The Smyth/e IndexAncestor IndexAncestor IndexApothecaries' Hall, Blackfriars, London - print from papers of Professor H. J. Drew-Smythe (qv)
Maternal Great Great Great Great Great Great Great Grandparents - Smyth or Smith - a Smyth ancestor in the maternal line.
William Smyth (Smith) - of Woolsthorpe, near Belvoir Castle and an Apothecary of Shrewsbury - father of Corbetta Smyth and of Thomas Smyth/Smith

William Smyth - was an Apothecary - a pharmaceutical chemist. Those who followed this profession would, in earlier times, also have been accorded a status equivalent to a doctor.

John A. Hunt, Ph.D., F.R.Pharm.S. writes:

The Rose Case
In February, 1701, a legal case commenced in London which would legitimise the place of the apothecary in the practice of medicine. This, together with subsequent events, set pharmacy in England and Wales on a path which differed from that in Scotland and in almost all countries in continental Europe. Its echoes are still with us today.

In 17th century Britain, medical services were available from physicians and from apothecaries, in addition to the inevitable collection of irregular and unqualified practitioners, wise women and quack doctors. Many of the sick had to rely on family recipes and advice from neighbours and grandmothers. The apothecaries had developed from the pepperers and spicers of the middle ages and had originally been members, in London, of the Grocers’ Company, founded in 1373.

With increasing specialisation, the London apothecaries broke away and founded their own body, the Worshipful Society of Apothecaries, which received its Charter from King James I in December, 1617. It involved those practising up to seven miles from the City of London. Apprenticeship to an established apothecary was the usual route for admission to the society. Physicians were university-educated men versed in the classical traditions of medicine and the writings of Hippocrates, Galen and the other great figures of the past.

By tradition the apothecary was the purveyor and compounder of drugs and dispenser of the physicians’ prescriptions. Some physicians would employ an apothecary; others would use the services of an apothecary as required. The Royal household and some of the larger estates in the land employed their own apothecaries, who would supply materials for spiced wine and other domestic requirements in addition to medicines." (The full text of this article is available on the Internet.)

William Smyth's Will - which is dated 4th December, 1709 - begins:

"In the name of God Amen this fourth day of December in the year of our Lord God 1709 I William Smyth of Shrewsbury in the County of Salop~ Apothecary being at this time in perfect mind and memory (praised be God) do make and affirm this my last Will and Testament in manner and form following ... "
Original information Public Records Office - The National Archives of Great Britain; reference:prob 11/515 Image reference:8
In his Will, his wife is named as "my now dearly beloved" Mary Smith, (possibly born Mary Corbet) (or Mary Meyrick - see below) and he leaves her property in Shropshire and Staffordshire thus:
" ... over and above [a previous] ... deed of settlement ... all those my Messuages Lands and Tenaments with the appurtenances situated lying and being in Over (presumed) Airely parish in the County of Stafford ..."

From a GenUKI note: "Upper Arley (Over Arley) - The parish of Upper Arley or Over Arley was a part of Staffordshire in the South West corner of the county protruding into Worcestershire. It was removed to the administrative control of Worcestershire in 1895 and the parish was transferred from the Lichfield to Worcestershire Diocese in 1905. Parish records are deposited at Worcestershire Record Office and the parish is listed under Worcestershire in the IGI."

and also
" ... in the town of Shifnall in the county of Salop ..."
and also
" ... in the Town of Shrewsbury ..."

His eldest son is named as Thomas Smyth and his eldest daughter as Elizabeth Smyth (baptised 21 June 1694 at St. Chad in Shrewsbury). The "John Smyth" listed below may have been a further son who did not survive the period of the setting up of the Will.

Elizabeth Smyth, it is stated in the Will, has already been the beneficiary of a sum of money left to her by her Godmother, Dame Elizabeth Corbett. Thereafter, it is stated that the Executors (later named as his wife Mary and his eldest daughter, Elizabeth) should follow certain instructions for the use and benefit of "all my children to witt Thomas Smyth Elizabeth Smyth Mary Smith Ffrances Smith Jane Smyth and ..." [the name John Smyth crossed through with the name Corbetta Smyth added above the boy's name above an insertion mark between John and Smyth]. (Smyth and Smith in the names of his children are as the names appear in the PRO transcript image.) The instructions regarding his children continue: " ... and all and every other Child or Children by me on my said wife begotten or to be begotten as well those which shall be born at the time of my decease as any Child or Children which shall then happen to be ..."

