Burkes Irish Family Records now has this:
CAPTAIN RALPH SMYTH, of Ballymacash, County Antrim, High Sheriff 1680, married 1643 Alice, daughter of Sir Richard Hawksworth, of Hawksworth Hall, Yorkshire, and died (will dated 15 August 1688, proved 1690), leaving issue, 1 William (Right Reverend), 2 Thomas, of Drumcree, County Westmeath, 3 Ralph, 4 Robert, 1 Alice, 2 Mary, 3 Margaret.
We must now go back to Burkes 1899 edition of The Landed Gentry of Ireland to sort out some discrepancies. According to this work:
RALPH SMYTH, of Ballymacastle, County Antrim, Captain in the Army, married Elizabeth, daughter of Sir Robert Hawksworth, Knight, of Hawksworth Hall, County York.
Once again the Smyth of Gaybrook genealogy seems to be at fault here. Was the name of Ralph Smyths wife Alice or Elizabeth? Or did she use both names? (It is also possible that unclear handwriting and the free-form spelling of that time may have variously rendered contractions such as Elis or Alis. as Alice or Elizabeth). I have not been able to identify her yet in the Hawksworth family tree, which is probably incomplete in the female line. It is possible too that she may have been a niece of Sir Richards, not a daughter. Sir Richard Hawksworth was born about 1594-96 and died in 1658, according to the Hawksworth family tree.
Smythe of Barbavilla, the family history written by Stephen Penny (see the Introduction for a description of this work) traces one branch of the Smyths from William Smyth of Rosedale Abbey down to the Smythes of Barbavilla, Westmeath, in the 1970s. It has this to say about the marriage of Ralph Smyth and Elizabeth Hawksworth:
Ralph Smyth was the third and youngest son who crossed to Ireland with the First Settler (William Smyth of Rosedale Abbey, Yorkshire). In spite of much enquiry, the date and place of his birth remain conjectural. In or about the year 1637 he married Elizabeth Hawksworth, also of an ancient Yorkshire family, although it is assumed that the marriage took place in Ireland, since there is no mention of her accompanying the family on their journey. Elizabeth was the sister of Lieutenant, later Captain, Robert Hawksworth, and a relative of Sir Richard Hawksworth, of Hawksworth Hall in the West Riding of Yorkshire. It is possible that Elizabeth was travelling in Ireland with her brother when she first met Ralph Smyth. Some of the earliest entries in the Lisburn parish registers, which have not, unfortunately, been preserved before 1639, record the burial of two little children of Ralph Smyth in 1640. There is no mention of the marriage, but this took place before 1638, since their eldest surviving child was born in that year.
Burkes 1899 edition of The Landed Gentry of Ireland thus seems to have confused Elizabeths brother Robert with her father Richard (if indeed he was her father, since Smythe of Barbavilla says she was a relative of his).
As for the Ballynacastle mentioned by Burke, there is in fact a town called Ballycastle on the coast at the northern tip of Antrim, but the 1899 work seems to have confused this with Ballymacash, perhaps through unclear handwriting. Ralph Smyth is mentioned by other, independent sources as being of Ballymacash, and it seems clear that is where he was from.
Ballymacash is a parish (actually a townland, or subdivision of a parish) on the northern outskirts of Lisburn. It contains a historic Ballymacash House, on Glenavy Road, currently (this was written in 2001) the home of the Drayne family and the headquarters of Draynes Dairy. Up to the 1940s it was the property of the Johnson family, who inherited the place from their ancestor Ralph Smyth, and rebuilt it in 1791. Ralph Smyth built the original house in the late 1600s. His original home seems to have been burned down or partially destroyed by fire in the rebellion of 1641.
According to an entry in the Mormon genealogy website, Ralph Smyth was born in 1620 in Dundrum (probably not too reliable - some amateur genealogist may have extrapolated this from the data in Burkes genealogical works). The date might be right but Dundrum as his birthplace seems to be impossible as his mother reportedly died before the family moved to Ireland. The same entry says he married Elizabeth Hawksworth about 1642 in Yorkshire. If she was born in 1622 they would have been 22 and 20 respectively when they wed. However, according to Stephen Pennys Smythe of Barbavilla book cited above, they were probably married in 1637, and if so their birth dates were probably around 1615. If they grew up in close proximity in Keighley and Hawksworth Hall they may have known each other as children, or perhaps it was a family-arranged marriage if Ralph was raised in Ireland. They had seven children who survived childhood, all born in Lisnegarvey or Lisburn: William (born 1640), Thomas (1643), Ralph (1645), Alice (1648), Mary (1650), Robert (1655), and Margaret (1657). The childrens names come from Burkes Irish Family Records, the dates from a somewhat suspect source in the Mormon genealogical record.
Ralph and Elizabeth appear to have had other children who died in early childhood, according to other surviving records. When Lisnagarvey was burned down in the 1641 rebellion the Church of St. Thomas was destroyed by fire, but both town and church were subsequently rebuilt, and miraculously the church records of births, marriages and deaths survived the flames. The church register for the years 1637-1646 has been reprinted by the Representative Church Body Library of Dublin and may be obtained from the Ulster Historical Foundation. It contains these entries:
These infant deaths preceded the parents imprecise marriage date reported on the Mormon website, but the actual church records, and Stephen Pennys account would appear to be the more reliable source. Elizabeths birth date appears also to conflict with the birth date of William, unless they were twins.
The death of infants was a common event in those days, but it was also a time of terrible strife in Ireland and these children may have been victims of the violence. Ralph Smyth would have been a young man in his twenties when the native Irish rising began in 1641 and Lisburn was burned by the rebels. As an army officer he would have been engaged in the years of fighting that followed and that ended only with Oliver Cromwells invasion in 1649, when Ralph was probably in his thirties.
It seems likely that Thomas Haucksworth was a brother or cousin of Elizabeth-Alice Hawksworth, the wife of Ralph Smyth. As he was an ensign, or standard bearer, Thomas was probably a young low-ranking military officer and may have died at the hand of rebels.
