Leicestershire, is a mistake of Lady Fanshawe's for Sir JAMES
Poyntz, of North Oxenden, in Essex, who married Mary, the sister and co-
heiress of Sir John Smythe, son of Sir Richard, of Bidborough, before mentioned,
and GRANDDAUGHTER of the Customer.]"14
Although there are some differences between the essay and the letter,
they both agree on the number of children and their names. The odd thing
is that both list the children as ranking sons and then ranking daughters.
It would seem odd for him to have had the boys first and then the girls.
Therefore, I assume that the names are in order of Birth right and not
of birth. The first child was Andrew Smythe, who was born about 1556
and died about 2 years old. The children after this were Sir John
Smythe, Henry Smythe, Sir Thomas Smythe, Sir Richard Smythe, Sir Robert
Smythe, Symon Smythe, Mary Smythe, Ursula Smythe, Johanna (Joan) Smythe,
Katherine Smythe, Alice Smythe, and Elizabeth Smythe. Finding
the dates for each has been extremely hard and I have uncovered very little.
Sir John Smythe was born towards the end of 1556 and died on 29 Nov 1608.
He ended up with three children, Elizabeth, Thomas, and Catherine.
Henry Smythe died about 1590. I have found no date of birth, nor do
I know what child number he was to estimate it. Sir Thomas Smythe
was easy enough; he was born in 1558 and died in 1625. He produced
two named offspring: John and Robert [and at least one more son – unnamed
at this stage]. There are questions as to if Thomas had more children by
the names of Margaret, William, and Arthur. There is more about
him and I will discuss later. Sir Richard Smythe, the 5th son, has
revealed no dates so far. His children were: Margaret, John, Elizabeth,
Mary, and Thomas. Sir Robert Smythe has given us no dates yet, but
he did have two children: John and Alyce. Symon Smythe is reported
to have died in 1596 in the siege of Cadiz (Spanish trading port attacked
many times. Symon sailed with the Earl of Essex as did his brothers
Richard and Thomas, and destroyed half the city. This is where Richard
and Thomas was knighted by Robert Devereux, Earl of Essex , for bravery).
Here again is nice story to tell and can be read under the Blount Family
History of the Smith Branches Section. Mary Smythe married Mr. Robert
Davy and had two sons and one daughter according to the essay. Ursula
Smythe married William Butler and had 5 children: Thomas, Oliver, William,
Alice, and Catherine. Joan Smythe married Sir Thomas Fanshawe and had
four children: Thomas, William, Alice, and Katherine. Katherine Smythe
married Sir Rowland Hayward and had 6 children: George, John, Alice,
Katherine, Mary, and Amice. Alice Smythe married Sir William Harris
and had at least 2 children: Thomas and Dora. The last daughter,
Elizabeth Smythe, is not recorded as having been married at the time of
death of her parents.
While Sir Thomas Smythe is not of our direct line according to some,
he is, however, very much a part of our family as shown above and plays
a major role in our family (and the rest of the world) coming to America.
So he bears mentioning here for a bit. Born between about 1558, Thomas
was born at Westenhanger, Kent. The same estates granted to his
father in 1585. By 1571, he and his brothers were well educated
and respectable merchant tailors. Thomas (Jr.) accomplished so much
in his life that it would be quicker just to list them rather that discuss
each and I highlighted the most important.
1558 – Born Westenhanger, Kent.
1574 – Obtained Bachelor’s degree
1578 – Obtained Masters Degree
1580 – Joined Skinners (Freemasons) and Haberdashers’ Guilds
1582 – Elected public orator
1584 – Elected Proctor
1587 – Secretary to Robert Devereux, Earl of Essex
1589 – Representative of Crickdale area in Parliament
1591 – Appointed Clerk of Privy Council
1593 – Representative of Tamworth area in Parliament
1596 – Knighted by Earl of Essex at siege of Cadiz; Trade commissioner
1597 – Customer of London, Auditor (Same as Father) and Treasurer
of St. Bartholomew’s Hosp.
1598 – Trade Commissioner with Dutch – 2nd term
1599 – Alderman; Served with Earl of Essex in Ireland
1600 – Sheriff of London and Capt. Of City Militia; Member of
Merchant Adventurers; Governor of Muscovy Co., Levant Co. and East
1603 – Knighted again by King James I
1604 – Ambassador to Russia
1607 – Governor of North West Passage Co.
