The image (right) is a computer rendering from an original oil painting, now very faded and damaged - probably beyond restoration - executed, it is estimated, during the earlier part of the 1800s. It may be a picture of Francis Smyth (Smith), the father of James Francis Smythe - or it may, equally, be a picture of James Francis Smythe himself as a younger man. Costume experts may be able to date this better than the site editor!
Martha's father was probably named James Roberts and her mother, Betty (diminutive of Elizabeth) - maiden name unknown. (See link to page for Martha Roberts above.) A Martha Roberts is shown (LDS IGI) as being born at about the right time and in the right place to parents of this name.
According to the Norwich (East Dereham) 1858 Marriage Certificate of James Francis Smythe, his father was named Francis Smythe and was a Cooper Master - the meaning of which is open to question since one might have expected the wording "Master Cooper" to be more usual. However, he clearly had something to do with coopering and was apprenticed as such in 1823 (at age 12/13) to a John Emerson and his wife, Judith, of Bristol. There is a certain irony in that James Francis Smythe, one of his sons, married (firstly) a spinster by the name of Eleanor "Cooper" of East Dereham, Norfolk.
The occupation of Francis Smythe
The term "Master" might refer to his being a Guild Master; he might also have been a school master or, indeed, the master of a vessel. There is mention in the British National Archives of an 'unknown' F.C. Smythe - who "flourished circa 1854". He made a voyage or voyages to the southern hemisphere and left some written records - "letters and notes rel to voyage to Australia and South America". Reference - Birmingham City Archives - MS 714 - NRA 29847 Ref. L Misc. - seems unlikely but to to investigated at a later date.
Richard Perrin, Hon. Curator (writing in 2002) of The Worshipful Company of Coopers in London states: "The term Cooper Master is certainly an unusual one. Is it possible that there is a comma between the two words. If not then I would suggest that Francis was a supervisor of sorts who was in charge of several working coopers but not necessarily a cooper himself. Bristol was, and still is, a major importer of wines and spirits and it is possible that Francis either had an importing business or at least was in charge of the making and repair of casks."
Site Note: On balance, it would be most likely that Francis Smythe (Smith) took on cooper apprentices himself in later life and therefore became styled as "Cooper Master".
It has been found (November, 2003) that both Francis Smyth and his wife, Martha were still alive at the time of the 1881 census. Francis Smyth (the spelling is as in the census document) is shown as being 74 years of age and having been born in Bristol. Martha is given the age of 73 and the census return states that she, too, was born in Bristol. This would put their birth years at approximately 1807 and 1808 respectively. Francis Smyth states clearly under "Occupation" that he is "formerly a cooper". They were lodging at 3 Lower Grove Road at Isleworth in Middlesex, where the Head of the Household was Henry SARLL - a tailor - whose wife was named as Ellen M. Sarll. Henry was 22 and his wife 24. Henry was born in Gamblingay, Cambs. and Ellen M. in London (Middlesex) - in about 1857. Details from - PRO RG11 Folio 1338/78 Page # 53.
Since he is described as a "Lodger", it may be assumed that Francis Smyth and his wife were living at the house on a permanent basis and were not just "visitors" and so a brief look at the whereabouts of his son - James Francis Smythe and family at this same time would perhaps clarify some social and/or geographical questions. In this respect, James Francis Smythe and his (second) wife, Elizabeth Tompson Smith, were living at 45 Arkwright Street, Little Bolton, in Lancashire and James Francis was the Baptist Minister for Claremont Chapel. Living at home with them at this time were eight children ranging from the age of nineteen years old down to aged three. It may be assumed that there would have been very little room for the aged parents to live there as well - even supposing that they would have wanted to.
An analysis of the transcripts (Ancestry.com) of the 1871 Census provides the following clues:
Francis Smythe and Martha (Roberts) Smythe are living at Heston in Middlesex (Hounslow) at 37 Bath Road. (Victoria Cottages also mentioned.) Francis (Head of the Household) is shown as being a cooper and Martha as a dressmaker. They both give their ages as 62 and both show Bristol as their place of birth. Staying with them at this census point is a 13 year old granddaughter, Ellen Kingstone. It is presumed that this is a daughter of Martha Ann (Smith) Smythe (only sister of James Francis Smythe) who was born in Bristol in about 1832. There is a record (LDS IGI) of an Ellen Kingstone, at Burbage, Wiltshire for 1858 (circa March 14th) daughter to a Jeremiah Kingstone and wife, Martha ... however, the 1871 census states Ellen Kingstone's place of birth as "London, Middlesex, England". It is possible that Jeremiah Kingstone was a coachman.
It is highly likely, in view of the 1871 census information, that Ellen M (Sarll) - now aged 24 - was born Ellen (M) Kingstone and that Francis and Martha Smythe are found to be living with their granddaughter and her husband, Henry Sarll, (tailor) aged 22.
Research has found that the Sarll family (Cambridgeshire) had Baptist connections which may also be a link in this family chain. For how long Francis and Martha had been living there - and for how much longer they remained there - can only be guessed at; however, by the time the 1891 census was undertaken, there is no record of either of them in any of the current on-line transcribed British county records.
Frank Tompson Smythe, their grandson, followed in his father's footsteps and went on to train as a Baptist Minister at the College in Bristol. He obtained his first pastorate (1887) at Harlington, in Middlesex. His grandmother was still alive and must have lived nearby. Harlington is where he married Ada Josephine Drew the daughter of a very successful hosier named James Drew. The trade of Henry Sarll, the Head of the Household where Francis and Martha Smyth were living in 1881 was that of "tailor" which is also significant.
Harlington and Isleworth are not too far distant from each other - Isleworth being slightly west of Richmond and Harlington a stone's throw further west again. It is not unlikely that there were Smyth (or other close) relatives in Middlesex and that Frank Tompson Smythe came to know the area as a result of visits there to see his grandparents at various times during his minority ... perhaps even meeting Ada Drew before he moved to Harlington. Some twenty years later, another son of James Francis Smythe - Arthur J(ames) Smythe (aged 35 in 1901) was living with his wife, Sarah (Evans?) and two children, Mabel Smythe and Lionel Smythe, at 44 Thorny Hedge Road in Acton and is listed as a Journalist and Author. Acton lies westwards of both Harlington and Isleworth.
Some earlier Bristol research on Francis Smyth/e and his family
Roberts - Bristol 1830 ...
|The Reverend Thomas
Roberts arrived in Bristol from a ministry in
Devon and was responsible for the setting up of the Old
King Street Baptist Church building in Bristol. He had a
significant voice in the campaign against slavery for
which that city was a important port. The Old King Street
building was demolished in the 1950s - the whole area had
endured severe war damage - for the construction of the
modern Broadmead shopping area. The members moved to
Cairns Road Baptist. This was also the area of Temple
Parish and of Counterslip - where Frank Tompson
Smythe - great grandson of Thomas Smith (cooper)
- was later to become the Baptist minister in the early
From - A COMPLETE HISTORY OF Old King Street Baptist Church, BRISTOL, Formerly worshipping in the Pithay, originally at the Fryers. A.D. 1640 to A.D. 1933 - In 4 Volumes BY JOHN SILAS MERRITT. - ILLUSTRATED. VOLUME 1: 1640-1890.
"Rev. THOMAS ROBERTS, M.A., through whose exertion Old King Street Chapel was erected distinguished himself in the denunciation of Slavery, was eminently the Friend of the friendless."