The bare mention of Edward Smyth as being the fourth son of Thomas Hutchinson Smyth and Abigail Hamilton, in Generation 10 is the last reference to our direct ancestors that I have found in Burkes genealogies. However, with the marriage of Edward Smyth and Elizabeth Wallace we are now on firmer ground, with documentary evidence of their wedding and of the births of all their six children, including my grandfather Thomas Hutchinson Smyth.
Actually, the Ulster Historical Foundation (UHF) was unable to find anything much beyond that in the way of documents: no records of the birth or death of Edward Smyth or Elizabeth Wallace. Nevertheless, according to actual church records located by the UHF, Edward Smyth and Elizabeth Wallace were married at Down Cathedral, Downpatrick on May 18, 1843. The ceremony was conducted by the grooms oldest brother, Rev. Thomas Smith (sic) of Benison Lodge, County Westmeath.
The Belfast Newsletter reported the event as follows, under Marriages: On 18th inst. At the Cathedral Church of Downpatrick, by his brother, the Rev. Thomas Smith of Benison Lodge, Co. Westmeath, Edward H. Smith of Londonderry, Esq., to Elizabeth, eldest daughter of Hugh Wallace of Downpatrick, Esq.
The UHF also located the birth and baptismal records of all their six children. All of them were baptized in St. Columbs Cathedral in the City of Londonderry. The records (in the Templemore parish of the Church of Ireland) are as follows:
These children were born at a grim time in Ireland. In the mid 1840s the country was depopulated by the Great Famine caused by the failure of the Irish potato crop under the devastation of a lethal fungus. Millions died of hunger and millions more emigrated, but the disaster would not have had any great impact on the family of a prosperous bank manager like Edward Smyth.
From the above entries it may be deduced that Edward Smyths address from 1844 to 1854 was Magazine Street in Londonderry, that he was a banker, that he worked at the Northern Bank, and that he was already resident in Londonderry at the time of his marriage in May 1843.
The Ulster Historical Foundation report notes that on Magazine Street were to be found the premises of the Northern Banking Company, now known as the Northern Bank and owned (via the Midland Bank) by Hong Kong and Shanghai Bank. Banking may not have been a Smyth pre-occupation, but Edwards father-in-law Hugh Wallace became an agent for the Northern Bank of Belfast in 1823 and perhaps that is how Edward and Elizabeth Wallace met. I might add that it is perhaps also how Edward Smyth got his job as manager of the Londonderry branch. Hugh Wallace was a powerful and influential man in Londonderry, as will become clear from his biographical details below.
The UHF report continues, It has been a source of much puzzlement to us that we cannot confirm the date of Edward Smyths death. (The date was 1857, according to the Burke genealogies). Edward Smyths death is not noted in the Belfast Newsletter (which drew its information from all over Ireland) although his marriage in 1843 was, as was the birth of a daughter in 1854 (Miriam). Nor is his burial amongst those in Templemore parish, and no pre-1858 will has been found for him. Will Calendars begin only in 1858, but some earlier wills do survive. We do not, of course, know where Edward Smyth died, whether indeed it might have been abroad.
"We were able to look at Slaters Directory of Ireland for 1846 and 1856. The 1846 volume lists in Londonderry Edward G. Smyth, Esq. (sic) in Magazine Street, given as Edward H. Smyth under Banks. The 1856 volume, however, does not list Edward Smyth at all, and the manager of the Northern Banking Co. is a Robert Hanna. Since street directories are always a little behind actual events, it is possible that Edward Smyth disappeared from Londonderry circa 1855, under what circumstances we do not know."
No reference has been found either to the death of his widow Elizabeth who, equally, could have died elsewhere. Unfortunately, civil records of births, and deaths did not begin in Ireland until 1864. We did make a search of original city of Londonderry registers of deaths for Elizabeth Smyth from 1864 onwards, but no relevant entry was found. No trace has been found of any will left by Elizabeth Smyth either."