Ralph Smyths later years after the rebellion seem to have been a period of success and prosperity, since he was named High Sheriff of Antrim in 1680 and built himself a substantial residence at Ballymacash House.
The High Sheriff in those days was the main representative of central government in the county in relation to the execution of the law in both civil and criminal courts. His duties included the selection of Grand Juries and supervising parliamentary elections. Grand Juries examined cases to determine whether there was a True Bill i.e. should the case go to court at all (petty juries actually tried the cases brought to court). Grand Juries were composed of some of the leading landowners of the county. So Ralph Smyth, as High Sheriff, stood near the top of the social pecking order. How he achieved this status is detailed below.
The historical background to this and the following generation: Oliver Cromwells Commonwealth ended and the Stuart dynasty came back into power with the restoration of Charles II to the English throne in 1660, when Ralph Smyth was around forty. King Charles left the Irish land seizures largely untouched, but he was succeeded on the throne by his son James II, a Catholic who might well have taken measures to undo them. However, James was deposed in 1688 by William of Orange. In 1689, trying to regain his throne, James landed with French troops in Ireland and besieged Derry. He was unable to take the city, and on July 1, 1690 William of Orange confronted him at the Battle of the Boyne, near Drogheda. James was decisively defeated, and the victory ensured the supremacy of the Protestants in Ireland. The Treaty of Limerick in 1691 allowed 15,000 Irish soldiers to emigrate and serve King Louis XIV of France. It also promised Catholic toleration.
We know a great deal about the life of Ralph Smyth during this period of upheaval thanks to Smythe of Barbavilla, the family history written by Stephen Penny. This book was brought to my attention by my distant kinsman, Canon Ronald Smythe of Suffolk, England. It is based on a large number of original letters and documents over a period of about 350 years going back to Ralph the Tanner. Curiously, although this work cites original documents verbatim concerning Ralphs business transactions it knows so little about his father William that it does not even know what his Christian name was, referring to him simply as Smyth The Settler.
To quote from Smythe of Barbavilla:
Ralph founded a tannery in Lisburn, which is only about eight miles from the centre of Belfast, lying on the main road from the south in County Antrim. The tannery was to flourish and prosper to such an extent that Ralph, as an old man, held the esteem and respect of the whole county, and, as an old family document states, he succeeded so well as to leave a good estate. That a tanner should have been a man of such wealth and repute may seem curious in these days of synthetic materials, but three hundred years ago leather was a vital necessity of daily life. Without his skill and craft, a book could not be bound, a kitchen could not be fully equipped, a man could not be properly clad, a horse could not be saddled or reined; indeed an army could not even put into the field. Ralph as a young man showed energy and initiative in taking advantage of the opportunities to prove his skill in the new settlement at Lisburn.
During the time in which Ralph was establishing and expanding his business, the country was again in a state of discontent and insurrection. In 1641 the iron hand of Strafford was removed from Ireland, by his attainder and death on orders from Parliament. The Irish decided that they were a free people once more, and saw an opportunity of ensuring that Catholicism would not be completely suppressed by the Presbyterianism and Puritanism of the Scots and English. Towards the end of that year, a serious rebellion broke out in the North, and soon spread to other parts of the country. It is difficult to estimate the number who were killed in this war of hate, but about five thousand people, mostly Protestants, perished by the sword.
In Lisburn, the fighting was particularly intense, resulting in the newly founded town being burnt to the ground. Many civilians were killed and Lord Conways chapel and castle were completely destroyed. Ralph Smyth was obliged to defend himself and try to save his own property from destruction. It may have been as a result of this local incident that he acquired the rank of Ensign by which he was then sometimes addressed. Later he became a Lieutenant. It is unlikely that he was called upon for permanent military service, since he was supplying the very sinews of war from his tannery. Some professions were reserved occupations, and he would be required to produce the immense quantities of leather needed for the equipment and armour of the horses and men. Perhaps Ralph received temporary call-up whenever there was a threat to the security of the neighborhood of Lisburn, and, as was customary, he retained the military title until his death.
The rising in the North sparked off many similar actions in other parts of the country The rebellion continued until Oliver Cromwell himself crossed to Ireland in an attempt to crush it. He brought with him his large, well-trained Parliamentary army
Cromwells troops then committed massacres at Drogheda and Wexford, so that Cromwells name has never been forgotten in Ireland. The policy of revenge for 1641 served only to separate the two races which Cromwell wished to unite.
In Smythe of Barbavilla, Penny describes in detail how Ralph the Tanner laid the foundations for the prosperity of himself and his descendants in Ireland. His tannery business evidently provided an abundant cash flow and he then used the money to buy up cheap land from discharged soldiers.
During the long period of unrest and intermittent warfare in Ireland, England was obliged to maintain large armies to keep control. The cost of these occupational forces, especially during and after the Cromwellian wars, became a steady drain on the nations resources. In due course wages got very much in arrears. In Ireland the soldiers in lieu of pay received grants of land allotments which had been confiscated from the Irish. The soldiers, even if they knew how to cope with their land, wanted simply to get out of the country and return to their homes. Many of them were content to sell their allotments for a small cash payment, and perhaps a horse to ride away on.