Corbetta Smyth had been baptised just over one year previously at St. Chad's, in Shrewsbury. The old church of St. Chad's collapsed in 1788 and was replaced by the current, distinctive, building.

  Female (Source:LDS IGI)  
29 OCT 1708   Saint Chad, Shrewsbury, Shropshire, England

In the event that he should have no child surviving at the time of his death, William Smyth directs that his brother, Edward Smyth, should receive a sum of money and that other sums should be divided equally between the children of his four sisters who are named (spelling as in document) as: Sarah Corfeild, (?Caufeild) Eleanor Austin, Elizabeth Ball and Ann Sherratt.

Thus, William (Apothecary) Smyth's parents would have had children named William, Edward, Sarah, Eleanor, Elizabeth and Ann - if not others. This suggests that the father was an Edward or a William Smyth/Smith or, perhaps Thomas - or even John - and that one of the daughters was named after the mother.
Of the other children of William (Apothecary) and Mary Smyth, Jane Smith/Smyth was born on September 10th., 1700 and baptised at Saint Chad, Shrewsbury, 14th September whilst Ffrances (Frances) had been baptised at St. Chad on January 3rd., 1697. (LDS IGI) This leaves the birthdate or Baptism date of Mary unaccounted for and a question mark on a son, John, having been born to them.
NB - there is an IGI LDS record of an Elinor Smith marrying a Thomas Austin on 13th February 1689 at St. Oswald, Ashbourne, Derby, in England. It is likely that William Smyth's own marriage would have taken place a short time either side of this date - possibly in this same area ... which might suggest that William (Apothecary) Smyth's parents were "of Ashbourne" Derbyshire.

The writer, Jane Austen, had a line of Smyth(e) ancestry and was also connected to the line of the Bridges (Brydges) family Barons Chandos ... click on the tree image below for some Jane Austen charts.

The Knatchbull (Lords Brabourne) family members appear in "The Anstruther Guest Book" on this site.

William Smyth signed and also affixed his seal to the document "the day and year first above written being the fourth of December in the year of our Lord seventeen hundred and nine" but there was first added a Memorandum describing the fact that the name John Smyth had been "blotted out" and the name Corbetta Smyth "written over it before the writing of my name to this Will or sealing publishing or declaring this to be my last Will and Testament ..." The witnesses were John Wilding, Thomas Harris and -?- Morgan.

There is a Codicil to the Will, dated 28th December of the same year, 1709, in which William Smyth (spelling updated) states:

"Whereas I made my last Will and Testament hereto annexed and dated the fourth day of this instant December and now considering that I have placed my Son [Thomas Smyth] at the University of Oxford which will be a great charge to maintain him there my will is by this my Codicil declared that my Executors in my said Will mentioned shall have power for to lay out moneys out of my personal Estate for his maintenance there [ ...] and my Will is that whereas I have had an intention to build a house at Upper Arely in the County of Stafford my Will is that if I shall depart this life before the same be built that my Executors shall have full power at Upper Arely on any of my lands there to fall what timber shall be necessary and raise up clay to make brick for the building thereof and that they be allowed for discharge of such building out of my Personal Estate and the moneys or interest thereof and my Will is that this Codicil annexed be made part of my Will in witness whereof I have hereunto set my hand and seal this twenty eighth day of December Anno Domini 1709."

Given that Thomas Smyth had been 'placed' at Oxford at some point around this time, it would seem attractive to accept the following baptismal entry as applying to him. It would make him sixteen years old on entry to Oxford and the marriage date of his parents about 1692.

Thomas Smyth/Smith  
  Male (Source:LDS IGI)  
24 JAN 1693   Saint Chad, Shrewsbury, Shropshire, England
Site Note (July 2004)

Perhaps William Smyth (the Apothecary) married a Mary MERYCK.