An approach was made to Mr. Noel Simpson, current historian/archivist of the Northern Bank, but his records (which are patchy in earlier years) could reveal nothing of Edward H. Smyths banking career.
With regard to Edward Smyths in-laws, the Wallace family, the UHF reports: Elizabeth was, according to her marriage record, the eldest daughter of Hugh Wallace of Downpatrick, Esquire. Further information on the Wallace family comes from a variety of sources. Chief amongst these is the account of Aynsworth Pilson of Downpatrick, who collected notes on various families. His information is corroborated from other printed sources and for example Hugh Wallaces will. The typed transcript in PRONI (the Northern Ireland archives) has been annotated by hand in the distinctive writing which looks very like that of Mr. Richard Blackwood, a noted genealogist. It is his hand which added the note that Elizabeth Wallace the third child of Hugh Wallace was married 18 March 1843, but both the church register and the Belfast Newsletter indicate the month was May. On the death of her elder sister Abbey, Elizabeth did become the eldest surviving daughter of Hugh Wallace. Hugh Wallaces will mentions one of his daughters as Elizabeth Smyth and there is reference to a marriage settlement, although we have been unable to find a copy of this. One of Elizabeths brothers, William Nevin Wallace, was also a notable Downpatrick man. We enclose a copy of the inscription on his headstone and pages from a printed work showing the part he played in the development of Down Cathedral.
Hugh Wallaces will mentions five daughters (Elizabeth Smyth, Margaretta Warnock, and three unmarried daughters, Jane, Hannah and Ellen) and two sons (William Nevin and James Alexander). It also mentions son in law John Warnock but not son in law Edward Smyth. The will was dated 18 April 1855, so it raises the possibility that Edward Smyth may have died before that date (but not long before - his youngest child, Miriam, was born in 1854).
The UHF report adds that Aynsworth Pilsons notes enable us to take the Wallace family back two generations from Hugh Wallace, to his father James of Downpatrick and grandfather, also James, of Barmaghery near Saintfield. Barmaghery is in the outskirts of Downpatrick.
Elizabeth Wallace Smyths brother William Nevin Wallace (Edward Smyths brother in law) was a lawyer and a leading light in the management of Downpatrick Cathedral from 1871 to his death in 1895. J. Frederick Rankin, in his history Down Cathedral, The Church of Saint Patrick of Down, remarks that no one had done more for the cathedral than he. As Secretary and Treasurer to the Board (over) a period of twenty five years, he had guided the business affairs of the Cathedral as an extension to his own legal practice of Hugh Wallace & Co As one peruses the Vestry minutes one is left in no doubt that the real power behind the scene was Wallace It would not be an exaggeration to say that the very survival of the Cathedral in these years, when it was desperately seeking a role in the Diocese, was in no small measure due to his advocacy. A photograph of him in Down County Museum shows a baldheaded man, his face surrounded by a fringe of hair around the back of his head and Dundreary whiskers under his chin.
According to Aynsworth Pilsons family notes, William Wallaces father Hugh (the father-in-law of Edward Smyth) was the eldest son of James Wallace, an attorney in Downpatrick, and Elizabeth Ledlie, daughter of James Ledlie of Saintfield, who was a distiller there. Hugh was born in 1785 and apprenticed to his father as a lawyer. In 1810 he married Eliza Nevin, the only daughter of a Downpatrick doctor, and they had nine children (Abbey, William, Elizabeth who married Edward Smyth Margaret, Jane, Mary, Hannah, Ellen and James). Pilson observes that Hugh Wallace was successful as a lawyer, acquired wealth and kept up an establishment which might be called pretty expensive.