There were so many soldiers in Ireland who had not received the pay due to them that there were inevitable delays in assigning them their allotments to them. Of course the previous owners of the land disputed their claims, leading to further delays. Before the soldiers were granted their allotments, they were issued with an official acknowledgement of the governments debt to them, known as a debenture. These debentures were sometimes paid a long time after their issue, and soldiers who did not wish to settle in Ireland at all sold their debentures for cash in hand. There are several deeds recording such sales amongst the papers of Ralph Smyth, and the following is a typical example:
To all Christian people to whom these Presents shall come Wee John Fisher and Andrew McConnell late private Souldrs of the Companie under ye command of Captn. Gwilliams in Col. Russells Regimt. Of foote; now of Ballendery in the county of Antrim Send Greetinge &c; Whereas there is ye Sam of Thirtie two powndes Ten shillings two pense three farthings Due as Arrears of Pay unto us from ye Comonwealth of England for theire Servaice in the late Warr of Ireland which is to bee satisfied out of the Rebells Lands (etc) in the Dispose of the Common Weealth As apeareth by Three Debentures under ye hande & seale of ye Comisioner Appointed to State ye Accounts of ye armies in Ireland; bearing date ye 26th of October 1654;
Now Knowe Ye that wee for and in Consideration of the Sum of Tenn powndes Sixteen shillings Eight pence Sterling well and truly to us in hand paid By Ensigne Ralph Smith of Ballymakush in ye County of Antrim the Receipt whereof wee doe by these Presents confesse and Acknowledge; have Granted unto him the said Ensigne Ralph Smith All and whole ye said Arreares Together with the said Debentures of Arreares and whatsoever other kinde of satisfaction by Moneyes or otherwise wch. Shall or may come from ye said Common Wealth in liew of ye said Arreares and Debentures
In Wittness whereof we have hereunto Sett our handes & seales this third day of January Anno Dom. One Thousand Six hundred and fifte foure.
Whilst most of these deeds are receipts for debenture money, one records the transfer of an allotment.
I John Bodkin haveinge received my debenture lands In the County of Westmeath amounting to the sume of fifteen pounds seventeen shillings and eight pence three fardings for the sume of twelve shillings for every ofe the said pounds to me in hand paid the receipt wherof I doe acknowledge of Ensigne Ralph Smyth
This deed, dated 22 July 1658, is signed by John Bodkin in his own hand, and is witnessed by four people, one of whom is Robert Hawksworth.
It is clear that Ralph Smyth acquired quite a few debentures and some debenture land at a price which was approximately one third of the arrears due to the original grantee. These debentures were valuable; they had to be surrendered when they were paid off, for without them the grantee received no pay A List of the Severall Debentures left with Capt. Richard Francklin the 19th of May 16565 for ye service of ye undernamed since 1649 included debentures totaling approximately one thousand pounds. Richard Francklin wrote the receipt in his own hand:
May 19th 1656. Received then of Lt. Robert Hawksworth ye Originall debentures, a Copy of ye Summs wherein Contained is above written, which are in Number forty seven Debentures which are to be satisfied with ye Ld. Deputy his two regiments. I say recd by me. Ric. Francklin.
In this way - says Penny - Ralph became the owner of land and property apart from his own at Ballymacash, although not all of this property was confiscated from the Rebbells. Some land in County Down and in County Westmeath was bought from the previous owners who had probably become impoverished by the wars. A measure of his wealth may be gauged from the fact that upon the introduction of the Hearth Tax, by which a sum of two shillings was levied on each hearth in a property, Ralph was taxed for five hearths. Apart from Lord Conways castle, he possessed the largest establishment in the Lisburn area. The records of these Hearth Money taxes for 1669 provide one of the rare pieces of definitive information about this period in his life.
Ralph liked the lands of Ballymacash so later he built a square, comfortable home on this property, with a lodge on the road to Lisburn. This house had very thick walls and a great flagged kitchen, with a room off it with stone troughs for bacon curing. A rent table stood near the back door to the house, which had drawers round the circular top where the tenants would deposit their rents, which were entered in a small parchment account book. This book has survived amongst the Barbavilla papers, and along with the rents and tithes, carefully indexed, Ralph also kept accounts of any sums of money entrusted to him by his family. Some typical entries are:
It is evident from Pennys account that Ralph Smyth the Tanner operated a lucrative tanning business, was a careful money manager and also a shrewd investor in land at cut-rate prices. In these investments he was evidently joined by his brother in law Robert Hawksworth. Penny then describes the final years of Ralph Smyth the Tanner:
Ralph Smyth saw the monarchy restored in 1660, and in 1662 the Church of Lisburne alias Lisnagarvie was made into the cathedral for the Diocese of Down and Connor, as a mark of respect by Charles II for the loyalty of the inhabitants. The church, originally dedicated to St. Thomas, was built as the private chapel to the castle. The parish church was at Blaris about two miles to the south-west. It was perhaps inevitable that the chapel in Lisburn should become more important, for the church at Blaris was rather dilapidated and was too far away for the people of Lisburn to go there regularly. By the time of the 1641 rebellion the parish was sometimes called Blaris, otherwise Lisburn, and the Lisburn parish register book contained many entries of people of Blaris as well as of Lisburn. The numerous Smyth (or Smith) entries may be taken to refer to a member of one particular family only when a place of origin is given. For instance, whilst Largiemore was in Blaris, Ballymacash was in Derriaghy, a parish just to the north of Lisburn. By the royal charter of 1662 Lisburn Cathedral was confirmed as the only parish church, although Blaris graveyard continued to be used, and Derriaghy church, rebuilt and enlarged, still survives.
The business of Ralph Smyths tannery continued uneventfully until King Charles was succeeded by his brother, King James II. Quite soon England grew tired of James Roman Catholic ways. He had to flee to Ireland, where he knew he was sure of a welcome from some, at least, of the population, and where a rather unfortunate policy of replacing the government by Catholics was nearly complete. King James raised troops in Ireland in the hope of winning back his throne. Later he plunged the country into another hard and brutal war, during which time Ralphs house was burned down.
In 1688, Ralph, now an old man, made his will, setting out his wishes with regard to his landed property, leaving Ballymacash to his dearly loved wife. By this time Ireland was again in a sad state, and Ralph had suffered with the rest. The final blow was the death of his wife Elizabeth, nee Hawksworth, in April 1689, so that he had to add a codicil to his will. He said that he had sustained many and great losses by these sad and troublous times, and that, in the circumstances, he had thought fit to recall several legacies left unto my poor friends. By his will he divided his property between his three elder sons, the fourth, Robert, having been provided for during his lifetime.