1609 – Treasurer of Virginia Co. (till 1619)
1615 – Governor of Somers Is. Co.
1619 – Trade commissioner with Dutch – 3rd Time; Commander of Navy
1625 – Died 4 September
The following is an abstract from the History of Parliament, a Biographical
dictionary of Members of the House of Commons:
“Born ABT 1558, third, but second surviving son of Thomas
Smythe of Westenhanger, Kent by Alice, dau. of Sir Andrew Judde; brother
of John and Richard. He married first Judith
Culverwell, dau. and heiress of Richard Culverwell, s.p.; secondly
Joan Hobbs, dau. and heiress of William Hobbs, s.p.; and thirdly Sarah Blount
[see picture], dau. and heiress of William Blount, by whom he had three
sons and one daughter. …
In 1588, he lent £31,000 [equivalent to roughly $3.5 Million
today] to Queen Elizabeth and raised the necessary funds for her to finance
the English fleet which would destroy the Spanish Armada.
In the 30 years ending with the death of James I, Smythe was overseer
of virtually all the trade which passed through the port of London.
He had two outstanding examples: his maternal grandfather, Sir Andrew Judde,
was a leading city merchant and lord mayor in the middle of the sixteenth
century, and his father, "Customer" Smythe, whose shrewd judgment and
financial acumen brought him a fortune in the city, and a position among
the county families of Kent. Still, it is not easy to follow his career
in the years before the turn of the century. As well as his father, who
died in 1591, there was at least one other London merchant of the same
name. It is clear, however, that he was already well established in his
own business during his father's lifetime, presumably with the latter's
financial backing. By the end of the century he had three strings to his
bow. He occupied a prominent position in the city; he took the lead in
the new trading and colonizing companies which were becoming such a marked
feature of the commercial life of the period; finally, as his list of offices
shows, he put his experience to use in the government's service.
In 1597 Smythe had his first experience of the House of Commons when
he was returned for Aylesbury, a seat previously occupied by his father
and his elder brother, through his family's long-standing friendship with
the Pakingtons. He was named to a committee on the poor law, 22 Nov 1597,
and could have served on one about the highways near Aylesbury, 11 Jan 1598.
Others of his committees included those concerned with maltsters (12 Jan);
two alien merchants (13 Jan); the sale of the lands and goods of one John
Sharp presumably a merchant to pay his debts (20 Jan); and the reformation
of abuses in wine casks (3 Feb).
In 1596, he was knighted for bravery by Robert Devereux,
Earl of Essex at Cadiz, and served as sheriff of London from 1600-1601.
Smythe also served with Essex in Ireland in 1599, and was an acknowledged
friend of his.
In the midst of his many successes, Smythe's career nearly came to
an abrupt and fatal halt: he found himself deprived of the shrievalty [office
of the sheriff] of London, after being in office for only three months,
and in prison under suspicion of being implicated in Essex's abortive
coup d'état of Feb 1601 [there is more on the coup in the Blount
Family history of the Smith Branches Section]. On the 14th of that month
the Privy Council informed the lord mayor that Smythe had ‘forgotten his
duty to her Majesty’ and that the city would have to elect a new sheriff.
On the same day he was placed in the custody of the Archbishop of Canterbury
and a fortnight later, on 2 Mar, he was put in the Tower. His defence was
a complete denial of the charges against him. He said that he had had no communication
with the Earl for nine years until the day in question. He denied prior knowledge
of the plot. It is surprising that he escaped with a period in prison and
a heavy fine.
With the new reign his return to favour was rapid. James I knighted
Sir Thomas Smythe at the Tower of London in May 1603, he was shortly afterwards
employed as Ambassador to Russia. As well as recovering his position
as governor of all the important trading companies, he played a leading
part in new trading ventures in Virginia, in Bermuda and in search of the
North West Passage, and financed several voyages of exploration. He was
also a leading adviser to the government on commercial and naval matters.