In 1823 he became an agent for the Northern Bank in Belfast, and opened a Discount Office there in that capacity. The banking activities brought more business to his law office. His position as banker also brought him political power. This connection with the bank gave him such a command of money as enabled him to exercise an almost unlimited power over the actions of many of the inhabitants of Downpatrick, which power was of course exercised at contested elections. There seems no doubt that Edward Smyths father in law was a redoubtable character. However, he had a weakness for speculative investments, and according to Pilson on some occasions indulged in speculations which were more the result of a day dream than the consequence of deliberate thought or sober reflection. He built huge stores for curing beef and pork, for trading timber, iron and spirits, which remained empty for years; he set up a Downpatrick paving and lighting concern that Pilson says resolved itself into a dirty job; he founded the County Down and Liverpool Steampacket Company, which foundered in huge debts, largely because a captain was appointed to command the vessel quite unfit for his duties, being naturally of a rash and hot temperament. Hugh Wallace later figured in railway speculations in which the other investors all lost money. Pilson hints that Wallace may not have shared in those losses.
Owing to some peculiar trait in his character, or some peculiarity of temper, says Pilson, he did not live in terms of amity with his family. His laborious and troubled life terminated on Friday 4 May 1855, at the age of sixty nine, and he was interred in the Stream Street Meeting House green. Whatever his religious opinions may have been they were little known, if they were any. To the ineffable surprise of all the Rev. William White. Minister of the Trinitarian Presbyterian congregation of this town ascended the pulpit of the Unitarian meeting house and delivered an oration this was in conformity with the deceaseds instructions. Apparently this excited the surprise and dismay of many of the inhabitants here, who for many years followed in the wake of this their defunct leader, who took him for their political, social and religious guide a man who employed them for every purpose of his aggrandizement or caprice.
(I must admit that the nuances of religious opinion in Downpatrick escape me, but it appears to have given offense for some reason that Hugh Wallace turned out in death to be a Presbyterian. Perhaps the sedition of 1798 had something to do with it? I am reminded here that during my student days at Cambridge University I made a cycling tour of Ireland in 1950 and visited Saint Patricks grave at Downpatrick. The caretaker, an old lady with a cane who looked about eighty, appeared to be employed by the Protestant Church of Ireland. She said that every year on Saint Patricks day several dozen Catholic toughs came up from Dublin, several dozen Protestant toughs came down from Belfast, and they fought all over Saint Patricks grave. And last year, she said, waving her stick, we won, we won).
If Aynsworth Pilson appears to paint a rather disapproving portrait of Hugh Wallace, we may possibly find a reason for that in his description of Hughs father, James Wallace. This James Wallace (junior) was the son of James Wallace (senior), a farmer, in the townland of Barnamaghery, near Saintfield. He was born about 1757. About 1786 he married Elizabeth Ledlie, eldest daughter of James Ledlie of Saintfield, distiller. Mr. Wallace was bred an attorney and in the early period of his life was employed at the ordinary country practice. In 1791 he removed to Downpatrick at instance and advice of Mr. Conway Pilson, who became his early and sincere friend. Mark that phrase early and sincere friend.
Pilson continues: Mr. Wallace had a good deal of business as an attorney during the troubled periods in this country prior to 1798. He had been employed to defend the United Irishmen at the Assizes of Downpatrick in 1797, charged with treasonable and seditious offenses, and especially in spring 1797, when the late John Philpot Curran was brought here specially on behalf of those persons.
What Pilson is referring to here is an uprising in which a coalition of Presbyterians and Catholics inspired by the French Revolution tried to wrest power from the Anglican Ascendancy in the cause of the Rights of Man and the independence of Ireland.
James Wallaces father in law Ledlie was a man of most violent passions and greatly heated by the politics of that day, and having but two children, Mrs. Wallace and Mrs. George, his property, about 3,000 pounds, was divided between them.
Mr. Wallace had eight children, six sons and two daughters: Hugh (born 1786), James (1789), William (1790), Hamilton (1793), John (1794), Andrew, Eliza, and Jane (born 1798).
In 1819 James Wallace moved to Dublin with Mrs. Wallace and the children, and remained there until his death in 1829, aged seventy two. Mrs. Wallace died in 1836, aged eighty, in her son Hughs house in Downpatrick.