Ralph Smyth the Tanner died at Ballymacash in July 1689, surviving his wife by only three months. He was buried in a grave at the west end of the cathedral in Lisburn. In his will he desired his body to be buried in the Parish Church of Lisburn. Jane Smith states that he was interred in Lisburn Chh. There were probably many people at his funeral, for he had been an important man in the town, and his grave was made in a fairly prominent position. The record in the burial register reads: Lieut. Ralph Smyth of Dirr. (Derriaghy?), July ye 23rd 1689.
Ralph did not live quite long enough to see the battle of the Boyne between the troops of James II and the army of William of Orange, who had been proclaimed King of England, with Mary his wife Queen, as equal sovereigns. This decisive battle was fought at the crossing of the River Boyne above Drogheda, on July 1, 1690. The Duke of Schomberg, Williams general, was killed, but James II was finally defeated, and had to flee to France. The revolution which had set William and Mary on the throne also brought an end to the long struggle between King and Parliament. Some may have hoped that Ireland would be peaceful again, but the divisions in the population which Cromwell had increased were accentuated yet again, and the Boyne has become one of those watersheds of history.
Ralph Smyth left four sons and two daughters. William, the Bishop of Kilmore, who was the eldest son, appears in the next chapter. Thomas, the second son, married Elizabeth Hatfield in about 1670. He became a captain in the army, and was High Sheriff for the County of Antrim in 1691. Thomas founded the Drumcree branch of the family in County Westmeath, from which sprang the Glananea (Ralphadale) and Coole lines, also in the same county. Ralph the younger the third son, married Mary Jackson, the widow of Edward Moore who was a merchant in Lisburn. The marriage in 1672 and their children are recorded in the registers of Lisburn Cathedral. Ralph the younger was to have the Ballymacash property after the death of his mother by Ralph the Tanners will, but he is not mentioned in the codicil in 1689. The letter written by Jane Smith stated that Ralph the younger dyed in ye Isle of Man, and his own will is dated shortly before his fathers death; it was proved in the Episcopal Court in 1691.
The Jane Smith quoted by Penny was a family member who lived in the early 1700s. Some letters of hers were preserved from the 1730s and 1740s, so she was quite close in time to the death of Ralph Junior (in fact she says that her mother attended the funeral of Ralph Smyth Senior in 1689). Her statement that he dyed in ye Isle of Man is thus probably correct. However, merely as a matter of interest, we have indirect evidence that a Ralph Smyth was killed, round about that time, at the Battle of the Boyne. The evidence is as follows:
In the Lisburn Historical Society Journal volume 7 (see the Lisburn Website), we find mention of one Edward Smyth. This mans chief claim to fame seems to be that he issued his own money in Lisburn in 1736, a token for two pence. With a unicorns head on the obverse (a design used by the Smyth family) and his name underneath, the reverse reads I owe the bearer two pence Lisburn 1736. Edward Smyth was Member of Parliament for Lisburn 1740-1760. He died in 1788. According to the Lisburn Historical Society, he was born either in 1700 or about 1693, with the latter being the more likely, and was the grandson of a Colonel Ralph Smyth who was killed at the Battle of the Boyne. If this was not our Ralph Smyth Junior one would have to look for another contemporary Ralph Smyth, which is of course quite possible.
In any event, it seems likely that Ralph the Tanners second son, Thomas, a captain in the army, and then 47 years old, might well have fought at the Boyne Water even if his bother Ralph, the third son, did not.
It may be noted here that Thomass cousin Edward Smyth (this is not the money-issuing Edward mentioned above), who later became Bishop of Down, prudently left Ireland during the troubles of 1688 and became chaplain to the Smyrna Co. at Constantinople and Smyrna. He returned to England in 1692 and was made chaplain to King William III. A Fellow of the Royal Society, he contributed papers to its transactions and to the Dublin Philosophical Society, including Account of Soap Earth, near Smyrna, and The Use of Opium Among the Turks. Edward died at Bath October 16, 1720, and, having married a couple of rich women, left large legacies to his children, according to The Clergy of Down and Dromore, from which all these details about him are taken.
To sum up the history of the Smyth family in Ireland thus far: William Smyth (The Settler) moved from Yorkshire to Northern Ireland around 1630. He had six children, including Ralph the Tanner, whose life is described above. The lives of Ralphs five siblings are all accounted for in Burkes Irish Family Records except James, who remained in Yorkshire, and is only listed as having had issue, (a child or children unnamed, by a spouse unnamed). Jane Smith the letter-writer quoted in Smythe of Barbavilla, says he remained behind and enjoyed ye estate at Rosedale Abbey.
William the Settlers second son, John, had an only child, Judith, who married a Captain Kelly, and whose grand-daughter married Ralph Lambert, Bishop of Meath, thus keeping the familys tradition of Anglican church connections. (Captain Kelly, according to Smythe of Barbavilla, was of Downpatrick and master of a vessel, and traded to the West Indies. He and Judith had three daughters and an only son, Smyth Kelly, who died in Jamaica).
The third brother, William junior, married Mary Dowdall, daughter of John Dowdall, of Glaspistol, County Louth, a coastal town south of Dundrum, near Drogheda. The Dowdalls were a powerful and influential family that had built themselves castles and fortified towers at Athlumney and Clogherhead near the River Boyne in the previous century. William and Mary (or Margery) lived at Largiemore, south of Lisburn. They had three sons and two daughters. Two more sons died without issue. William juniors grandson Edward Smyth (born 1662 and to be mentioned later) became Anglican bishop of Down.
Ralphs sister Isobel is only listed as having married one M. Dawson. They lived in Ballinderry.
The younger sister, Margaret (or Marjorie). Married John Deal in Lisburn, according to Smythe of Barbavilla. This Quartermaster Mr. John Dale is mentioned immediately following Ensigne Ralph Smyth in a list of army pay arrears dated September 1666. He was also a witness to Ralph Smyths will in 1688.
