Two Smyth Portraits - click image (right) for Bristol family tree ... John Smyth (d. 1555) and Joan (d.1562).

This portrait shows Matthew Smyth of the Bristol Smyth branch of the family. Close up of brooch device

His namesake was appointed as the first Principal of Brasenose College, Oxford during the early 1500s. The latter is reputed to have been a relative of William Smyth, Bishop of Lincoln.

According to (later added) gold lettering, the sitter of this portrait died in 1583. The marriage detail on the portrait declares that he married Jane Tewther, the eldest daughter of Thomas Tewther.

enlargementThe portrait is reputed to have been painted by Neville Greville Smyth - again, the Neville name appears with Smyth ... and in a similar time frame.

A look at the brooch device and comparison of the facial structure of the person on the brooch with that of Henry Tudor VII of England will demonstrate some similarities.

The name element of Greville, however, is also significant in that the Bristol Smyth family of Ashton Court contained a later generation male who carried that name and may therefore show a connection.

The Second Portrait

Ancestor Index Ancestor Index

Portrait of Matthew Smyth - click for pedigree - Ashton Court branch

"The eyes have it"

Whilst it may be conjecture, there are some typical Smyth/e features in the face of the sitter of this portrait as, too, there are similarities between the looks of Bishop William and Matthew Smyth. Nevertheless, the sitter here may perhaps be a Smyth relative of the Layton family which may - or may not - be related to George Washington! Sir Ferdinando Gorges was also associated with Ashton Court at this time, married to Elizabeth (Gorges) Smyth - his cousin - who was, by then, a widow.

Is it possible that the Coat of Arms was originally placed near the head of the sitter - and may have been of a different heraldic design?  It is equally possible that it was another set of arms altogether and that the shield has been painted out on purpose leaving only the other.

Tudor Rose device. And (fanciful?) the initials G. S. - Greville Smyth? Is this Neville Greville himself? He died in 1659 it is believed. 

Neither the artist nor the sitter of the second portrait is known. The sitter is, however, noble; slashing of the sleeves was permitted only for those of high rank.

Both this portrait and that of Matthew Smyth (above) have appeared for sale recently by auction (2002) and there are two points to note here.

First, the Coat of Arms shown in the second portrait (detail enhanced at right) bears an uncanny resemblance to the form, if not to the detail, of the Arms of William Smyth/e, Bishop of Lincoln. (shown adjacent)

Note also the motif of the arms above the tomb of Customer Smythe who came originally from Wiltshire.

The second point concerns the fact that there is a suggestion made by the internet auction text that the sitter may have been related to George Washington. Arms of William Smith/Smyth, Bishop of Lincoln d. 1514

It is known that the Smyth family from Durham and Yorkshire - a branch of which moved to Ireland - and which is treated extensively on this site, has in its pedigree the following: Thomas Smyth b. 1520 married Jane Layton of West Layton.

The progenitor of the Layton family is said to have been Odardus, Lord of Laton in Richmondshire in the time of King Henry I (1100-1135).


Barry Reid (descended from the Irish line of Alice Smyth married 1718) has tracked down a family tree for the Layton family of Yorkshire in a volume called "The History of Yorkshire" by G. H. de S. N. Plantagenet-Harrison

It contains many pedigree charts, including that of the Layton family. These charts suggest that the Laytons and George Washington are related; but, most of the George Washington websites that Barry Reid has viewed suggest that this is not the case. However, see Harrison's Washington chart and, especially, read Harrison's Preface ...

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