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Rebels and Recusants - The Smythe Resistance

The Smythe family of Eshe Hall, Durham and later of Acton Burnell in Shropshire was a prominent branch of the family, noted for its ability to survive - often against the odds - through times of religious and political upheaval. The progenitor of this line was William Smythe of Nunstainton, who married a daughter of the de Eshe family. William Smythe was a Catholic and was implicated in the Northern Rising of 1569 when rebel forces, led by Nevill(e) of Raby, occupied Durham Cathedral and laid seige to Barnard Castle.

This action is in stark contrast to the loyalty and service shown, for example, by an earlier generation William Smyth (Bishop of Lincoln 1496-1514) who had enjoyed such royal favour as to be entrusted with the safety and welfare of the daughters of Edward IV. It is recorded that, in 1485, the Bishop was paid the princely sum of 200 for this purpose. It is also recorded that he transferred this sum to Margaret (Beaufort) - Countess of Richmond (Henry VII's mother) who "of late hadde the keping and guiding of the ladies, daughters of King Edward iiiith". However, it should be noted that the year 1569 is also just one generation after the time when the estates of Rosedale (als. Rossdale) Abbey had been leased to one William Smithdike (qv) - "of the Court of Henry VIII" - by the Nevilles who had originally gained possession of those lands after Henry VIII's Dissolution of the Monasteries.

Considering the ties between Smyth/e and Nevill/e, to find the Smythes of Eshe supporting the Northern Rebellion against Queen Elizabeth, therefore, in not remarkable. It also suggests - via the Nevilles - a strong connection between the Eshe Smythes and those of Rosedale - which latter branch went on to become the progenitors of so many of the Smyth families of Ireland.

The following information comes from the Herrington Heritage web site and is edited in this page with permission for which gratitude is extended.

In the days of Bishop Bek the Lord, William de  Herrington gave the Eastern Manor to Roger de Eshe. He died in 1313 but his descendants continued as Lords of East Herrington as well as of Esh in the County. Bishop Hatfield's survey mentions the farming life of the community. Thomas Colvyll, Knight, whose wife was an heiress of de Eshe, held two parts of the Manor in return for foreign service. He rendered at various seasons of the Church's year twenty shillings for cornage, two parts of a Milch Cow, four quarter of oats, ten bushels of scat oats, two quarters of scat malt. One man was to plough and harrow four acres at Newbottle and twelve to do the Autumn Harvest.

Thomas de Herrington, probably one of the original family still in the area - held 40 acres and a messuage by old inheritance and attended the Bishop's Chase with two parts of two greyhounds. The carrying of two parts of one ton of wine were his responsibility and he might also be engaged when necessary to attend Embassies for the Bishop. The Windmill was on the side of St. Chad's Road and Summerhill - known as Miller Hill Lonnen. All disputes were to be settled at the Halmote court of Durham. The Lord also owned the Haining then estimated at 100 acres and worth 37 shillings and two pence a year rent. At a certain time each year a man was sent to do Watch and Ward Service for 40 days.

Lord Burghley's hastily drawn-up map of 1569 to help him determine the extent of the rebellion - the earliest known map of County Durham - clearly shows two places marked as "Haryngton". (He had known this area - 0n a visit to Bernard Gilpin at Houghton he is said to have looked across the countryside and remarked "What more can a man want?"). And indeed two rebels joined at "West Erynton" one of whom was executed. The same happened at "Overton" and the same executions carried out for Houghton , Newbottle, Seaham, Seaton and Hetton - all to prove Elizabeth's promise to send "Such a breakfast as the North had never known". Before commissioners on 25th April 1570 Robert Robinson together with Thomas Chilton and William Ranson in Newbottle expressed "lamentable penitence" for taking part in the Rising and were among the lucky ones granted a pardon.

Despite their implicaton the Smythe family rode the persecutions that followed until the Civil War. In 1644, the Parliamentary Commission sequestered the estate of "all lands belonging to George Smythe Esq. Papist" for 15 per annum. Middle Herrington was released to John Lawrence, (qv "Medieval Smythes" this site) and East Herrington to Thomas Smythe at 10. At the Restoration the East Herrington Manor was recovered and Edward Smythe created a baronet. In 1786 they sold the estate to General Lambton.

Parts of East Herrington long remained in the land holdings of the successors of the de Eshes, the Old Catholic recusant family of Smith or Smythe  of Esh. By the early 19th century this family had been raised to the baronetcy and moved to Shropshire. Maria Smythe , granddaughter to the baronet is known to history as the widow Mrs Fitzherbert, then engaged in a liaison with the Prince Regent.