His activities during these years, both in furthering trade and in encouraging
the foundation of colonies, has led one historian to allot to him a ‘unique
position among the founders of the Empire’. He eventually retired to an
estate he had purchased at Sutton-at-Hone, Kent, where he died 4 Sep 1625.”15
It stands to re ason that Sir Thomas Smythe was
very well educated and had all the right connections. He was rubbing
shoulders with the royalty. But even more than that, I see that God
was working in his life to place him in a position that would help the rest
of the world, even by ensuring his safety while being placed in the Tower
prison. He was so well prized that he
was Knighted twice. Because of his ancestry, he was in a position to
help Queen Elizabeth by lending her money to defeat the Spanish Armada.
What does that tell you? He may not have been royalty, but he certainly
had their admiration. When Thomas died he made provisions for a large
portion of his wealth to be set up under a charity (named after him of course)
which still exists today providing for the poor in England. For his
Charity to last over 400 years, there must have been a lot of money in it
to begin with. Thomas’ son, John, even married the daughter of Robert Rich,
Earl of Warwick. This respect, more importantly, placed him in charge
of basically all the Shipping & Exploration England had of importance
during this day. Can you believe it? Our ancestor not only helped
finance a war with Spain, he funded and controlled the Customs ports and exploration.
If Thomas didn’t feel that the exploration was not profitable, it didn’t
happen. That indicates the first settlements on American Soil, the
first with Sir Walter Raleigh at Roanoke and the second one by Capt. John
Smith (not of any relation to us) with Jamestown, would not have happened
without funding and approval from Sir Thomas Smythe as he was in charge of
the Virginia Company and funded this endeavour for 30 years. NO AMERICA
as we know it. There were two groups that actually made Virginia a
reality: the London Merchants of the East India, Levant, and Moscovy Companies
of which Sir Thomas controlled all three and the West County group led by
Sir Ferdinando Gorges (later Governor of Plymouth). Gorges was interested
in Furs and fisheries while Thomas was interested in gold, tobacco, and land.
Due to Gorges, the New England area – namely Maine – became colonized while
the southern regions belonged to Thomas. As a matter of fact, the Wikipedia
Online Encyclopaedia has the history of the London Company and Jamestown
The London Company (also called the Virginia Company of London) was
an English joint stock company established by royal charter by James I on
April 10, 1606 with the purpose of establishing colonial settlements in
North America. It was one of two such companies, along with the Plymouth
Company, that was granted an identical charter as part of the Virginia
Company. The London Company was responsible for establishing the Jamestown
Settlement, the first permanent English settlement in North America, in
The territory granted to the company included the coast of North America
from 34th parallel (Cape Fear) north to the 41st parallel (in Long Island
Sound), but being part of the Virginia Company and Colony, The London
Company owned a large portion of Atlantic and Inland Canada. The company
was permitted by its charter to establish a 100 mile square (26,000 km²)
settlement within this area. The portion of the company's territory north
of the 38th parallel was shared with the Plymouth Company, with the stipulation
that neither company found a colony within 100 miles (160 km) of each other.
In 1607, the company established the Jamestown Settlement on the James
River in Chesapeake Bay. By 1609, the Plymouth Company had abandoned its
effort to establish the Popham Colony and had dissolved. As a result,
the charter for the London Colony was adjusted with a new grant that extended
from "sea to sea" of the previously-shared area between the 34th and 40th
History of the London Company
The business of the company was the settlement of the Virginia
colony using as the labour force volunteer adventurers under the customary
indenture system whereby in exchange for seven years of labour for the
company, the company provided passage, food, protection and land ownership.
In December 1606, the Virginia Company's three ships, containing
144 men and boys, set sail. On May 13, 1607, these first settlers selected
the site of Jamestown Island as the place to build their fort.
In addition to survival, the early colonists had another pressing mission:
to make a profit for the stockholders of the Virginia Company. Although
the settlers were disappointed that gold did not wash up on the beach and
gems did not grow in the trees, they realized there was great potential
for wealth of other kinds in their new home. Early industries such as glass
manufacture, pitch and tar production and beer and wine making took advantage
of natural resources and the land's fertility. However, the settlers could
not devote as much time as the Virginia Company would have liked to their
financial responsibilities. They were too busy trying to survive. Within
the three-sided fort erected on the banks of the James, the settlers quickly
discovered that they were, first and foremost, employees of the Virginia
Company of London, following instructions of the men appointed by the Company
to rule them. In exchange, the laborers were armed and received clothes and
food from the common store. After seven years, they were to receive land
of their own. The gentlemen, who provided their own armor and weapons, were
to be paid in land, dividends or additional shares of stock.
