Ancestor Index Ancestor IndexCaptain John Smith Genetic echoes? - Smythe b. 1950 - if there's a film - I claim the part of the Captain ...

Captain John Smith of Lincolnshire - associated with the founding of Virginia and with the Native American, Princess Pocahontas

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Captain John Smith was baptised at Willoughby, Lincolnshire and d. June 1631, in London. A short biography of his early life states: "The rector of the Willoughby Rectory, Alford, finds in the register an entry of the baptism of John, son of George Smith, under date of Jan. 9, 1579. His biographers, following his account, represent him as of ancient lineage: "His father actually descended from the ancient Smiths of Crudley in Lancashire, his mother from the Rickands at Great Heck in Yorkshire ... "

It is the impression of this Family Vault site that Crudley is an alternative spelling for CUERDLEY and that Captain John Smith is, therefore, linked to the genetic Smith/Smyth/e line of Bishop (of Lincoln) William Smyth. On this site's Smythe Index page Smyth/e - The Siege of Acre and medieval family researchMedieval Smyth/e - may be found the information: "According to biographer, Ralph Churton, Bishop William Smyth (Bishop of Lincoln 1496-1514) was "the fourth son of Robert Smyth of Peel House, in the parish of Prescot, Lancashire. His grandfather was Henry Smyth, a country squire, seated at Cuerdley." Also to be noted, this: "Peel House which was demolished in 1903, was the home of Robert Smyth, and was built on the site of an original dwelling which had been here since around 1400. The house stood approximately where Locket Road is situated, off Peel House Lane. In 1460 William Smyth (who died 2nd June 1513) son of Robert was born at the hall and in later years went on to become the Bishop of Lincoln. William was a charitable person, built a chapel at Cuerdley and in 1507  raised the school at Farnworth to grammar school status by his endowment of 10 per year." Source

As a boy, of about fifteen (the future Captain) John Smith became an orphan and was taken under the wing of (some say relatives) the Bertie family - Peregrine Bertie, 11th B Willoughby - whose wife was the sister of Edward de Vere - 17th Earl of Oxford - who was himself orphaned at the age of twelve and, after a spell in the Cecil household, became the ward of Sir Thomas Smythe of Hill Hall in Essex. Sir Thomas Smythe was Secretary of State to the boy king - Edward VI, son of Henry VIII and his third wife, Jane Seymour, who died soon after childbirth.

Jane Seymour was the daughter of Sir John Seymour and Margery Wentworth - she was also a sister-in-law to Sir Clement Smythe, who married her sister, Dorothy Seymour. A first cousin to King Edward VI was the son of this marriage, Sir John Smyth/e (Smith). The son of this latter was also named John and was associated with Graces, Little Baddow (an original seat of the Bohuns) and Tofts Manors in Suffolk. This John had previously inherited Tofts from his grandfather, but spent much time abroad. When he gained the Manor of Little Baddow, he settled at Tofts and became involved with the running of the village. However, because of financial difficulties, in 1577, he mortgaged Graces to Lord Burleigh. Finally he sold all his lands except Little Baddow and Tofts Manors. In 1596 he disposed of Little Baddow Manor and Tofts, with the advowson of the church, to Anthony Penning. Sir John died in Little Baddow in 1607, his wife - the Lady Mary - having predeceased him in 1604. His brother was named Simon Smythe.

Another Seymour daughter - Elizabeth Seymour, married as her second husband, Gregory CROMWELL (2nd B. Cromwell of Oakham) which alliance connects with the Smyth/e of EssexEssex Smyth/e line and the Cromwells who had intermarried in earlier generations (1400s) with Smythe family (Nottingham) and would later be associated through marriage with the family (maternal line of this site) of Tollemache of Helmingham (Suffolk) and of Ham (Richmond) - which, in turn, connects with the Manners family, Dukes of Rutland, and the Apothecary, William Smith/Smyth of Shrewsbury whose daughter - Corbetta Smyth - became the matriarch of a Manners/Tollemache line through her common-law husband, Lord William Manners, 2nd son of the 2nd. Duke of Rutland. In the absence of viable DNA, a fairly convincing circumstantial case might be made that all these Smith - Smyth/es were descendants of the "Smith of Cuerdley" line in Medieval Lancashire.