All this adds a further dimension to the story of Lady Peat, born Jane Smith in 1752, daughter of Squire Matthew Smith of Herrington, a kinsman to the baronet, and his wife Jane Taylor of Stobbilee near Lanchester.

Eccentricity - a Murder and a Mystery - The Unsolved Murder

Unfortunately there is no picture of her, which is a pity as she undoubtedly was one of the most colourful characters of the village and as such deserves a chapter to herself. She is described as wearing a bonnet, gown and shawl that cost only a few shillings, having a massive gold chain round her neck and boots that belonged to her father. Squire Matthew and his daughter lived in a house at the end of the road - then being much narrower than its modern counterpart opposite the blacksmith's shop situated at the side of the chapel. The property was called Herrington House but known later to the locals as Peat's Hall.

Heath Old Hall, Wakefield, YorkshireMaria Smythe and her connections with the Smyths of Heath Hall, Yorkshire

"Heath Old Hall" - adapted from a drawing by N. Whittock. Click on the picture of Heath Old Hall to visit the Wakefield Headquarters of the West Yorkshire Archive Service.

It is of interest to note that the French Revolution affected the French Benedictine community at Montargis. Officials called at the convent demanding the title deeds, but Mother Benedict, the 33 year old Prioress, refused to hand them over. The community managed to escape to England - but, in England, religious communities were still banned by law. However, once safely landed in England, after a trip that almost ended in disaster, they received help from Maria Smythe (Fitzherbert). "Mrs Fitzherbert, the Catholic wife of the Prince, was Godmother to one of the nuns.  Hearing of their plight she had persuaded the Prince to help. The Prince [later, George IV] arranged for the Nuns to be accomodated at a converted house in London for a while but they soon moved to Norfolk and then on to Wakefield where they took up residence in Old Heath Hall." For a full account of this particular story, click here.

This information would seem to connect the Acton Burnell Smythe family (and of Eshe Hall, Durham) to the ancestry of Yorkshire Smyth family of Heath Hall which, in turn, is said to be the lineage of Dame Ethel Smyth who is proven to have descended from the Smyth families of Ireland, originally from Rosedale Abbey in Yorkshire.

The Smyths and Heath Hall Yorkshire ...

Rt. Hon. John Smyth, (1748-1811)

John George Smyth of Heath Hall who was born circa 1811, married Diana Bosville. She was the daughter of Godfrey Bosville-MacDonald and Louisa Maria Edsir who was a natural daughter of Prince (Duke of Gloucester) William Henry of England (who was a brother of George III of England) and Lady Almeria Carpenter. The Carpenter family is linked to the Coote family of Westmeath in Ireland, to the Clifton family and to the Frances family, leading to Henry, Count of Nassau. LDS IGI search references.

From the archives of Hull University

Martin de Bosville came from Normandy in the eleventh century. His descendants had property in Yorkshire and Kent. In the fifteenth century, John Bosville married first Mary Drax and their eldest son, William Bosville, inherited Ardsley and a Hall in Darfield. By his second wife, Isabel Dronsfield, he had Richard Bosville, who became head of the Gunthwaite branch of the family. Richard Bosville married Jane Neville and had seven children. He died in 1501. Despite owning Gunthwaite he and his heir, John Bosville, lived much of the time at Beighton where they farmed the estate of Lord Dacre. His grandson, Godfrey Macdonald (1519-), married Jane Hardwick (sister of 'Bess') of county Derby and settled at Gunthwaite. His brother, Ralph Bosville, became clerk of the court of wards and started the branch of the family living at Bradborne in Kent. His heirs inherited the Yorkshire estates when Godfrey and Jane Bosville's son died without issue. His son, Godfrey Bosville (1596-1658), was a member of the Long Parliament and became a colonel in the parliamentary army. He was succeeded to the Gunthwaite estates by William Bosville (1620-1662) and Godfrey Bosville (1654-1714), who married Bridget Hotham, was a JP and High Sheriff of Yorkshire and who expanded and improved the estates. They left no children and the estates passed to the heirs of Godfrey's brother. Godfrey Bosville (1717-1784) married Diana Wentworth. They had a wide circle of friends including James Boswell. They were very wealthy, owning a house and estate in Staffordshire, Thorpe Hall and Gunthwaite in East Yorkshire and a house in Great Russell Street.