Initially, the colonists were governed by a president and seven-member
council selected by the King. Leadership problems quickly erupted and
Jamestown's first two leaders coped with varying degrees of success with
sickness, Indian assaults, poor food and water supplies and class strife.
When Captain John Smith became Virginia's third president, he proved
the strong leader that the colony needed. Industry flourished and relations
with Chief Powhatan's people improved. In 1609, the Virginia Company received
its Second Charter, which allowed the Company to choose its new governor
from amongst its shareholders. Investment boomed as the Company launched
an intensive recruitment campaign. Over 600 colonists set sail for Virginia
between March 1608 and March 1609. Unfortunately for these new settlers,
Sir Thomas Gates, Virginia's deputy governor, bound for the colony, was
shipwrecked in Bermuda and did not assume his new post until 1610. When
he arrived, he found only a fraction of the colonists had survived the infamous
"Starving Time" of 1609-1610. All too soon, the Mother Country learned of
Virginia's woeful state. The result was predictable: financial catastrophe
for the Company. Many new subscribers reneged payment on their shares, and
the Company became entangled in dozens of court cases. On top of these losses,
the Company was forced to incur further debt when it sent hundreds more
colonists to Virginia.
There was little to counter this crushing debt. No gold had been found
in Virginia; trading commodities produced by exploitation of the raw materials
found in the New World were minimal. Attempts at producing glass, pitch,
tar and potash had been barely profitable and, regrettably, such commodities
could be had far more cheaply on the other side of the Atlantic. Increasingly
bad publicity, political infighting and financial woes led the Virginia
Company to organize a massive advertising campaign. The Company plastered
street corners with tempting broadsheets, published persuasive articles,
and even convinced the clergy to preach of the virtues of supporting colonization.
Before the Company was dissolved, it would publish 27 books and pamphlets
promoting the Virginia venture.
To make shares more marketable, the Virginia Company changed its sales
pitch. Instead of promising instant returns and vast profits for investors,
the Company exploited patriotic sentiment and national pride. A stockholder
was assured that his purchase of shares would help build the might of England,
to make her the superpower she deserved to be. The heathen natives would
be converted to the proper form of Christianity, the Church of England.
People out of work could find employment in the New World. The standard
of living would increase across the nation. How could any good, patriotic
Englander resist? The English rose to the bait. The gentry wished
to win favor by proving its loyalty to the crown. The growing middle class
also saw stock purchasing as a way to better itself. But the news was not
all good. Although the population of Jamestown rose, high settler mortality
kept profits unstable. By 1612, the Company's debts had soared to over
A third charter provided a short-term resolution to the Virginia Company's
problems. The Company was permitted to run a lottery as a fundraising
venture. Other attractive features of the charter allowed Virginia's assembly
to act as the colony's legislature and also added 300 leagues of ocean
to the colony's holdings, which would include Bermuda as part of Virginia.
But the colony was still on shaky ground until John Rolfe's successful experiment
with tobacco as a cash crop provided a way to recoup financially. Unfortunately
by 1616, the Virginia Company suffered further adversity. The original
settlers were owed their land and stock shares; initial investors at home
were owed their dividends. The Company was forced to renege on its cash
promises, instead distributing 50 acre (200,000 m²) lots in payment.
The next year, the Company instituted the head right system, a way
to bring more settlers to Virginia. Investors and residents were able to
acquire land in paying the passage of new settlers. In most cases, these
newcomers spent a period of time in servitude on the investor's land. Sir
Edwin Sandys, a leading force in the Virginia Company, strongly supported
the head right system, for his goal was a permanent colony which would enlarge
British territory, relieve the nation's overpopulation, and expand the market
for English goods. Sir Thomas Smith, as the Company's Treasurer [and
first Governor], had a different dream: the Virginia Company's mission was
to trade and to make a profit…..