Burkes Irish Family Records continues:
THOMAS SMYTH, of Drumcree, County Westmeath, High Sheriff of County Antrim 1691, Captain in the Army, married Elizabeth, daughter of Ridgeley Hatfield, and was buried 30 October 1712 (will dated 2 April 1709, proved 20 Feb. 1713), leaving issue 1 William, 2 Thomas, 3 Hawksworth, 4 Mary, 5 Elizabeth.
Thomas, the second son of Ralph Smyth and Elizabeth Hawksworth, was born in 1643 in Lisnegarvey and died in Drumcree, Westmeath, 30 October 1712, according to the Mormon genealogical record. Drumcree is a village in the middle of Ireland. He would have been 69 years old at the time of his death. In 1684, according to the same record, when he was 41, he married Elizabeth Hatfield, the 28-year-old daughter of Ridgeley Hatfield. Elizabeth was born in 1656 in Killinure, Westmeath. Killinure is very close to the village of Glasson and to Portlick Castle on Lough Ree, the property of her husbands kinsman Robert Smyth (whose acquisition of the castle is mentioned below). Elizabeth probably died fairly young because Thomas later married Mary Welsh, with whom he had no children.
A Ridgeley Hatfield was mayor of Dublin 1656-1657. He may possibly have been Elizabeths father or grandfather. He had been preceded as mayor by a William Smyth (1663-65). A William Smith (the same or another?) is listed as mayor for 1675-76, and a John Smith held the office in 1677-78. A William Smith had previously been mayor of Dublin from 1642 to 1647. I have yet to find out whether any of these have any connection to our family tree, but in view of the Hatfield-Smyth marriage it seems to be a possibility worth exploring.
Burkes Landed Gentry of Ireland, lists various Smyth families, among them the Smyths of Gaybrook, of Ballynegall, of Ballynatray, of Headborough, of Masonbrook, of Barbavilla, and the Smyths of Drumcree. Many of them were related, tracing their ancestry back to the William Smyth who moved to Ireland from Yorkshire in the early 1600s. The Thomas Smyth of this generation, the grandson of William from Yorkshire and husband of Elizabeth Hatfield, is listed as founder of the Drumcree line. No details of his life are given by Burke so it is not clear how he acquired the Drumcree property. However, it had belonged to James Nugent, member of an Anglo-Norman family that had adopted Irish ways and ended up on the wrong side of the English Civil War. In 1652 Oliver Cromwell decreed extensive expropriations of land belonging to Irish Catholics and royalists. According to a memorandum of the Earl of Cavan, Oliver Nugent, the head of the clan, had forfeited his lands by rebelling in 1641. It seems that Ralph and Thomas Smyth, father and son, both army officers on the winning side, and probably well connected through the Hatfield marriage, gained the spoils of victory.
Thomas was not the only son of Ralph Smyth and Elizabeth Hawksworth who did well in life. William, the eldest son, was educated at Trinity College in Dublin, became Bishop of Kilmore, married Mary Povey, the daughter of the Chief Justice of Ireland, and in 1670 purchased the Manor and Castle of Ranaghan, which had been forfeited (for his part in the 1641 rebellion) by John Lutrell, an Irish Papist, and transferred to Thomas Lutrell in 1663. William Smyth renamed the estate Barbavilla in honor of his wife. He died in 1699. (The Barbavilla Smyths later changed the spelling of the name to Smythe to distinguish the family from all the other related Smyths).
Robert, the fourth son, entered holy orders and became rector of Ballyloughloe in Westmeath. In 1703, he bought Portlick Castle on the shore of Lough Ree for 885 pounds. This castle had belonged to the Dillon family, who joined the rebel side in 1641, and consequently had their properties confiscated. Portlick Castle was granted in 1696 to Privy Counsellor Thomas Keightley, who sold it for 365 pounds to William Palmer, who sold it to Robert Smyth a few years later for more than double that price. Robert died in 1707 aged 52. According to the Trent University correspondence he had married a Miss Arnold, with whom he had three children: Michael (married Isabella Johnstone), Alice (married Rev. Joseph Trevers), and Jane (married Rev. Stephen Radcliffe in 1704).
So the first generation of Smyths to be born and raised in Ireland had done remarkably well for themselves: one of them acquired an estate at Drumcree and two of them purchased castles.
One could understand perhaps that a bishop might have the means to buy a castle but it is harder to see how a simple clergyman could do that, even at a time of wholesale expropriations. However, it pays to have a rich father, particularly one who is willing to pass on a legacy before he passes on himself. Smythe of Barbavilla explains what happened. It says:
Robert Smyth, the Tanners fourth son received one guinea by his fathers will by reason I have lately given him a considerable portion. He had been set up by his father on the estate (worth only three pence an acre in 1632) at Portlick Castle, near the shore of Lough Ree, six miles from Athlone in County Westmeath. A whack of high bank bog was included in the estate Robert was rector of Ballyloughloe (Mount Temple) nearby, and had a small family whose descendants continued to live in the castle until recently.
Ralph, the third son of Ralph Smyth and Elizabeth Hawksworth, apparently moved to Ballingarry, Tipperary, and married a Mary Jackson. In this village, at Knight Street, stand the remains of Ballingarry Castle, the home for four centuries of the de Lacy family, which lost its lands in the Cromwellian and Jacobite wars and fled the country in 1690. I have not yet discovered whether Ralph Smyth got his hands on Ballingarry Castle. This may, in any case, be the wrong Ralph Smyth, since Smythe of Barbavilla asserts that Ralph - the younger the third son, married Mary Jackson, the widow of Edward Moore who was a merchant in Lisburn. The marriage in 1672 and their children are recorded in the registers of Lisburn Cathedral. While Ralph may have had estates in Tipperary, even though they are not mentioned in any of the family correspondence, it is clear that he did not settle there. The pedigree of his descendants in Burkes Landed Gentry of Ireland seems to be at fault
Of the three sisters, Burkes genealogies say that Alice married a George Lambert, and Mary married a Colonel Daniel McGenis. Margaret, if she existed, apparently remained unmarried. Smythe of Barbavilla mentions only two daughters, Alice and Mary apparently conflating Margaret and Mary into one person. It says:
Ralphs two daughters were married with families in 1688. Alice married George Lambert of Dundalk, County Louth, and the eldest of their fourteen children was Elizabeth who married Capt. William Brabazon. Elizabeth Brabazon was the writer of one of the letters about the family origins Mary, the Tanners other daughter, married Colonel Daniel Magennis. According to Elizabeth Brabazons letter, they had eight children, of whom little is known.