We come now to the matter of James Wallaces sincere friend Conway Pilson. Conways son Aynsworth notes that Mr Wallace was persevering in his business and anxious to make provision for his family, but was of very uncouth manner. Mr. Conway Pilson frequently lent him money when going to Dublin, at the usual terms, and showed him many instances of friendship, for which he made an ungrateful return in 1812, by exacting 70 pounds for costs arising from the Election of 1806 In consequence of this transaction my father and myself withdrew our business from him.
The Smyth family report made for me by the Ulster Historical Foundation (UHF) says that Thomas Hutchinson Smyth was born 13 August 1851 and baptized 12 September in Templemore parish of the Church of Ireland (at St. Columbs Cathedral) in the city of Londonderry. His fathers occupation was given as banker. All Thomass siblings were baptized in the same church and we can now give you the exact dates of birth and baptism for Hugh Wallace (1844), Emily Abigail (1847), Edith Elizabeth (1848), Edward Hamilton (1849) and Miriam Helena (1854)."
It appears that Edward Smyth probably died when my grandfather Thomas Hutchinson was about six. The oldest son, Hugh, would then have been about eleven, and the youngest child, Miriam, one year old. It is unclear how or by whom the children were raised, since the death date of their mother is also unknown.
The marriage date of Thomas Hutchinson Smyth is also unknown. It was probably not before the mid 1880s, since his wife Emma Jane Stephens was born in 1864. The UHF says, We have so far been unable to trace a record of marriage of Emma Jane Stephens and Thomas H. Smyth, which may not, of course, have taken place in Ireland.
Thomas Hutchinson, the fifth of the six children of Edward Smyth and Elizabeth Wallace, was the only one of the six to marry. Two of the sisters, Edith and Miriam, were missionaries for many years in India. Emily was a pious spinster who lived in England. Edward was a somewhat eccentric bachelor who had a passion for cycling. I have no information on Hugh, the eldest son.
Thomas worked for a bank in Dublin. He was a member of the Royal Alfred Yacht Club and took part in regattas in several sailing boats. Among his yachting trophies that have come down to Gerald and Betty Smyth are two silver beer mugs. Both are inscribed Corynthian Match and T.H. Smyth. One is dated 11 June 1881 and the boats name was Finola. The other is dated 14 June 1884 and the boat was Hofda. There is also a silver tea kettle, by far the most impressive prize, inscribed T.H. Smyth and Won by Lua. Lua means moon in Portuguese.
When the bank closed its doors THS decided to emigrate to Argentina. I have not yet discovered which bank it was or why it closed or why he opted for Argentina when he had the whole British Empire to choose from. Perhaps he had personal contacts with people already established in Argentina, which at the time had one of the most flourishing economies in the world. In any event, with Thomass decision to leave Dublin probably in 1887 nearly three hundred years of family history in Ireland came to an end.
The five sons of Thomas Hutchinson Smyth and Emma Jane Stephens were all born in Argentina:
They are registered as the sons of Thomas Hutchinson Smyth, accountant, born in Ireland and Emma Jane Stephens, born in Ireland. Thomas was already about thirty six when he landed in Buenos Aires and fifty years old when his youngest son was born.
The Ulster Historical Foundation located the birth record of Emma Jane Stephens and also the marriage register of her parents. She was born on 23 November 1864 at 4 Blackhall Place, Dublin, to George Alexander Stephens and Selina Bell. Her parents were married seven years earlier, not in Dublin, but in Abbeyleix Church of Ireland, Queens County (now known as County Leix or Laois). George Alexander Stephens was given as a merchant, with a Dublin address, and was the son of William Robert Stephens, also a merchant. Selina Bell lived in Abbeyleix, so was presumably married in her home church, and was the daughter of William Bell, gentleman. The witnesses appear to have been both fathers. The officiating clergyman, also William Robert Stephens, is presumably Georges brother. The UHF notes that the Church of Ireland has no record of a Rev. W.R. Stephens, so he may have been a Presbyterian or Methodist.