In 1621, the Company was in trouble; unpaid dividends and increased
use of lotteries had made future investors wary. The Company debt was now
over £9000. Worried Virginians were hardly reassured by the advice
of pragmatic Treasurer Sandys, who warned that the Company "cannot wish
you to rely on anything but yourselves." March 1622, the Company's and the
colony's situation went from dire to disastrous when the Powhatan Indians
staged an uprising which wiped out a quarter of the European population
of Virginia. When a fourth charter, severely reducing the Company's ability
to make decisions in the governing of Virginia, was proposed by the Crown,
subscribers rejected it. King James I forthwith changed the status of Virginia
in 1624. Virginia was now a royal colony to be administered by a governor
appointed by the King. The Virginia Assembly finally received royal approval
in 1627 and this form of government, with governor and assembly, would oversee
the colony of Virginia until 1776, excepting only the years of the English
The instructions issued to Sir Thomas Gates on November 20 called for
a forcible conversion of Native Americans to Anglicanism and subordination
to the colonial administration. The records of the company record a discussion
during one of their first meetings about publishing a justification of their
business enterprise and methods "give adventurers, a clearness and satisfaction,
for the justice of the action, and so encourage them". Others opposed this,
arguing that "there is much a confession in every apology" and called for
"quietness and no doubting" not wanting to create a public debate where
Catholics and neutrals might attack them. Whereas Catholic arguments would
be in support of Spanish legal claims to the New World under the Donation
of Alexander, it was feared that the neutral "pen-adversaries" might "cast
scruples into our conscience" by criticising the lawfulness of the plantation.
It was decided to forego such a publication of a justification.
However in 1608 Sir Edward Coke, in his capacity as Lord Chief Justice
offered a ruling in Calvin's Case which went beyond the issue at hand:
whether a Scotsman could seek justice at English Court. Coke distinguished
between aliens from nations at war with England and friendly aliens, those
from nations in league with England. Friendly aliens could have recourse
to English courts. But he also ruled that "all infidels" (i.e. those from
non-Christian nations) there can be no peace and a state of perpetual hostility
would exist between them and Christians.
In 1609 the company issued instructions to kidnap Native American children
so as to indoctrinate them with English values and religion. These instructions
also sanctioned attacking the Iniocasoockes, the cultural leaders of the
local Powhatans. However it was only when Thomas De La Warr arrived in
1610 that the Company was able to commence a war against the Powhatan with
the First Anglo-Powhatan War. De La Warr was replaced by Sir Thomas Dale,
who continued the war. It was during this period that Pocahontas married
John Rolfe. The military offensive was accompanied by a propaganda
war: Alderman Robert Johnson published Nova Britannia in 1609 which compared
Native Americans to wild animals - "herds of deer in a forest". While it
portrayed the Powhatans as peace loving, it nevertheless threatened to deal
with any who resisted conversion to Anglicanism as enemies of 'their' country.
(Johnson was the son-in-law of Sir Thomas Smith, leader of one of
the court factions within the Company in London.)
In 1622 the Second Anglo-Powhatan War was started. Its origins are
disputed. English apologists for the company say that Opchanacanough initiated
the war. Robert Williams, a contemporary Native American Law Professor
argues that Opchanacanough had secured concessions from Governor Yeardley
which the company would not accept. Thus Opchanacanough's attack on March
22, 1622 may have been an attempt to defeat the colony before reinforcements
arrived. 350 out of 1,240 colonists were killed. The Virginia Company quickly
published an account of this attack which was steeped in Calvinist theology
- the massacre was the work of providence in that it gave an excuse for
the complete genocide of the Powhatan, and the building of settlements
on their former towns. New orders called for a "perpetual war without peace
or truce" "to root out from being any longer a people, so cursed a nation,
ungrateful to all benefit, and incapable of all goddesses." (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/London_Virginia_Company)
I had a look at a copy of the Second Charter of Virginia on 23 May
1609 just to be complete with my research and I found a list of names of
those who acknowledged the charter which included our Sir Thomas Smyth,
Knight. Then I had a look in some of the Virginia Company’s manuscripts
and found a few documents bearing his name. One of the records was
on 21 Nov 1621, whereas the Virginia Commission granted Thomas Smith (Smythe)
the rights to “freely fish” the coast of Virginia in an effort to establish
a fishing market. Thomas not only funded the Virginia exploration,
he funded other explorers as well, such as Henry Hudson and William Baffin.