Burkes Irish Family Records: WILLIAM SMYTH, of Drumcree, County Westmeath, married (setts. 11 December 1713) Mary (died January 1733), second daughter and heiress of Robert King, Member of Parliament, of Lissenhall, Swords, and ward of Most Reverend William King, Archbishop of Dublin, and died 30 March 1742, leaving issue, 1 Thomas, 2 Ralph.
The corresponding entry in the 1899 edition of Burkes Landed Gentry of Ireland is as follows: WILLIAM SMYTH of Drumcree, married Mary King, daughter and heir of Robert King, of Coxard, County Fermanagh, and niece and ward of William King, Archbishop of Dublin.
William Smyth was born at Drumcree in 1685, according to the Mormon genealogy website, which also confirms his death date as March 30, 1742 (apparently aged 57). On 11 December 1713, at the age of 28, he married Mary King in Drumcree. She was then twenty one years old. The Mormon website says she was born in Swords, Dublin, in 1692 (her father being Robert King, her mothers name unrecorded). The Mormon website reveals that the couple had not two but six children, all born in Drumcree: Thomas (born 1 October, 1714), Ralph (born 1720), Robert (1724), William (1726), Alicia (1728), and Mary. (1730). The mother died in January 1733 at the age of forty one, when the youngest daughter Mary was three years old. Thomas, the eldest son, inherited the Drumcree estate at the age of twenty eight when his father died in 1742.
I have not yet found any further biographical details on Marys father Robert King other than those recorded by Burke: that he was a member of Parliament and resided at Lissenhall, Swords, Dublin, or at Coxard in County Fermanagh. However, his brother William King was a prominent churchman, and through him we know that these two brothers were of Scottish Presbyterian descent.
Archbishop King, Marys uncle and guardian, was in fact a leading figure in the Irish intellectual world of that time. Born in 1650, he was named Archbishop of Dublin in 1702 at the age of fifty two. An ardent believer in the rights of the Church of Ireland (the Irish branch of the Anglican church) he published in 1691 his State of the Protestants in Ireland under the late King Jamess Government. His main work is De origine male, published in 1702. In a recent biography, (Archbishop William King, and the Constitution in Church and State), Philip ORegan, of the University of Limerick, has this to say about him:
Born in Antrim of Scottish Presbyterian parents, William King (1650-1729) rose, following his conversion to Anglicanism, to become one of the principal ecclesiastical and political figures of his day. Theologian, 'patriot', bibliophile, astronomer and controversialist, he was a man of many talents and abilities. King's life was dominated by a determination to secure the role of the Church of Ireland as both arbiter and enforcer of the common moral and social good in Ireland. To this end, prompted by the events of the (1688) Revolution and the war, he devised a political scheme - his 'Constitution in Church and State' - which envisaged a key place in Anglo-Irish society for the Church of Ireland. It was to the achievement of this that he devoted the remainder of his life. Viewed in this context it becomes apparent that his political involvements and, in particular, his 'patriotic' championing of the rights and privileges of the Irish parliament owed more, at least in their beginnings, to a desire to ensure that the Church of Ireland did secure this central role. In King's scheme of things an English parliament, which he characterized as whiggish, sympathetic to non-conformists and increasingly secular, posed a potent threat to this ambition. To counter this he sought to ensure the legislative and judicial supremacy of an Irish parliament which, in tandem with the king, would protect the Anglican character of Anglo-Irish society.
This was the ecclesiastic who became guardian of Mary King, presumably when her father and mother died at an early age. He was active on the political scene at a time of severe political repression. Despite the promises of toleration for Catholics in the 1691 Treaty of Limerick, in the first three decades of the Eighteenth century the Irish parliament passed a series of oppressive acts: these penal laws prevented Catholics from bearing arms and owning horses worth more than five pounds, restricted their rights to education, did not allow them to buy land, banned them from serving in the army, holding public office, entering the legal profession, becoming members of Parliament or voting. Archbishop King evidently was no opponent of this social order: he wanted to preserve an Irish Parliament which would support the Anglican establishment in Ireland against a more liberal Parliament in London. So if he allowed William Smyth to marry his niece it seems probable that Williams opinions could not have differed very greatly from that position. Meanwhile, if things were bad for Irish Catholics, at that time they were not all that much better for Protestants in Ireland. Protestant emigration from Ulster to America began to gather pace after 1719, mainly due to poverty.
Burkes Irish Family Records: THOMAS SMYTH, of Drumcree, County Westmeath, High Sheriff 1746, born 1 October 1714, married 1st 30 October 1742, Alice, daughter of Thomas Nugent, of Clonlost married 2ndly August 1761, Miss Purefoy. He married 3rdly 22 March 1764, Martha, daughter of Venerable Francis Hutchinson, Archdeacon of Down and Connor, and by her had issue Thomas Hutchinson Smyth.
Burkes 1899 issue of the Landed Gentry of Ireland provides the same information given above, adding only the facts that Alice Nugent was Thomas Smyths cousin and that the only son of Thomas Smyth and Martha Hutchinson became the founder of the Smyths of Ballynegall.
With his first wife, Alice Nugent, Thomas Smyth had a son, William Smyth, who inherited the Drumcree estate, and a daughter, Frances Maria Smyth. They do not concern us directly since we are descended from the third wife, Martha Hutchinson. (However, it is interesting to note that the Nugents were the original owners of Drumcree before being dispossessed and that now a Nugent had returned). The marriage with Thomass second wife, Miss Purefoy, lasted only three years and produced no children.