The UHF report continues: Street directories for Dublin do not give many clues about the Stephens family and we cannot find any relevant wills for any known individuals. The one thing that is of interest is that Emma Jane Stephens was born at 4 Blackhall Place in 1864, and in 1846 a William Robert Stephens, iron founder (of Courtney and Stephens) had his residence at 3 Blackhall Street. Since Stephens is not a common name in Dublin and Blackhall Street is off Blackhall Place, this may not be entirely coincidence. From my Uncle Dermot I know that Emma Jane had three sisters (Charlotte, Lily and Lena) and one brother (George) but I do not know their birth dates.
Evidently, Thomas Smyth and Emma Jane Stephens knew each other in Dublin but I have no inkling of how that came about. Thomas my grandfather died in 1931 when I was about two years old, so I had no opportunity to question him but Emma Jane, my grandmother, lived on until 1951, when I was already twenty two. Unfortunately at that age I lacked the curiosity to ask her about her young days. To the young, grandparents are ancient history and their life experiences are meaningless since it seems impossible that they could ever have been young themselves.
Nevertheless, with the generation we are now considering, we are now within a period where family history falls within the range of living memory, and in 1975 I did have the wit to ask my Uncle Dermot, the last surviving brother, what he knew about his parents lives.
Unfortunately, Dermot did not know all that much about his family history either. He and his four brothers were all packed off to boarding school in England (Blundells School in Tiverton, Devon) and seldom saw their parents, who remained in Argentina. However, Dermot did tell me this in a letter:
Now for your query about news of your ancestors, rather a difficult one to answer. As regards a photo of Father, the only one I ever saw was in a group of a cricket team he used to play for in Dublin before his marriage. I know that he worked in a bank in Dublin which closed its doors, and it was then that he decided to emigrate to this country (Argentina). That must have been about 1887, because he was auditor of the Alpargatas Factory (a major Argentine textile firm) for thirty three years and retired, I think, in 1920. He also had his own office in Buenos Aires (as an independent accountant) and did several other audits.
His brother, Uncle Edward, came out (to Buenos Aires) with him but did not stay long. I remember once Mother remarked that he was too fond of cocktails. Anyway he left and spent the rest of his life living in a cheap boarding house in London during the winter, and touring the country on a bicycle during the summer. He was a member of the Cyclist Touring Club, and called his bicycles Jemima I, II, etc. I dont know how many he had altogether.
Father was single when he came out, and Mother followed later, but I cannot tell you what year exactly. Anyway the eldest of the family, Alan, was born in 1892. The rest of Fathers family consisted of Aunts Edith and Miriam who were in the Church Missionary Society in India, and Aunt Emily, who lived in England. All of them had a little bit of money, just about enough to exist on. I know that Aunt Emily noted down everything she spent, even a halfpenny for the Daily Mail. We usually spent part of our summer holidays with her, and did not like it very much because we were dragged off to church twice on Sundays and were not allowed to read a book even, except the Bible.
The rest of the holidays we spent with Mothers sisters, Aunts Tottie and Lily. There was another one, Aunt Lena, but she was in the hotel business and at different times was manageress of The Royal County in Durham, The George in Stamford, and Ye Old Bell in Barnby Moor, all very famous hotels.
Some member of their family Stephens - I dont know who, had a family tree compiled and the aunts had a copy of it. I never looked at it but believe it went back to 1604 more or less. They had a brother, Uncle George, who fought in the Boer War, and after that ended remained in South Africa, so we only saw him on odd occasions when he came to England on holiday.