Thomas hired Hudson to explore links to India and then used him again in
the northern regions of America (remember the Hudson River & Hudson
Bay Company). It was Sir Thomas who made the pitch to send an envoy
to the Emperor of India to get a stable foot hold with the trade in India
which developed into one of the British’s biggest adventures. Thomas
hired Baffin to explore the Artic. Baffin discovered what we call
today as Smith Sound and Baffin Bay. “Smith Sound is an Arctic sea
passage between Canada’s Ellesmere Island and Greenland. It connects Baffin
Bay to Kane Basin and is part of Nares Strait. It was discovered in
1616 by William Baffin and original named Sir Thomas Smith's Bay, after the
English diplomat Sir Thomas Smyth. By the 1750s it was largely put on maps
as Sir Thomas Smith’s Sound, though no recorded exploration in that area
had occurred between 1616 and John Ross's expedition in 1818. It is
unknown why the change from Bay to Sound occurred, probably due to lack of
exploration. A Sound, as a body of water, can be a sea inlet or a narrow
sea strait. It is probably named as a sea inlet, but today it is understood
as a narrow sea strait. By the early 19th century the Sir Thomas part
of the name, largely disappeared and from 1840s the name Smith Sound has
consistently been used on maps.” 16
One last side note to round off Sir Thomas’ accomplishments was when
he was Governor of the Somers Isles Company. This company explored
what is now
known as Bermuda. “Smith's Parish, one of the nine counties
or Parishes of Bermuda of about equal size, is on Main Island. It has sea
frontage on the South and North shores and southern side of the inland lake
of Harrington Sound. It is named after one of Bermuda's Elizabethan patrons,
Sir Thomas Smith or Smythe… [There is also an island bearing his name as]
Smith's Island in St. George’s Parish was Bermuda's first settlement. It
was here that Carter, Chard and Waters, reputedly the three Kings of Bermuda
from 1610 to 1612, settled when they were the first accidental permanent
colonists in Bermuda. They built cabins of palmetto, planted beans, water
melons, tobacco, maize, fished of the coast, hunted wild hogs, salted bacon
and fish they caught and even made a fresh water catch. When the Plough arrived
from England on July 11, 1612 with the first party of planned colonists,
it went first to St. David's to discharge them then went two days later to
an anchorage on the south shore of Smith's Island. Carter, Chard and Waters
showed Governor Richard Moore the varieties of garden produce they had grown.
Moore was delighted because the Somers Isles Company in London had supplied
him with 81 varieties of seed to try in Bermuda. Many of the first European
crops Virginia and later American colonies saw were planted on Smith's Island.
The first planned settlers made rock ovens for their food from the local
limestone until they moved to St. George's Island and Town of St. George
in the summer and autumn of 1612.”17
The Smythe’s had come a long way since 1430. In one hundred and
seventy years, our ancestors went from peasant farmers (I believe) to marring
our children into the royal families, lending money to the Crown, and conducting
the most importing explorations of any in History. This is as close
as we get to fame and fortune.
If you had a good look at the “tree” diagram above showing Thomas “Customer”
Smythe and his children, you would have noticed something wrong after
reading the dialogue afterwards. The picture shows that Thomas had
14 children, yet all the documents I have shown you so far only attest
to 13 children. The odd child out was Arthur Smythe. Who is
this Arthur? At this very moment, I cannot answer this question completely
and accurately. I can however tell you the theory that many others
have and believe. Up until now, I have done my utmost to show you
documented proof of the Smythe endeavours and their linage and used the
history of the times to better understand how and why they did the things
they did. Apart from the history and documents after the fact, I cannot
with regret find any proof that says Arthur is Customer Smythe’s son.
The dates and times match, the location matches, yet I cannot say with certainty
that they are linked. I have researched and communicated with just
about anyone who would return my emails and letters at to the where about
of their sources. I have had a few say they got their information
from the Medieval Genealogy Department that works at the Salt Lake City
Genealogical Library on an LDS Microfilm: #1512640 /Ancestral File" for
Arthur Smith being the son of Sir Thomas Smythe. The submitter is
one Elizabeth Watkins who lives in the state of Washington. Her research
best coincides with all that I have found and reasoned out.18 The problem
with this is that and Ancestral File is a work done by previous researchers.