Thomas Hutchinson Smyth (born in the second half of the Eighteenth century) initiates the tradition of the Hutchinson middle name, given to several members of our Smyth family in later generations. There is a family tradition that Francis Hutchinson had daughters but no sons, and that he insisted that his son-in-law should give his children the Hutchinson name in order to keep his family name going. In fact, his will, dated January 1, 1766, mentions two daughters but no sons. He had one son, Samuel Hill, baptized in Lisburn Feb 14, 1736, who appears to have died young. As it turned out, Thomas Hutchinson Smyth was the only child of Thomas Smyth and Martha Hutchinson, and thus the only means of transmitting the Hutchinson name.
According to The Clergy of Down and Dromore, Archdeacon Hutchinson was born in England in 1704, educated at Bury St. Edmunds and entered Trinity College, Dublin, June 27, 1721, aged seventeen. He married Magdalene Crommelin (daughter of Alexander Crommelin and his wife Mademoiselle Lavalade) at some unspecified date. (We appear to have some French Huguenot ancestry here). The wedding was presumably in 1735 or earlier, as their daughter Sophia was buried in Lisburn March 11, 1736. Francis Hutchinson was Archdeacon of Down from 1733 to 1768 (from the ages of twenty nine to sixty four). He was buried in the Chancel Vault, St. Anns Church, Dublin, June 14, 1768. His daughter Martha had married Thomas Smyth in the same church four years previously. The Archdeacons wife Magdalene died suddenly, ten years after his death, in Cuffe Street, Dublin in March 1778.
Archdeacon Francis Hutchinson was the son of Samuel Hutchinson, an ensign who fought at the Battle of the Boyne. His brother was Samuel Hutchinson, junior, Bishop of Killala, and his uncle was his namesake, Francis Hutchinson, Bishop of Down.
Since this eponymous Bishop Hutchinson is a collateral ancestor, had some professional connection with the Smyths, and was a fairly important figure in the Ireland of his time, we might well follow his family tree and his career as far as we can. According to the Wirksworth Parish records (found on the internet), his parents (our direct ancestors) were Edward and Mary Hutchinson and he was baptized January 8, 1659. His brother Samuel Hutchinson (father of the Archdeacon and our direct ancestor) was born October 10, 1666 and fought at the Battle of the Boyne in 1689 as a twenty-three-year-old ensign in Forbes Regiment.
The Rev. Francis Hutchinson was the Anglican bishop of Connor and Down from 1720 to his death in 1739. In 1720, at the age of 61, he was consecrated in St. Peters Church, Drogheda, as Bishop of Down and Connor. His predecessor in the office was Bishop Edward Smyth (1662-1720) of Lisburn (a cousin of our ancestor Thomas Smyth), who had been appointed Bishop of Down and Connor in 1719. As noted above, Edward Smyth had previously been Dean of St. Patricks Cathedral and chaplain to King William III (William of Orange). Bishops Smyth and Hutchinson were presumably on close professional terms and probably in intimate social relationship as well. This might help explain how Hutchinsons niece Martha came to marry Thomas Smyth.
Among the events recorded of Hutchinsons tenure is the erection of the Church of Ireland in Portglenone, Antrim, at the corner of the Ballymena-Townhill Roads soon after 1735. However, Bishop Hutchinson is best remembered for his attack on the persecution of witches in his Historical Essay on Witchcraft, published in London in 1718. Samuel I. Mintz, in his 1962 work on the seventeenth century response to Thomas Hobbes, The Hunting of Leviathan, credits this work with "delivering the final blow" to the belief in witchcraft. Mintz, however, mistakenly assigns this work to Francis Hutcheson, a contemporary who was a Presbyterian clergyman.
The Dictionary of National Biography lists nineteen of Hutchinson's published sermons. Hutcheson the Presbyterian was not so lucky. When he preached his first sermon his entire congregation walked out on him because he was talking about the love of God when all they wanted to hear about was hellfire and damnation. Curiously the two men knew each other, and Hutchinson tried but failed to convince Hutcheson to conform to the Church of England.
Burkes 1899 edition of the Landed Gentry of Ireland has this to say of the Smyths of Ballynegall: Lineage This is a branch of SMYTH of Drumcree THOMAS HUTCHINSON SMYTH (only son of Thomas Smyth, of Drumcree, by his 3rd wife, Martha, daughter of the Venerable Francis Hutchinson, Archdeacon of Down and Connor, served as High Sheriff 1792, being then described as of Smythboro or Coole. He married 1796 Abigail, daughter of John Hamilton, of Belfast, and died 1830, leaving issue by her (who died 1853), 1 Thomas, his heir, (born 1796, died 1874) 2 Francis, Captain Royal Navy, 3 John Stewart (died 1887), 4 Edward (died 1857), 5 Arthur M. D. (died 1866), 6 Hamilton, barrister at law (born 1859, died 1883), 1 Anna, 2 Emily.
Burkes Irish Family Records provides essentially the same information in a more abbreviated form. Ballynegall, the family seat, is near Mullingar in County Westmeath. Thomas Hutchinson Smyth and Abigail Hamilton were married March 1, 1796. The Belfast Newsletter for the week Monday February 29-March 4, 1796 reported the wedding as follows: Married on 1st Inst., Thomas H. Smyth, Esq from Smythsborough, Co. Westmeath, to Miss Hamilton dau. Of John Hamilton, Esq. of Belfast.
Their six sons went into a variety of professions. The oldest son, Thomas, born that same year 1796, became a Church of Ireland clergyman and died in 1874 at the age of 78. Francis became a captain in the Royal Navy, Arthur a medical doctor, Hamilton a lawyer, and Edward, our ancestor, became a banker
It is at this point in the family history that we should make a brief excursion into a collateral branch of the Smyth clan and explain how we lost possession of Portlick Castle to other family claimants. Robert Smyth, the clergyman son of Ralph Smyth and Elizabeth Hawkesworth and brother to our ancestor Thomas Smyth, purchased Portlick Castle in 1703, but the Burke reference works are curiously reticent on what happened after that. Burkes Irish Family Records notes merely that Robert had a son Michael, who in turn had two daughters, Alice and Jane. It does not even mention Portlick Castle. Burkes Landed Gentry of Ireland does mention Portlick Castle but lists Roberts brother Ralph as the owner. However, nothing further on the subject.