Dating from its foundation in 1440, the Smith/Smyth family provided four early Headmasters of Eton College - although, because of the interchange of Smith and Smyth, Clement may have been one and the same person.
1453–1458 Clement Smith
1467–1470 Clement Smyth
1502/3–1507 John Smyth
1541/2–1544/5 ? Smyth
October 2003 - The following information has been provided - courtesy of the Eton College Archives - with gratitude to the College Archivist (2003), Mrs. P. Hatfield.

"Clement Smyth was a scholar at Winchester College, from Southwark. He was Head Master here from 1453 - 1458, when he was elected a Fellow of Eton. In 1464 he resigned to become Head Master of Winchester, but returned to Eton for a second period as Head Master in 1466 or 1467. He was appointed a Canon of Windsor in 1467, but exchanged his canonry for one at St. John's, Chester, in 1471.The mysterious Smyth 1541/2 - 1544/5 is in fact William; There are several candidates for the John Smith, all of whom went to Eton before going to King's College, Cambridge. It is really not possible to be sure which was, in fact, the Head Master. The records that survive from their time are formal rather than personal. Eton dates are based on entries in the accounts, but these do not all survive and sometimes the name of the Head Master is not given, so it is impossible to be completely accurate."


For further Smith/Smyth/e connections, see also Sir Edward Smythe of Whitchurch, Buckinghamshire - Lord Chief Justice of Ireland Sir Edward Smythe of Whitchurch, Buckinghamshire - a Lord Chief Justice of Ireland - who died in February 1682 and who is remembered by a plaque set into the floor of the aisle of St. John the Baptist Church in the village. The Manor had originally been in the possession of the Bolbecs of Yorkshire. "From the Bolebecs this manor passed by a female heir to the Veres Earls of Oxford, by whom it was sold in the reign of Queen Elizabeth to the family of Waterhouse. It was afterwards successively in the families of Watson and Smith. In 1695, it was purchased of a son [also Edward Smith - wife Mary] of Sir Edward Smith, Lord Chief Justice of the Common Pleas in Ireland, by the family of Reynolds, from whom it soon afterwards passed to the Russells. In or about the year 1720, it was purchased of Governor John Russell by the family of Rowlands of Caerau, in the isle of Anglesea. This manor is now the property of dame Rebecca Williams, relict of Sir David Williams bart. and mother of the late Sir David Williams." From "Magna Britannia", 1806.


Further Internet biography outlines the early life of Captain John Smith as: "Born in 1580 in Willoughby, England, John Smith left home at age 16 after his father died. He began his travels by joining volunteers in France who were fighting for Dutch independence from Spain. Two years later, he set off for the Mediterranean Sea, working on a merchant ship. In 1600 he joined Austrian forces to fight the Turks in the "Long War." A valiant soldier, he was promoted to Captain while fighting in Hungary. He was fighting in Transylvania two years later in 1602. There he was wounded in battle, captured, and sold as a slave to a Turk. This Turk then sent Smith as a gift to his sweetheart in Istanbul. According to Smith, this girl fell in love with him and sent him to her brother to get training for Turkish imperial service. Smith reportedly escaped by murdering the brother and returned to Transylvania by fleeing through Russia and Poland. After being released from service and receiving a large reward, he traveled all through Europe and Northern Africa. He returned to England in the winter of 1604-05."Captain John Smith ... stained glass London - the centre of triptych showing Bertie, Smithe and Saltonstall.

Captain John Smith distinguished himself by pioneering the colonisation of North America in 1608. He was later saved from certain death by Pocahontas, a Tribal princess. He became the 'first' Governor of Virginia and an advisor to the Pilgrim Fathers. There is a statue of him in the former churchyard of St. Mary-le-Bow, Cheapside, London. He is buried in the new St. Paul’s, St. Sepulchre, London.

John Smith was an explorer and principal founder of the first permanent English settlement in North America at Jamestown, Va. He played an equally important role as a cartographer and was a prolific writer who vividly depicted the natural abundance of the New World, whetting the colonising appetite of prospective English settlers. He grew up on his family's farm and was apprenticed in his teens to a wealthy merchant. At the age of twenty, his adventureous spirit found an outlet in the war against the Turks being fought in Hungary. Captured, he escaped to Russia and returned to England in 1604 - at which time he attached himself to the group preparing to establish an English colony in North America.detail from 1616 portrait of the Princess

When a royal charter was granted to the Virginia Company of London, Smith and about 100 others set sail on December 20th., 1606. On April 26th., 1607, the company arrived at Chesapeake Bay, and on May 14th. it disembarked at what was to become Jamestown. Smith soon became the leader of the fledgling settlement, focusing particularly on the practical means of survival in the wilderness. He directed the building of houses, traded for corn (maize) with the Indigenous people and began a series of river voyages that enabled him to draw a remarkably accurate map of Virginia. While exploring the Chickahominy River in December 1607, he was ambushed by Indians of the Powhatan Confederacy and taken to their great chief, Wahunsonacock, who was known to the settlers as Powhatan. About to be put to death, he was saved (according to his own account) when the chief's 13-year-old daughter, Pocahontas, threw herself between him and his executioners.