Not to say that they are wrong as I have been unable to see the file for
myself, but it just doesn’t feel right without some form of documentation
to base it on. I don’t feel comfortable saying this is right
because some one else said so - Call me a “doubting Thomas”, and I mean no
pun indented. But then again this is all I have to go on for the moment.
Another researcher said they had him on a census some where but I have yet
to find any census. As Arthur is not on any official records, I have
a few theories as to why; (1) he could have been an illegitimate child,
(2) Arthur could have been the middle name or assumed name of one of the
7 boys, or (3) he did not exist. It is obvious that Customer Smythe
loved his family or he would not have spent so much time spawning his many
children, nor would he at the end of his days spent so much time in the details
of his will as to who got what. So the question is why would a man
of his capital who was about to die fearing no wrath from friend or foe,
not confess and make some provisions for a child he knew to be his?
There are several assumptions, but no clear answers. As to the second
theory, I have not found any record of Thomas’ children showing their middle
or assumed names. Nor did I find any grandchildren or great grandchildren
of his with the name of Arthur which would have suggested the presence of
an Arthur in the family as culture of the day has proven time and time again.
Therefore, with that said, let’s continue as if our assumption is correct.
Arthur was to be born between 1550 and 1555 in Kent County, England.
He would have been Thomas’ first child. If Thomas was born in 1522,
he would have been a maximum of 33 years old. That is rational.
We know that Thomas and Alice were married about 1554; therefore, reason
presumes Arthur to be born about 1555. The first recorded child said
to have died at an early age was named Andrew and born about 1556.
Nothing is contradictory yet. Andrew was most likely named after the
maternal grandfather, Sir Andrew Judde. One other child was named
Alice after her mother no doubt. Do you see a pattern, with the names?
Arthur, Andrew, Alice. I don’t know, just another grasp at straws.
Because I have found no record, I have no real data on his life and exploits.
We do however believe he had a son by the name of Thomas. Is this
just coincidence that the son is named after the grandfather? Now
how all this links together is a bit hard but bear with me you will have
an answer as best as I can give. Thomas (Arthur’s son) also had a
child, Christopher Smith. It sounds a bit like I am pulling names
out of a hat for the moment, but we have found records of Christopher Smith.
First, notice that the surname is now spelt with an “i” and the “e” is
dropped. I will get to why I believe this is so in a while.
Now Christopher is recorded to have been born 18 Mar 1591 (the same year
Customer Smythe died) in Abington Parish, Lancashire, England. Lancashire?
What’s going on? John Smyth was born in Wiltshire, England, the south
western portion of the Isle. Thomas “Customer” Smythe was born Wiltshire.
Customer had property in Kent Co. and a few of his children were born there.
But Lancashire is in the Northern portion of England? It is believed
Arthur was born in Kent County. But low and behold, Arthur’s son,
Thomas, is believed to have been born in around Devon, England but died
around Burnley, Lancashire, England. What happened? Why are
they so far apart? Was Arthur the bastard son of Customer Smythe who
moved to Devon and eventually left the area to Lancashire to escape the
trouble or shame of it? I don’t know. Christopher is recorded
as being married on 3 May 1624. This puts him at the age of 33.
In the record it says his father was named Thomas Smith with no dates.
Back to logic again. The average age of the males getting married,
due to their career building I presume, was 30 to 33, as proven in our own
records. If Christopher was born in 1591, then on average, his father
would have been about 30 to 33. If we do the math, this puts his father,
Thomas, being born around 1558 to 1561. Who do we know that was born
about 1558? Sir Thomas Smythe, son of Customer Smythe!