Their Son, William Bosville (d.1813), was schooled at Harrow and entered the Coldstream Guards in 1761. He did not involve himself in his Yorkshire estates and when he died they passed to Godfrey Macdonald (1775-1832), the second son of his sister, Elizabeth Diana Bosville and her husband Alexander Macdonald (d.1795), the first Macdonald to hold the Irish barony of Sleat (Isle of Skye). Godfrey Macdonald changed his name to Bosville and he became 3rd Lord Macdonald on the death of his older brother. In 1799 he met and fell in love with Louisa Maria Edsir, the illegitimate daughter of the duke of Gloucester (brother of George III) and Lady Almeria Carpenter. The couple eloped and married by 'mutual consent' under Scottish law; their eldest son, Alexander William Robert Macdonald (1800-1847), was born outside official English wedlock. He inherited the Thorpe and Gunthwaite estates in Yorkshire but, as he was technically illegitimate, he did not succeed as 4th baron of Sleat and the title fell to his younger brother who had been born after an 1803 church ceremony. In 1910 Alexander Macdonald Bosville's grandson, Alexander Wenworth Macdonald Bosville (b.1847) reclaimed the Scottish title and retrospectively became 14th baronet and 21st chief of Sleat. This unseated his cousin as 6th Lord Macdonald of the Isles and in 1911 Alexander Wentworth Macdonald Bosville travelled to Skye to take up residence at the seat of his forbears who could trace their ancestry back to Hugh Macdonald, Lord of the Isles in the mid-fifteenth century. He also assumed the surname Macdonald thus becoming Alexander Wentworth Macdonald Bosville-Macdonald. His descendants still own Thorpe Hall near Rudston.

Modern Heath HallSmyth family of Ashton Court, Bristol and Margaret Wilson - a daughter of Christopher Wilson, Bishop of Bristol. She married Sir Hugh Smyth of Ashton Court. Sir Hugh Smyth left no legitimate children. He died in 1824. It is known that the Smyth family from Yorkshire also married a Wilson - a daughter of the Wilson family of Dallam Tower.

"George Smyth, Esq., son of J. Smyth, Esq., of Heath Hall, Yorkshire, married the heiress of Dallam Tower, assumed the name of Wilson, and succeeded to the estates in 1824. George Edward Wilson, Esq., of Heversham, being his son and heir apparent."

Individual Smyths and Heath Hall Yorkshire ...

Rt. Hon. John Smyth, (1748-1811)

Heath Hall was a 17th century mansion built by George Ramsden. Extensions were done for John Smyth by John Carr (Carr of York) between 1754-1780. It was last owned by Ingram Fuller Godfrey, sold to Halifax Corporation in 1889 and demolished in 1890 for the construction of Heath Road and the Heath estate. During the demolition, parts of a tombstone, inscribed: "Here lyeth the body of Hannah, the daughter of John Elam of Halifaxe, who died the 7 of the first month 1594" were found in a chimney flue. Other objects were found: a razor dated 1691; coins of 1776 and 1793. The image above shows the modern "Heath Hall" and is adapted from an original photograph supplied by Angela Petyt.

Dallam Tower, Lancaster - Dallam Tower was no doubt built to repel incursions from the Scots. The estate includes a 17th century deer park and 19/20th century ornamental gardens.

After Dallam Tower was recorded as being a ruin in 1541, a manor house was erected in front of the present house looking towards Whitbarrow Scar. Dallam Tower was rebuilt in the 1720s. Around 1750 Daniel Wilson of Dallam Tower purchased the ruin of the once opulent Rectory of Beetham for 2,500 from Thomas Shepherd. Daniel Wilson of Dallam Tower married Elizabeth Livesey (died 1801 aged 72) only sister of Ralph Livesey of Livesey Hall, Blackburn. Thomas Wilson was baptised at Beetham, Westmoreland, England; the third son of Daniel Wilson of Dallam Tower

In 1757 George Wilson (b.1724) retired Lieutenant Colonel 1st Regiment Foot Guards, fourth son of Daniel Wilson purchased the Old Abbot Hall lock stock and barrel from Christopher Hudson for 550. A Brewery was licensed in 1758 on or near the site of the town house of the Wilson family of Dallam Tower.

On September 7th 1864 the foundation stone of a church at Arnside was laid by Mrs. Wilson, of Dallam Tower, after the Rev. William Hutton suggested the need for a church some 12 months previous. The Wilson family owned the Dixies Inn from where a road accross the sands to Foulshaw was passable at low tide. It was also near here that the Wilson's employed a ferry-man charging 3d at low tide and 6d at full tide to cross the estuary. In 1905 an overloaded boat carrying ten passengers from Oldham, overturned in rough seas, resulting in the loss of six lives."

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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