Pocahontas (1595-1617) became one of the most famous women in early Virginia. Whether she saved the life of John Smith in 1607 or not, she became a central figure in maintaining peace between the Indians and the English settlers, first as a hostage of the colonists and then as the wife of John Rolfe, the leader of the settlement. Accompanying her husband to England after their marriage, she became the toast of British society; a novelty to be seen and discussed. As she was preparing to return to America in 1617, she died suddenly of smallpox. The portrait from which this adaptation comes was painted by an unknown artist in England during 1616.

Much has been written, too, about John Smith but there is a degree of controversy as to his leadership on 'plantation' soil in those early days. He was, by many accounts, both head-strong and difficult to deal with. The family Wingfield (principal financier and also a first Governor of Jamestown) contends that his leadership was 'unconstitutional' and that it was, in fact, Wingfield who should be accorded credit for the survival of the colony. It is, however, interesting to find that in earlier times Wingfield had been closely associated in military campaigns with Ferdinando Gorges. Gorges married a widow (his cousin) Elizabeth Smyth, of Ashton Court, Bristol. This Smyth family was involved in the new settlements - as was Gorges and to find John Smith of Lincolnshire and the Smyths of Ashton Court so linked may be significant. Captain John Smith, it seems, remained unmarried.

Via the link above (Wingfield) may be seen an image depicting a series of kneelers representing the families of those early Jamestown settlers. One row from the bottom at second left is a shield with a chevron and three turks' heads placed in the same manner as the stars are placed upon the Ashton Court Smyth arms (qv). Is this the kneeler representing John Smith? The Smythe/Smith arms of Wiltshire - as shown at the tomb of Customer Smythe - closely resembles the Ashton Court line motif ...

Representation of the Arms of Captain John SmithEpitaph on the brass plate on the wall of the sanctuary of the Royal Fusiliers’ Chapel, Church of St. Sepulchre without Newgate, London.

Captain John Smith
Sometime Governour of Virginia
and Admiral of New England
who departed this life the 21st of June 1631
Here lyes one conquered, that hath conquered Kings,
Subdu’d large Territories, and done Things
Which to the world impossible would seem
But that the Truth is held in more esteem.
Shall I report his former service done
In honour of his God and Christendom?
How that he did divide from Pagans three
Their heads and lives, Types of his Chivalry?
Or shall I talk of his Adventures Since,
Done in Virginia, that large Continent:
How that he subdu’d Kings unto his yoke,
And made those heathen flee, as wind doth smoke:
And made their land, being of so large a Station
An habitation for our Christian Nation
Our god is glorify’d, their Want supply’d
Which else for Necessaries must have dy’d.
But what avils his Conquests, now he lyes
Interr’d in earth, a Prey to Worms and Flyes?
O may his soul in sweet Elysium sleep,
Until the Keeper that all Souls doth keep,
Return to Judgement, and that after thence,
With angels he may his Recompense

Smyth and Baden-PowellTOP

This image of John Smith (Smyth/e) is adapted from a monument upon which is written the following inscription: "Captain John Smith 1580-1631 Founder of Virginia 1607. This bust was made by Major General R. S. S. Baden-Powell and presented by him to the school 1906." The school was the Louth Grammar School, in Lincolnshire - another "Smyth/e" county. Captain John Smith/e Smyth/e attended Louth Grammar School in Lincolnshire as a boy c. 1590. Was there a family connection? Click on the image of Captain John Smith adjacent to follow this line ...Smythe family linkages ...

Ancestor Index Ancestor Index
Smyth/e - The Siege of Acre and medieval family researchMedieval Smyth The line of Customer Smythe ...Customer (Wiltshire) Smith/e-Smyth/e
Smyth of IrelandSmyth (Durham and Yorkshire) of Ireland Smyth/e of EssexEssex Smyth/e
Smyth of Bristol and Ashton CourtSmyth of Bristol Smythes of Acton Burnell - family of Maria "Fitzherbert" SmytheShropshire Smythe