Aunt Tottie (real name Charlotte) was the proudest one of the family, and I remember she claimed to be related to Robert Hichens, the novelist, and Sir Ernest Shackleton, the explorer. She once told me she had an ancestor, Sir Humphrey de Hauteville, buried in Bath Abbey, but I was never able to verify that. I never heard anything about our ancestors on Fathers side, but the family must date back for a good many years because the crest, I have been told, is a very old one. It is a unicorns head on a crown, and the motto Exaltabit Honore, but I dare say you already know this, as I think your father had a signet ring. Father was born in Londonderry in 1851, and Mother in Dublin thirteen years later. That is about all I can tell you as regards our family history.
Thomas Hutchinson Smyth made a comfortable life for himself in Argentina. He had a house in Bernal, a suburb south of Buenos Aires - at that time the fancier side of town and his own accountants office in the central business district of Buenos Aires. He made enough money to send all five sons to boarding school in England. When World War I broke out the younger ones were brought back to Argentina and sent to St. Georges College, a British boarding school in Quilmes a few miles from his home. The three older ones Alan, Beltran (Bertie) and Currell volunteered for service in the British forces. Alan served in the infantry, Bertie first in the infantry and then in the Royal Flying Corps. Currell joined the army a few weeks before the war ended in November 1918 without seeing action. Dermot and Tom were too young for military service.
In another letter to me, Uncle Dermie recalled that Alan was among the first lot of volunteers from this country to go to the war. After training with the Public Schools Battalion attached to the Middlesex Regiment he was commissioned to the Gloucestershire Regiment (infantry) and served in the trenches. After the war he saw an advertisement of the British East Africa Corporation asking for staff, applied and got taken on. He was sent to a place called Jinja and worked in a cotton factory. I understand the climate in Jinja was anything but pleasant, so Alan later on moved to Nairobi and worked with an import-export company called Gibson.
Tom, the youngest brother, got a scholarship to Sidney Sussex College at Cambridge University, studied mathematics and got a job as mathematics master at Eton College, where he remained the rest of his working life. Bertie returned to Buenos Aires from the war and made a career in the Pacific Railway in Buenos Aires. Currell and Dermot both spent their working lives with Argentine Estates of Bovril, which had a meat-packing plant at Santa Elena, Entre Rios, north of Buenos Aires.
After his retirement, Thomas Hutchinson Smyth went back to England and lived on a pension from Alpargatas at a small house with a large garden (Wind Door, Hookhills Road) in Paignton, Devon, about half a mile from the beach at Torbay.
His widow, (my grandmother) Emma Jane, continued to live there for another twenty years until her death in 1951. Her son Tom stayed there in vacation time from Eton and inherited the house on her death. I followed my Uncle Tom to Sidney Sussex College, Cambridge (1948-1951) and also spent my vacations with Granny at Wind Door. She was a cheerful octogenarian at that time, despite deafness, angina and a bad leg, and was constantly visited by neighbors not because they felt sorry for her, but because she was an entertaining old lady. She still had an Irish brogue, and had a song about Father OFlynn (Oh Father OFlynn youve a wonderful way with you, all the young girls are so anxious to pray with you, play with you, stay with you. Father OFlynn!)
Despite my lack of genealogical interest at that time I did get some interesting details from her in conversation. When she first went out to Buenos Aires there was no proper port. Ships had to anchor out in the River Plate and passengers were transferred ashore first in small boats, then in ox-carts with huge wheels that waded out into the shallows.
More than a century has gone by since then, Buenos Aires has a huge modern port, the world has changed, and the latest generation, as a new millennium begins, are the great-great grand children of Thomas Hutchinson Smyth and Emma Jane Stephens. The current crop of children comprise the sixteenth generation since the William Smithdike who rented out the lands of Rosedale Abbey, Yorkshire, around 1538 nearly five hundred years ago and who (salvo error u omisión, as they say in Spanish) was perhaps our common ancestor.
All the people at the fringes of this family tree are related to us by blood or by marriage in ways that are too complicated for me to investigate further. If you care to wander through the labyrinths of Burkes genealogies you may eventually figure out the relationships.