Sir Edward Smythe of Whitchurch, Buckinghamshire who was a Lord Chief Justice (of the common pleas) in Ireland

Edward Smythe's memorial tablet is set in the aisle of the church of St. John the Baptist at Whitchurch in Buckinghamshire.

The transcription of the Latin wording on the memorial tablet which appears below is the work of Veronica Sankaran who kindly agreed to translate it especially for this site. Sincere thanks are extended to her for her valuable contribution. Veronica Sankaran is widely known for her translation of the seminal Norman era Domesday Book. (Philimore & Co Ltd, Chichester, 1983)

Veronica writes:

I have consulted a friend, my daughter-in-law, my encyclopaedia, History of Buckinghamshire by J. J. Sheaham and History of Buckinghamshire by George Lipscomb. 

The engraver probably did not know any Latin so there are some rather strange words here - so I will attempt a paraphrase rather than a translation.

“Here lies Edward Smythe, Knight, who after pausing from judging lawsuits in Ireland, carried off, because of this the reward of great fame, for he was made Chief Justice (of common  pleas in Ireland)  But being religiously inclined, and feeling the weight of cares, he nevertheless thought it wrong to devote his soul to God while he was still fit to hold office, and through his Ormond, setting a fine example by giving up (his  wish to serve God) he obtained what others eagerly strive for, that is , high office.  Then he took his part in Parliament in England, as long as it (Parliament) held out against Charles (the first) and the church, that is, for as long as there was room for wise policies.  I shall say a few, but important, things about his life after that.  He was rich in wealth and honour, he was devout, living like a poor man and a private person, well known for his prudence and learning, yet modest, courteous and honest, knowledgeable in local law, yet not against the clergy.  He was indeed a well-disposed patron of everyone everywhere, endowed with all the gifts of mind, body and fortune, and public-spirited, yet he preferred to have time for God and himself.  He was unobtrusive not only when living but also when dying, for having lapsed into a coma in bed this excellent man did not die (immediately) but (in the end) he passed away aged 79 Feb 20th 1682” 

Veronica notes the following:

Ormond - a member of the family of the Earls of Ormond.  Ormond is also an old name for Tipperary (Ireland).  This particular Ormond was Sir John Pakington.  He sided with  Charles I in the Civil War, was committed to the Tower, fined an immense sum and his estates were ordered to be sequestered for the use of Parliament (presumably Cromwell’s Parliament).

Site Notes

With reference to the above, it is more likely that "Ormond" refers to Ireland as a geographical reference rather than reference to the nobility of that name - usually seen with a final letter e - Ormonde - a title held by the Butler family, apart from a sprinkling of Seymour during the previous century. Pakington may well have been associated in Ireland.

The following note is from a biography of Sir Thomas Smythe of Fenchurch Street, London - son of "Customer" Smythe, who was originally from Corsham, in Smythe of Wiltshire - Customer SmytheWiltshire. This reference is possibly significant in considering the origins of the Smythe family line of Sir Edward Smythe of Whitchurch.

"In 1597 Smythe had his first experience of the House of Commons when he was returned for Aylesbury, a seat previously occupied by his father and his elder brother, through his family's long-standing friendship with the Pakingtons."

Veronica continues:

It is not exactly clear in what way Sir Edward wanted to serve God.  He evidently considered it a duty to serve in Parliament.  Charles I, of course, restricted the powers of Parliament, supported in this by the church, and Sir Edward eventually gave up his office.  It seems he was not against the church as such, but against its support of Charles.  He seems to have avoided the kind of treatment meted out to his friend Pakington.

The Smythes held the manor of Whitchurch.  I tried to find out what happened to them after Sir Edward.  He was succeeded by his son Edward Smythe Esq. D.1690, after which, Mrs. Mary Smythe, widow in 1692, is mentioned as Lady of this Manor and again in July 1695, in a list of collections for Briefs.  Lucius Smythe Esq. (brother or son of Edward) died here and was buried 24 November 1694.

Either by Mrs Mary Smythe, widow, or the said Edward, a short time before his decease, the Manor was conveyed to John Reynolds, Gent.  (I do not see how Edward, who died in 1690 could have conveyed the manor to Reynolds, since Mary Smythe  is mentioned as still holding it in 1695.)  Sarah Spencer Smythe, daughter of Edward Smythe Esq. and Mary his wife was baptised here 16 July 1682."

Veronica Sankaran. June 2003.

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Andrew Pain - who enlisted Veronica's help in achieving the above - is the webmaster of the Whitchurch Village Website - where may be found - inter alia - maps and further historical information about the manor, parish and environs of Whitchurch in Buckinghamshire.