This revelation puts a whole new light on things. From the top
down, we know the following: Richard Smyth (b. 1460 / d. 1527) begat
John Smythe (b. 1495 / d. 1560) begat Thomas Smythe I (b. 1522 / d. 1591)
begat Thomas Smythe II (b. 1558 / d. 1625). From the bottom up,
we will prove in the next chapter the following: Ambrose Joshua Smith
(b. 1661 / d. 1758) the son of Christopher Smith II (b. 1630 / d. 1716),
the son of Christopher Smith I (b. 1591 / d. 1648). The gap in the
connection is between Christopher I and Thomas II. We know that the
record tells us that Christopher’s father was named Thomas. And we
already used the math to determine the rough age of Christopher’s “would
be” father and thus the year of birth. We have countless records proving
the birth and death of Thomas II. They all match. But wait, I
have two more sources. Above in the record from Biographical Dictionary
of the House of Commons, it was noted that Sir Thomas had three sons and
one daughter, none of which were named. But we also found out through
another’s research, two of the names of the boys: Sir John Smythe
who married Isabelle Rich, the daughter of the Earl of Warwick and sister
to the second Earl of Warwick, Robert Rich [see picture], and Robert S
mythe whose son was Governor of Dover Castle.19 This leaves the
third son and daughter to account for. But the last source who catalogued
the family of the Viscounts of Strangford and Penshurst and their relations,
shows us that there was a son of whom was unnamed.20 The dates
are equivalent and several records show a son that was not named that
fits the profile. So why did we discuss so much about Arthur Smythe?
It was more of an effort to disprove rather that to prove. The legend
of Arthur, if I may put it like that, fits nicely into the scheme of things
as so many believe and place in their archives, yet no one has any records
beyond word of mouth. This last revelation with Christopher does
have support. It is not conclusive or definitive, but it works much
better. In the next chapter we will discuss Christopher in more depth
in an effort to smooth out the whole transition. So if we back up,
a re-read the portion on Sir Thomas Smythe we now believe he is our direct
descendant. Sorry guys, don’t you just love a twist in the stories
in lieu of the test I mentioned?
By: Jerry A. Smith,
Smith Family Researcher
1. Vasari, Giorgio: "Life of Leonardo da Vinci", in Lives of the Most
Eminent Painters, Sculptors, and Architects, translated by Gaston DeC. De
Vere, (London: Philip Lee Warner, 1912-1914), pp. 89-92, 95-101, 104-105
3. Kerns, Gloria: Genealogist, Smith Family Researcher (email@example.com
4. Tobler, Paul and Dorothy: Smyth Family Researcher: (firstname.lastname@example.org
6. Ancestors of Dover, LTD. England; Email: email@example.com
; Web: http://www.ancestors.co.uk/her-overview.html
8. Jones, E.T.: The Bristol Shipping Industry in the Sixteenth
Century’ (PhD. Edinburgh, 1998). Appendix 2, of the Dissertation:
John Smyth’s Import and Exports 1539 – 1546 in Tons.
9. Tobler, Paul and Dorothy: Smyth Family Researcher: (firstname.lastname@example.org
10. Wadmore, J.F. : “Introduction to Thomas Smythe-Commonly
Called Customer Smythe”, Published in Archæologia Cantiana of the
Kent Archæological Society vol. XVII, 1887, pp 193-208.
11. See online list of Smythe Lord Strangford: (http://www.angeltowns.com/town/peerage/peerss5.htm
12. Garcia, Wendy Florence Winter: Winter Family History, the
Golden Falcon – a website book. (http://www.pillagoda.freewire.co.uk/
13. Ladd, Frederick, Architects at Corsham Court. Moonraker Press,
1978. More can be found at www.wiltshire.gov.uk/community .
14. Garcia, Wendy Florence Winter: Winter Family History, the
Golden Falcon – a website book. (http://www.pillagoda.freewire.co.uk/
15. Nichols, Progresses; G. E. Cokayne, Lords Mayors and Sheriffs of
London, 1601-1625. History of Parliament, a Biographical Dictionary
of Members of the House of Commons.
16. Abstract from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Smith_Sound
17. Abstract from http://bermuda-online.org/seesmith.htm
18. Watkins, Elizabeth: Smith Family Researcher, email@example.com
20. Smith01, Families covered: Smythe of Ashford, Smythe of Bounds,
Smythe of Ostenhanger, Smythe of Strangford: Main sources: BE1883
(Smythe of Strangford and Penshurst) with input from TCP (Strangford) http://www.stirnet.com/HTML/genie/british/ss4as/smith01.htm