All of this is contradicted by The Grand Juries of Westmeath 1727-1853, another reference work which lists a whole dynasty of Smyths of Portlick Castle, beginning with Robert Smyth, the fourth son of Ralph, by Alice Hawksworth. According to this source, Robert was succeeded at Portlick by his son Michael, who was followed by his own son Ralph. And this is where the trouble starts. Ralph married Margaret Gerity in the year 1775, and, dying in 1778, left issue, a son, Robert, born in 1776. The succession then continues through Margaret Geritys son as though nothing untoward had happened.
A number of searches on this site have contained the name "Frideswede Smyth" - who is of this Portlick Smyth (questioned) line. Ralph's son, Robert, married Frideswede Ahmuty in 1812. One of their sons was Arthur Wolfe Smyth. In the modern era, Eamonn Smyth of Milton Keynes, England, states (Guest Book 16/10/03) " ... my maternal grandmother's maiden name was White ... could be related to the Woulfe? family - possibly of General Wolfe fame. If anybody knows of any other connection to the above I would be interested to hear from them."
The family listing which shows this information is provided by courtesy of James Smythe of London, whose Smythe descent is via the Meade Smythe line of Barbavilla - connecting with David Smyth (Hutchinson Smyth line) at the generation of Ralph "the Tanner" Smyth. Click on the DNA image for further information on the line of James Smythe and for information relating to some DNA research currently (November 2003) being undertaken.
David Smyth continues ... However, the website for Portlick Castle has a different slant on the affair. This account, authored by a Niamh Coghill, has this to say:
In 1782 Ralph Smyth, grandson of Rev. Robert died. There were 14 claimants to the estate, mainly from other branches of the family. However, Maggie Gerity, who was a local woman, came forward with her son Robert Smyth (born 1776) claiming him to be the son of Ralph Smyth and thus, heir to Portlick. A law suit commenced and Maggie Gerity produced her father-in-law's will granting the castle to the male heir. Robert Smyth became the legal owner of the estate.
The unsuccessful claimants most probably included our ancestor Thomas Hutchinson Smyth and his children, including my great-grandfather Edward Smyth. Perhaps they should have won the case. Coghill at all events seems to take a skeptical view of Maggie Gerity and the legitimacy of her son. However, Maggies son Robert got the castle in the end, so that is that. In any event, Coghill reports that Portlick Castle was destroyed by fire in 1861. Many portraits and furnishings of the Smyth family also perished in the fire. The last Smyth of Portlick was another Robert Smyth. He married Agnes Gleeson of Athlone and they had one daughter Harriet. The Castle was intended to pass to Harriet's step-son but he was killed in Norway in the 1939-45 war. Her husband Norman Wallard Simpson died in 1955. The following year the castle was sold. This ended the second great dynasty in Portlick. (The first was the Anglo-Norman Dillon family).
As a footnote: in 2001 my son, Clifford Smyth (pictured) finding himself in that area of Ireland, happened to visit Portlick Castle it was rebuilt in Victorian times and is now a hotel. In fact, the castle that the Rev. Robert Smyth bought for 885 pounds in 1703 happened to be up for sale, for several million pounds. The caretaker told Clifford that the castle needed a dozen extra rooms to make money as a hotel and that the heating bill for the cold and damp structure was horrendous. So if anyone thinks of reclaiming the property for the family, it looks like a very large white elephant.
"The Norman family of Dillion under the charter of King John built Portlick Castle in 1185. The family were devout Catholics who fought in the Irish rebellion. Although banished for a time to Connacht by Cromwell they did not leave their home for good until 1696.
The Dillions had been supporters of King James during the Jacobian and Williamite wars, so the new monarch, King William decided to grant the property to someone more loyal to himself, a privy councillor of Ireland named Thomas Keightly. Keightly promptly sold his new home to William Palmer of Dublin. The Price tag was £365, £1 for every acre the castle was attached to. 7 years later in 1703 Palmer then sold the castle to the Rev Robert Smyth for £885.
The Smyth's like the Dillions before them were long-term and colourful owners, although as soon as 1782 ... looked destined to have come to an end. The Rev. Robert Smyth's son Ralph had just died. It was generally assumed as a bachelor he had no heirs. Jane Rogerson, Ralph's sister prepared to take over the castle. As was to be expected, distant relatives imagined and otherwise also began to lay claim to Portlick, insisting that they were the true and rightful heirs. The future ownership of the castle was decided however when a local woman came forward. Maggie Gerrity presented her son Robert as Ralph's secret child and heir. A local clergyman confirmed the story and the Smyth name was secured in Portlick once more.
In 1812 the granddaughter of the second Robert Smyth, Frideswide Smyth, began courting a young naval officer by the name of Richard Brydges Beechey. Beechey was at the time assisting in the preparation of the Admiralty Chart of Lough Ree. It is because of this relationship it is said that the bay at Portlick received a lot more attention in this report than other areas. The pair later married and their son RB Beechley became known as one of Ireland's top three marine painters".
Portlick Castle overview concludes:
"A large part of the castle was gutted by fire in 1861, which destroyed much of the Smyth family treasures including portraits and furnishings.
The last Smyth in Portlick was Harriet, a great great granddaughter of the second Robert Smyth. Her stepson was killed in WW2 and her husband Norman Wallard Simpson died in 1955.
In its near 1000 year history, Portlick Castle has witnessed civil war, family disputes, devastating fire and the natural ravages of time but despite these, it is still as impressive and as well preserved as ever. Now no longer a family seat, the story of Portlick Castle enters a new phase as a country retreat, a deserved escape from everyday routine and a chance to experience life, as it should be, luxuriously."