His own research revealed the following - for which thanks are extended. " ... in his "History of Whitchurch" Joseph Holloway (1889) writes, "On a large slab near the reading desk, at the east angle of the nave, is inscribed in Latin, "Lucius Smythe Armigeri, who died December, 1694" engraved is the family crest and arms."

The inscription for Edward looks much more impressive but Holloway makes no reference to it. He does mention Edward however, as follows: "The Church boasts of a communion service, rare, antique, and valuable.  Lord Chief Justice Smythe, and his son Edward Smythe were the donors. It consists of six pieces of solid silver, marked "I.H.S.," comprising two silver plates, two silver cups with covers, a flaggon holding two quarts, and a silver chalice, dated 1570.  They gave also a communion table, and a purple covering for same, fringed with silk, marked "I.H.S.," also a pulpit cloth, and covering for the pulpit door in fine purple cloth, with a cushion of the same having tassels, and fringed with purple silk.  He willed also 15 towards a new treble bell."

I have found another reference: "At the east end of the north aisle" says Brown Willis "is a marble slab on which is a long Latin inscription, with the crest and arms referring to Lord Chief Justice Smythe and family; Sir Edward Smythe died February 20th, A.Do., 1682."

Internet Search reference ...
Harvard Papers (USA) - reference 1578
'Licence for Edward Smythe, Dorothy his wife, Humphrey Meade, Anne his wife, William Preston and Frances his wife ... to alienate three-fourths of the manor of Chilwicke, and of lands in Chilwick, Seynt Michells, Harpenden, Sandridge and Redbourne, Herts., to George Rotherham and William Toock.'

Hertfordshire/Buckinghamshire and in close proximity, might this refer to a Smythe of this same line?

It may well be that the wife of Sir Edward Smythe (d.1682) was named Elizabeth since "Elizabeth" is named alongside Sir Edward on page 254 in the information following:

In Lack's The Monumental Brasses of Buckinghamshire (to be found here) the following names are listed in the index - Smith, Smyth, Smythe, Agnes, 84; Anice, 132; Ann,   200; Daisy, 132; Edw., 40; Sir Edw., Elizth., 254;   Emily, 104; Fred., 132; Georgiana, 198; Hen., 84,   94, 104; Jacomyne, 84; Josiah, 200; Mary, 59; Thos., 59, 84, 200; Michael, 34; Walter, 84; Wm., 94, 104.

The arms shown adjacent are of Smith of Damagh, Kilkenny - "descended from an Englishman who was secretary to the Earl of Ormonde." (Butler/Bolyn/Pakington families all held this title over time.)

Ancestor Index Ancestor Index

Family Photograph (1999) Memorial to Edward Smythe

Photographs (2003)
courtesy of Andrew Pain

Site Notes

(I.H.S. "In His Service" - dating from 3rd. Century CE - reference to 'in the service of God or Christ'.)

It is worth reflecting that, according to information in the (UK) National Archives, ancestors to the lineage of Henry Walton Smith - father of the founder of W. H. Smith (booksellers and stationers) - held land and property in Buckinghamshire. (qv via Smythe Index)

Henry Walton Smith was associated with the artist, Joshua Reynolds.

St. John the Baptist Church (Whitchurch, Bucks.) is significant also to the maternal line of this site in that an Anstruther tomb is located there.

The first Anstruther family member to be buried there was Harry (Henry) Torrens Anstruther who was a long-time Whitchurch resident. His story may be found by retracing the Anstruther lineage in the "Family Vault" of this site. His granddaughter, Jean Dionis Anstruther, married Richard David Somerset Drew-Smythe in 1949.

There is a reference (LDS IGI) to a Lucius Smythe having married Elizabeth Wingfield on 7th May 1687 in London. Given the connection that seems to exist between the various branches of the armigerous Sm*th/es of this and earlier times and the involvement of the Smith/Smyth/es and Wingfields in the settlements of the New World, it is significant to find a Smythe married to a Wingfield. Captain John Smith of Lincolnshire - associated with Pocahontas ... Captain John Smith of Lincolnshire - associated with the Princess Pocahontas and the settlement of Jamestown, Virginia. An enigmatic figure, much in conflict with his peers in the Colony - but recognised as one of the foremost explorers/map-makers of his age. This page links to a consideration of the Smythe line of the Baden-Powell family.