There is a marriage record (LDSIGI) of a William Smyth marrying a Mary Meryck on April 2nd 1692 at St. Mary's, Shrewsbury. Thomas Smith was baptised in January 1693 (old date/new date debate aside) at St. Chad's in Shrewsbury. Arms  of Sir Thomas Smith/Smythe - courtesy of George Smith of Canada

There is a connection to be noted between Smyth/e (Smith) and Meyrick - and the Earls of Essex - and of Derby. Though this marriage is several decades later, bearing in mind certain historical connections between the family of Smyth/Smith and the Earls of Derby, of Knowsley in Lancashire, it is interesting to speculate on the fact that William 6th Earl of Derby (temp. William Shakespeare) who married a daughter of Edward de Vere (17th Earl of Oxford) was a resident of nearby Chester where he had a house on the side of the River Dee. Via this link is also noted the area of Arley (on Severn).

After many years abroad - and having to fight at law for his title when he returned, William, 6th Earl of Derby, was much involved with the theatre as was Oxford - and in some records there is a possible link to the family of Meyrick (Meryck/Merrick etc.) in association with the Stanleys and the Earl of Essex (beheaded) which latter was a close friend of - and had near fatal dealings with - a celebrated Smith/Smythe - Sheriff of London of that era ... Thomas Smythe - Sheriff of London - the line of Customer Smythe ... Sir Thomas Smythe of Fenchurch Street. Son of Customer Thomas Smythe of Wiltshire.

It was in 1597 that the Rosicrucian Sir William Vaughan published Erotopaignion pium, the first hard evidence we have of his interaction with Shakespeare's coterie - for the book's title-page features Richard Field's printing device. Vaughan could not help being drawn towards the charismatic figure of the Earl of Essex, for his sister-in-law was the daughter of the dangerous political adventurer, Sir Gelly Meyrick, the steward of Essex's household. Vaughan dedicated Speculum humane condicionis… (1598) to Meyrick and Poematum Libellus continens (1598) to the Earl of Essex. Meyrick played a key role in the Essex rebellion of 1601 against Elizabeth; we have on record the story of how he paid forty shillings extra to Augustine Phillips of Shakespeare's acting company, the Lord Chamberlain's; Men, for a performance of Richard II - presumably with the notorious abdication scene included, which was censored from the published editions - on the eve of the Essex uprising.

Note also that there is this connection between Corbet and Manners through marriage ... 3rd Baronet , of Leighton, Montgomeryshire (Uvedale).

Corbetta Smyth was the common law wife of Lord William Manners, the 2nd son of John Manners, 2nd Duke of Rutland and Catherine Russell. Through the Russell family the line traces to the Wriothesley family - Earls of Southampton - and the 3rd Earl, patron of William Shakespeare. Catherine Russell's first husband was Francis, Lord Vaughan.

The witnesses to the "Oxford" Codicil of William Smyth's Will were Charles Bernard, William Bennett and Andrew Swift. It seems, however, that William Smyth survived many years more since probate is noted as being granted as late as 1736 by which time his eldest daughter, Elizabeth, was married:

"Proved at London (with a Codicil annexed) the third day of September in the year of our Lord 1736 before the Worshipfull Thomas Walker [ ... ] by Elizabeth Johnson otherwise Smyth (wife of John Johnson) the other Executrix named in the said will to whom [Admon] was granted being first sworn duly to administer."

A history of the Manners family (some descendants later named Tollemache) may be found on this site and in a variety of published sources as well as through family archives. William must have moved from Shrewsbury to Woolsthorpe when his children were older. Belvoir Castle is of Norman origin and the Manners family were the Earls of Rutland from Henry V11's time, and Dukes since 1703. Much damaged in two Civil Wars, the castle was rebuilt to the designs of James Wyatt. It is interesting to note that in one particular history, based on family archives, the status of William Smyth is quoted in the following terms: "John Manners of Grantham Grange was the illegitimate son of Lord William Manners, second son of the Duke of Rutland, Gentleman of the Bedchamber to George II; his mother was the daughter of the local chemist of Woolsthorpe, near Belvoir Castle." Clearly, a family judgement had been made about this liaison between a high-ranking aristocrat and the daughter of a mere 'chemist'! William Smyth, however, was more than likely connected to one of the most historically powerful families of England.

Corbetta Smyth sister of Thomas Smyth/Smith

Smythes of Acton Burnell - family of Maria "Fitzherbert" SmytheShropshire Smythe Sir William Smythe and Isabella Nevill/e of Elford, StaffordshireStaffordshire Smythe Smyths of Cheshire ...Cheshire Smythe

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