John writes: "I carried out a search of Volumes 17 to 21 of the Bristol Burgess Book Indexes (covering the period from 30 September 1786 to the present day) for all entries relating to Fran* Sm*th* either as a new freeman or as a sponsor to a new freeman.
The search yielded 7 entries, including one which I believe relates to your ancestor, and one which relates to another Francis Smith who could easily be confused with yours, as will become apparent in due course.
'Your' Francis Smith, a cooper by trade, was admitted to the liberties of the City of Bristol on 27 July 1830, having served an apprenticeship to John Emerson. (Ref. BRO BBB Vol.20 Page 94, Number 710)
Just four years earlier, another Francis Smith, a collier by trade, was admitted on 13 June 1826, having married Martha Strong, the daughter of John Strong, a tailor. (Ref.BRO BBB Vol.19, Page75, Number 270)
Next, I carried out a search of the Baptismal Indexes for the Diocese of Bristol (1813 - 1837), and found ten baptisms of children of Francis and Martha Smith, the first five of which took place in the parish of Ss.Philip & Jacob (immediately to the east of Central Bristol), the next five of which took place in the parish St.George (the very next parish to the east of Ss.Philip & Jacob).
The first five children were named John (bap.17 February 1816), Samuel (bap.22 July 1821), Francis Hugh (bap.17 February 1822, Ann Martha (bap.5 December 1824) and Mary Ann (also bap.5 December 1824). The family's address was given as Two Mile Hill (London Road), St.George, at the first baptism, and as London Road, St.George, at the remaining four. Francis' occupation was stated as 'collier', 'labourer', 'collier', 'miner' and 'miner' respectively.
The second five children were named Jabez (bap.7 June 1829), James Francis [Smith] (bap.28 November 1830 N.B. no sign of the forename 'Benjamin'),
Martha Ann [Smith] (bap.7 October 1832, Josiah Hill [Smith] (bap.7 December 1834) and Philip Vickery [Smith] (also bap.7 December 1834). The family's address was given as 'St.George', 'Temple', 'The Dings', 'Lawrence Hill' and 'Lawrence Hill' respectively. Francis' occupation was stated as 'labourer', 'cooper', 'cooper', 'cooper' and 'cooper' respectively.
I concluded from the above that I should probably be looking for two marriages between a Francis Smith and a Martha. I duly discovered that one Francis Smith married Martha Strong on 3 September 1815 in the parish of Temple and that another Francis Smith married Martha Roberts on 7 September 1829 in the parish of Bedminster St.John (a southern suburb of Bristol).
I conclude from the above that the first five children all belonged to Francis the 'collier' and his wife Martha née Strong, and that the last four all belonged to Francis the 'cooper' and his wife Martha née Roberts, and that Jabez, on balance, probably was the son of Francis the 'collier' and Martha née Strong. (He was baptised prior to the marriage of Francis and Martha Roberts, which is not conclusive in itself, but also his father was described as a 'labourer' rather than a 'cooper', and the family address was said to be 'St.George', which is further east than all the addresses given by Francis the 'cooper'.)
Who knows, it may have been the appearance in 1829 of a second Francis and Martha Smith to baptise Jabez in the parish of Ss.Philip & Jacob which could have inspired 'your' Francis and Martha to change their surname from Smith to Smythe, to distinguish them from these 'newcomers' even if the parish clerk did not acknowledge this at the baptisms of his children."
Note 1. The LDS IGI has two entries for Martha Roberts - on the balance of probablility the correct one(s) showing that she was baptised in 1808, which would tie in with 1881 British census details discovered in November 2003. Martha was the daughter of James Roberts and his wife, known as Betty. Martha was baptised on 12th June 1808 at Enenezer Chapel, King Street Wesleyan, Bristol, Gloucestershire (England) - IGI Record Batch # C083531 - Dates: 1793-1837 Source 0825381 RG4 913,3257). In the second record available, she is recorded as having been born on 11th March 1808 and baptised 12th June (same day as previous baptism) at St. Philip And Jacob Chapel, Bristol, Somerset (England). IGI Record Batch # 7212414 and Source Call # 0820344. This would probably account for her first son (James Francis Smith/Smyth/e) bearing the name "James" - and then "Francis" after his father (Francis Smith/Smyth). The recorded father of Francis Smith/Smyth was Thomas Smith/Smyth (qv).
Note 2. The significance of all the above information is augmented by the Ancestry.com birth record for Emily ROBERTS Smythe. Emily R. Smythe was the second child and eldest daughter of the marriage between James Francis Smythe and Elizabeth Tompson Smith.
Note 3. Publisher, Colin Smythe, reports that his "connection with Smythe is short. My great grandfather was a Smith, and my grandfather had a major falling out, and changed his name to Smythe, and his religion - from RC to CofE. I'm the last of the line."
Note 4. Re. Josiah Hill [Smith] (bap.Bristol 7 December 1834) - a recent piece of information has revealed that a daughter of Sir Rowland Hill (Educator and Inventor) of Birmingham - married a Smythe male. ( qv below) Research is on-going.
Note 5. This 1881 census record provides a possible link to the 'Tompson' element (letter h dropped) in the name Frank Tompson Smythe, the eldest son of (Benjamin) James Francis Smythe and Elizabeth T. (Smith).
Household: 1881 census from LDS IGI 1881 Census UK -
Note 6. Some 16th & 17th century will extracts showing beneficiaries with related Smyth/e family links ... bearing in mind also that 20th century "Drew-Smythe" family settled in Tockington, near Bristol, Gloucestershire.
GLOUCESTERSHIRE PROBATE RECORDS - Abstracts from WILLS 1540 - 1619 for Alveston, Elberton, Littleton & Olveston. Complete Documents can be seen on L.D.S. Film series #0091316 and #0091319 obtainable at your local L.D.S. Family History Library. Contact Leslie Mahler transcriber.
1600 - SMITH, John - Tockington (Olveston) - Thos, Rob & Margery childr of Edward Hill of Tockington; Isbl dtr of Margt Hall of Olveston; Jn son of Rob Segare of Olveston; Rob Hurne of Caddribroocke, Almondsbury, husb; Wlm son of Jn Haines of Tockington; Jn son of Jn Smythe of Tockington; wife Joan exec; overs bro Jn S & Thos Dier; witns Roger Powell clerk.
SMYTHE, John - Elberton - dtr Jane wife of Jms Champneys; dtr Agn; land held of Sir Thos Sadler; wife Isbl exec; overs Jn Smythe of the Bridge, Elberton, Jn Smythe of Olveston & Wlm Heines of Cote.
SMYTHE, Robert - Elberton - poor of Olveston; son Thos & his childr Rob & Joan; Rob & Wlm sons of Morris Wall; Thos, Joan & Rob childr of Jn Smythe of the Bridge; land at Tockington to son Wlm; Jn Smythe carpenter; svt Wlm Pearce; wife Ellen exec; overs Jn Smythe of the Bridge, Elberton, & Jn Smythe of the Boxtree.
1613 - RANDALL, Moses - Olveston - wife of Davy Valentes; godson Moses Wyman; Alice dtr of Rich Boulton of Tockington; dtr of Wlm Prise; son in law Jn Gurgefeild; dtr of Rich Yemans; wife Edith exec; overs Ralph Greene vicar & Jn Hoolbrooke.
1628 - SMYTH, Margaret - Inst, Olveston, spinster - poor of Elberton; bro Nichls S & his wife Eliz & son Francis; bro Thos S; bro Joseph S & his wife Bridget & childr Jn, Edward & Bridget; exec bro Joseph S; overs Thos Alpas & Wlm Wilson; witns Geo Morse.