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Whitchurch was described in 1806 in "Magna Britannia" as follows:

"WHITCHURCH, in the hundred of Cotslow, and deanery of Muresley, lies about five miles from Aylesbury in the road to Buckingham. It had formerly a market on Mondays, granted in 1245, together with a fair on the festival of St. John the Evangelist. The manor was anciently in the Giffards Earls of Buckingham, afterwards in the Bolebecs. Hugh de Bolebec built a castle at Whitchurch, of which the site is plainly discernible, close to the village on the left hand as you pass from Aylesbury to Buckingham. From the Bolebecs this manor passed by a female heir to the Veres Earls of Oxford, by whom it was sold in the reign of Queen Elizabeth to the family (see below) of Waterhouse. It was afterwards successively in the families of Watson and Smith. In 1695, it was purchased of a son of Sir Edward Smith, Lord Chief Justice of the Common Pleas in Ireland, by the family of Reynolds, from whom it soon afterwards passed to the Russells. In or about the year 1720, it was purchased of Governor John Russell by the family of Rowlands of Caerau, in the isle of Anglesea. This manor is now the property of dame Rebecca Williams, relict of Sir David Williams bart. and mother of the late Sir David Williams."

Robert de Vere, 3rd Earl of Oxford (b after 1163, d before 25.10.1221)
  m. Isabel de Bolebec (d 03.02.1245, dau of Hugh de Bolebec)
The family names of Watson and Smith occur together in Stratford-on-Avon, Warwickshire, at the time of William Shakespeare. Alice Watson (Savage) Smith was the sister of the Bishop of Winchester of the day and married as a second husband (his second marriage, too) William Smith, , mercer and Alderman of Stratford, whose daughter by his first marriage married Richard Palmer. John Smith - son of William Smith - married Alice Walker, sister of Henry Walker, Shakespeare's close friend, for whom he stood as godfather to his son, William Walker.

From the family Combs ...

WATERHOUSE, Edward. Adm. Fell.-Com. at Emmanuel, June 30, 1635. Of Middlesex. S. of Francis, fishmonger, of London, and of Greenford, and great nephew of Sir Edward, Chancellor of the Exchequer in Ireland. LL.D. 1668 (Lit. Reg.). F.R.S., 1663. Resided for some years at Oxford and studied at the Bodleian Library. Faculty (Lambeth) to receive holy orders, Apr. 7, 1668; became ‘a fantastical preacher.’ Of London and Greenford, Middlesex. Married (1) Mary, dau. of Robert SMITH, alias CARRINGTON; (2) Elizabeth, dau. of Richard BATEMAN, of Hartington, Derbs. Author, heraldic and miscellaneous. Died at Mile End [Stepney, Middlesex], May 30, 1670, aged 51 [born ca 1619]. Buried at Greenford. (Cussans, III. 155; D.N.B.)

It may be (Waterhouse/Smith) significant that a line of the Smith (Smyth) family of Calverley (Yorkshire) runs (LDS IGI) thus: William Smith = unknown had a son, Andrew Smith, who married (1578) Susanne Waterhouse. A son of this marriage was John Smith, who married (1600) Margaret Burnley. Their son, William Smith - born 15 April 1602 - married Elizabeth Hainsworth. This William Smith is recorded as dying in 1653.

"Magna Britannia" continues: "In the parish church is a monument of Chief Justice Smith, who died in 1682. The great tithes were appropriated to Woburn Abbey. When the parish was inclosed under an act of parliament passed in 1771, allotments of land were assigned to the impropriator and to the vicar in lieu of tithes. The rectorial estate is now the property of Major-general Northey Hopkins, under the will of his uncle the late Richard Hopkins esq. of Oving. The vicarage is the gift of the crown."

The family of de Vere (Earls of Oxford) was closely connected to the Dukes of Rutland and to the Smythe line of Sir Thomas Smythe of Hill Hall in Essex - the latter being Secretary of State to the boy king, Edward VI, son of Henry VIII and, later, to Queen Elizabeth. Sir Thomas Smyth of Hill Hall in Essex ...Sir Thomas Smythe - a biography of the statesman who became Secretary of State to Edward VI and to Queen Elizabeth I. Consideration is also given to the Estate of Hill Hall, near Epping in Essex and other potential Smyth/s - Smith family connections with that property and family branch. The contents of the Hall were sold July 22+, 1925. Hill Hall bears the following history: Hill Hall at Theydon Mount originated with the family Smith from 1560 onwards - built by Sir Thomas Smith Secretary of State to Edward VI. It was owned by Sir Thomas Smythe (from J.P. Neale's Views, Series 2, vol. I, 1824. Kentworthy-Browne, Guide, III, 1981. J.A. Rush, Seats in Essex, 1897, 103. W. Watts, Seats, 1779.)

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