Smyth of Norfolk ... research The Roberts family - for new (2004) research - click here.
Original Bristol research on Francis Smith/Smythe through James Francis Smythe (né Smith)
It appears that the name of James Francis Smythe's father was Francis Smith and that his mother was Martha Roberts.
Researcher, John Butland Watts - to whom gratitude is extended - has this information - information that is very attractive and which seems to be uncannily pertinent; however, it raises question marks about the veracity of official Baptist memoir records, where James Francis Smythe is attributed the birth year 1832. Additionally, 1861 Norfolk (and other) census records show that James Francis Smythe accords himself ages of 49 and 69 - suggesting birth year of 1831. If the former relies on 'believed to be' family reportage and if the latter is mistaken in his birthdate - or wishing to 'disguise' his age for some reason - then it is possible that the research that follows may be 'spot on'.

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).Link to the parents of James Francis Smythe 1832-1902

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'),

[This would be right for a 29th October birth - exactly one month after his birth - not born to Baptist parents, presumably or baptism would have been delayed to adulthood.]

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.  

THE DINGS - part of St Philip's bounded by Barton Road, York Street, Barton Manor, Folly Lane, Kingsland Road railway sidings and part of Silverthorne Lane and Gas Lane. The area was called "Bengs" in 1610 and it means either a grazing meadow or the place where osiers or withies - used in basket-making - grew. The name is preserved in Dings Walk.
"Hill" may be named for Lawrence 'Hill' as opposed to being a connected family name while "Philip" may be for the area of St. 'Philip' and "Vickery" as a family connector. "Josiah" is a relatively distinctive first name.

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."

Site Notes

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 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.

Smythe, Emily Roberts
  Year: 1864 Quarter: June
  Record Type: Births Volume: 4b
  District: Tunstead Page: 42

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.

Sir Rowland Hill 1795-1879
Two biographies were written about him; the first by G. B .Hill in 1880 and the second by E. C. Smythe in 1907. Valerie Hill, writing from America, states: "This E. C. Smythe is Eleanor Caroline Smythe, daughter of Sir Rowland Hill." - January 2003. Valerie's information, therefore, links Eleanor Caroline Hill with a Smythe family male of this era and further information is currently awaited.
Rowland Hill was an educator, inventor, and postal reformer. He introduced the system of self-government in his school at Hazelwood in Birmingham. In his Plans for the Government and Education of Boys in Large Numbers (1822) he argued that moral influence of the highest kind should be the predominant power in school discipline. After his retirement from teaching (1833), Hill invented a rotary printing press and evolved a system of prepaid penny postage that was finally adopted in 1839. From 1854 to his retirement from public office in 1864 he was secretary to the Post Office. He was knighted in 1860.

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 -

 Name  Relation Marital Status Gender Age Birthplace Occupation BORN
 Thoms.Elizth. SMYTHE   Head   W   Female   58   Hereford, England   Boarding School    b. circa 1823
 Emily SMYTHE   Daughter   U   Female   24   Clifton Bristol   Teacher    b. circa 1857
 Emily ALLEN   Gran Da   U   Female   29   Bedford, England   Governess    b. circa 1852
 Loura ANJIN   Gran Da   U   Female   28   Calnes   Governess    b. circa 1853
 Pauline PRISE   Gran Da   U   Female   21   M Agludback, Germany   Governess    b. circa 1860

Source Information:

  Dwelling   Medina Villa Clint House
  Census Place Hove, Sussex, England
  Family History Library Film   1341258
  Public Records Office Reference   RG11
  Piece / Folio   1097 / 27
  Page Number   14

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.

Geo Morse - is possibly the George Morse - who, according to LDS IGI - had a daughter, Elizabeth Morse who married Sir Samual Astrey. Their daughter, Elizabeth Astrey, married Sir John Smyth, son of Sir Hugh Smyth and Dame Ann Ashburnham. (IGI states Elizabeth Ashburnham) Sir Hugh Smyth was the son of Sir Thomas Smyth and Florence Poulet - all the latter being of the Smyth family of Ashton Court - Bristol line. This specific (male) line died out but was reconstituted by Florence Smyth, daughter of Sir John Smyth and Elizabeth Astrey, who married, secondly, (Sir) Jarrit Smith. In later generations, the male line failed again - twice. See Smyth of Ashton Court pedigree via the link above.

Hill, Hall, Prise ... are all surnames that appear to be associated with various Smith/Smyth/e families - Josiah Hill Smith (see above) being a typical example.

B. James Francis Smythe James Francis Smythe
Francis Smythe, the cooper (Master) Francis Smythe - the Cooper - the husband of Martha Roberts
Ancestor IndexAncestor Index

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